Corollas, mini-vans and flat tires…

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a week long flight, traveling with two men from an NGO (non government organization) around the Luapula Province in Zambia. Their goal was to make connections with the local leaders in five different spots in this part of Zambia for the sanitation project they are working on in rural villages and towns. They are working with other organizations to make this happen, but are very committed to also working with the local leaders and making it a community project. The purpose of this trip specifically was to meet with these local leaders, build relationships, and get support for the project. We set off early Monday morning and flew to the first location, Mansa, which has a very nice tarmac runway, the meetings went well, and we were transported by road to the next town called Samfya. Samfya is on the shores of Lake Bangweulu, a large freshwater lake that is quite beautiful, and not far from the spot where David Livingstone died. The meetings also went well in Samfya and the next morning we headed back to the airport. After sitting in the airplane for a bit over an hour awaiting a thunderstorm moving through, we set off and picked our way under clouds and around bad weather up along the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and made it to Nchelenge. This was our third of five locations, but the last one that the airplane could go to. The next two towns used to have airstrips, but they have not been maintained and so unfortunately aren’t usable. We didn’t think this would be a big deal as we had flown the majority of the distance and we had a few days to do the rest. After the meetings in Nchelenge, the NGO workers set out to find transportation to the next town, emails had been sent in advance to try to secure it, but unfortunately no one had responded to them. I was supposed to stay in Nchelenge with the airplane and await my partners return a few days later, but unfortunately the only guesthouse with vacancies had very intermittent power and almost no water, and no kitchen; it wasn’t a viable option for me to stay there, so I went along with the guys for the ride.

The beautiful shore of Lake Bangweulu.

The beautiful shore of Lake Bangweulu.

The only vehicle they managed to find, was a mid 90’s toyota corolla that had been imported into Zambia a while ago, but was never registered. Our driver assured us this wouldn’t be a problem, that the vehicle could take the rough dirt road and that he had talked to the police officers at the post so they wouldn’t give us a hard time. So the next morning we set off! Out of Nchelenge and into the countryside. Unfortunately, our taxi driver had only talked to the police at the second post we had to drive through. The police at the first post decided to throw the book at him for driving with an unregistered vehicle, using it as a taxi, and not having a commercial (taxi) driving license. After what seemed like more then 30 mins of somewhat heated discussion (we just sat in the car and watched) he was able to negotiate a fine and we were allowed to continue. Slowly we made our way, the corolla bottoming out at every bump, and rarely reaching a speed of 25 MPH, after a few hours and with no problem at the second police post, we had traveled the 60 miles and arrived in Chiengi.  Our driver dropped us and headed back. We were able to find a decent guesthouse on the shores of Lake Mweru, which has a lovely view of the beautiful hills of the DRC. They guys had their meetings and were also able to find transportation for the next leg of our journey.

Got to watch those clouds roll over the water and turn into a thunderstorm.  It was pretty cool.

Got to watch those clouds roll over the water and turn into a thunderstorm. It was pretty cool.

Zambia has some beautiful freshwater lakes!

Zambia has some beautiful freshwater lakes!

 Houses dotting the countryside.

Houses dotting the countryside.

This time we had secured a mini-van, it was much higher off the ground then the Corolla and would have much more room inside as well, we thought this leg was going to be better. When the driver arrived the next morning to pick us up, he had along with him his wife and young son along with three of her closest friends, who had decided they all needed to come along. So the four of them along with the child were packed in the back row of the van dressed to the tilt in their Sunday best. This leg of the journey would be shorter about 50 miles, and we set off at about 9 AM.  Again it was a slow trip on a rough dirt road, running right along the border of the DRC. As the sun rose higher, it began to get hotter and the 9 of us warmed the mini-van quickly, unfortunately the air conditioning didn’t work, so we relied on the windows. Our driver was very cautious, and the going was slow which didn’t make for much fresh air, but the scenery was gorgeous. Beautiful lush green rolling hills contrasted against the dirt in the road and the blue in the sky, and mud brick, thatched houses dotting the hillsides. We had been on the road for about an hour and gone about 12 or so miles, when all the sudden after hitting a rock we heard a hiss coming from the front right tire. The driver stopped and got out to investigate. It was a slow leak emanating from the center of the tire tread with no apparent puncture. It was just that the tire tread was so worn that it simply didn’t have enough material to withstand the pressure that was inside the tire. Not good news. But the driver wasn’t worried, he had a spare. Everybody piled out and went to the back and removed all our bags to find the tire. As they removed the “spare” from the trunk it became quickly apparent to me that it was actually one of the normal tires, and the spare was already on the vehicle. In fact the spare was the one currently hissing air on the drivers side front. The tire in the back had already been removed for some other unknown reason and didn’t have any air in it, but the driver was sure if we could get a pump we could pump it back up and use it. He set out down the road to find a pump at one of the nearby huts. As it happened, we secured a pump from a passerby on a bike, before the driver could return with one. So they set out to pump up the tire with a bicycle pump. As this was happening one of the guys got back into the vehicle to sit in the shade and just as soon as he sat down inside, we heard a POP and then hiss. This time it was the back left tire and it went flat a whole lot faster then the front one. Hmmm… what to do. We now had more flat tires then inflated tires with the vehicle; I did a quick visual inspection of the two tires that still had air in them, and determined that one of them looked like it also would blow at any moment. At this point it became apparent to me that we needed to do something else, because this situation wasn’t going to get resolved very quickly or easily. Unfortunately, we had stopped in a valley and there was no cell reception, so we couldn’t call anyone. So one of the other guys and I started off up the road to get to the top of a hill in the hopes of getting reception. After walking for about a mile we made it to the top of the hill, and began checking the 4 phones we had brought along. They began picking up signals, but still wouldn’t make calls, what we realized is that they were picking up the signal from the DRC, but wouldn’t pick up a signal from any Zambian towers, but we didn’t have enough money on them to make the roaming call on a DRC tower. After trying for a while we gave up and headed back down the hill. Meanwhile, the guys hadn’t made any progress on the tires, they had found some rubber gasket sealant which they were liberally putting around the bead of the tire, but still it wouldn’t hold air pressure. But we did find out that some of the neighbors had arranged for two motorbikes to come pick us up. They were suggesting the three of us and our 5 bags go on the back of these two 125CC (about 10 HP) bikes while the two owners of the bikes drove us the remaining way. While I am pretty adventurous, and very willing to drive myself through the bush on a motorbike, I was not willing to be on the back of an overloaded bike with two others on a bumpy dirt road, while having no idea the skill level or experience of the driver, my other two partners were in agreement with me, so we looked at other options. The best thing that we could come up with was to send the two motorbikes back to Chiengi (where we started from that morning.) One with the driver and flat tires, and the other with one of our guys who would try to secure a different mode of transportation for us for the remainder of the trip.  So off they went.

Hard at work attempting to inflate the tire with a bike pump!

Hard at work attempting to inflate the tire with a bike pump!

So we waited...

So we waited…

It was about 12 PM by this time, and two of us stayed with the vehicle, while the ladies and the little boy went into one of the neighboring villages to wait. So we waited… and waited… The guy I was with had his computer and we ended up watching episodes of “The Office” for a while. It crossed my mind how ironic is was to be so far from civilization yet sitting in a minivan being entertained my mainstream media. After we finished an episode, we looked around and saw that about 15 boys of various ages had appeared from nowhere and where also enjoying the show. And then we waited, I tried my hand at communicating with the gawking boys, which was comical, but not much was understood on either end. I read a book, and waited some more. Then I went for a walk, and then I waited even longer. Just after 6 PM the sun was getting ready to set and I was beginning to think we were going to spend the night in a mini-van in the bush. Unfortunately the driver had taken the keys and some of the windows were down and we couldn’t roll them up. Just as we were about to give up hope of being rescued during daylight, we heard a vehicle in the distance. Praise the Lord!!! It was a Land Cruiser and it had come to rescue us! It wasn’t going to take us to the next town, but the driver was willing to take us back to where we had started that morning. We piled in and headed back. The driver of the mini-van had also been able to “fix” (what he really needed was new tires!!!) his tires and headed back a bit later. So it was about 7pm and dark when we finally made it back to where we had started 10 hours earlier. And I was exhausted! The whole time I was thinking to myself, that would have been a 30 minute flight in the airplane. We do the best we can to keep track of airstrips and their usability, but if there isn’t someone on the ground that will keep it in good condition, there’s not to much we can do.

How do we load these... on this??

How do we load these… on this??

We should have take bicycles!  These folks seemed to be doing better on them then we were with the minivan.

We should have take bicycles! These folks seemed to be doing better on them then we were with the minivan.

Why yes that is a chunk of wood holding up the car frame.  Notice the loaded motorbike in the background.  African ingenuity is something that continually amazes me.

Why yes that is a chunk of wood holding up the car frame. Notice the loaded motorbike in the background. African ingenuity is something that continually amazes me.

And we waited some more...

And we waited some more…

The next morning one of the guys was able to take a motorbike by himself and make it to the final village and have the meetings he needed to. And thankfully we got a ride in a truck back to the town the airplane was in and were able to head back to Lusaka the next morning. What a week, we got accomplished what we needed to, but it was a whole lot harder then it needed to be. After this week, I have an even more personal understanding of how an airplane helps with bush ministries, and how it can save time, stress, and even lives. I’m thankful that where there are airstrips, we can be the difference with the airplane that allows missionaries, doctors, and aid workers to do the job they need to do without being delayed and stressed by transportation issues. I hope you have enjoyed my little story. And the next time you get a flat tire, just be glad you don’t have 3! 🙂

I was so happy to get back to the airplane after a few days away!

I was so happy to get back to the airplane after a few days away!

Update January 2014

Happy New Year from Zambia!

The weather is warm and wet here in Zambia during the holidays, and I must admit I wasn’t quite able to get used to Christmas being a Summer holiday.  I heard songs at some stores singing about a “White Christmas” but what I experienced was far from it.  I was able to go on a camping trip to Livingstone (Victoria Falls, don’t worry I didn’t quite go over the edge 🙂 ) and the Chobe National Park in Botswana during Christmas and we enjoyed over 100 F temperatures on Christmas day!   Our flying schedule is slower during these rainy months so it was nice to get away and experience more of Africa.  They ring in the New Year here with everyone all over the city setting off fireworks, about like what one experiences on the 4th of July in the United States.  My friend Ashley was able to visit and work with another organization here in Lusaka that ministers with Orphans.  It was great to have her come and I think she was blessed by the experience as well!
On other fronts, I was able to sell my truck!!  A true answer to prayer!  While I didn’t break even on it, I think I got a fair price for it, and the buyer didn’t seem too concerned with the issues that it had, so my hope is that with a bit more work, it will be a truck that he can enjoy.  Even more amazing is how there was already another vehicle waiting for me just as the first one sold.  A Canadian couple who came to Zambia around the same time I did, imported a truck from the UK in May, unfortunately after less then a year here they didn’t feel like this was the place that the Lord had for them, so they moved on but now had to sell the truck they had just imported, so they left it parked at a house on our base until they could figure out what to do with it.  Low and behold, I was looking for a truck just like it!  It is another Toyota Hilux; it’s newer and in much better condition, we were able to come to an agreement on price, so it is just a matter of getting the paperwork changed over!  The Lord really took care of me on this one.  It was more expensive then the one I sold, but a very good price for a vehicle like it here.  Thank you SO much to everyone who has been praying and helping out with financing some reliable transportation for me here.  I have close to the full amount to pay for the truck and will finish paying the remaining amount over the next few months.  Praise the Lord!
I took the Maintenance Engineers test here in Zambia a few weeks ago, but unfortunately didn’t pass (it’s not all that uncommon not to pass these tests the first time.)  After trying to clarify what exactly I need to study to find the correct answers, and doing some studying I’ll probably be taking it again in the next few weeks.  Prayers for that are appreciated!

Finally, the Flying Mission Zambia base is located on 25 acres just south west of Lusaka, this is where all of our operations start and end, and we have been steadily working to improve it since we purchased it in 2005.  Unfortunately, half of our runway has been leased from a family and they have not been willing to sell the land until now!  We have finally reached an agreement with them!!  But now need to finance the purchase of the second half of the runway.  🙂 If you are interested in helping with this CLICK HERE for more information!

SME (Share my Experience)

In this month’s SME section, I will tell you about the most recent “rainy day” project I have been helping with.  Mowing the grass on our runway and at our base is an important job and the grass grows very quickly during the rainy season.  One of the mowing attachments for our tractor has been in a bad state of repair and was bent and cracked in several places.  So I have had the opportunity to learn and improve my welding skills working on it!  Here are a few pictures of the work in progress, it’s almost ready to head back out and mow down some grass!

If you have any questions or comments please email me, I’ll be happy to answer them and give you even more information on what life is like here in Zambia!

God’s Blessings on you all,

Jonathan

Photo by Bryan K Wilson

“Rainy Day” project!

Photo by Bryan K Wilson

Welding is an art. I’ll take all the practice I can get!

Construction is progressing on the other side of our hangar!

Construction is progressing on the other side of our hangar!

I got to jump into the gorge just downstream of the falls.

I got to jump into the gorge just downstream of the falls.

This little guy wanted to be friends!

This little guy wanted to be friends!

Pool party!

Pool party!

Beautiful view!

Beautiful view!

Nice view!

Nice view!

Got to see the falls from the top!

Got to see the falls from the top!

Continuous rainbow!

Continuous rainbow!

Our guide standing on the edge!

Our guide standing on the edge!

Almost over the edge!

Almost over the edge!

Don't slip!

Don’t slip!

One of God's interesting little creatures.  Almost ran them over!

One of God’s interesting little creatures. Almost ran them over!

Was it an elephant?

Was it an elephant?

Beware of Animals.

Beware of Animals.

Update November 2013

 

Hello Friends,

The rains have returned to Zambia, and everything is becoming lush and green.  It is amazing how quickly the landscape changes.  Farmers are busy planting their crops for the growing season, and at Flying Mission Zambia we have also had a busy couple of months.  In addition to the normal flying, we have been able to help the Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) with an aerial survey of the large mammals in their national parks.  Flying Mission and a couple of other companies here in Zambia were selected to help with this important job.  The aerial survey helps ZAWA track how healthy different mammal species are and if the populations are rising or declining.  It is also good for Flying Mission because it helps us make connections with individuals and the Zambian Government.  I was able to help with this survey and spent 90+ hours in one of our airplanes bouncing around at 350 FT above the ground while the spotters counted animals.  We took off shortly after sunrise, took a break mid morning, and then flew till sunset; I saw a lot of very beautiful sunrises and sunsets during this time, and it gave me the opportunity to get to know some great people.  I also enjoyed spending some time in the amazing Zambian National Parks!!  For some pictures and a short writeup I did on this project check out my post HERE.

Thank you so much to those who helped out with my truck fund.  While I still have not been able to sell it, I think I have at least come to a temporary resolution.  After my last update, I got my truck back from the mechanic that has been working on it and he was able to sort a couple of issues, and told me that they were responsible for the “consistently inconsistent” engine problems.  However, the problems came back almost immediately and I began to look into the wiring and was able to find a loose connector.  I secured it and the problems have not returned.  So I am hopeful that at least this problem has been solved.  This gives me a bit of breathing room, I am still trying to sell the truck, but I can wait for a better buyer at a better price now, and I am thankful for that.  Please continue to be in prayer about this!
Otherwise, I have settled into a bit of a routine here in Lusaka, our flying schedule will slow down in December and January and it will give us the opportunity to catch up on other projects the mission is working on.  I have been studying for the Aircraft Maintenance Engineering test, and will shortly be writing the exam.  If I pass I will be able to do more on the aircraft maintenance side.  It is going to be strange to experience a hot, rainy, and humid Christmas, but I am blessed to have a close friend coming to visit, so I am looking forward to it.  I want to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas!

SME (Share my Experience)

In this episode of “share my experience” I want to tell you a little about the church that I have been attending here in Lusaka.  Living near the capital city in a developing country presents the expatriate with extra options and opportunities when it comes to choosing a church.  We have “village” churches in the neighborhood surrounding our base, as well as churches that are predominately full of white expatriates in the city.  While the village churches are great because they are full of Zambian culture, often most of their services are in one of the local languages, and until I learn more of the languages I wouldn’t really be able to participate.  The expatriate churches are also great because they are more like what I am used to, and are in English and feel more like home, but they lack Zambian flare and culture.  In my beginning stages here I was hoping for something with a mix of both, and for the time being I think I have found it.  I have been attending a large church in Lusaka called Miracle Life Family Church.  The preaching is in English with an American pastor, but is a 90% Zambian congregation.  The worship is led by a Zambian worship band and they rock!!  But the words are on a screen so when they sing songs in the local languages, I can read and understand what they are saying.  Many of the members of the congregation are middle to upper class Zambians, these are the people that can truly influence the future of Zambia in a positive way, and I am enjoying getting to know some of them.  Not sure if I will attend this church for a short time, or long term, but so far I have been blessed by it.

Well that’s all for now! If you have any questions or comments please email me, I’ll be happy to answer them and give you even more information on what life is like here in Zambia!

 God’s Blessings on you all,

Jonathan

 

Praises For:

  • Safety with all of the wildlife flying.
  • Figuring out some of the problems with the truck.
  • The Lord is blessing me with a good attitude through all the changes and challenges.

Prayers for:

  •  My Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Test.
  • Continued good adjustment and focus on God.
  • Safe Flying through the rainy season!
  • For the ministries we support to be blessed by God in the work they are doing for him.
  • The ring beam has been set, just a few more layers of blocks and the church will be ready for the roof!

    The ring beam has been set, just a few more layers of blocks and the church will be ready for the roof!

Wildlife Counts and Safari Camps!

During the months of October and November Flying Mission Zambia has been able to participate in some flying that was different then our normal fare.  It was challenging, fun, and at times exhausting, but overall I enjoyed it!  The Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) conducts aerial wildlife surveys throughout their parks and game management areas every few years.  Flying Mission has participated in the past and was asked again this year to do some of the flying for the count, so we allotted one of our airplanes and rotated through 4 of our pilots to accomplish our part of the survey.  This was an opportunity I was excited about because I haven’t been able to explore the Zambian parks yet or see much wildlife.

The basic purpose of the survey is to estimate the population and distribution of many of the different species of large mammals within the parks.  We were asked to help conduct the survey in the Kafue National Park (large park in the middle of the Zambian Map) and it’s surrounding Game Management Area’s (GMA).  The Kafue Park is the second largest park in Africa, and with the surrouding GMA’s the square footage amounts to roughly half that of the state of Ohio.  So it’s was a BIG area to cover.  While the survey can’t cover every square foot, we flew paths are set up as parallel straight lines each separated by a couple of miles over the entire park and game management area’s (see picture below).

The flying was challenging; flying low to the ground within specific limits while trying to fly a very straight line in turbulent 90F plus weather for 7-8 hours a day can be a bit tiring.  But there were many firsts for me as well, which made it exciting.  I got to stay at a couple different safari camps near the airstrips we were operating out of, and when I wasn’t flying I could participate in whatever activities were going on.  I went on a few game drives, a walking safari, and even went swimming in a natural hot spring.  And while from the air I was mostly too distracted trying to keep the plane straight and level, so see many animals, on the ground I saw my first Lions in Africa (a mother with a cub, as well as another lioness chasing an Impala), Hippos, Elephants, Warthogs, crocodiles, buffalo, more antelope then I could count, and even a porcupine scurrying away from our vehicle.  At night amidst the consistent lullaby of insect sounds, I would fall asleep to the sound of Hippos grunting and Lion’s roaring.  It was quite the African experience.  In the morning, I would awake in my grass chalet as the first rays of sunshine were appearing and enjoy some coffee and praise the Lord while listening to the birds and watching the impala and puku grazing on the plain stretching out before me.  It was pretty cool.

It was also fun to get to know the different members of the ZAWA team.  Everyone was very friendly and I was even able to fly with a member of the ZAF (Zambian Air Force), as part of the survey took place in Zambian airspace controlled by the ZAF.  I hope to run into them again as I visit different parks run by ZAWA.  At Flying Mission we try to pray before every flight, and when doing secular flying like this, these prayers are conversation starters, and I was able to share with many of the people I interacted with the real reason I am in Zambia.  My plane mates were even so used to the prayer before the flight that they would remind me if I forgot.  🙂

For those that have made it this far and are wondering how the survey actually worked here’s a brief explanation.  In the airplane with me were two spotters in the back seats and a recorder sitting in the front seat. I was instructed to fly at 350ft above the ground and 80kts (a relatively slow speed) over all of these straight line courses which were just GPS coordinates running through and separating different sections of the park, while the spotters in the back looked though a set of poles attached to the wing strut and counted any animals within the poles (see pictures below).  The recorder kept track of the sections and subsections we flew through and my altitude and airspeed.  When the numbers are complied they will know how much square footage was surveyed based on the altitude of the plane and the known width between the two poles on the wing struts.  The planes actual flight path was being recorded on a GPS unit in the airplane and after the flights all of the information is compiled and sent to a consultant who puts it all together and writes up the findings of the study.  A copy of the 2008 study is available HERE if you’re curious.

One of the last mornings as I was getting ready to land at the bush strip to pick up my ZAWA passengers, I lined up on final approach and looked down to see 3 adult and 2 baby elephants crossing the runway below me.  I’m not gonna lie the phrase “living the dream” crossed through my mind.

Well that’s all for now.  God Bless.

Jonathan

Joint venture with FMZ and the ZAF.

Joint venture with FMZ and the ZAF.

These was my ZAWA crew with our Airforce representative.

These was my ZAWA crew with our Airforce representative.

This is what the spotters saw from above.  Can you see the Lechwe (Antelope) on the island below?

This is what the spotters saw from above. Can you see the Lechwe (Antelope) on the island below?

This is a sampling of the lines we flew throughout the park.  Our GPS was recording it all.

This is a sampling of the lines we flew throughout the park. Our GPS was recording it all.

The Kafue park is the large one near the center of Zambia.  We surveyed the park and most of the areas around the park.

The Kafue park is the large one near the center of Zambia. We surveyed the park and most of the areas around the park.

 

Can you see the bat? This little guy shared the chalet with me for a day.

Can you see the bat? This little guy shared the chalet with me for a day.

Night game drive revealed a lioness and her cub resting peacefully, and not bothered at all by our light.

Night game drive revealed a lioness and her cub resting peacefully, and not bothered at all by our light.

Met a few neighbors!  Sadly I didn't get a picture of the hippo that I almost ran into twice.

Met a few neighbors! Sadly I didn’t get a picture of the hippo that I almost ran into twice.

Safari Accommodation!  Grass walls, thatch roof and outside bathroom beside.

Safari Accommodation! Grass walls, thatch roof and outside bathroom beside.

I got to see the sunrise and set every day.  The best time for smooth flying is just after sunrise and just before sunset.

I got to see the sunrise and set every day. The best time for smooth flying is just after sunrise and just before sunset.

This was the view from my Chalet.  Impala grazing on the plain.

This was the view from my Chalet. Impala grazing on the plain.

 

This is what the bathrooms looked like at one of the safari camps.  Can you see the hideaway in the picture?

This is what the bathrooms looked like at one of the safari camps. Can you see the hideaway in the picture?

This baby Impala was rescued after his mother died.  He will be released back into the wild after he is old enough.

This baby Impala was rescued after his mother died. He will be released back into the wild after he is old enough.

 

 

 

 

Update September 2013!

Greetings from Zambia!

The warmth has returned, but it’s still dry and dusty here.  It hasn’t rained in 5 months but within the next 2 months the rains should return.  Since my last update there have been many things that have changed!  I have moved into a house that is going to be my permanent home here, its a nice little 2 bedroom house in the community very near our base (see pictures in my pictures post).  I also have gotten a roommate, his name is Alex and he is from Canada working with Flying Mission as an auto mechanic for 1 year.  It has been nice to have some company as well as cut down on the cost of rent.  Also the shipping container with my tools and a few other personal items arrived, it’s been nice to use my own tools to work on airplanes!  Finally, I have had the privilege flying a few longer trips with regional directors to some of the different locations they have ministries in Zambia.  I really enjoyed meeting the different missionaries and seeing the work they are doing in rural Zambia!  God’s work is alive and well here!  if you want to hear more about these ministries or the different kinds of work we support here in Zambia, email me, I ‘d love to share in more detail!

One thing that hasn’t changed yet is my problematic truck.  It has continued to cause problems, and I haven’t been able to sell it.  I was able to buy a dirt bike, and it has been great for getting me to the base everyday, but it’s not licensed yet and can’t be my only transportation once the rains start.  I am in the process of seeing what my best options are right now for getting some other reliable transportation, but it looks like I am going to need to raise a few thousand dollars in order to get a different vehicle that will work in this challenging driving environment.  PLEASE be in prayer about this situation and if you are able to contribute a bit extra towards getting my transportation needs resolved that would be great!  You can print a form HERE and send it to the address at the top with donations.  If you want more information on my transportation needs please let me know!

SME (Share my Experience)

On to more enjoyable topics!!  The church in Mwembeshi village is starting to take shape!  The walls are now in process, and as they raise more money they are continuing to build.  The congregation was able to raise enough money for 500 more blocks and I was able to match them with money I had set aside for the church.  Lord willing we can continue with the matching funds until the walls are completed!  I am hoping to visit soon to see the latest progress.

I have also been able to get involved in the football (soccer) ministry at Flying Mission.  I’ve only just begun getting to know the different boys that come out and play, but it’s obvious to see they are way better at playing then I am!  On Saturday mornings about 10 or so of the boys come to a Bible study that I have also had the privilege of getting involved in.  I’m hoping to be able to build some good relationships, and encourage these young men as they mature!

Well that’s all for now, Thank you for being involved and interested in my life!  If you have any questions or comments please email me, I’ll be happy to answer them and give you even more information on what life is like here in Zambia!

May the Lord bless you and keep you,

Jonathan

Pictures are worth a 1000 words.

My house!!

My house!!

Just before I had to start bailing water out of the boat so we could stay afloat!!

Just before I had to start bailing water out of the boat so we could stay afloat!!

Local on the Zambezi!

Local on the Zambezi!

Sunset on the Zambezi River!

Sunset on the Zambezi River!

Up close and personal!

Up close and personal!

Lovely view before sunset.

Lovely view before sunset.

The beautiful "common bee eater"

The beautiful “common bee eater”

My (semi) sea worthy vessel on Lake Tanganyika.

My (semi) sea worthy vessel on Lake Tanganyika.

Hungry hungry hippos...

Hungry hungry hippos…

Almost looks like paradise!

Almost looks like paradise!

Zimbabwe off in the distance.  Can you see the bungee jumper?

Zimbabwe off in the distance. Can you see the bungee jumper?

Avionics upgrade on one of our airplanes!  It's gonna be nice.

Avionics upgrade on one of our airplanes! It’s gonna be nice.

The walls are going up at the Church!

The walls are going up at the Church!

My tools finally arrived!!!!  Yay!!

My tools finally arrived!!!! Yay!!

My cousins the Weaver birds!

My cousins the Weaver birds!

We got a nice welcome from the choir at the local baptist church when we arrived in Solwezi.

We got a nice welcome from the choir at the local baptist church when we arrived in Solwezi.

Fresh Fish!!

Fresh Fish!!

My little Gecko friend.

My little Gecko friend.

Mongu Harbor, anyone want some fresh fish??

Mongu Harbor, anyone want some fresh fish??

I learned a ton in my cultural orientation class!

I learned a ton in my cultural orientation class!

My living room!

My living room!

Driving in Lusaka is always exciting.  Driving in Lusaka is always exciting.

I often get stuck in heavy traffic.

I often get stuck in heavy traffic.

Swimming hole just off the Zambezi River.  No Crocodiles because it has rapids on both sides.

Swimming hole just off the Zambezi River. No Crocodiles because it has rapids on both sides.

Winter in Africa

Hello Friends and greetings from

chilly Zambia!

“Winter” has taken over in Zambia, and while it’s nothing near what I am used to from Ohio, it’s interesting to live in a house with no central heating or insulation.  When the temperature outside dips into the 40’s at night, the temperature inside quickly follows, and it makes for some chilly evenings and mornings!  However, the sun comes out almost everyday and warms things back up, so that is a nice difference from winter in Ohio!  Since my last letter I have gotten my official Zambian Commercial Pilot’s License and have been able to see much of the country from the air, including Victoria Falls which is included in the pictures!  It has been very fulfilling and gratifying to finally be doing what I felt called to so long ago, and I praise the Lord for sustaining and leading me to this point!

There have also been some challenges that have come along as well, and the greatest so far has been my need for reliable ground transportation.  The truck that I bought has continued cause problems and it even seems that whomever sent this truck to Africa intentionally made it to look good on the surface, but to be made up of worn out and bad parts underneath.  It’s also frustrating because I went through what seemed to be reputable sources to obtain it but still ended up in this spot, and while I have attempted to deal with the company, they have been unwilling to help.   It’s interesting really, and I think it illustrates one of the problems that Africa as a whole is facing.  Those that have interest in Africa for non “mission” reasons seem to mostly see it as a place to be used for their own personal gain.  Things that are substandard for “western” countries are sent to Africa where they are accepted because it’s the best they can get.  Certainly much of the aid is good and helpful, but it seems like the more Africa can stand on it’s own, the better off it will be (but I’ve only been here 5 months, so we’ll see what I think after a few years 🙂 ).  All that to say, I’ve decided to try to sell this truck to someone who might be better equipped deal with it, but because I’m going to be honest about the problems that it has, I probably won’t be able to get get back out of it what I have invested in.

SME (Share my Experience)

On to more enjoyable topics… Last time I left you wondering if I was “fit” enough to drive.  The good news is now that we knew what hours the hospital was open for examinations, we went back right at the opening time and 3 of us got exams passed in less than 30 mins!!  So I guess it’s really all about having the right information to do what needs to be done.  I’ll spare you the rest of the details on transferring my US driving license to a Zambian one, but three more trips to RTSA buildings and a 60 days of waiting for them to print and laminate my card (and you thought 45 mins at the BMV was bad…) and I have a official Zambian driving license!
This month though I want to share a little bit more about my “African Family” and the work that they are doing on building their church.  When I stayed with them, it was obvious that their current church building was too small for the congregation and not a good space at all.  I had been given some extra money from a few of you to use to bless some African’s however I felt led.  The church wanted so badly to begin building, but the concrete slab is the most expensive part and they didn’t have enough to lay it first.  They were considering building the walls and leaving the floor dirt, but I didn’t want them to have a church with a dirt floor!!  So I was able to step in and help!  With the money donated plus a little extra I had we were able to come up with enough to lay the slab!  The church is excited to have a floor and the walls will soon be going up.  They have enough blocks for the walls to go up about half way, and will continue to raise money until it’s all done!  It’s been a blessing to me to be used by the Lord to bless them with the floor they may never have had for their church!

If you have any questions or comments please email me, I’ll be happy to answer them and give you even more information on what life is like here in Zambia!

God’s Blessings on you all,

Jonathan

Want to see more pictures?  Check out my facebook page HERE (you don’t need to be a member to see the pictures).

The church foundation, waiting for the slab!

The church foundation, waiting for the slab!

The new concrete slab for the church!

The new concrete slab for the church!

Victoria Falls from the Air!!

Victoria Falls from the Air!!

“God’s Will”

Life in Africa, always has something new for me right now.  Transitions are usually difficult, but keeping a good attitude and your sense of humor seem to be the keys to good transitions.  Driving in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, is quite the experience and I am still adjusting to it.  It’s hard enough to remember which side of the car to get into, and then which side of the road to drive on, but add to that a crazy mix of slow trucks, more speed bumps then I can count, cautious and slow drivers, and finally extremely aggressive fast “minibus” drivers, and it makes for exciting stories on every commute.  The beauty of the minibuses is that in spite of how they actually drive, they have friendly reminders of the important things of life posted all over them.  It’s good really, but it just doesn’t always seem like it after they have just cut you off, or held up 2 lanes of traffic with a green light because they pulled into an intersection that was already full when they had a red light.  But hey, it’s a whole lot easier to take pictures while sitting in traffic then driving right?  And after all we do want God’s will to be done…

"God's Will"

“God’s Will”

Life in Africa

Hello Friends and greetings from South Central Africa!

It has only been a little over a month since my last update, but it feels like several months of things have happened!  Since then, I have moved into the flight portion of my orientation.  I began by studying for and taking the two Zambian Air Law exams which by God’s grace I was able to pass both of them on the first try, then I read the Flying Mission standard operating procedures and started flying with the Chief Pilot and another mentor pilot.  We also had an airplane that needed to be taken to South Africa, to be painted and have the interior redone, so I was able to go along and see what international flying in Africa entails.  We spent 2 days in Johannesburg with a board member from Flying Mission, and then another 2 days in Gaborone, Botswana where we were able to tour Flying Mission Services and meet many of the people involved in the other branch of Flying Mission.  It was great to see a bit more of Africa, and to see the full picture of what makes up Flying Mission.  And then just this week, I was sent out on my own and began doing the normal mission flying!  I was also able to buy a truck that had been imported to South Africa, it seemed like a good vehicle to purchase, but unfortunately when it arrived in Zambia I found it had some problems that I was not told about.  So I am working through the best options for making it a reliable truck for me to use.

SME
In aviation we have something called an “SYE” form or Share Your Experience, when something interesting, abnormal, or possibly dangerous happens, a pilot or mechanic will fill out the form to share their experience in the hopes that others can learn from it.  I want to share with you some of the different experiences that I am having here in Africa, so this will be the SME section (share my experience). 🙂 Maybe there is something to learn from it, or maybe it’ll just make you giggle, but either way it will give you a bit of insight into what life is like here in Zambia.  Living in Africa is certainly a different experience than what we normally experience in “Western” countries.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages, where I am in Zambia, just outside the capital city of Lusaka is at times an odd mix of the two.  I went to get my Zambian Driving License not long after I arrived.  Having been given most of day to accomplish this task, combined with the fact that it would just be a transfer of my Ohio license, I was thinking that it couldn’t possibly take more than a day.  Well the first step for the license here in Zambia is to have a medical examination done to assure you are fit to drive.  Flying Mission had the forms at the base and I filled in my information on the form and set out with Paul, one of the team members who had most recently gotten a Zambian License.  We stopped at the nearest clinic and after a brief wait were told that we couldn’t do it there as there was no doctor on duty.  On to the next clinic, and after a bit of confusion as to where to enquire about the examinations we were told that they no longer did the driving license exam.  From there we moved onto a clinic that was a bit further away, and arrived just after 12pm when we found the receptions area, we were told that it was lunch time and we would have to wait until 2pm when they reopened.  Well, given that bad news we decided to have lunch ourselves and because there were other clinics in town we kept heading that way.  After lunch we headed to the next closest clinic, and again after some confusion as to where to go, a “helpful” employee took me aside and said that he would have the doctor sign the paper for me, but that I shouldn’t have written my name and address on it because it should all be done in the same handwriting.  I was a bit confused, and when it became apparent that I wouldn’t actually see the doctor but he wanted me to pay him right then and there, I hesitated and said that we would have to go get a new form because I had written on it.  Obviously seemed like something fishy was going on.  So we went on to the Road Transport and Safety Administration building (RTSA) and picked up a fresh medical exam form and decided to head to one of the hospitals in the hopes that we would have better success there.  We arrived and were told that indeed the exams were done there and were directed to the wing where they were done.  Upon arrival there was a sign that clearly stated that we were in the right spot for driving medical examinations!  Finally!  But the sign also clearly stated that they did them everyday from 8am until 2pm… by that point it was about 3:30pm and I enquired anyway just to be told to come back the next day at 8am.  In one last attempt to get it done, we went back to the clinic where they had told me I needed to have the blank form.  It was less busy by this time and we were able to ask a nurse about the exam.  She told us that the clinic was no longer able to do the exams because there had been people filling out the forms but not examining the patients.  (exactly what had almost happened to me, and apparently also the reason why clinic #2 couldn’t do the exams anymore either).  It was almost 5pm by that time and Paul and I were beat…after visiting 4 clinics, 1 hospital, and the RTSA building I had not yet gotten step one of the driving license accomplished, what a day!  While I am enjoying living in Africa, and Zambians are wonderful and hospitable people, there are times when being in a new place brings many challenges… oh and teaches you a little patience. 🙂  Well friends, I fear I have written too much so you’ll just have to stay tuned next month to find out if I am physically fit enough to drive or not (sure hope so as I’m flying airplanes all around)…  God’s Blessings on you all.
Jonathan

Praises For:

  • Passing my Zambian Air Law exams.
  • The beginning of my flying is going well.
  • The Lord is blessing me with a good attitude through all the changes and challenges.

Prayers for:

  • The decisions I need to make on fixing the truck I bought.
  • Continued good adjustment and focus on God.
  • Safe Flying!
  • For the ministries we support to be blessed by God in the work they are doing for him.
South Africa!

South Africa!

Just no escaping them.

Just no escaping them.

Doesn't taste like chicken... surprisingly its more like beef

Doesn’t taste like chicken… surprisingly its more like beef

Granadilla (passion fruit) fields in South Africa.

Granadilla (passion fruit) fields in South Africa.

I get to see many African sunrises with many early morning flights!

I get to see many African sunrises with many early morning flights!

Settling in Lusaka

Mwembeshi

Greetings from Zambia!

After an enjoyable two weeks living in a Zambian Village, I am settling into living in Lusaka, Zambia.

My village time was truly a blessing.  James and Elosia Shampande took me in for two weeks and allowed me to live with them and 5 of their kids on their farm in Mwembeshi, Zambia.  The Shampande’s have 7 kids total, but two are grown and married and live in the city.  James is a pastor at a local church in the village, but also farms his land with the help of his family.  They were very open and hospitable, and allowed me to see what life is like, and to ask any questions that I wanted.  I learned many things about Zambian culture, Nyanja (one of the many Zambian languages), and even a few things about farming.  🙂  Among other things I harvested beans, helped plow a field, and climbed inside a water tank to try to stop it from leaking!  We also visited other members of the church in the village, took a trip to a neighboring town called Mumbwa, went to James’s church, and visited a neighboring village church that he helped to plant.  I ate nshima (a cornmeal paste) and assorted side dishes with my hands, for almost every meal, and slept in a mud brick hut with a thatched roof.  My time in the village was very enjoyable, and the Shampande’s have told me that they will be my African family and I am welcome anytime!

A few interesting things about current village living… they have electricity, cell phones, a freezer, and even a TV!!  Life is certainly not plush or easy, but it is interesting to see how modern things are working their way even into the African bush.

I am scheduled to finish my cultural orientation this week, and begin my flight orientation next week.  I have learned much so far, but I know there are still many things to learn!  I am excited to start flying and seeing more of the Zambian countryside.  The rainy season is ending so it will be nice to see things before they turn brown during the dry season!

I am still looking for a quality vehicle at a reasonable price so that is a major prayer concern!!  I will be housesitting for another missionary who is on furlough for the next 2 1/2 months, and she is also letting my drive her car until I find my own, so that is a major blessing!

Thank you to all of those who have been praying and thinking about me!  I appreciate all of the comments and emails, even if I do not respond to them very quickly!  The internet here is very slow and expensive, but hey, at least I can connect and communicate!  I have uploaded some pictures to Facebook from my village stay and you can see them by clicking HERE.  Even if you do not have Facebook you can see the content on my page!

Praises For:

  • A safe, healthy, and enjoyable time in the Zambian Village!
  • Having a temporary house to live in and car to drive while I find my own.
  • The many new things I have learned thus far about Zambia and it’s people!
  • The many ways the Lord is blessing me in this transition.

Prayers For:

  • Finding a good vehicle at a reasonable price!! (Yes I’m still looking!)
  • Continued focus on God during the transition.
  • Safety as I begin flying, and wisdom as I begin writing my tests and transferring my licenses over to Zambia.

Send me Mail!!!!
Jonathan Weaver
Postnet #197, P/Bag E891
Lusaka, Zambia

Mud brick hut with a thatched roof!

Mud brick hut with a thatched roof!

My African Family!

My African Family!