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Archive for the ‘General’ Category

The Importance of Being There

Posted on: January 22nd, 2014 by Justin Honaker  |  Leave a comment

honakerSweat drips from my forehead and seeps into Mrs. Mofolo’s T-shirt as I count the chest compressions. I hadn’t realized I was sweating. It’s already been almost five minutes of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) with no response. I’m not giving up yet though.

Mrs. Mofolo was in labor several hours before I even arrived with the airplane. Somewhere on our fourteen minute flight to the hospital things became drastically worse for Mrs. Mofolo. She has drifted into shock and is unconscious by the time we land. To make matters worse, it’s New Year’s Day and no one is answering the phone at the hospital so there is no ambulance waiting for us.

She is too heavy for me to get her out of the airplane by myself, so I hold her head upright to keep her airway open. I’m trying to keep her with me by talking to her. My arm begins to burn with the weight of her head and the awkwardness of the small aircraft seats. I’m praying out loud for God to touch her and her baby and for His will in their lives, and hoping beyond hope for a miracle.

We’ve been on the ground 27 minutes and there is still no sign of the ambulance. Trying to do CPR from the seat of a Cessna 206 is not graceful. Eight minutes have passed since her last breath. I’m exhausted. And Mrs. Mofolo is gone.

I’ve done my best. I’m exhausted, physically and emotionally. As I’m praying I’m reminded that I am not always privy to God’s plan. A strange peace sweeps over me and I sense God’s love, even in the midst of this tragedy. It’s a hard thing, but I’m humbled that God chose to use me today.

Flights like this highlight the importance of MAF Lesotho’s flights, which make healthcare and emergency treatment available to nearly 300,000 Basotho people living in mountainous regions. Unfortunately, tragedies like this are common with 25% percent of the population dealing with HIV/AIDS.

Training Flight Part 2 – Engine Failure

Posted on: January 16th, 2014 by Chris Burgess  |  Leave a comment

This post is part of a series of blog posts describing a training flight that a new MAF staff person tagged along on. These training flights help prepare MAF pilots for their field assignments overseas. Past posts include How To Convince Yourself It’s Safe To Fly, MAF’s Delicious Landing Procedures, and Preparing For Takeoff.

photo 4“MAYDAY! MAYDAY! Engine failure! Three souls on board!”

The canyon walls rose around us as the plane dipped sharply. It looked as if I could reach out and scrape the rocks on either side of the plane with my knuckles—the same knuckles that were currently gripping the seatbelt as my stomach rose to my throat.

Earlier that morning we took off from the Nampa airport, adjacent to the MAF headquarters. It was a crisp, autumn morning and the Treasure Valley stretched out beneath us—bordered by the foothills of the Rockies to the north and the Owyhees to the south. The mountains rose to meet us as we crossed the Snake River.

“We are going to practice a ridge crossing,” said MAF Chief Pilot Brian Shepson into the headset as the Cessna approached a 6500 foot peak.

photoFlying through mountains can be dangerous, which is why MAF equips its pilots with procedures to increase situational awareness. One of these procedures is a “ridge crossing.” When approaching a mountain ridge or other terrain that might obscure vision, a pilot brings the plane to the edge of the ridge so he can see what lies beyond before circling back to make a second approach. This prevents the pilot from crossing a ridge blindly and unexpectedly flying into a taller mountain or other obstruction that could be hidden by the ridge.

Lying just past this particular ridge was a narrow, red-rock canyon called Leslie Gulch.

As pilot candidate Chris Ball made his second approach of the ridge crossing, Brian gave an unexpected instruction:

“Simulated engine failure. Bring the plane down through the canyon and find a place to land.”

Chris calmly dipped the nose of the plane into Leslie Gulch and relayed a simulated “mayday” call.

I, on the other hand, was not so calmly squirming in my seat looking for something to grab onto and wondering if the pilots had remembered to pack enough parachutes.

“Aim for that green patch,” Brian told Chris.

photo 1Chris guided the speeding plane through the red rock columns toward a narrow airstrip bordered by a few trees. The Cessna skimmed a few yards above the grass on this mock landing before rising up and out of the canyon again—leaving behind several confused cows and one passenger who wished he had brought an extra sick sack.

This training flight was going to be a little more exciting than I thought—and we hadn’t even made it to the lava field yet…

A Blessing In Disguise

Posted on: January 10th, 2014 by Laura Macias  |  Leave a comment

CapsWhen you start packing to move overseas, you begin by selecting the sentimental “stuff” that you think you can’t live without. For my husband and me, our favorite sports caps were a clear choice. He loves Notre Dame football, and I love the Boston Red Sox. The sports caps made it on the list to take to Costa Rica. That meant we would not only get relief from the sun but we would also be able to take a little bit of America along for the journey.

Although we wore our cherished sports caps in the lush tropical climate during the first half of 2013, the rainy season arrived in full force during the second half of the year and soon the team caps hung on the wall. There was no need to reach for them on mostly cloudy days.

IMG_6758Six months have passed and the rain has ceased. One of the small drawbacks of living in the tropics is the presence of mold. Our beloved caps fell victim to the pesky fungus as moisture slowly spread around the rounded crown and brim near the team logos without our notice. We could no longer wear them.

After the initial disappointment, we realized an important lesson: No matter how hard we cling to our valuables, our most prized material possessions will always be susceptible to decay and loss. It’s important to hold loosely to the physical while setting our sights on things above.

May the words of Jesus echo in our hearts and minds as we make Him the object of our affection.

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.” — Matthew 6:19-21

Preparing For Takeoff

Posted on: January 9th, 2014 by Chris Burgess  |  Leave a comment

I know you have all been waiting with bated breath to hear what happened since the last Thursday Flyer blog post. Well, I survived the training flight I got to tag along on—not without a few scares orchestrated by the pilots as a part of the training. The next few posts will detail our trek into the Idaho backcountry.

photo 2Morning light spilled into the MAF hangar as the large door rose to reveal the stunning Owyhee Mountains. Their snow-capped brilliance dwarfed the small Cessna 206 we were about to board. This small, metal vehicle was supposed to carry MAF Chief Pilot Brian Shepson, MAF candidate Chris Ball, and myself into one of the most remote parts of the US. I hoped both the plane and the pilots were up to the task of getting me safely back to my cozy cubicle at the end of the day.

photo 4“Here is your headset. You will be able to talk to Brian and me throughout the flight,” said Chris. “Get comfy and strap yourself in. Here is an extra water bottle. Oh yeah, and in case anything happens to Brian or myself, just flip the emergency locator switch there at the front of the cockpit.”


I sat in the backseat of the airplane and waited for the pilots to finish their pre-takeoff procedures outside. I thought about what I read on the Owyhee Mountains before the flight.

photo 3Straddling the Idaho/Oregon border, the Owyhees are a barren network of mountains, canyons, sagebrush, and volcanic fields. Owyhee County, Idaho—an area bigger than the state of New Jersey—is still policed by an actual sheriff’s posse and wild horses can be spotted running across the mountain prairies.
Our flight would take us into the heart of the Owyhees to a remote landing strip, where Chris would practice aborting takeoffs and try to master one of MAF’s most risky procedures: Drops.

Once Brian and Chris boarded the plane, Chris said a quick prayer, started the engine and taxied the plane toward the runway. Little did I know, the flights there and back would be just as exciting as the planned training exercises…

Top Ten Blog Posts For 2013

Posted on: January 6th, 2014 by MAF  |  Leave a comment

Sometimes serious, sometimes funny. The MAF bloggers entertain and enlighten us about life as an MAF missionary or give us a new perspective on the ministry. We hope you’ve enjoyed each of our blog contributors this year. Just for fun, let’s take a look back at some of the most widely read blog posts of 2013.

A sleepy passenger. Joe Perez tags along on a flight with his dad. Photo by Daniel Perez.

A sleepy passenger. Joe Perez tags along on a flight with his dad. Photo by Daniel Perez.

#10—What happens when you try to make a simple pancake breakfast in Haiti. Turns out it’s anything but simple.

#9—Thanksgivings in Indonesia may be different than what this MAF wife grew up with, but they’ve become some of her most memorable ones.

#8—What’s it like to live in an aviation town? Here’s a glimpse of life at MAF’s Wamena base.

#7—The advantages of flying the new KODIAKs are evident as this MAF pilot takes us through one day in the KODIAK.

#6—While MAF pilots must focus on what’s in front of them when operating the plane, it’s what’s behind them that matters.

#5—As told from the perspective of an MK (missionary kid), the heartbreak that comes from leaving Congo. This one received a bundle of encouraging comments.

#4—When a new staff person had the chance to tag along on a training flight, he first had to overcome his own fears about flying. (I think it’s safe to say he’d do it again in a heartbeat.)

Showing the “JESUS” Film in Namialo, Mozambique. Photo by Jill Holmes.

Showing the “JESUS” Film in Namialo, Mozambique. Photo by Jill Holmes.

#3—An MAF family shares reflections on their first term of service in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

#2—Some thoughts on “delicious” landing procedures, or some of the hazards to watch for upon landing, including pigs and cows.

#1—Three things you may not have known about MKs … our most widely read post of the year!

A huge Thank You to all of the MAF blog writers that contributed in 2013. Blessings to all of you in 2014! We look forward to more of your stories in the coming year.

Blog writers in Africa: Kimberly Baker, Nancy Burton, Nick & Jocelyn Frey, Owen Fuller, Jill Holmes, Lydia Hochstetler (MK Corner), Megan Harrell, Justin Honaker, Gerd LePoidevin

Blog writers in Haiti: Karen Broyles, Christine Harms, Liz Schandorff

Blog writers in Indonesia: Rebecca & Sean Cannon, Amy Chin, Dave Forney, Daniel Geaslen, Natalie Holsten, Rebecca Hopkins, Joy Neal, Daniel Perez, Linda Ringenberg, Ellie Scheer, Jonathan Smith (MK Corner)

Blog writers at headquarters: Ashleigh Boyd (MK Corner), Chris Burgess, Sarah Gorenflo (MK Corner), and Jim Manley

Blog writers in other areas: Laura Macias (Costa Rica); Lady “M” and our Between the Verses contributor (restricted-access countries)