Sunday, March 24, 2013

YOU Are the Wind Beneath My Wings

Do you enjoy cheesy love songs?  I have to be honest... me- not so much.  The "Wind Beneath My Wings" song has a special place in my heart because, at a wedding, the most off-key version of this song was sung to the groom... BY HIS MOTHER!!! If I had the right equipment at that moment, I would have loved to get a recording sent off to Bette! 

Okay, okay... I digress.

Seriously, I need to let you know how incredibly blessed my family and I are to be YOUR ambassadors in serving cross-culturally to demonstrate God's love to people on the other side of the world from many of you.  We depend upon the generosity of people like YOU for our "paycheck."  We've been able to do what we do since August of 2007 like this.

So, I have to say it... You Are the Wind Beneath Our Wings!!!

At this time, however, we're starting to fly at lower altitudes- the wind beneath our wings is not as strong as it used to be!  So, we're looking for some additional financial support.  Would you be willing to consider joining our funding team?

SPECIFICALLY, we have some open spots on our "sustaining donor" team- those people that make a longer term commitment to invest in our support.  This is the CORE of our support.

Will you please consider being a core supporter?  We encourage our sustaining donors to sponsor one or more "Bongolo Bonds"- a $50 per month (or $600/yr.) level of giving.  We have 15 such "bonds" that need a sponsor at this time.

How can you make your donation?  There are many options!

1. AIR CALVARY WEBSITECLICK HERE for the Air Calvary giving information that includes PayPal.  Please put "Straw Family" in the "description" on the paypal form or in the "note" section of your check.

2. C&MA WEBSITE:  CLICK HERE for online payment.  Type in "Stephen and Alace Straw".  You can set up recurring donations there.

3. AT YOUR LOCAL C&MA CHURCH:  Write a check to your local church and note that it is for the "work of Stephen & Alace Straw- GABON".  This donation is credited to your local church as "Great Commission Fund" giving now!

If you do sign on for a Bongolo Bond, please also send me an email to let me know (  Thanks so much for giving this some thought.  We can't do it without you!

Love,  Steve and Alace

"Hospice" Air Evac

A couple weeks back, a nurse called from Bongolo explaining that they had done all that they could for "L", but the cancer in his leg had advanced too far- his case appears to be terminal, from a medical perspective.  The nurse wanted to know if I could help deliver "L" to the coastal town of Port Gentil, where the only person lived that would take care of him.

You see, "L" had made a decision to become a follower or Jesus and his family, followers of another religion who live in Cameroon, had turned their back on him.  They no longer viewed "L" as ever having existed in their family.

Now, "L's" time on Earth was coming to its final chapter, ushered in by one last voyage- a one and a half hour trip on our aircraft.  He was given some pain medication and slowly driven to the airport in a car belonging to one of the international workers from Bongolo.  Prior to arriving at Bongolo, he had broken his femur, so each movement sent pain shooting through his leg.

At the airport, we grabbed corners of the mat he was on and carefully loaded him into our Cessna 207.  We were blessed to have the presence of Jeff, a flight nurse from Alaska, who could direct the process (in sunglasses in this photo).

On arrival at Port Gentil, we loaded "L" into a waiting ambulance and into the care of the only person, remaining on earth, that was willing to take care of him.  A kind, simply dressed priest, who was demonstrating the love and compassion of Christ to "L".

Please pray for "L" and the priest in these difficult days to come.  After leaving the airport, they were stopping at the pharmacy to get the pain medication that Bongolo had prescribed.  After that, the priest described that they would have a difficult journey over very rough roads to get to his home.  This would be a painful trip for "L".

As the remaining passengers and I loaded back in to the airplane and departed up the coast (from point #4 to point #11 on the map), except for the drone of the engine, it was quiet.  Certainly, we were reflecting upon the challenging journey ahead for "L" and the priest to come.

Additionally, I think we were all reflecting on our own situations and how our family connections are so key in our lives.  However, in the life of "L", facing the final days of his earthly life, his family was not willing to take him in or even respond to his calls.  "L" counted the cost of the decision to follow Jesus- a cost that many of us will never know.

What is the "cost" of my discipleship path?  What losses am I willing to take in following my savior?

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy."
James 1:2

(NOTE:  The Air Evacuation portion of the flight was made possible through a partner church in Tennessee!  Would you or your organization like to sponsor an air evacuation?  Contact me at "" or make a donation using PayPal HERE - enter "Gabon Airplane" as "description")

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Fuel Drums on the Move... FINALLY!!!

Fueling Progress... MAKING PROGRESS!!!

I am THRILLED to tell you about some recent developments on two different fronts:

IN GABON:  The administrator of Bongolo Hospital, Pastor Serge, suggested that we submit a request to the government for them to consider supporting our program by ordering about $25,000 worth of AvGas.  They would use their contacts with a French oil company (TOTAL) to have the fuel (30 barrels) shipped in to the port.  We have worked hard to get all documents in our dossier and submit it to the government.  Their response was that we should see positive action taken in April! 

IN THE US:  An idea emerged to simply make use of the shipping containers that are regularly coming to Gabon, twice a year, in support of medical mission work.  This was very attractive since it would allow us to not feel a burden to fill an entire shipping container all at once.  We've decided to give a try with an initial shipment of 15 barrels (an estimated 2 months worth of flying). 

Thanks to some friends, we found some "over-run" fuel drums (in KY) that met the specifications we needed for a fraction of the normal cost.  These were taken to our friends at MMS Aviation (Coshocton, OH), who supervised the fueling (one of the lowest prices per gallon in all of the US!), and then the drums were trucked to Cleveland for loading in the container that will soon come to Gabon.  We estimate their arrival in late May or early June.

We appreciate your patience with us on this journey.  As we are all finding, international aviation work advances slowly and typically plan "A" becomes "B" and "C".  We appreciate your prayers and encouragement as we link arm-in-arm in this exciting, important work.

Blessings, Steve