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.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

              Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 
                        Love, Gary & Toni Lewis

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Detour Ahead!

I'm sure that most of you who have done much driving have come across "detour ahead" signs. You have to divert and leave your planned route in order to reach your destination. Sometimes the detours are short and sometimes they go a ways out of the way and take awhile before you get back to your original path. Remember the story of Caleb and Joshua and the 10 spies.  Caleb and Joshua were ready to enter the promised land but the others lacked faith, so the children of Israel had to detour for many more years in the wilderness before reaching their goal.
We have been planning and preparing to go to Papua New Guinea (PNG), where we feel strongly that the Lord has been calling us. Many obstacles have been overcome and many doors have been opened. However there are some that have arisen now that seem to make it impossible for us to get there anytime soon.  Because of this and our strong desire to get back out to the "bush" we have been offered the opportunity to go to the Philippines until the doors open for us in PNG. 
Adventist World Aviation (AWA) has an unfinished airbase there, that currently has no pilot or plane in operation. Gary is going over there with an AWA officer next month to see what needs to be done and how to pack for deployment.  The needs are great there too, with thousands of islands that have many unreached people.  We hope to begin flights to many of these remote tribes with medical help and the story of Jesus. AWA has another family and plane that are planing to go there in a couple of years, but we would be trying to get things started now so that things are up and running when they get there and then hopefully by then we can hop on over to Papua. 
The Philippine project presents many challenges too, but with God as our Leader and Pilot, all things are possible. The airbase is on the island of Palawan and needs to be completed so that it is useful in serving the needs of the project there.
For those of you thinking of or looking for a place to spend some time in the mission field, (short visit or longer) the cost to get to the Philippines is quite a bit cheaper than going to PNG.  We always welcome missionaries.
The airplane is operating well and is a joy to fly. The cost of getting the plane and ourselves deployed to the Philippines is no small sum, but our God has proved to us many times that He is able to meet our needs for the task He gives us. He is Faithful!.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support,

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tragedy in the Jungle

It is with a heavy heart and much sadness that we write this update for you. Last Monday, Nov 26 our former student, good friend, and fellow missionary, John Lello, was killed while cutting trees in Papua New Guinea.  He was 46 and leaves a lovely wife Pam, and two young daughters. There were working as volunteers in PNG since March of this year trying to help a remote village in the Sepik Delta of PNG.  If you will look back on our blog site to a post (an email we sent out) in Sept. you will see a copy of a letter John sent us asking us to come to PNG quickly as there is so much work to do and so great a need. Two weeks ago, while I was in Idaho picking up the airplane, I received a phone call from John via his sat. phone in the bush asking us to please come quickly and he was trying to help get things lined up for us on that end so it would be easier for us to get the necessary permissions and support. He was doing his best to help make if possible for us to come.  He said it would be such a huge blessing if we would take our little plane and make a circuit to as many of the remote villages as possible, to do medical clinics on a regular basis. These are villages that very rarely, if ever, see a health worker of any kind.  Toni is very excited about being involved in this. John was hoping to help with this as well, and also to tend to spiritual needs of the villages.  Now he is resting until the Lord calls him forth on the resurrection morning. Why his life ended so soon, after being there such a short time, we will have to wait until heaven to find out. We are looking forward to seeing John in heaven and being able to fly with him there. Pam and the girls will be returning to the USA after they complete saying their good byes this week.  Our hearts and prayers go out to them during this painful time.
John and his family came to do a water system project in a remote village (Paruima) in Guyana while we were there. They stayed at our house upon arrival and when they departed.  I got to fly them in and out, and flew in many of the supplies that they needed to put in the water system.  The whole family was involved and in the evenings after dark, John would give Bible studies to those who were interested.  This is a true volunteer missionary family.  The price of missions can be very high, but the reward that is awaiting the faithful, is out of this world!  Rest in peace my brother John.

www.forevermissed.com/johnlello/#about  Here is the url for more info on John's death.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Airplane ready

Hi Family and friends,
The long wait to get the airplane airborne has finally arrived.  It has been test flown by the mechanic and last adjustments are being made and the paperwork is finally complete. Gary is flying up to Idaho this week to pick it up and fly it back to Arizona.  He needs to spend some time flying it since he has not flown in a long time.  So we are one big step closer to returning to the bush. Gary will have the "SPOT" tracker on so you can follow his flight to Arizona next week if you like.  We will post some pictures on the blog site and on Facebook by Thanksgiving we hope. Thank you for your prayers and support to make this possible. May you be blessed as we head into this holiday season and remember those who have so much less.
Gary and Toni Lewis

donations can be sent to:
Adventist World Aviation
P.O. Box 444
Sullivan, WI  53178-0444

Please include note: Lewis project

Monday, September 24, 2012

A plea from the jungle

Dear Family and Friends
We have not forgotten how to write, but wanted to wait until we had something new to share. God is still at work and we still see His hand working on our behalf.  Yes we would like things to move much faster so we can get to work in Papua New Guinea (PNG), but God has His own timing.  We don't want to rush ahead of Him nor do we want to be found sleeping when He says now is the time to go.  
Yesterday I received a phone call from the jungles of PNG from our friends John and Pam Lello. What a treat that was.  They shared with us the urgent need of an airplane and nurse to serve in their area of service.  John is a former student of ours and they have 2 young daughters working not "too far" from where we plan to locate.  They also sent us an email describing the needs there so we are including that for you to read.  Their area is just one part of the Sepik we will be serving so you can see the great need. They are hoping for medical teams to make regular visits to these remote villages that never see a health worker.  It will be too much for Toni and I to even do, so we are also looking for some people willing to go to the front lines of service, be it for short term or longer.  If you feel the call to go, please contact us or Adventist World Aviation (AWA) offices in WI to learn how you can serve in the field.
Here is the letter from John and Pam

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My family and I send you greetings from the remote upper reaches of the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea where we have been serving as Adventist Frontier Missionaries for the past seven months.  Currently we are engaged in language learning at May River Station where John and Belinda Kent began a church planting movement more than twenty years ago.  Soon, however, we will be moving to Ama, a location about one day's travel further into the bush, to start a new church planting movement among the Sawiano people and eventually a layman's training center that will train and equip God's people to serve Him more effectively in their churches and missionary endeavors.
The two greatest problems we face as missionaries in this very remote area are the lack of basic medical services and transportation.  Currently, the Seventh-day Adventist Sepik Mission operates a health clinic at May River Station that serves approximately 6,500 people from nearly 50 villages spread out over an area of about 1,250 square miles of swamp, jungle and mountains terrain.  Since the only way for workers from the clinic to travel to these villages is by boat and foot, it can take a full day of travel to reach the most remote parts of the area served by the clinic and then additional days to travel between the villages.  Adding to the difficulty of travel is the fact that there is currently only one nurse serving at the May River Clinic.  It is no wonder than that some villages have waited for years between visits while large numbers of their people die from malaria, tuberculosis and a host of other tropical diseases.
The second great need in the area is that of transportation.  Currently, Good Samaritan Aviation flies medical supplies to May River Clinic and evacuates emergency cases to Boram Hospital in Wewak.  However, since Good Samaritan Aviation operates a single float plane, they can only land on large rivers and cannot fly to the airstrips in the bush.  This means that emergency cases from these areas must be transported on improvised stretchers and in dugout canoes to May River Station before receiving care and being sent on to Wewak.
Another difficulty we face is that of transporting supplies for our mission by land and boat from Wewak once every three months.  The trip begins in May River with a sixteen hour boat trip down the May and Sepik rivers in a dugout canoe powered by an outboard motor followed by another six to eight hours on the back of a flat bed truck ending up in Wewak.  After arriving in Wewak, we walk from store to store purchasing food and materials for the next three months, load them onto another flatbed truck and begin the return trip.  In addition to being difficult the whole process consumes a lot of time and resources that could otherwise be used to serve people.
So you can understand why we literally shouted for joy and praised the Lord when we heard that Gary and Toni would be coming to work in our area with Adventist World Aviaition.  Their work as a Christian medical aviation team in this area will completely change the lives of thousands of people and provide vital support for our mission as well as the missionary efforts of many missionaries from Papua New Guinea who want to serve their own people in this remote location.  Words cannot express the impact that these two seasoned missionaries will have for the gospel in this place of darkness.  If you have supported Gary and Toni in the past, please continue to support them as they clear the last few hurdles and begin their mission service here in Papua New Guinea, and if you have not yet started, please consider beginning a monthly gift to this very worthy cause.  The first time someone thanks you for sending Gary and Toni, in heaven will make it all worth it.
John, Pam, Abby and Alissa Lello
Adventist Frontier Missionaries to the Sawiano

If you would like to help with this project, funds can be sent to:
Adventist World Aviation
P.O. Box 444
Sullivan, WI 53178-0444
Please include note "Lewis Project PNG"

Thank you for your prayers and support, 
May God bless you.
Gary and Toni Lewis

Sunday, July 22, 2012

expanding our network

After much prayer, we have felt strongly that we needed to make a change for the following reasons:  We need a larger network of resource people in the USA to help provide mechanics, parts, insurance on the plane, (so we can fly other missionaries, as well as conference people), and getting a home base built and maintained.  We have been invited to join up with Adventist World Aviation (AWA), who has been doing volunteer mission aviation for many years in Guyana, Philippines, Alaska, and various other areas of the US.  Hope on Wings has been a great help in getting us contacts to start up in Papua New Guinea  (PNG), and hopefully we can help them start up when they get pilots in PNG.  This is a huge undertaking to start a new project from the ground up; in a new country; and we're going to need all the resources, support and prayers we can get to make it happen.  We continue to get requests from PNG for us to hurry up and get there, because the needs are so great.  We will have to re-do some of the paperwork, (due to changing organizations) which will delay us some, but are working hard to do everything we can to move things along.  All funds and gifts that have been given to us for the PNG project are still being used for this project in PNG. Thank you for your continued support.   Our new donation address is: Adventist World Aviation P.O. Box 444 Sullivan WI 53178-0444. Please include note stating: "Lewis Project".

Monday, June 18, 2012

airplane hanger ready to ship

We just attended Arizona camp meeting and heard some very good spiritual messages.  We were able to share with many people about our plans for Papua New Guinea and  see many of our Arizona friends.  Gary worked hard to get the welding done on the hanger before everyone arrived at the camp, so he wasn't in the way, and didn't have to worry about people watching the arc welding.  During camp meeting, he finished painting the steel. We will purchase the roofing and the wood for the purlins over there. It will be a great help-- not only for the plane but for catching rain water, as well.  That will be our source of water.
Thank you for your continued support and prayers.  God is still at work and things are moving forward. Delays seem hard to understand, but in His time we will understand and be glad we followed His guidance.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Construction of airplane hanger

The trusses are welded up and beginning the process of painting them with rust primer.
Stack of trusses waiting for paint

Trusses and outriggers

Post for the hanger all painted

This is what the hanger will look like when erected in PNG!
all welded, painted and ready for shipment

Sunday, May 20, 2012

construction of airplane hanger frame for PNG

steel for airplane hanger in PNG

 work space
Lari helping doing some of the grinding

Lari cutting steel for the hanger

first post welded up and ready for paint

preparing for welding

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Today Gary got started on cutting and welding the metal up for our new airplane hanger for PNG. He is welding up the post and trusses so that they will fit in our container to ship to PNG. When it all arrives we will be able to assemble with bolts and very little welding.  That is important when there is no electricity available outside of a small generator we are taking.  We have also been given a small welder to take along that we can use to attach some pieces that can't be welded here. It is a big project but we are happy to be moving closer to our goal.  This will provide shade and protection for the aircraft and a place to work on it out of the rain.  The hanger is 54x50 and then has eves that are an additional 12 ft so we can put the container under roof and also make a place to store the fuel drums and keep them locked up. We are so grateful for the donations that have made this part possible.  We will purchase the roofing when we get down there and have the funds to do so.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Picking Up Steam

Greetings to all of our family and friends,
Well things seem to be picking up steam again for going to Papua New Guinea (PNG). The wait has been very long and frustrating at times, but we have to keep reminding ourselves that it will happen in God's time as He sees best.
We have been getting some encouragement from some friends here in Prescott to proceed with building the structure for a hanger for the plane.  We have received plans from a friend in AR and we are working on getting the materials listed out so we can purchase the steel.  We are planing to weld up the post and trusses here in AZ and then include them in our container we are shipping to PNG.  These friends, here in Prescott, then want to come over and help us put it up!!  It will be a real blessing to have the plane under roof to keep it out of the weather and easier to work on.  We will purchase the roofing and wood in PNG as soon as the money is available.
We are waiting to hear that Toni's permit for nursing has been granted so she can get her work permit.   Hopefully we hear on the nursing issue this month yet.
We have another family that is very seriously considering coming down to work with us for at least a year.  He is working his pilots license so he can do some training with me while he is down there, and he will help with the air base operations and communications.  We are really excited about this development, as it will provide someone from here to work with us and to do things with.  It will be nice to have friends to work with, especially when we are so remote. 
The annual inspection is nearing completion on the plane.  There have been a few things to fix and the paper work is taking lots of time.  We are still hoping we can have it done by the end of this month.
The company that ferries planes around the world, has agreed to fly ours to PNG, if we can have it ready for them to build fuel tanks for the cabin, and be able to fly it there by early September.  So we are trying to get everything ready by then.  We just need to get the plane done so Gary can fly it some-- to get back in practice and make sure everything is in good shape.  By having it ferried to PNG, this will allow us to ship a 20' container instead of a 40' one, and it can then go all the way to the port near where our base will be located.
All of these items cost plenty of money and we know God will provide as He sees best.  He has not failed us yet.  So we move forward as we see Him opening the way for us.  Thank you for your prayers and support!
Gary and Toni
Donations can be sent to "Hope on Wings"
P.O. Box 122
Hepler, Kansas  66746   Please include a note stating "Lewis project"
thank you so much and may God repay you many times over.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

First visit to Africa

Gary just returned from his first trip to the African continent.  He was there almost a month working and visiting Ethiopia and Tanzania. He went over with the objective of helping to build "one day schools" but the materials were held up in customs so that plan was changed.  He ended up helping with maintenance and construction projects at Gimbie Adventist Hospital. Some of the missionaries there were able to provide valuable midwife and maternity information for Toni to use in PNG.  After landing in Addis Ababa and spending a couple of days at the Union office waiting for transportation he took a 12+ hr ride, 450 km. bus ride to Gimbie.  He was able to renew his friendship with Elder Ted Wilson and his wife when they passed through Addis while he was there.  Ethiopia was in dry season and everything was very dry and there was  red dust everywhere.  In many ways Ethiopia has things like South America, but many things are very different too.  It was nice to see a different part of the world.  As he was leaving Gimbie by bus his camera was stolen, so he only has pictures that he had downloaded from the first 2 weeks.
After Ethiopia, he flew to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and then took another 9+ hr bus ride about 600 km (much better road) to Kibadula Farms.  It is a school, operated as a supporting ministry of the Adventist church.  They have about 4500 acres and have a very active program.  They have sheep and cattle, orchards, primary school, school of agriculture for kids who fail primary school, school of evangelism, publishing work, medical outreach and a flight base with an airstrip, hanger and 1.5 planes.  The second plane is a kit, and being finished up by a volunteer from the States.  It was near the end of the rainy season there, so everything was very green compared to Ethiopia. On the return trip to Dar Es Salaam for the flight home he was able to go by pickup and see some of the wild life Africa is famous for, so that was a special treat.  One of the most rewarding parts of the trip was meeting and sharing with other missionaries in that part of the world, seeing and hearing how God provides for them too.  Many of the struggles are the same, but we all serve the same God, who is Faithful!
While Gary was in Africa Toni stayed in Arizona, and continued with her work, and also was able to get some hands on experience observing deliveries at the birthing center at the hospital.  She also was able to learn some suturing skills from a surgeon and surgical tech.  She is trying to get prepared for a variety of medical needs at PNG.   We also received word that a work permit has been granted for Gary in PNG, the most difficult part of getting a visa.  Toni has to have clearance from the nursing council there first, before she can get hers.  It was amazing to see that the permit came within just 3 weeks after the papers being submitted. The visa is supposed to come very soon after the work permit is issued. 

Toni's nursing license was just renewed (here in Arizona) now that she was able to get her 1000 hrs of work completed, so that is a real blessing.  Her work has provided for our personal expenses while living here in the US, as well as helping  with the  launching expenses to start the base in PNG.  We still have a ways to go on that yet, but we know that God will provide all that we need-- when we need it.  All of the  funds that have been given for the PNG project have been used for just that, none of it was used for our personal expenses here, or for the trip to Africa.  The trip to Africa was a good mission trip, but we didn't want to use funds that were given for PNG for that, so God provided other means.  He is Faithful!

Friday, February 24, 2012

moving forward again

It is only a few more days before Gary heads off to Ethiopia and Tanzania to help with some projects over there for a few weeks.  Toni will remain in Prescott working at the surgery center.
Since our last news letter there has been some very encouraging progress on the visa to PNG.  We have an agent now who processes visa's for a business.  We were put in contact with her through a relative of hers that we have known a long time and worked with us in Pathfinders. She has gotten the ball rolling again and hopes to have a work permit and visa for us soon. She has also agreed to donate her time in getting this done. God is so good to us. We may have it by spring she says.
Work is progressing on the paper work for the plane and hope to have the annual inspection done on it while Gary is in Africa. Maybe it will be ready to fly by the time he returns to the US.
It is not always easy to understand God's timing and ways of doing things, but we do know that He is faithful and works things out for our best interest and good.  He has proved Himself so many times to us and continues to provided assurances that He has not forgotten us. He loves each of His children and wants the best for each if we will only surrender ourselves to Him.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Building project

Greetings to all of our family and friends
Many of you are wondering what has happened to us and if we have left
for Papua New Guinea (PNG) or are we even going? First of all, no-- we
have not left yet and we are still in Arizona where Toni is still
working as a nurse in outpatient surgery.  She is really enjoying her
time there and getting her skills updated. Second, we are still
waiting for a visa so we can go to PNG.  It looks like it will require
another trip over there by the director of Hope on Wings to get things
going again. Friends there in PNG keep asking when we are coming, but
we can't go without a visa, we are anxious to go, but....  We do not
understand the delays some times, but we have to remember that this is
God's work and sometimes delays are for a reason that we may not see
right away. We are trusting that He will get us back on the front
lines in His time and on time.
An opportunity came knocking this week for Gary to go to Ethiopia to
help build 12 school buildings on 2 locations in less than 3 weeks.
Things worked out for him to get his tickets and arrangements made all
within 3 days.  He will be gone most of the month of March and will
also be helping at an agricultural school in Tanzania. He is excited
to have this opportunity to get back on the "front lines" for a few
weeks and see a new part of the world for him.
Things are progressing, albeit slowly, on the plane.  We have hired a
mechanic to finish up the last of the paper work and do the annual and
final inspection on the plane.  The 2 volunteer mechanics that have
worked on it for so long and have done a great job, but were not able
to spend the time to finish it, so we have had to hire someone to
finish it.
Thank you so much again for your prayers and support.  God leads and
provides in interesting and unexpected ways so many times.  It keeps
life interesting to see Him at work.
May God Bless you.
Gary and Toni Lewis
Donations can be sent to:
Hope on Wings
P.O. Box 122
Hepler, Kansas 66746
please include a note stating: "Lewis project"