Friday, November 27, 2009

Fasten Your Seatbelts

This pilot in Tanzania has little time to attend to his passengers... or to realize that he's being video taped!!!

Thanksgiving - African Style

How was your Thanksgiving?

We had a 30+ hour power outage, here in LBV. It was very hot without any fans and we had a couple of rough nights. Wednesday evening, after an amazing lasagna dinner, we were enjoying a movie with many people in our living room (including Dr. & Mrs. T., their daughter R, and the STMO crew) when the power went out around 10pm.

So we were without electricity all of Thanksgiving! Thankfully, our oven is gas powered and Alace, Becki T., and Rachel T. were able to bake 4 pies!!! We were also thankful that we slated our gathering for the STMO center (Brokopp's house), that hadn't been effected by the power outage. So, other people on our team supplied other things... yams/marshmallows, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, turkey legs/breasts, stuffing, etc. There were over 25 of us for the celebration of God's blessings. It was a great day. We gathered around 2pm and the place didn't totally clear out until after 9pm. We enjoyed the meal, dessert and coffee, board games, video games, and conversations. Pretty nice for central Africa!

Without power, the nights really come alive! We started to hear all the noises that we usually miss due to our noisy fans buzzing away. Screaming children, people noisily conversing in the road about 15 feet away from our bedroom, dogs barking, roosters crowing, and the occasional passing rain. Plus, without fans, I simply sweat lying in bed. It's so uncomfortable, but, eventually, I drift off to sleep.

I woke up early this morning (5am) to see Dr. & Mrs. T. off- they are driving down to Bongolo today and like to get a REAL early start. As I walked back into the house, I was talking to the Lord, explaining that, if it was OK with Him, we'd like the power to come back on.... and right at that moment (I'm not kidding), THE POWER CAME BACK ON!!! YESSSS!!! I knew this because, all of the sudden, everything that we had had turned on the evening before cranked up to life! An air conditioning unit, lights, fans, etc.

So, after making a tour of the place and turning things off, I climbed back in bed. A moment later our guardian, Gari, called for me from outside the house. He explained that there was water running in the annex building. So, it was back out to fix a toilet that had emptied during the power outage and, now, with the power back on and the electric pump pushing water back through the system, Gari heard water running. Good thing, too, because when water runs like this with no one knowing, it will continue to use more and more water from our reservoirs until they are empty! It doesn't take long before 1,000 liters is gone in this scenario.

So, NOW I could get back to sleep, right? NOPE... Just as I was finishing the toilet repair, the power went out again!!! Gari let out a "yelp" of surprise and all I could do was laugh. This Is Africa ("T.I.A." as some say). C'est la vie. This is not suprising. Often when the power has been out for a time, it will come on for a period of time, then click off, and then click back on for good moments later. It's an "electricity restoration aftershock" of sorts. I was glad that I had kept my flashlight in hand.

Toilet repair finished, I headed back to the house and, as I had done before, I reminded the Lord that having electricity was our preference, in case He had forgotten. And... right at that moment (I'm not kidding this time either), THE POWER CAME BACK ON ONCE MORE!!! I laughed again... I think the Lord was messing with me!

So, it's noon on Friday (Black Friday!?!) and we continue to enjoy uninterupted power at this time. We are happy the internet jumped back on line as well so that we can communicate! Lot's to be thankful for here. Christ continues to be our Saviour, Peace-giver, and Redeemer!

Love you all!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Aircraft Update & Pics

Here's today's email from Mickey at the refurbishment shop in OK.

"The engine is running fine with no problems, the new fuel pressure gauge that was furnished with the engine mod. is stuck on 12 lbs. so will be contacting Donna at Davis to see if they can get us another one shipped in here tomorrow.

The IFR certification has been completed OK, the altimeter needle was dragging so we had another altimeter installed. The avionics shop in Mena replaced a static line because of a leak and did not do an IFR certification but the avionics shop in Wichita still found a static leak that had to be repaired."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Human Trafficking close to home

The country of Gabon has been stepping up efforts to crack down on human trafficking, but that doesn't stop people trying to continue this horrific act. We have some friends that work with UNICEF here. They have informed us that Gabon is increasingly responding in positive ways, as was the case with a recent boat intercepted near the coast. Here is a story on the topic:

Gabon grapples with fight against child trafficking

2009-11-21 16:39:07

By Ren Yaqiu

LIBREVILLE, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Whereas the entire humanity was on Friday marking the 20th anniversary of the convention on children's rights, in Gabon, a number of children, illegally brought into the country from West Africa, continue to be exploited by the West African nationals living in Gabon.

Child trafficking and exploitation dates back to the 1970s. Because of its small population, Gabon was in need of workers from abroad for construction and other projects. Massive entry to Gabon was reported during the period from Togo, Benin and Nigeria in search for employment.

The years that followed saw a lot of prosperity for these immigrants who discovered a country where some sectors were abandoned by the local population who had been changed by the easy gains from the enormous oil revenues.

Very quickly, these immigrants started bringing into Gabon children to do tasks which are traditionally reserved for adults.

In the subsequent years, it was children who roamed the roads of the capital as well as the major urban centers of the country with a basin full of merchandise on the head. Under the rain or under other bad tropical weather, these modern day slaves could be seen running behind clients because in the evening they were to return to the house with some good profits for their masters.

The opposite was fatal for the child. He was beaten in public, sometimes burned by an iron bar or put in the sun in order to make him commercially more aggressive. Many of these children were selling in markets. The young girls prepared cakes and other candies.

In 2000, a boat called Etireno was found carrying tens of children sounding the alarm of trafficking, which had been going on for years. The international community was mobilized against this trafficking and exploitation of children.

Symposia and seminars were held one after another in Gabon. The country adopted in 2004 a repressive law against child traffickers and exploiters who enslaved them.

"Thanks to this law, we have recently repatriated to Benin and Togo close to 300 children," affirmed Nyalendo, one of the Gabonese experts in charge of the issue.

The Gabonese police organized "abductions" in markets, streets and even in homes. This was "a necessary evil," said Baba Apoujac, president of an NGO called Iledo ("help us" in a Togolese language). This Togolese who is approaching fifties has participated in the fight against trafficking.

"Since then, we no longer see children working in markets or on the streets," he said, noting that "the phenomenon has not been completely eradicated."

"Children are still being exploited, abused and martyrized in homes," he said.

"Before, they were in the streets and they could gaze upon the universe and talk to the passers-bye. But now, they are enclosed within the homes and scared of ever being seen. They work hard and suffer seriously," the administrator of a home for children in difficulties "arc-en-ciel", Theo disclosed.

A number of children taking refuge in this center came because they escaped or due to police actions.

In the circle of child exploitation and trafficking, Gabon has the status of a receiving country. The children come from Togo, Benin and Nigeria. They are sold at a low price, but in the hope of getting a better life. They are transported in canoes or boats which are not fit for human transportation. The very last such occurrence was on Oct. 18, when a boat was spotted along Gabon's coast, carrying more than 200 adults and 34 children.

"This is an irrefutable proof that this shameful trade in children is still going on," Apoujac concluded.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Safety First!

Subtitle: A Visit from Missions Safety International

A few months ago I received an email from Steve Quigg with Missions Safety International (MSI) saying that he and some colleagues were heading to Africa and asking if they could stop by. Our program has joined MSI knowing that they are the pro's when it comes to assisting aviation programs to make safety a way of life in their organization. Flying around equatorial Africa brings it's share of dangers, and we need to do all we can to minimize the variables.

So, when I got the email, I responded enthusiastically that we'd love them to come and that we expected that their visit would be right on the heels of the arrival of our aircraft- perfect timing! The details were planned and...

Steve and Jon Egeler arrived last Friday night and we spent the next few days getting to know one another, chatting about life in Christ, and how we can serve the Lord with excellence. I'm
thankful for their input and our program will be the better for it. They encouraged our whole family on this journey- this means so much.

So, even though I didn't have our HOT Cessna 207 to show off to them, it turned out that having this time to sit down and really think through our program's approach to safety in a comprehensive way has come at just the right time.

I am continually amazed at God's timing. I have a tendency on getting "tunnel vision" on the STUFF of ministry and forget that He cares about developing PEOPLE more! He reminds me that he cares about CHARACTER over my COMFORT.

Before bed last night, my kids and I looked at the Gospel of Matthew and Jesus' words- "Seek first the Kingdom of God and HIS righteousness". Nowhere in there is reference to the pursuit of comfort, convenience, or stuff. Simply seeking Him. May it be so.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Getting Down to Business

Introducing the beginning of passenger accommodations while waiting for flights at Bongolo International Airport!

Thanks to the Bongolo Hospital work crews under the direction of Paul D., this great bathroom was constructed in record time! You'll notice the aircraft hangar in the background. On behalf of pilots and passengers, I send a big "merci beaucoup"! We can all get down to "business" now.

In other news...

This sweet motorcycle was sitting outside our favorite Chinese restaurant when we left a couple evenings back. It's a "reverse 3-wheeler" called a "Spyder Roadster"! Sweet ride... 99o cc's and list price of $16,000 (nicely equipped) state-side... much more expensive in Central Africa, bien sur.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Airplane Update

Mickey, the guy directing our aircraft refurbishment, has sent a couple more photos. Here is our new engine that had issues with the valve lifters that need replacing. We've been told that the replacement lifters are on the way and the work will be done in a jiffy (a week or so). The propeller is also new- it's a Hartzell.

The instrument panel is still a work in progress. All the instrumentation is in place and now the plastic panel overlay is being prepped for installation.

A great looking interior! The seats are also ready and will be put in after the "head liner" is steamed and finished.

To the extreme right and left you can see the seat belts hanging from the new "inertia reel seat belt" installation. This is an installation that requires a visit from an FAA rep to sign it off. I hope to have a better picture of the installation soon.

Mickey estimates November 24th as completion date. It will then go to Kansas for preparation for the ferry flight to Africa. More updates to follow!

More on the Aircraft Delays

So, here's what the current delay is all about:


Teledyne Continental Motors, Inc. (TCM) has verified several instances of rapid wear on the surface of hydraulic lifter units (tappets) both in new and rebuilt engines and hydraulic lifter units sold as spares beginning on 19 June 2009. TCM is investigating the cause of the rapid wear and has seen it as early as five hours of engine operation after installation. Loss of engine power and a potential safety of flight issue can result.

So, we're very happy that this problem has reared its' ugly head while the aircraft was still in the states. As much as I wished the aircraft could boogie on over to Africa and get into service, our faithful Lord has shown that he is sovereign. His timing is always the best.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Game Changers

Some times something comes along that takes things to a whole new level- a "Game Changer". Such is the case with these two men and their airplane (above). Randy and Zach were looking to assist an African program by lending their airplane's service, for the month of November. Through a friend of Air Calvary, they found us and we dialogued how their desire to help would be a "Game changer" for the Bongolo Hospital and their sister hospitals in central and west Africa.

Here's Zach (rear) and Randy with Doctors Yali, Yarodounou, and Thelander (L to R) as they get ready for a trip to Accra (Ghana) for a conference on surgical trauma. The training in Accra will teach life-saving techniques and will strengthen a partnership that the Bongolo Hospital, through their PAACS (Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons) program, is looking to solidify with other African medical associations.

Above, Zach is showing his passengers emergency information about the aircraft. The airplane, a Socata 850 turbo-prop, will climb to altitudes around 30,000 feet and have them from Libreville to Accra in under 2 and 1/2 hours! It's to an airliner what a Ferrari is to a charter bus.

The airplane is ready to go- luggage is loaded and passengers are briefed. The Socata will make a total of 14, game-changing flights in the brief time they are here. We are very blessed. Zach and Randy have come all the way from Denver (USA)! You can read more on their blog- CLICK HERE.

As I watched them head down the runway and off into the African skies, I prayed for their safe travels and for the trip to expand and expedite the work that is being done in the name of Jesus. As you can guess, I'm also praying for the day when I'll be the one launching into the skies with our airplane- changing the game to a whole new level.

Bigger Hope & Bigger House for "HOPE HOUSE"

In other blogs, you have read of the crisis for the Hope House kids as they were being kicked out of their current house by the end of the year. A brand new house was located- bigger and better! So here we were, loading up the first load of things. That's Pastor Tim B. on the left and Pastor Israel in the foreground.

Are the kids excited or what!?! The new house was located and the rental agreement in place just in time for them all to go to new schools for the year. That's 1/2 of my face to the left, a whole bunch of happy kids, and Anna B., an STMO intern & Nyack College student, on the right.

As we drove up, we couldn't believe it! A beautiful, 2 story building! The kids would now have plenty of room and a actual yard! This is also in a much better part of town. What a blessing.

Like I said, they love their new home!

Here's another STMO intern, Josh H., celebrating the new home with a very excited child. Can you imagine being one of these children? Only having to share a room with 4 others now? Or having more than one bathroom to share with 22 other children with faucets that actually work this time? This house is just what these kids need. We are so thankful for its' provision.

See all 23 photos with captions: Click Here

Friday, November 6, 2009

Care Package from Grandma & Grandpa!

Mmmm... dried wasabi peas!

Beef Jerky!!!

Under Armor threads!

More cool under armor!

Alace and I have to stand back when the package comes open...
It's like when the pride of lions rip into a fresh kill!!!

So, we love it when a care package comes... this one is from a very generous Grandma and Grandpa Straw. We tear into them with a ferocity... it's every Straw for them self!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Airplane update

Just got an email from our airplane guy in Oklahoma...

It looks like they have a couple of issues that will slow the project down for now....

1) There is a "factory recall" regarding a part in the engine. They will have to replace this part. So, they will have to wait until the new parts are sent to them and then put them in. No telling how long this may take. They said they may have the parts by the end of the week, but I'm not holding my breath on that.

2) The business that did all of our avionics work for us did not do a critical inspection to certify the airplane for flying in instrument conditions, so this inspection has yet to be done. We are hopeful that this will only take a day or two.

3) The gentleman who is in charge of the project is out of the country from the 13th to the 23rd, and things won't progress without him around.

So, we'll be fortunate to see the airplane start the journey to Africa by the end of the month.

That's the update for now. The Lord is teaching me a whole new level of patience!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Celebrating a Life Well Lived

More on Ron Royce's passing from the Johnson City Press

A labor of love - Family, friends of pilot go to forest to clean up, restore crash site

By Contributed to the

ROAN MOUNTAIN — Just a few days after a plane crash in the Tiger Creek community took the life of Ron Royce, 70, and his student Adam West, 38, Royce’s family and friends returned to the site of the crash for a brief memorial service and a labor of love in cleaning and restoring the damaged section of forest where the plane went down.

The memorial service was held on Sunday. After a reading from the Bible and the singing of a hymn, Royce’s grandchildren planted tulip bulbs around the perimeter of the wreckage.

The friends came equipped with trucks, four-wheelers, trailers and other equipment to clean the debris. After this labor of love, the area was once again restored to a beautiful forest.

Bill Peterson was one of the friends of the family who gathered at the crash site. He shared his thoughts on the event:

“Amid the sadness was the feeling of God’s presence as a few friends and family hiked the muddy trail to the site of Ron and Adam’s tragic accident. The private service concluded as the family planted tulips to remind us of the promise of life after death. Our voices echoed through the mountains, as we sang hymns of praise and in thanksgiving to God for the lives of these men. Ron and Adam were flying a mission that was one of Ron’s greatest pleasures. He was training another pilot for missionary aviation.”

Another friend, Ted Rich, said it was a Sunday he will never forget:

“Sunday I heard and saw the story being told to us and to his family that the end of Ron’s life on this earth does not mean the end of Ron’s legacy. Hundreds of students that have been trained by Ron are now training others and passing on not only the flight techniques that he taught, but also the vision he had to reach others with the story of Christ’s love. I also saw the effect that Ron had on his children and their mates and the resulting sense of God’s presence in Ron’s grandchildren. For having the privilege to witness God working out his plan in the Royce family I am truly thankful and give God the glory.”

The celebration of Royce’s life and career will continue Thursday when the family will receive friends from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport, which is the former Moody Aviation Building where Royce worked for 41 years in many capacities, including flight instructor, chief pilot, principal ground school instructor and manager of flight training.

The family also will receive friends at Grace Baptist Church, 1114 Broad St. Ext., from 5-7 p.m., followed by a celebration of life service beginning at 7 p.m. under the direction of the Rev. Tom Oyler.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Mission Safety International, 328 E. Elk Ave., Suite 1, Elizabethton, TN 37643.