Saturday, August 17, 2019

2019 Gabon Airplane Projects

As Alace and I move back to join the Gabon work full-time, we are excited to be joined by a short term visiting team of 4 who will give us some wonderful technical support.  It is incredible that these men would take vacation time away from family and friends to sacrificially serve us!  Please help support them by your prayers and donations to this project (see below).  The work will take place from mid-September to mid-October 2019


* Ben Wigton- from Salem, OR, fellow LeTourneau U grad, avionics wiz

* Dale Coates- from MMS Aviation in OH- has worked on our aircraft multiple times

* Dr. Drew Huang- an American missionary from Gabon, a Bongolo Hospital doctor also certified as an A&P mechanic

* Dan Snow- a JAARS mechanic based in Waxhaw, NC, has worked on the aircraft last December, and previously lived in Cameroon.


The main tasks will be removal of older style "dial" gages and installation of more modern screen instrumentation (dual Garmin G5 units).  The instruments being upgraded are the Attitude Indicator and the Directional Gyro/HSI.  This also solves a challenge we've been having with other finicky systems that have resulted in not being able to fly into "instrument" (IFR) conditions- into the clouds and through weather that brings lower visibility.
Dual Garmin G5 installation

Additional improvements to the aircraft will be items such as Refueling handholds added to the nose, a more effective tailskid, and switching from an old, HF radio style flight-follow system to a satellite-based system (Spider Tracks).

AIRCRAFT REPAIRS-  Need $2228.00
Utilization of the aircraft always leads to wear and tear.  Some of those items that we'll be repairing are a malfunctioning fuel pump microswitch and the bracket that supports it, a couple exhaust brackets, and some sticky buttons on our Garmin GPS unit.
Spidertracks satellite based flight following 

At set intervals, we change out particular things, such as oil filters, air filters, fuel filters, gaskets, o-rings, spark plugs and more.

A first-rate insurance policy, flight permits, parking fees, landing fees, and navigational GPS database subscriptions are some of the items that make up the operational costs we will be facing in these next couple months.

Our largest expenditure for ramping up the aviation service will be the critical items such as the annual flight permits and annual recertification of the airport at the Bongolo Hospital.  Other costs are recurrency flights for the pilot as well as the "return-to-service" flights that are important after the aircraft has been in the hangar for maintenance and repairs.


Please partner with us in this work!  Please pray for our PEOPLE and PROJECTS... and consider PARTICIPATION through a generous gift to this important work.
Yes- there is an airstrip there!

ONLINE GIVING:  visit and scroll down to "Select International Worker/Special Project" and enter "Gabon Airplane" (note- the entry will not come up as an automatic selection, but it will still work).

BY CHECK:  Send your check made out to "The Alliance" and write "Gabon Airplane" in the memo line.  Mail to: 8595 Explorer Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80920

Thank you so much for considering supporting this critical effort to bring health and hope to the Central Africa region through teamwork with the local churches there.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Straw Air Mail- Summer Update

Enjoy our FULL summer update below!  It can also be downloaded... please share as much as you would like!  If you are interested in receiving our updates in your US Postal Service mailbox, please give us your address, and you'll receive these one page updates about a week in advance of when they are available online.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Transitioning Well

This is a time of year when many people are making transitions... and we are no exception.  It's so very hard, especially when there are some unexpected curve balls thrown in.  The stress of transition can cause your grace and kindness to go out the window if you're not careful.  A good friend shared some excellent reminders about how to do this well.  I hope you enjoy this article:

(for more good content from this author, check out the blogsite:

It’s that time of year again.  Leaving time.

This is the time when thousands of individuals and families who have spent time living in a foreign country, will pack it up and call it a day.  If you’ve never been that person you may be surprised that there is a specific high season for leaving but if you call yourself a foreigner I probably just struck a chord.  Even if you’re staying right where you are the annual Expat Exodus is a tough time.

Here are ten tips for repatriating with dignity.

Tip #1:  Make a Plan

Seriously.  The last days of your expat experience are inevitably going to be chaotic.  Your schedule will get crammed with unexpected details and all of the things you really want to do run the risk of being pushed out.  The day you wanted to spend with your closest friends will get squeezed by your well-meaning 15th closest friends who “need” to take you out to dinner.  You get stuck regretting that you missed a lost opportunity with your #1’s or feeling like an absolute jerk to your #15’s.
It all works better with a plan.  Start as early as you can.  Include appropriate time for your 15’s but reserve your best time for your 1’s.
Take an hour.  A day.  A weekend.  Write it out.  Make a spreadsheet.  Draw a picture.  Whatever works for you but make a plan.

Tip #2:  Build a RAFT

One of the simplest and most brilliant plans for transitioning well was developed by the late Dr. David Pollock.  It’s called building a RAFT (genius).  Paying attention to these four areas can mean the difference between success or failure, flopping or thriving,  great memories or horrible regrets.  Way too much for one blog post but you should Google it (Try “Pollock RAFT”).
Here’s the short version of what goes into a RAFT:
Reconciliation:  Strained or broken relationships don’t go away when you do.  Make it right.
Affirmation:  People are dense.  Don’t assume they know how much impact they have had on your life.  Say it well.
Farewell:  Different people need different goodbyes.  Think beyond people (places, pets and possessions too).
Think Destination:  Even if you’re going “home”, much has changed.  Brace yourself.  Think forward.

Tip #3:  Leave Right Now

When are you leaving?  June 6th?  15th?  21st?
Chances are you answer that question with the date on your plane ticket.  Fair enough and technically correct but if you think you are leaving when you get on the plane you’re missing something really important.
Leaving is a PROCESS — not an event.
You started leaving when you made the decision to go and you will be leaving even as you settle in to your next home.  Everything you do as you prepare for the airplane is a part of the process.  Each meal with friends, each walk around the city, each trip to the market, each bumbling foreigner mistake are all pieces of the process which is closing out your full expat experience.
You are leaving now.

Tip #4:  Give Your Best Stuff Away

What to do with the things you can’t take with you is always an issue.  Don’t be surprised when the non-leaving expats come crawling out of the woodworks to lay claim on your toaster oven or your bicycle.  Opening your home for a “rummage” sale may be a good way to sneak in some good goodbyes.  Posting pictures online or sending an email may get you a better price with less work.
Consider this though — Giving your stuff away might just be a great way to add some gusto to your goodbyes.  Giving your BFF something that you could sell for a lot of money can be a powerful expression of how much you value their friendship.  It’s not about price.  It’s about value.  Maybe it’s a cheap trinket with a special memory attached.  Even better but give something more than your leftover ketchup and mop bucket.

Tip #5:  Photo Bomb Everything

Go crazy with the pictures.  Pictures are what you’re going to be looking at twenty years from now when you can barely remember what life was like way back then.  There is no better way to capture great events.  More than that though, pictures can become the event themselves.  Grab your friends, your camera and hit the town like supermodels.  Go to your favorite spots.  Eat your favorite foods.  Take a thousand pictures (that’s a conservative number) and laugh until it hurts.
You’ll love yourself for doing it in 20 years.
Too crazy for your blood?  Tone it down and hire a photographer to do a photo shoot for you and your friends.  Then go to dinner.
Picture events can be a great way to say goodbye to your friends and the memories will last for decades.

Tip #6:  Rank Your Friends

You read me right.  Don’t be afraid to rate your friends from best to worst.  Write down everyone you know and tag a number on them.  Your highest ranking friends need a special level of your attention as you leave.  In contrast you don’t need to do dinner with people if you don’t know their name.
Here’s an example but make it your own
Closest Friends — Quality time alone – Go away for the weekend
Close friends — Go to dinner individually
Good Friends — Go out as a small group
Friends — Invite to a going away party
Acquaintances — Send an email about your departure
Stupid People — Walk the other way when you see them
Important sidenote – Once you have your plan you should destroy all evidence that you ever ranked your friends.  Seriously.  What kind of person are you?  Jerk.

Tip #7:  Don’t Fret the Tears or the Lack Thereof

Know what’s really common as you pack up to shift every piece of your life to a different part of the planet and say goodbye to people and places you have grown to love deeply?
Know what else is common?
Lack of emotion.
Strange I know but people are different.  Crying makes sense.  There is plenty to cry about.  However, wanting to cry and not being able to is every bit as normal.  Maybe it’s because you’ve already cried yourself out.  Maybe it’s because the hard part for you was the process of deciding to leave and you spent all your emotion there.  Maybe you just can’t wait to get out.
Whatever the reason — don’t feel guilty for weeping like a baby . . . or for not.

Tip #8:  Get specific

When you are telling people how much they mean to you don’t settle for the generic version:
“Hey, (punch on the shoulder) you really mean a lot to me.”
Where I come from, that would pass for good, solid, heartfelt, transparent affirmation.  Almost too mushy.  But try setting that statement aside for a moment and lead with the specifics.
  • What have they done that means so much to you?
  • How has that impacted your life?
  • What qualities have they shared that you are taking with you?
  • What are some specific examples?
  • How are you a better person for knowing them?
THEN finish with . . . “and you really mean a lot to me.”
People are dense.  Don’t assume they know how you feel.
Bonus Tip:  You get extra points for being awkward.  Make eye contact.  Go for broke.

Tip #9:  Do Your Homework

What’s the protocol for checking out of your apartment complex?
What’s the penalty for breaking your lease?
What immunizations and paperwork does your cat need to fly home with you?
Does he need to be quarantined?  Before you leave?  After you arrive?
How do you close out your bank account?  Your cell phone?
What’s the weight limit for luggage on your airline?  What’s the penalty for going over?
This list goes on and on and only bits and pieces of it are relevant to you.  But in the masterful words of G.I. Joe, “Knowing is half the battle.”
A little homework early can save you a huge headache and a boatload of cash during an already stressful time.

Tip #10:  GRACE — Give it freely and keep some for yourself

When your good friend finds out you’re leaving and asks if he can have your TV . . . Give him some grace.
When your kids don’t know how to process so they just fight . . . Give them some grace.
When your husband shuts down and doesn’t talk for a day . . . Give him some grace.
When your wife explodes for “no reason” . . . Grace.
When your landlord tries to milk you for some extra money . . . Grace.
When the whole community doesn’t even seem to care that you’re leaving . . . Grace.
When your #15 asks if she can ride to the airport with you and your #1 . . . Grace.
When someone offers you half what your asking for your Christmas tree . . . Grace.
When you fall apart and snap on your friends, your kids, your spouse or the lady trying to steal your Christmas tree . . . it’s for you too . . . Grace.
Leaving is hard.  There’s really no way around it.  People whom you love dearly will inevitably and with the best of intentions, say and do very stupid things.  So will you.


If you are packing up, I hope this helps.
If you know someone who is packing up, pass it on.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Back to Africa- Changes

MAY 2019

Heading Back to Africa!!!

We are in the home stretch for wrapping up our 3 year assignment of starting the apprenticeship program, here in the US, and getting back to living full time in Gabon.  We'll be, once again, serving an international team, focused mainly on using our skills in aviation and team care, to make disciples and build up the national church.

New Giving Instructions

We will be back under the umbrella of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, so our supporters will, once again, need to direct their support through their offices.  Here is an update on that...

It's ONLY with your teamwork, that we can reach remote people with the God's Love and Compassion!  Through this blog, we hope that you can read about the many ways that the LOVE of GOD is being creatively expressed in Word and Deed.

As you consider your role on this team, we ask that you start with PRAYER!  Add your email address to our update list...

.What Next???  Be the wind beneath our wings!!!  Please Sustain this work by giving to our program budget.  Together we make a great team!  Here are your options to make your tax-deductible donation:

1.  ON-LINE E-CHECK or CREDIT CARD: Visit ““ and enter “Steve Straw” where it says “Type name of worker”.  Then simply follow the directions.

2.  BY MAIL:  Make checks to “C&MA”, and put “Straw-mm” in the memo.  Send to:  C&MA-mm, 8595 Explorer Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80920

3.  BANK AUTO WITHDRAWAL:  Contact Steve and Alace at “” and they will send you a form to fill out.

4. BY PHONE:  The C&MA will also help you make a contribution over the phone, with your credit card.  Please call 866-443-8262 (9:30am-5pm EST, Mon-Fri).

You will receive a tax-deductible receipt promptly.

If you are joining our team of sustaining supporters (regular donors), we'd love to know.  Please drop us a line at "", as it is critical to our budget planning.

Thanks so much for your support!  We can't do it without you.


Steve and Alace Straw

Friday, April 26, 2019

PA Airplane Tour - Part II

Airports!!!  Aircraft!!!  Win an Airplane Ride!!!

Join Alace and Steve as they share
about their continuing work Africa!

     This Sunday, 28 April
          8:30 & 10:30am @ York Alliance Church, York, PA
                    ~  Presentation during services
          2-5pm:  @ York Airport (Thomasville), PA
                    ~  Open House- Stop in and Visit
                    ~  Enter name to win a flight!

     Next Saturday, 04 May
          1-4pm: @ Quarter-to-Two Flying Club, Williamsport Regional Airport, Montoursville, PA (700 Airport Rd.)
                    ~  Open House- Stop in and Visit
                    ~  Flying Club giving rides ($)
                    ~  Enter name to win a flight!

      Next  Sunday, 05 May
          8:45 & 10:30am @ Fairlawn Community Church, Cogan Station, PA
                    ~  Presentation during services         

Monday, March 11, 2019


Hey Everyone,

If you are interested in hearing more about our upcoming deployment to Gabon, click on this LINK:       PODCAST

On that website, scroll down until you see the picture to the right...

The corresponding powerpoint is below, viewed as a PDF file.

The sermon was given to Westside Chapel, Greensboro, NC, our church family for the past 2 1/2 years, while we've been on a special assignment.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Update: 2019 Launch... Back to Africa!

Alace & I with her sweet mom
Thank you for praying for the difficult situation with Alace’s mother in Ohio.  Her husband is now in a care facility that is better suited for his type of dementia.  Some legal matters are still in need of sorting out.

Mission Pilot Apprentices @ MAG
Praise the Lord for a fruitful season of training new missionaries!  Two years ago, our agency, Missionary Air Group, asked Steve to oversee a new apprentice mission pilot training program- the first of its kind.  This past month, we graduated the first pilot whose family is planning on serving in Bolivia.  In May, the next two will graduate- one going to minister to Russian and Thai (yes, Thai!) pilots at a training base in Alaska, and the other to Honduras.  Pray for the 4th and 5th graduate who may be heading to help in Gabon!  Executing this new program has been challenging- it’s great to see this fruit!
Alace, top right, part of the staff at JAARS "ICC" Program

Alace is part of a training team at JAARS, in the middle of a 5-week pre-field training of 25 new missionaries heading out to serve all over the world.  This is the third year of her participating- over 100 missionaries trained!We are excited as we help our daughter, Megan, to get ready for her wedding to John Lewis, April 13th!

Be expecting a lot more flying pictures in Africa in 2019.

We sense the Lord’s guidance to return, full-time, to Gabon in 2019- likely leaving the US at the end of May.

There are a lot of details to work through and some “re-launch” needs.  We'll be sharing more about this through our blog and your mailbox soon (make sure we have your current address!).

Thank you for your prayers!


Steve and Alace

Saturday, February 2, 2019

2019 Gabon Container Info


Dear co-laborers in the ministry of the 
Bongolo Hospital,

We want to wish all of Bongolo Hospital ministry partners a wonderful 2019. We so appreciate all the help you have been in this ministry through-out the years! Dr. Renee Valach wrote recently that around 1,400 people have decided to follow Jesus in 2018. She asks for prayer concerning some needs: for more Gabonese nurses, a long-term primary care missionary doctor, and a project manager to coordinate the construction and infrastructure projects.  
There will be a shipment going out this year and the packages are to arrive at ARK Transportation between Jan. 15th to Feb. 28th.  (The 2017-2018 Needs list that you can find on the Great Commission Women's web site is still current.)  The items listed below are some things that are more urgent.  
f you should have any questions, don't hesitate to e-mail me or call.  Serving together, Coleen Lofgren
Urgently needed items at this time:

>  MULTIVITAMINS: Centrum (or similar with all the trace minerals) multivitamins for children especially, but also for adults. Please don’t send the round, gumball like Centrum childrenbut the chewable ones or kids under 4 years old.

MEDICAL TABLE SHEETS: Delivery room and OR table covers made out of flat sheets (see instructions below)**

>  STERILIZATION WRAPSsterilization wraps * (we don't need 12" x 12")

>  ANTACIDS: TUMs or Rolaids (with Calcium).

BENADRYL:  Pills or capsules; generic is OK.


>  BANDAGES: 3 to 4 inch wide rolled sheet bandages. Please use a narrow length of sheet to secure them (not rubber bands- they disintegrate)

>  TOYS: Dr. Wendy Hofman, the eye doctor would like small items like stickers, small toys;  Meladee Davis would like small toys like the others plus the pillow case dresses and shorts (for boys) and also "Mama packs" that she hands out in the maternity ward.

Other, Less Urgent Needs:

>  GLASSES: new reading glasses, glass cases (homemade or bought), disposable pen lights.

>  LAB COATS/SCRUBS: long white lab coats, new or slightly used scrubs sizes small and medium

MEDICAL GOWNS: children's patient gowns (see patterns on Internet)

>  PLASTICWARE: inexpensive sippy cups, baby spoons and shallow plastic small bowls.

>  TOWELS: blue OR towels used in surgery.
Instructions for sterilization wraps: finished sizes wanted  are 12” x 12”, 24” x 24”, 36” x 36”. 48” x 48”.  You can make them out of gently used cotton and cotton/polyester material or  sheets or old cloth tablecloths. Don’s use flannel as it is too loose a weave.  Preferred colors are blue, green or white solid (others accepted though).  To make them, cut the material 1/2” larger than the size wanted.  They are to be double thickness, with the seams on the inside.  After sewing the two pieces of material, turn it inside right, then sew a seam about 1/2” around the entire square and then an “X” from corner to corner.  this way, when they are washed, they will stay in place.  Questions?  Call me at 218-245-2706.
**Instructions for delivery table sheets: use flat sheets twin or full size, any color, out of cotton or cotton/polyester. Fold sheet in half so it is 48” x 66” (twin) or 48”x 81” (full).  Sew or Zig-zag around the entire doubled sheet, including the folded side, close to the edge.   Then measure half way down (33” or 40.1”) and sew across the sheet.

1.  BOX SIZEThe packages should be no larger than a total of 72 inches (length + height + width) unless you have special permission.  Please limit different types of items to 3-4 per box and put each type of item in it’s own plastic bag for easier sorting at the hospital.
2.  COLLECTION LOCATIONSend the boxes to : ARK Transportation c/o Gabon Shipment Bongolo Hospital, 17830 Englewood Drive, Middleburg Heights, OH 44130  by MARCH 1st. You may also arrange for drop off by calling George Hurst, 440-891-0088.  If driving there, look for Unit 23.
-Church and address
-Contact’s name, phone number and e-mail address
-Total number of boxes sent.  Please label each box by letter and numbers, for example, if your church is in Plain View, Iowa and you’re sending 2 boxes, you might choose PVI#1, PVI#2.  Please include the two letter state abbreviation in your label as there are a lot of churches with the same name as First Alliance Church.
-The dimensions rounded to the nearest inch and the cubic feet of each package (multiply the height, length and depth in inches and divide by 1728)
-Category of items as one of the following: personal effect, medicine, medical equipment or food.
- List the items and quantities.  You can group items together.  For example, instead of listing 23 3” rolled bandages and 23 5” ones, just put 46 rolled bandages.  Linda C. will price the items, so you don’t have to do that. 
4. SHIPPING COSTS $15 per cubic foot.  Add up the total cubic feet that your boxes measure, multiply by $15, and send that amount to the Finance Department of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (8595 Explorer Drive, Colorado Springs, CO. 80920).  Include a note stating that the funds are for the Bongolo Hospital Med Supp./Shipping account, and write the number 09037-4340 in the memo line of your check.
5. OTHER: If you have items you think might be useful, but are not on the list, please e-mail or call Coleen L. at 218-245-2706. Please let other churches know about the shipment. 
Once again, that you for  your generous giving! Coleen

Gabon teammates work to unload the November '16 container at Bongolo