Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Bongolo Eye Clinic News

Here is an update from Dr. Wendy, director of the Bongolo Eye Clinic:

Here is a picture of Noeli and her husband.  She and her husband have been married for 38 years, and they have 10 children and 8 grandchildren.  Every time Noeli sees her grandchildren, they ask her, ”Grandma, can you see yet?”.  She has always had to say no before.  But now we have operated on both of her cataracts, and the next time she sees her grandchildren, she will be able to tell them, “Yes, I can see!”  She told Wendy, “And I mean I see really clearly, like a newborn baby!”  They already know Jesus, and are so thankful to Him for answering their prayers.  The whole family will be blessed by a grandma who can see.

Sam Starts San Diego Life

Sam is starting a new life!  From the jungles of Central Africa to the beautiful beaches of Southern California.

The view from Encinitas beach.

We're blessed for the generosity of the Schmidt family- Assembly of God missionaries serving in Cameroon... and, our VERY good friends!  Sam graduated RFIS high school with their son, Nathan, and, both not knowing exactly what they'd like to go study at college, decided to live in one of their family-managed apartments (at a killer rate!)

It's official!  A Mesa College student!

Nathan and Sam check out the apartment.
If you'd like to contact Sam, feel free!  1518 Oliver Ave. Apt. C, San Diego, CA 92109. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Gabon Plus...

Plus what?!?

Along the journey, Alace and I have seen doors open, allowing us to serve in ways that compliment or expand the work we're doing.  Case in point, with your help, we started up the aviation work in Gabon (our primary work), but along the way, other tasks and opportunities ("Pluses") came along- field leadership team, national church liaison, guest house management, dorm house parenting, national aviation club, shipping container logistics, and more. We are in just such a "Plus" season:
23rd Anniversary on 31 July!

Plus... Recruitment Component!
Our work in Gabon will grind to a halt unless we lay the ground work for additional teammates to join the work.  We now have the opportunity to join the Missionary Air Group (MAG) effort to recruit and train up mission aviators with a new, apprenticeship model- the first of its kind!  MAG is staffing the program to have primary training at the North Carolina base, and components of the advanced training on site at the international bases of operation (Gabon, Guatemala, and Honduras).

Plus... Equipping Nationals!
On top of the apprenticeship model that we will look for transferability to developing countries, we have been asked by the national church leaders (C&MA) in Gabon to provide first responder and flight nurse training.  Since MAG has similar training already in Spanish, our main work will be translating it and then implementing it.  We are so excited about this and can't wait to see it all come together!  The training will most likely take place at a new base near the capital city, speaking of which....

July work at PK-27, in Gabon, ramps up!
Plus... New Capital City Landing Strip!
For the first 5 years in Gabon, our work was based out of the international airport in Libreville.  There was only one runway for a relatively busy airport and, although there were many hangars, we couldn't find a home and had to park the aircraft on the ramp, exposed to the punishing elements.  Now, with the progress that the national Alliance church is making at their PK-27 social works campus, just outside of Libreville, they are ready to move forward with the planned airstrip on the property.  Our Gabonese church family has many participants in the building activity at the site and are ready to receive a team to assist in the development of the airport in the summer of 2017.  We are excited to hear that a team leader has already stepped up to the plate!  Once this landing strip is in place, we will no longer have to deal with the headaches of landing at the international airport!  Would you like to participate?  Email me at Gabon.Pilot@gmail.com

Plus... Guatemala and Honduras!
MAG President, Sean Donnelly (L), and I meet with
C&MA church leaders about future training plans.

MAG has other bases in Central America where they are developing teams to continue their programs that have been operating there for years.  They have asked Alace and I to provide leadership in skills development for teamwork and aviation- things where Alace and I are able to share our experience and expertise.  We will start making regular visits to those sites, on top of Gabon, to serve those teams and help them thrive.

Plus... Training & Recurrency!
I, Steve, have added some great experience in the last couple years in the area of leadership, management, and administration.  However, it has kept me out of the cockpit, so it is time for recurrency and upgrading my flight instructor ratings.  MAG has training aircraft at the base in Burlington, NC, so we'll settle in for this phase, as we continue to stay on top of Gabon and the other bases.  Our address there is:  3209 Stonypointe Dr., Greensboro, NC 27406.

As we make the transition into these expanded roles, there is a blend of emotions- excitement and some trepidation.  We ask for your prayers as we continue with your support and teamwork, to be good stewards of the work that we are doing.  Thank you for joining us on this "plus-sized" journey!

Please consider joining our prayer and funding team!
CLICK HERE for more info.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Bongolo Hangar Fuel Storage

In December of 2005, when Alace and I visited Bongolo for the first time, we toured the airport near the hospital.  It was a 5-year-old grass/gravel/dirt runway with a 4 year old hangar that had all been prepared, in faith, that an aviation program would one day be based there.

It was impressive to think of the faith that the Bongolo Hospital team had at that time, led by Dr. David Thompson.  He was our tour guide that day and told us that, actually, the team had put out calls for aviation support since the mid-1980's!  Talk about perseverance!!!

Today, thanks to the many that have supported this work and those on the front line, the hangar still stands, better than ever!  In the summer of 2013, with the arrival of our second pilot/mechanic (Rob Peterson), we decided to move the program to be based in Bongolo.

We had worked hard, since 2007, to get the program up and running- based out of the capital city of Libreville, where there was no hangar for our hard-working Cessna 207.  It was important that we had this time, as I spent much time in and out of the offices of the Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Health, Civil Aviation, and praying with the national church leaders of the C&MA.

Better than ever?!?

In the summer of 2013, with Rob lending a hand, we replaced the hangar door support structure with a new span of wood, cut at a local lumber yard.  This was no simple task!

Other updates and organization have happened under Rob's excellent care- the latest of which is a new home for our fuel drums in a shipping container we purchased and set beside the hangar.  Enjoy the photos:

Thanks to the Bongolo Hospital maintenance crew for their great help on this project!  More pictures to follow when the container is moved onto the forms and the fuel drums are in their home.
Thank you for your teamwork!