Mission Bush Pilot and Nurse

After spending three years in Guyana, South America, we have now moved to Bewani, 50 Km south of Vanimo, Papua New Guinea. We have started a new humanitarian aviation ministry here. In visiting with health officials and church people here, the need for an aviation program to reach into remote villages became very apparent. We are taking health workers and medicines/vaccines, into remote village airstrips and bringing out critically ill patients to the hospital. We also fly in educational materials for schools, as well as take in Bible workers. Toni is helping with the medical end of things, while Gary takes care of the flying part. We have several local lay missionaries we sponsor and we do ground transport for patients as well. We are volunteers here to serve our God and the unreached people of Papua New Guinea. We have a great need for more people to join in this effort.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

THANKFUL


There is so much to be thankful for. The Bible says to rejoice in ALL things.  Sometimes it is too easy to focus on our trials and problems that we forget to be thankful. 
Last week we received word from a pilot friend in New Guinea that informed us we would need a certain type of HF (basically a "ham" amateur radio) radio installed in our plane in order to be able to fly there. He further stated that these radios cost about $40-50K used! Boy did that get our attention fast!. I contacted another pilot friend in PNG (Papua New Guinea) and he confirmed the information.  That started a flurry of emails trying to see what our options if any, would be. Another pilot from Australia told us about a different HF radio that could work but had to be installed in Australia, and would cost about $7-8K. That sounded much better, but still a lot of money that we don't have.  
We have installed an HF radio like we used in Guyana expecting to use it there. Now is sounded like it was all in vain. Then yesterday I received word from our friend Kyle who helped us on our plane in Guyana and is now a certified airplane mechanic working in PNG. He said he had checked with the guy who helped write the rules in PNG and he said that if we had the proper paper work on our radio and we were not going to operate as a commercial operator, ours would be ok!! Wow, God is so GOOD. Our mechanics in Washington have been working on getting this paperwork for the radio and other equipment so that it is all approved by the FAA. That is been a big part of the hold up for getting our plane ready to fly.  So getting this paper work done right, now, should make it much easier to get the paperwork done in PNG.
When Toni was given work at her old place of employment back in July, it was with the understanding that it would be for 4-6 weeks. With the delays that we have been experiencing, God has provided continual work for her! Every time it looks like they don't need her anymore, someone needs time off for illness, surgery, vacation, or something so they have kept her on.  Her bosses keep saying, you are a real "God send to us". Her work has provided for our living expenses and putting some towards the cost of shipping the plane.
We are trying to get funds together to buy some solar equipment so that we can have some basic electricity out in the bush.  The prices have been dropping real fast since this spring and so our delay will also help us to get the this equipment soon we hope.  
During this waiting time we have also had many many opportunities to share what God has done and is doing for us and how faithful He is. Sharing how God is faithful has brought us so many blessings and it thrills us to share His wonderful ways. Friends keep bringing us supplies to take to PNG and others have provided funds to help with the cost of getting ready to ship the plane and supplies. We are humbled and so grateful for each of you and how the Lord provides.
Yesterday we received an email from a pilot who has flown in PNG and now lives in Australia. Here is a quote from his email.


The obstacles to operating in PNG are frustrating at times. But the effort is well worth it. I had a call from Pr Tom Kerowa up there yesterday. He is the district director in one of the areas that Mission Support Network has been established in for a long time. We have several lay missionaries that we sponsor there. This weekend they are having a camp meeting and 150 precious souls are being baptized from the efforts of these guys. This is an isolated area way beyond the reach of the crumbling road network and these are all small communities. This was not the result of some big city evangelist blowing in and then disappearing again. One of the missionaries, - Kelly Mone has prepared several of these people for baptism. Earlier this year a crazed villager who did not want the message preached there, murdered Kelly's young daughter then cut her up with a machetti and threw her in the river.  PNG is a land where great successes are seen in God's work, but Satan opposes the work at every step. Yet if God be for us who can be against us. To try and work in PNG we put a bulls eye on our backs, but we also step into the presence of God's power. He will never leave or forsake us.

The need is still great. We are ready to go as soon as the Lord opens the door. Still waiting for a visa and the paperwork on the plane, but we know that the Lord will work it all out in His time table and we want to be ready.
Thank you for your prayers and support. Prayer is such an awesome force and allows God to work on our behalf. 
May you be blessed this holiday season.
Gary and Toni Lewis

Sunday, October 16, 2011

preparations


Hi family and friends
It has been awhile since some of you have heard from us.  We are still here in the US awaiting a visa from PNG (Papua New Guinea). The plane modifications are done, but there is still some paperwork to finish before we can fly it. We have been very busy though. We have had lots of speaking appointments and are getting supplies ready to ship to PNG.  The Lord has provided beyond what we ever expected. When we are working for Him,  He provides for the needs of the project, since it is His project for His children in PNG.  We have had lots of opportunities to share with others how God is faithful. We feel we are ready to leave for PNG, but it seems that God still has some work for us to do here before then.  Toni has been given enough work, that she has been able to get the necessary hours she  to keep her Arizona nurse's license active.  She only found out about this requirement after she started working.  God provided for a need we didn't realize we had. So many people have helped provide supplies for us to take down to use on the project, from Bibles, to clothes to equipment.  God is still and always will be faithful!  Our departure date could arrive anytime, but in the meantime we are busy doing the work the Lord gives us to do, knowing that we will leave for PNG on the date the Lord has already picked out for us.
We want to once again thank each of you for your prayers and support.  We also would love to hear from you.

donations can be sent to:
Hope on Wings
P.O. Box 122
Hepler, Kansas 66746

Please include note: for Lewis project

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Angels




We have been encountering so many angels since we have been back in the States preparing to go to Papua New Guinea (PNG).  We have been working and flying with them in Guyana and I saw them preparing the way for us while on my visit to PNG just a few weeks ago.   It has been so thrilling to see angels still at work back here in the homeland as well. Some of the angels we have encountered have given food to us from their pantries and when it seems to be about gone, then another angel has provided more, or the food has seemed to keep lasting when we thought it was about gone!  Other angels we have encountered have provided vehicles for our use so that we not only can get to the store and back, but have also made it possible for us to share with many more people the stories of God's love and His faithfulness!  What a blessing it has been to us to share of God's goodness and mercy!  These vehicles have been such a blessing--making our work so much easier and far reaching for the kingdom.  Other angels have invited us into their homes and provided for us; others have given of their means to allow us the ability to take care of our needs and provide for the airplane repairs.  We had been hoping to somehow get a solar oven to cook with in PNG.  Well, one of His angels gave us a brand new one last week without us even asking!  Doctors have given free services or greatly reduced fees for medical needs.  One angel this week promised to provide a chainsaw that is almost new, (we hadn't even mentioned the need, but God told him).  Another angel gave us a generator and welding machine; another gave us 2 very nice adjustable front seats for the plane.  Two angels have donated countless hours of work on our plane and another painted it for us at an unimagined low price.  Another angel printed business cards and bought a battery for our ATV—that we plan to take to PNG, another gave us a laptop to replace the one that died.  There are the angels that have encouraged us to press on.  Many others have arranged meetings and opportunities to share God's blessings.  We cannot out give the Lord and the more we (you and I) pass on the blessings that God has given us, the more room He has to give us more, and increase our boundaries!
We do not have a departure date yet, but we are working on visas and getting the plane finished.  We plan to ship a container with items for the flight base that we will be building on land that has an airstrip that God has already provided.  Seeing God at work through His angels in providing for the needs of this project is so heart warming.  So many angels have blessed us these last few months that our joy is overflowing.  We thank you from the bottom of our hearts and we have requested that God will repay you many times over in ways that you need most. He is FAITHFUL.  We have many things to get yet, and the expense of shipping everything.  But we know that God has angels that are ready to help with that, too.




Saturday, July 30, 2011

PNG, land of the unexpected




I just returned from Papua New Guinea 2 days ago. This jet lag stuff is not easy when it is 17 hours difference. I was there almost 2.5 weeks and a lot happened in that amount of time. I went with Jack Sample and we had asked the angels to go before us and prepare the way. They sure did their part and more!  We arrived Fri evening and were taken to an expensive hotel where we had been offered 3 nights for free. The price was more than our donor had expected so was trying to figure how to handle the situation. We told him we would be happy in something much more simple and cheaper. He was relieved and took us to a very nice guest house out of town that was owned by a church member.  We stayed there and enjoyed visiting with the owner and some of the guest. Before we had to start paying 3 days later the owner, after hearing the purpose of our trip and our mission said that anytime we were in town or one of our team was, we could stay there for FREE. Oh God is so good. 
Sabbath we went to church on the grounds of the state university and shared a bit what our mission is about and then we had the afternoon program to give more details and tell how God worked on our behalf in Guyana. After that was over many university students came up and asked to volunteer in remote villages when we can take them out! That evening we met with the most powerful minister in the government and he promised to help with the issues that involve government regulations and paperwork. We went to a church leaders home for lunch and he was so excited about our mission that he wants to work with us as soon as he retires in 3 years. Well it turns out he is a director in the govt. office that approves overseas companies. We met him in his office on Monday and he arranged all the paper work to get our organization registered in the country. It usually takes a long time. He had paperwork done in 4 days and everything approved and signed in about 10 days! He has become our in country registered agent and is working for us in many ways now. The next week we went north to where we want to base our first operations. The district administrator who is a church member also took us in his vehicle on a 3 hour ride into the bush to an unused airstrip that is 2500 ft long and overgrown. After sharing with him what our dream was for PNG, he offered us a piece of ground adjacent to the airstrip of about 4-5 acres for our hanger and homes! He is drawing up the papers so it will be ours when we return, owned now by "Hope on Wings", at no cost! Then we spent the night in a village not far away and in the morning they offered to give us another piece of land for more homes and with timber so we could build all of our buildings without purchasing wood!!!
We visited several other churches and all of them had people who want to volunteer to go help their countrymen in remote areas! What a thrill to see that kind of response from the local people!
Visas for Toni and I are now being applied for and I expect they will arrive sooner than expected if what happened in the last 2 weeks is any indication.
There have been a series of delays in getting the plane finished so we are praying for that.
  Looking like it maybe cheaper to have the plane flown over there rather than shipping it, and it will be much faster as the boat trip is 3 months plus taking the plane apart and putting it back together. Looks like maybe the Lord is anxious for us to get started over there. People are dying without hearing the gospel of Jesus.
We have lots to do yet to get ready on such a short time frame but we go forward knowing it is all in His hands and that He will provide the money and supplies necessary to make it happen.
Toni has been working at her old job in AZ while I was in PNG, trying to sharpen her nursing skills a bit (she will get to do nursing in PNG), and earn some money to help with moving expenses.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support. We serve an awesome God!

Donations can be sent to 
Hope on Wings
P.O. Box 122
Hepler, Kansas  66746
Please include note "Lewis Project"

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Trip to Papua New Guinea


We have been very busy trying to get the plane finished up, and doing lots of speaking engagements. The weather here in the Northwest has been a bit cool, for those of us used to the tropics, even the rain feels cold.  We are enjoying the rolling hills planted with wheat.  The rivers and lakes are blue here--a big difference from the brown waters of Guyana!  We have been to two camp meetings and several churches since we have been here in Spokane. 
just painted
Work on the plane is progressing.  One of the mechanics, Steve Lingenfelter has gone to Honduras on a mission trip, so things have slowed down a bit. We really appreciate all the work he did on the plane though, and wish him the best in  his new mission.  The engine is mounted and hooked up. The old paint is almost all removed, and today we made arrangements to have it painted the first of next week, about a mile from here. That means we can do it without putting the wings on, until we take it to an airport.  Once it is painted by mid-week next week, then Rod will be able to install the instruments and radios and finish up the interior.  Hopefully by the time I return from PNG, it will be ready to take to the airport, run some tests on it and then fly fly away.
I will be leaving for Papua New Guinea (PNG) on July 6 with Jack Sample to do a preliminary visit to get paper work started on importing the plane, get permission to use auto gas and work on negotiations for building a base.  Lots of things need to happen, and we are asking for your prayers that God will impress the right people to help us,  so that the project and God's work can go forward. Toni will be spending some time with her family while I am gone.  She is still trying to find some short-term work, but so far nothing has worked out.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support, and we ask that you continue to pray so that these problems with importing and operating  the plane in PNG can be resolved.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Plane preparations for PNG


Greetings once again!
We have been in Spokane about a week now helping to get the Cessna 182 ready to ship to Papua New Guinea (PNG).



The mechanics have done a wonderful job so far and have spent countless hours taking it apart, putting on the modifications and making improvements.  We have been helping by cleaning parts, stripping off the old paint and replacing the interior fabric.


 In a few days we hope to begin to put the plane back together again.  As it is now, the wings, tail and engine are off, and the interior and instrument panel are out.  It has been good for Gary to see all the workings of the plane from the inside out.  We are hoping to have it ready to test fly by the end of the month.


Gary and Jack Sample (director of Hope On Wings)  plan to go to PNG the first of July to get things in motion for shipping the plane.  They need to get things worked out such as fuel and maintenance work on the plane, and permission to fly it there. These need to be worked out before the plane is actually shipped.   He will also be attending campmeetings here in the northwest the next couple of weeks.  Toni will be going to Arizona this weekend.  She is going to help out at the surgery center where she used to work for a couple of months, while all these other details are being worked out.  It will sharpen her nursing skills and give them some extra help during the summer while people are on vacation.
It has been fun visiting with so many of you so far.  Thank you so much for your support and sharing with us as well. Hopefully we will get to see a few more of you before we actually ship out.  
Gary and Toni Lewis
The hope on Wings has a video on the home page that shows what we are hoping to do with our Cessna 182 in PNG.

Donations can be sent to:
Hope on Wings
P.O. Box 122
Hepler, Kansas  66746
Please add a note for "Lewis Project"

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Changing Location!



With most things in life, change comes with time.  Change presents new challenges and opportunities.  We have been getting the "new" Cessna 182 prepared for mission flying in the bush.  We thought we would be taking it to Guyana to continue the work we have been doing there for the past 3 years. Sometimes God has other plans though.  Through a long series of events, we have gradually come to realize that we were being sent in another direction. Gospel Ministries has some other pilots and aircraft that they are ready to send to Guyana, and plans to fix the Maule.  Knowing that the work there will continue, allowed us to look at a different location.  We feel that the Lord is leading us to a place in the world that is in great need of a pilot and plane to do medical work and transport Bible workers to unreached areas.  Papua New Guinea (PNG) has about 850 language groups and many have never heard who Jesus Christ is.  Many do not have access to medical services of any kind, only witch doctors. Infant mortality is as high as 50-60% in some places.  We are planning to ship our new plane in a container to PNG as soon as it is finished and the paper work is in order down there.  We will be working with "Hope on Wings" based in Hepler, Kansas for this project.  We will be the first pilot and plane to start there for this venture.  We will be volunteers as before, and will not charge  for our services.  There are other commercial operators in the country currently, but they have to charge high fees in order to make flights.  The need is so much greater there than it was in Guyana, and since there are pilots to replace us, we are moving to a area that has a more desperate need.  We are hoping that more pilots and some airplane mechanics will join us soon.  So much to do,and the tiime is so short.   We need more help!
We have appreciated all the support you have given and provided for the project in Guyana and we hope and pray that you will choose to continue with us now in Papua New Guinea.
Hope on Wings has a web site with more information if you would like to learn more.www.hopeonwings.org

donations can be sent to:

Hope on Wings
P.O. Box 122
Hepler, Kansas  66746
include a note:  " Lewis project"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

God's gentle hands!

Thursday March 17, the skies finally cleared for a beautiful day of sunshine after so many weeks of rain. I flew a pastor out to a remote village, then on to another village delivering food supplies to another missionary. Then I headed on to our school at Paruima. The waterfalls along the way were spectacular due to all of the recent rain. It was so inspiring to see Gods handy work from the air. I loaded 2 students and some of their luggage into the plane to take them to Georgetown so they could return home. I left some luggage as the airstrip grass was damp and muddy because of the rains and I didn't want to be too heavy. We took off with a very slight breeze and all was well so I decided to do a U turn and pick up the other piece of luggage for the student who was returning to a distant village. Just as we were touching down there was a gust of wind from behind that pushed us down the runway. I released the flaps to get the plane to stick on the damp grass and applied hard on the brakes. There are long skid marks on the runway from it. I have landed going this way many times, but normally we land the other way because of wind and going up hill as well as flying over the school letting them know we have arrived.  Landing this time going down hill and wind pushing us and damp grass, we were unable to stop the plane in time. the airstrip ends at the river. The river was very high due again to the rains. We went over the 12 foot embankment and God's hand gently set us down in the bushes in the edge of the river. There was no bone jarring, neck snapping stop, just a gentle stop in the bushes and water. Water started coming into the cabin right away as villagers rushed to help us get out. The 2 doors on the passenger side opened without a problem and the students exited into waist deep water and we began to hand out luggage and items from the plane before it got wet. No one was hurt or scratched! Praise the Lord! Several commented that there was a gust of wind just as we landed and as soon as we crashed there was no more wind, not even a whisper for the next couple of hours.
The villagers came to our rescue and brought some rope. In less than an hour they had turned the plane around and pulled it up the near vertical embankment and onto the airstrip again. My camera got wet in the incident so will have to borrow some pictures to put on the blog site when they come out from Paruima.  It was amazing and I believe angels were helping to lift it as well. The supports that hold up the wings are bent in half on one side so one wing droops very low, the front wheel support is bent and broken and the windshield is broken. Only about 1/3 of the cabin was in the water and the control panel never got wet! God is good!. A fellow mission pilot, Jud Wickwire, from Wings for Humanity heard the call go out on the radio and he got there not long after the plane was out of the river. He spent the night there with us and the next morning he flew the students to town and then brought out the investigators from Civil Aviation (like FAA). They did their report and then Jud flew us to Georgetown late Friday. 
It will take a lot of work to get the plane ready to fly back to Georgetown, hoping to get a mechanic to do a good check on it in a couple of weeks.
We are so thankful there were no injuries or worse. We don't know what the future holds for us right now, but we know Who holds the future and we are in His hands. That is the best place to be at times like this.
Toni was super busy dealing with the phone calls, the radio, aviation authorities etc. all the while not really knowing what all happened. Her mother is here visiting for a couple of weeks and that has helped. Toni is my hero!
There are so many other details I could add to this story of how God was there and before hand but this is getting too long already. Thank you so much for your prayers and support.
It was the Maule that crashed, the Cessna we just purchased is still in the shop getting retrofitted.

Monday, February 21, 2011

God Provides a Bigger Plane!

This month has had many twists and turns.  It started out with lots of flights and was very busy.  Then we got word that a plane we were looking at was still available to buy and the owners were willing to deal.  Two mechanics went down and checked it over very closely, as it is an older plane and has not been flown for awhile.  Their report came back very positive.  They told the owner that we wanted it for a mission plane to fly medical emergencies out of the jungle and medical people into remote villages.  They agreed to sell the plane for less than another offer that  they already had on the plane.  God provided the funds to purchase the plane and to fly it from California to Spokane.  The mechanics of "Wings of Service" have it in their shop, where they are taking it apart and preparing to retrofit it as a bush plane.  It will cost a good amount to make the modifications, but they are donating their labor, and some parts have already been donated by others.  We are watching to see how the Lord will provide for the rest of the project. It looks like it will take another $20-25K to get most of it done.  We are really hoping to have it down here by the middle of April if all goes well, but will see what the Lords timing is.  This plane is a Cessna 182, it has more horsepower for taking off on short airstrips, can handle more weight,  fly faster,and  will allow a patient to lie down while in flight.  With the modifications, it will be able to land and take off on these short airstrips.  We are thankful for what the Lord has provided and will provide to get the airplane ready to fly down here.
This week we have had lots of rain, so I have not been flying, but we have been busy doing many other things.  Toni is working on continuing education for her nursing license and sewing curtains for the hospital, along with everything else she does.  She is very busy too. 
Thank you again for your prayers and support.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dome over Kopinang

Greetings from the warm south,
When it rains here, it pours, not only in the form of water, but also in work!  I have flown 8 of the last 9 days!  That's  about 35 hours  in the air.  We have also had volunteers staying at the house part of that time. The other day, I was flying into a village called Kopinang.  It is on the other side of the country and near the Brazil border.  I was flying in a pastor and a  patient returning home .  The weather was OK in Georgetown when we left, but as we neared the mountains, it became all clouds.  We were flying in clouds as we approached the village--that is located in a valley with high mountains on the right, lower ones on the left and far side. I had to maintain altitude to avoid them but needed to get down so I could try to get under the clouds. There was another aircraft ahead of me going to another airstrip a couple of miles to the left of my destination. He radioed as I approached and said he had just barely gotten in and the clouds were down to the trees in the area I was going.  He said I would need to go past the village and land at another village further away. The pastor was getting very concerned as we could see nothing but white clouds.  My GPS said I was almost over the village. About one mile from the airstrip, the clouds parted and there was this dome--a clear view of the village and airstrip. The clouds all around were down to the trees. I radioed that I was landing, and the other pilot said, "How is that possible?" I told him that we had a dome over the village with no clouds. The pastor suddenly looked very relieved, I reminded him that when we fly for the Lord, the outcome is His responsibility and He has opened a pathway through the storms many times for me. I told him that he had now witnessed it for himself.

Toni helped teach a CPR class at the hospital as well as feed, house, shop, and play tour guide for the volunteers staying at our house. She has been very busy, too.



Today I was able to fly a family into a village so they could bury their family member, who passed away yesterday.  Then, I  took a patient who needed a dentist really bad,where he could get help.  I then returned and took a pastor to another village for a baptism. As we were leaving, they asked us to come visit and pray for a very sick young woman who the doctors have not been able to help for the last 3 years. She was in a hammock in a house with a dirt floor, bark walls and flattened oil drums for a roof. It was hot and humid and she was not looking well. The pastor visited with her a few minutes, then we prayed for her asking God to heal her if it was His will. They were very happy to have us come pray for them. Now we will see how God answers those prayers.

We have a strong lead on a Cessna 182 that the Lord may be opening the doors for. We have a couple of airplane mechanics that are willing to help do the modifications it would need to become a "bush" plane.  We are seeking the Lord's will in getting the right plane and equipment to make it safe and efficient for His work here.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support.  God is blessing in a great way and we are happy to be a small part of the Lord's army. We flew over 550 hours last year and our maintenance bills were twice the fuel bills--thanks to the cost of the new engine , but you and God have made it all happen.  Thank you for being part of the team