Rhino Ramblings…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome friends, to our first update for 2019!
We hope your year has started well so far.

Jonathan used to regularly have a section in these letters called “Share My Experience’. There haven’t been as many of these lately, but recent events left us feeling we had to share an anecdote about how our family played a part in helping save the rhinos…!!

Jonathan was scheduled for a flight with an overnight on a Monday morning, due back the following day. This was for a Rhino relocation project where he was to fly a conservationist to a neighbouring country to load a couple rhinos on to a truck to relocate to a park in Zambia. Whilst not mission related, such work contributes to endangered animal conservation which Flying Mission deems important. As part of this work, Jonathan also had the opportunity to fly the American Ambassador to visit the park!

Well, as often happens here, things didn’t go as planned. In order to move the rhinos from their home country, a document needed to be signed by a government department. Upon arrival on Monday, it was not ready. So they were told it would be done on the Tuesday morning and all would continue as planned. However by Tuesday afternoon Jonathan and the conservation staff were still waiting… Time ticked on and it soon became clear nothing was going to happen that day! The paper was promised the next morning at 10am. Sonia was called with the bad news. “See you tomorrow” Jonathan told her. So, Wednesday came… the paper still hadn’t arrived by 10am that day either. Jonathan again called Sonia. “If it doesn’t arrive by early afternoon, we may not be back again tonight…”. Later another call.. “Well, the paper arrived, and there is still time to get the rhinos on the truck and through the border before it closes, but we’re not sure we can fly back to Lusaka before dark… sorry, might be another night…” That day Jonathan helped load the rhinos into the trucks, and the conservationist and other personnel such as park staff and vets, were able to get through the border and back into Zambia. At this point a special unit of the Department of National Parks armed with rifles jumped on the truck to safely accompany the rhinos for their ride through Zambia to the park. So, Jonathan was finally back in country, however, there was not enough daylight hours to fly back. Another call to Sonia “So, Im in Zambia…. but……I’ll be back tomorrow”. By now Sonia had almost depleted her supply of single use freezer meals stored for her to heat quickly when Jonathan overnights. “OK” said Sonia “Well, Judah, its just us two…again”.

The Rhino in his pen before being moved.

Now loaded into the crate he was transported in.

Loading the crate on the truck

There was also another change as Jonathan was now not arriving back till Thursday late morning but was supposed be on another flight Thursday early morning until Saturday. “I wont be home in time for that flight so I wont have to go away for those two nights”  Jonathan informed Sonia. “Yay” was her reply. “But, wait” said Jonathan “I will only be home on Thursday morning to change, then I have to fly the conservationist back to his park, ahead of the Rhino arrival and stay there to bring others back the next day”.. “Oh, man” thought Sonia. ‘That’s a whole week doing this alone.. Im not sure I can keep doing this… This is hard. Lord please give me strength and equip me here. These are the times I really miss having family to help out”. Not having Daddy around also seemed to be messing with Judah’s sleep, as he was waking again during the night and struggling with day naps.

Jonathan finally arrived Thursday morning, came home for 15 minutes, changed his clothes, repacked his overnight bag (with more than one nights supplies just in case), and was off again. “Im really hoping to be back Friday” Jonathan said as he left.

Well, Friday afternoon came and Jonny landed back at our base, but there was more news. “I’ll stay home tonight, fly to the park tomorrow, pick more people up and fly back to base Saturday evening, stay at home Saturday night then fly again Sunday and be back Monday… the Vets need to monitor the rhino more, then I have to fly them back to the starting point again… ”

So, Sonia and Judah had Jonathan back for about 12 hours on Friday night and the same again Saturday night. He finally returned home for good Monday afternoon. From the previous Monday until the following Monday evening, Jonny had spent all of about 24 hours at home. Much of which was sleeping overnight! We got through it.. but what a week.. !! Jonathan eventually had some time off the next week to enjoy family time together… and give Sonia some rest!

We certainly felt that the whole Weaver family did our part to help save the rhinos that week!

In his new pen awaiting release into the wild once he has settled in.

Aside from this event, we have been blessed in two ways. The previous Maintenance Manager, Joel returned to Zambia with an apprentice to help with hangar maintenance for a whole month. Jonathan was grateful for the extra hands. Jonathan has also handed over the Maintenance Manager role, but will still see to the completion of some projects he had already started, and will continue some aspects of the role so the new Maintenance manager does not have so much on his plate. There are still only two maintenance personnel. The flying also remains quite busy, with a pilot on furlough and another leaving soon. This will again leave three pilots (two of them being maintenance people!!)

We were also blessed by a short term missionary, Kathryn, who came to visit her parents here. She really wanted to help us out and looked after Judah a couple of times so we could have an afternoon to ourselves one day, and a date night. This was only the second time we have had a date since we returned to Zambia last August!! We are so thankful for these people!

Judah is almost 8 months and is a happy guy who loves eating solids, has his first tooth, and will be crawling anytime now. He gets really excited watching planes come and go and when the tractor mows the runway!

With love, the Weavers 🙂

Praises For:

  • Judah’s health, growth and development
  • Safe flying
  • The provision that allows us to be on the mission field

Prayers for:

  • FMZ missionaries during a time when we are understaffed. Please pray for more personal to join the team, and endurance for those here
  • For the changes happening at FMZ and our direction for the future
  • For Judah to grow healthy and to love the Lord, and for us as we parent

Family Life in Zambia

Sunset at the airstrip

Sunset at the airstrip

Hello from a hot and dry Zambia!
Its getting warm here, with temperatures in the mid 90’s F/35 C. We are eagerly awaiting the rains, which have not been seen since April!

Recently, we were very blessed to be visited by Jonathan’s mom, Janet, who came to meet her newest grandchild. We had a wonderful time over the three weeks she was here- visiting some local spots and spending nice time reconnecting. We are grateful for the time we could share and the help she gave in looking after Judah and preparing meals. We even were able to get out for a date night! She was also able to bring many things for Judah purchased with money so many of you donated to us for him.  We are so very thankful for all the cards and support he has received!

Judah and Sonia are in a good routine as they spend time at home. Judah is healthy and sleeping well. Sonia has a small role with the mission, helping publish news stories to the flying mission website.

The departure of our Aircraft Maintenance Manager has meant Jonathan has had to step back into this role until someone else is found. Other recent departures have left us with just one other mechanic regularly helping in the shop, and he also does part time pilot duties.  Jonathan is currently working as pilot/mechanic and a manager! He and the other staff at the mission are spread thin! We appreciate your prayers for the team during this time as many juggle multiple roles.

As well as looking for a Maintenance Manager, and more maintenance people and pilots; the mission is also seeking personnel in the areas of administration, finance, guest house management, facilities and logistics work. Please contact us if you have any skills you could offer and are interested in joining the team- short or long term.

We are blessed to be living and working in a country that deems itself a Christian nation. As such, Zambia recently declared a national day of prayer. On this day the Flying Mission team got together and spent the day in prayer-for FMZ missionaries and departments, for the Zambian people, regions and leadership, and for our Zambian workers. This was a lovely day spent being closer to the Lord through prayer together. We are so glad the mission sees this as important.

Jonathan has been pleased to restart the weekly bible study he leads with local Zambian boys. Please pray he can connect well and disciple these guys in the ways they need.

Well, thats all from us for now,
God’s Blessings on you all,

 

Jonathan and Sonia

Praises For:

  • Safe travel to and from for Janet (Jonathan’s mom), and a blessed time together.
  • Judah’s continued healthy growth. 

Prayers for:

  • More people to join FMZ, and for those that are taking on more to have stamina.
  • Jonathan in the Maintenance Manager role.
  • Sonia as she spends her time raising Judah.
  • The boys bible study on Wednesday evenings
    Sonia and Judah

    Judah already enjoys books!

    Judah and Janet

    Judah enjoying time with his Abuela!

Arrived in Zambia

4.8 (25) 2

Hello All,

Just wanted to send out a quick email to let you know that we have arrived back in Zambia safe and with all of our luggage! After 4 flights and 40+ hours from door to door, we are glad to be back in our home and are hoping to settle in quickly.  We praise the Lord that Judah did very well on the flights and did not cry much, but his parents did not get much sleep through the process! Please be in prayer for us as we adjust to the 10 hr. time difference with the broken sleep that comes along with having a 7 week old baby!

Thanks and God Bless,

J+S+J

 

Flights!

Sonia and Judah relaxing during one of the flights.

Introducing…

Rocking his first airplane outfit.

It’s a Boy!
Judah John Weaver
Born July 6th 2018 at 9:08pm
7lbs 4oz

In Hebrew Judah means ‘praise’ and John means ‘God’s gracious gift.’ John was also my (Jonathan) father’s name. Judah would have been his first male grandchild, and my had dad hoped for a boy to carry on the family name so we are blessed that Judah will carry on his legacy in the next generation.

Mum/Mom and baby are doing well, he is feeding well and seems very content. We have prayed for a baby that will travel well and so far he seems like he will. You can join us in praying that he will travel well in all that is ahead for him and for continued good health for Sonia and Judah. The current plan is to stay in New Zealand for about 6 weeks before heading back to Zambia.

With Love,

Jonathan and Sonia

Team Weaver has grown to 3!

Ready and Waiting…

Greetings friends, from a wintery Wellington, New Zealand!

Jonathan arrived on NZ soil late in the night of Sunday 10th June to the delight of his very happy (and much larger) wife! Its so great to be together again after 7 weeks apart, as we now prepare for the arrival of baby Weaver due in 2 weeks (July 4th).

Since we last wrote, Sonia has been busy in NZ preparing for baby’s arrival, acquiring all the necessary items needed, and setting things up; as well as reconnecting with friends and family; being very spoilt at her baby shower; attending midwife and hospital appointments; and prenatal/birthing classes (thanks to Tess, Sonia’s sister who came along to all the classes and took notes on Jonathan’s behalf!). Sonia has continued to feel really good and be healthy and well, as has baby.

Jonathan had a very busy time in Zambia during Sonia’s absence. There was a lot of flying to be done with less staff at the mission and subsequently there was also several airplane inspections to be completed when not flying. Jonathan had quite a few overnighters in various places around Zambia, flying to conservation camps and rural hospitals with surgeons. He enjoyed that he was busy while apart from Sonia, but is now glad to have arrived in NZ before Baby Weaver’s arrival.

Well, just a quick, short update; but expect another update on or around July 4th! 🙂

God’s Blessings on you all,

Jonathan and Sonia

 

Praises For:

  • Jonathan’s safety flying in Zambia, and safe arrival in New Zealand
  • A few sunny days in Wellington allowing us to get out and enjoy some of our favourite places together
  • Sonia and Baby Weaver’s good health

Prayers for:

  • Baby’s arrival- pray baby arrives naturally on or before 4th July so we don’t have to be induced
  • The birth- that things go smoothly without complications
  • Our transition into parenthood and having a new baby
  • Those back at FMZ as they continue to be short staffed through the beginning of July.

 

IMG_7543

J + S are glad to be back together again! And the baby bump keeps growing!

IMG_3647

One recent flight Jonathan did where the airplane was absolutely as full as it could be!

IMG_3653

Had to remove all the seats but the front two and luggage all the way to the front!

On The Move Again! (For 1 & 1/2 of us!)

Hi Friends
We hope you are well, wherever in the world you are.

Here in Zambia it seems the rainy season has come to an end (not before Jonathan caught the above pic of an incoming storm), we have continued to enjoy being back and reconnecting with local and international friends. Jonathan has had regular flights and maintenance work, including flights to a mission hospital, a conservation camp, and even to South Africa. This was a long day involving a 4.30am departure from home and a 10.30pm return the same day!

Sonia has been working part time at the front desk and recently took over the Guesthouse ministry for two weeks while the manager was away over Easter. She enjoyed serving missionaries who come for rest and relaxation, and facilitating some recuperation for the usual manager. Easter was also our two year wedding anniversary. Despite so much life change, it has been a wonderful two years. We feel so blessed to have each other. We have also been busy turning our spare room into a nursery.

The Flying Mission Team recently took four days away for a spiritual life retreat. It was a good time of refreshment, bonding and learning. The ladies of Flying Mission also threw Sonia a surprise baby shower. We appreciated the love and generosity they showed us in doing this.

Bible studies with locals

Jonathan has resumed his weekly boys bible study with local teenagers. The group is smaller than previously but this affords the chance to have good discussions, build better relationships with the guys, and discuss practical life application of scripture. Jonathan has also taken over a weekly bible study with Zambian workers at FMZ, and is enjoying the opportunities this brings to share his faith and knowledge from recent study, and also learn more about the insight of the workers.

Here we go again!

The international travels are not over yet for Team Weaver! On Saturday 21st April at 1pm (Lusaka time), Sonia will board the first of three planes back to New Zealand. She has to return before 30 weeks due to insurance and airline travel restrictions. On arrival she will have more prenatal midwife and medical appointments and prepare for baby Weaver to join the family. It will take about 30 hours to get to Wellington, please pray the travels will go smoothly and that she will be able to get some rest and sleep despite her big belly. Please also pray for the time we have apart. Jonathan will not arrive in NZ until June (7 weeks later!). Its a long time to be away from each other.

Baby Weaver continues to grow and baby seems to be practicing to be a soccer player or acrobat as it moves around! We continually feel blessed and in praise of the Lord, at the miracle of this baby. Its especially fun now that Jonathan can feel (and see) baby moving! Please also be in prayer for baby’s growth and development and for Sonia as she gets more cumbersome!! We do praise God that Sonia has generally been feeling very good, despite a dip in energy recently which turned out to be anaemia. With iron supplements she is feeling much more energetic again.

Well, thats all from us. The next update will be from New Zealand when we are reunited again! We look forward to seeing those of you there soon.
God’s Blessings on you all,

Jonathan and Sonia

Praises For:

  • Sonia and Baby are doing well, we’re grateful her anaemia was picked up and treated.
  • The opportunity to return to New Zealand and have support of family and friends

Prayers for:

  • Safe flying for Jonathan in Zambia
  • Jonathan’s bible studies with local boys and workers
  • Sonia’s return to New Zealand on April 21st
  • Our time apart, its going to be hard!

Baby Weaver (and Sonia’s belly) have grown a lot!!

Jonathan had a “friend” come to visit the window while he was flying for a conservation organisation in one of the National parks here in Zambia.

Settling in…

The new office next to the hangar is almost done!

Hello from hot and rainy Zambia!

Settling back in
We have settled into our old house and unpacked belongings we had in storage. It was like Christmas unpacking things we forgot we even owned! Our cat Randy was happy to see us and our garden has grown significantly in some places. A banana tree we planted was about a metre high when we left, and almost 18 months later has sprouted many more trees two of which are about 20 feet/6 metres!! Both trees even have bunches of bananas we are looking forward to harvesting. We have enjoyed picking lemons, mulberries, passionfruit, mangos, avocados and guava from our garden and the FMZ grounds. We have also really enjoyed reconnecting with old friends, and colleagues at FMZ.

Jonathan started back at work and was able to renew his pilot licence with the Zambian Civil Aviation Authority and do some recurrency flights and is now back on board and did his first passenger flight this past week. Sonia has started her role as Front Desk Manager at the mission. This is an all new and diverse role for the mission so she is figuring out how the role looks and putting processes and procedures in place for the future.

Baby related news
The Baby Weaver bump continues to grow and Sonia is feeling really good. All the most recent health tests on Sonia and baby have come back normal. After research, advice and prayer we thought it was best to return to New Zealand to have baby. The healthcare in New Zealand is of great quality and under the socialised healthcare scheme, is free. We will also have support of Sonia’s family and friends during this important and new time as we adjust to being parents. We are grateful the mission has approved the time to be away. Our plans are as follows…

April 21 Sonia departs Zambia

June 9 Jonathan Departs Zambia

July 4 (approx) Baby Weaver due

August 20 Weaver family departs NZ back to Zambia

FMZ news
Flying Mission has developed a lot while we have been away. Previously we were all crammed into very tight spaces. Sonia’s old desk was in the kitchen, or wherever there was a spare place, and most people had little room to do their jobs. Now there is an all new office facility which has been built next to the hangar, (see top photo) and there is much room for people and things. Flying Mission’s vision is also to serve missionaries in a new way by offering office and conference spaces for their use, as well as to expand the support we offer to them through other ‘logistics’ services. We are excited to see how these are utilised by the church and mission community in Zambia as we serve them in new and different ways. A new couple and their young child have also joined the mission to help with logistics and possibly the guesthouse, so its great to have more hands on board!

Thats all for now,

God’s Blessings on you all,

Jonathan and Sonia

Praises For:

  • Safe arrival and good transition so far back to Zambia
  • Sonia’s Healthy pregnancy thus far
  • Jonathan quickly getting back to flying

Prayers for:

  • A continued good transition back into life in Zambia
  • Baby Weaver’s continued healthy growth
  • Safe flying and good health here in Zambia

Just a normal drive during the rainy season!

Sonia doing her job at the “Front Desk” in the new FMZ office facility.

Jonathan and Jason painting the staircase in the new office area.

A growing Sonia with our now fully grown Banana tree!

Our Return to Zambia

Hello All,
We are excited to be heading back to Zambia very soon!
We want to say thank you to the many people that we have been able to spend time with during our time here in New Zealand, it has been really great to catch up with you all!

We want to update you on our return travel to Zambia and a couple of prayer requests. We are leaving for and arriving in Zambia on January 29th (it’s amazing how jumping “back” time zones enables 24+ hours of travel to happen without it being the next day!), and would appreciate prayers for safe travel and rest along the journey.

Our original departure date had been January 24th, but due to the scheduling of a couple of specialist appointments for Sonia related to the pregnancy, we are spending a few days longer here in New Zealand. We have been assured that there is no serious issue, but the doctors just want to stay on top of the pregnancy and make sure all is well before we go. We would appreciate prayers that the doctors would have wisdom and we continue to make the best choices concerning Baby Weaver.

Thanks and God Bless,

Jonathan and Sonia

We have really enjoyed our time with family and friends in New Zealand!

No caption needed! (Sonia is excited to be starting to show).

New Years Update…Big News!!

Beautiful NZ landscapes!

 

Happy New Year from New Zealand…

Big News!

We are very excited to share the news that we are expecting another Weaver to join our team! Baby Weaver is due on the 4th of July 2018! We feel so thankful and blessed that the Lord is giving us the privilege of becoming parents and entrusting us with the life of a child. We have had an ultrasound and all is looking good (see picture below). This news has given us a lot to think and pray about, particularly as we decide where it will be best to have the baby. Please pray for us as we make these decisions- there are many factors involved. Please also pray God will ready us for this new blessing and challenge of becoming parents.

Other News…

We are also very happy to say that Jonathan has been advised he has passed his Masters Degree! (Though this is still pending final approval from the Open University in the UK).

We were blessed to go on a short holiday to the South Island of New Zealand, where we hiked in National Parks, had a boat ride in some fiords (where we saw dolphins, penguins and seals), and saw beautiful lakes, rivers and many glaciers. The weather was lovely and warm and we were both very grateful to enjoy the Lord’s wonderful creations in places neither of us had visited before. It has also been great so far to spend quality time with our friends and family in NZ.

We Depart NZ for Zambia on January 24th.

NZ Missions Update and Goodbye Event

It has been great to catch up with many of our NZ supporters and we would love to personally say goodbye, and update more comprehensively about what we’ve been up to and what’s next. Please come along, have some refreshments, and see/hear more about our study in the UK and Ministry in Zambia. Anyone interested is welcome. We hope to see you there.

Date: Sunday 14 January 2018
Time: 3-5 PM
Where: 41 Tennyson Street, Petone, Lower Hutt

God’s Blessings on you all as you begin 2018,
Jonathan and Sonia

“For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mothers womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:13-14)

Praises For:

  • The blessing of a baby
  • Jonathan passing his Masters
  • Time to enjoy NZ landscapes, and time with loved ones

Prayers for:

  • Our final weeks in NZ
  • A healthy pregnancy
  • Prenatal and birth decisions for baby Weaver

At the Tasman Glacier, with Aoraki/Mount Cook in the background (The highest mountain in NZ).

Landed in New Zealand

Wellington Harbour

G’day from New Zealand
to our family and friends!

After about 30 hours of gruelling travel, we have arrived in Wellington, New Zealand and been reunited with Sonia’s family.  Now we are in the process of adjusting to our new time zone and doing all of the things that need to be done when you arrive in a new place.

We are very thankful to everyone in the USA for the great hospitality we enjoyed while we were with you, (we were so glad to spend good quality time with so many of you), but are thankful and excited to see our NZ friends and family here, and enjoy a bit of summer and all that comes with it.

NZ friends- stay tuned for more info about events and opportunities to catch up and hear about what we’ve been up to, and our future plans.

God’s Blessings on you all,

 

Jonathan and Sonia

 

Still looking reasonably ok on our 4th and final flight, but ready to be at our final location!

Sonia told her family not to make a huge welcome sign for her, so they made one for Jonathan instead!

Praises For:

  • Safe travel and good homecoming in NZ
  • Beautiful warm summery NZ weather
  • A blessed time with many people  in the USA

Prayers for:

  • Good quality time with family and friends here
  • Furlough time and meeting with potential supporters