Update January 2016

The water is returning to Victoria Falls after a long dry season.

The water is returning to Victoria Falls after a long dry season.

Hello Friends!

Happy New Year and welcome to the latest edition of my newsletter. Our flying has been slower the last few months, but we have still been busy! I enjoyed a bit of down time around the holidays, but otherwise we have been working on projects and catching up on paperwork and organizing from our busy season. The rains have FINALLY come to our part of Zambia, and Victoria Falls is slowly filling with water! Our power outages have not been helped by below average rainfall thus far this rainy season, but we are hopeful the fresh rain will ease the problem at least for a while.
Sonia and I are excited and have been busy with wedding preparations. We are now down to the smaller details. I will be traveling soon to New Zealand, to officially (I’ve met them via Skype) meet her family, do some support raising, and finish the wedding preparations. Then we will be married on April 1st, 2016. As it turns out, the most in the middle spot for both families to come to for the wedding is Hawaii! Rough place to get married and honeymoon I know. 🙂 But with a small wedding it will be less expensive then throwing a bigger wedding in either of our home cities.
Many people have asked for a gift registry or how they can help us with the wedding and honeymoon. Seeing how it isn’t really in the budgeted support I raise, we are asking anyone who wants to give a gift to donate towards the expense of the wedding and honeymoon. You can send in extra gifts to Flying Mission through the usual method Here, or give to the special site we set up Here. If you choose this second method note that you do not have to give the additional 6% to You Caring that they recommend (at the bottom simply click on their recommended extra donation and change it to “Other Amount” and change the amount to $0.00). We really appreciate all of the love and support we have already received from you all, and are excited to see how our future unfolds. Currently, we plan to return to Zambia at the end of April and continue serving with Flying Mission Zambia, with the hope that we will also spend some time studying at a Bible School sometime towards the end of the year. Sonia has never had any formal Bible training, and it will be a good chance for us to spend time together during our first year of marriage.

SME (Share my Experience)
Around mid 2015 we found that two of our Cessna 206 aircraft were developing cracks in their landing gear castings. This problem is a common one for higher time aircraft that are used on rough bush airstrips, but is of the highest importance because eventually it could lead to a failure of the landing gear! It is a monumental project to undertake, requiring removing most of the floor of the aircraft to get to the casting, then removing the casting itself and replacing it with a new (and expensive) one! Our guys were up to the task! We planned the projects for a time when the aircraft wouldn’t be needed for a couple of weeks and got down to it. The first one went well, and the second went even better as they now had the experience to do things more efficiently. Our friends at JAARS (the transportation branch of Wycliffe Bible Translators) have a modification that gives the new casting a longer life and makes it easier to change in the future, and they were kind enough to share it with us, so we followed their plans for our project. My role is no longer as much hands on work, but I checked on the progress of the project, did the final checks to make sure everything was put back together correctly, and completed the paperwork signing the aircraft back off as Airworthy at the completion of the project. We are back to flying both aircraft with fresh life in the landing gear!

The floor of one of our c-206's being put back together after changing out gear castings.

The floor of one of our c-206’s being put back together after changing out gear castings.

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:

  • The rains that have finally come to our part of Zambia.
  • Our wedding plans coming together well.
  • Safety in all of our activities at Flying Mission.

Prayers for:

  • Safe travel to New Zealand and for the wedding.
  • Final wedding plans to come together.
  • Good support raising in NZ as we need some extra monthly funds to be in Zambia as a couple.

 

Engagement in Africa!

Sonia's introduction to the USA in June!

Sonia’s introduction to the USA in June!

Just wanted to update on some exciting news!
As many of you know I have been in a relationship with another missionary who has also been serving with Flying Mission for some time. Sonia and I met in June of 2014 at a meeting I went to with Flying Mission in Botswana. She also came up to Zambia for a short visit in August and then for a couple of months in October. We hit it off quite well and continued talking until she returned to Zambia in January 2015. Since that time we have grown closer together and enjoy spending time and serving together.

Sonia is from New Zealand, with a lovely accent, and is a teacher by trade. She began her African missions experience in 2012 serving with Flying Mission in Botswana, participating in a teacher training program run by Flying Mission. They give national teachers who haven’t had prior teaching training practical knowledge to teach children better. Sonia volunteered for 5 months and then headed back to NZ. Within a year however she felt Africa calling again and returned again to Botswana in April 2014 and when her teacher training course ended at the end of 2014 she was invited to come to Zambia to help us with various things. Sonia is leaving Zambia and heading back to NZ very soon and was looking for a reason to return, so I gave her one by asking her to marry me!! She has excitedly agreed and so we are making plans for a wedding probably in March next year with a return in April to Zambia. Most likely we will look for a place half way in-between New Zealand and Ohio to assure that as many of our family members as possible will be able to attend. If you would like to get to know Sonia better check out her blog HERE.

Enjoying some famous American Sites.

Enjoying some famous American Sites.

There will be more details to come, but for now we are excited about the future and serving together long term in Africa. We would appreciate your prayers as there are a lot of decisions to be made in the near future!

God Bless,

Jonathan and Sonia

Listen folks, we can't get it right every time.  And we don't have a selfie stick...

Listen folks, we can’t get it right every time. And we don’t have a selfie stick…

I took Sonia on a little flying adventure to Kelleys Island and Put-in-Bay.

I took Sonia on a little flying adventure to Kelleys Island and Put-in-Bay.

Update November 2015

You can pitch your tents just at the top of the falls! Don't fall in...

You can pitch your tents just at the top of the falls! Don’t fall in…

Hello Friends!

Welcome to the November edition of my newsletter! I hope all is well. Here in Zambia we have been enjoying (or suffering through) some hot weather. Just before the rains come every year the weather turns hot and humid and eventually it becomes enough that the rains come and provide much needed water for the land and comfort from the heat. Because of the water shortage in the Kariba Dam causing an electricity shortage in the country, this year everyone is waiting for the rains with even more anticipation! Our power outages have increased and there are rumors that it could get worse before it gets better.

At Flying Mission Zambia the flying has slowed down, and we have been busy with projects to organize and develop our property, and well as catching up on some larger maintenance projects on a couple of our airplanes. Recently we were able to take two days and participate in the Global Leadership Summit put on by Willow Creek Church in Chicago. This was a really great time of trying to learn and evaluate where we are as leaders ourselves and within Flying Mission. It is great that Flying Mission wants to help us improve as individual leaders and as well as the mission as a whole. Pray that we can take things we learned here and apply them to lead better and build unity within our team.

The church building we have been raising funds for is getting so close to being finished! Check out the picture below. They have been meeting in the building now for a few weeks, but because doors and windows haven’t been finished nothing can be left in the building between the weekly services. If the church can raise the remaining funds (which we will match) they could have bars on the windows and be able to lock the doors by the new year! It has been a long process, but the end is in sight.

SME (Share my Experience)
At least once a year it is nice to take some time to get away from the everyday routine at Flying Mission and see a bit more of Zambia. My girlfriend Sonia and I along with another couple from flying mission were able to take a week and visit and camp at some waterfalls around the northern part of Zambia (see the top picture for a spot we camped at!) It was a great time to get away a bit and see some really beautiful and hidden sites in Zambia. Check out some of the photo’s below to see God’s beauty in Zambia!

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!

Praises For:

Safe Flying during the Wildlife Count.
Safe travel during our holiday.
A chance to grow as a person and leader at the leadership conference.
Prayers for:

Flying Mission to grow and unify from the conference.
My Bible study to help these young men to grow in their faith.
Zambia’s leaders to wisely handle the power crisis.

Until next time take care, and God’s blessings on you all,

Jonathan

 

The roof has been finished on the whole building and the walls are sealed at the top.

The roof has been finished on the whole building and the walls are sealed at the top.

Camped near these waterfalls the first night.

Camped near these waterfalls the first night.

Above these falls is a network of cascading water and perfect swimming holes. Thankfully free of Crocodiles.

Above these falls is a network of cascading water and perfect swimming holes. Thankfully free of Crocodiles.

2nd highest waterfall in Africa! 772 foot drop. Breathtaking! The far side of the picture is Tanzania.

2nd highest waterfall in Africa! 772 foot drop. Breathtaking! The far side of the picture is Tanzania.

Picture at the top with my lady.

Picture at the top with my lady.

Sometimes when there's no water anywhere else... you have to wash your dishes at the top of a 700 foot water fall.

Sometimes when there’s no water anywhere else… you have to wash your dishes at the top of a 700 foot water fall.

Not everyday you see a momma Hyena with two babies!

Not everyday you see a momma Hyena with two babies!

Sunset over the Luangwa River.

Sunset over the Luangwa River.

Another breathtaking set of waterfalls!

Another breathtaking set of waterfalls!

We took a "short cut" to try to avoid a 9 Hr drive... once we finally found the track we did ok. Ask me the story sometime... it's a good one!

We took a “short cut” to try to avoid a 9 Hr drive… once we finally found the track we did ok. Ask me the story sometime… it’s a good one!

Glad this guy wasn't in any of the rivers we were swimming in!

Glad this guy wasn’t in any of the rivers we were swimming in!

Update Sept 2015

Elephant Sunset

Hello Friends!

I have adjusted back to what life is like here in Zambia, and my role overseeing the aircraft maintenance has kept me busy.  We have been asked again by the government organization overseeing Zambia’s national parks to participate in an aerial wildlife survey.  This is a great opportunity for us to continue to build ties within the government and also to help out the national parks with maintaining their wildlife.  This one is specific to counting elephants.  We have started this week and will probably carry on until sometime in October.  I have the responsibility of overseeing all of the inspections on the aircraft and getting them back out to the survey as quickly as possible, as well as doing some of the flying.  It is an enjoyable time and really good for building relationships with the Zambians we work with during the survey, but it is also quite tiring and involves long hours.  We do this on top of our normal mission flying, so it is a team effort to keep up with everything during these surveys.  Prayers for energy and safety during this survey are appreciated!

I do a Saturday morning Bible study with some of the neighborhood boys who are involved in our Soccer Ministry.  We have picked up where we left off when I took my furlough and it has been nice to see that most of the boys have returned and continue to come regularly.  We are currently working our way through the book of Acts.  Prayers are appreciated for these boys and also my teaching that the Lord can use my words to show them things about the Bible that can impact their lives.

Zambia has been experiencing a power shortage in recent months.  Most of the power comes from several hydro-electric power plants in a few places in the country.  The largest one drawing from Lake Kariba (the largest man made lake in the world) downstream of Victoria Falls, is quite low at the moment so all of Zambia has been experiencing frequent power cuts, we are averaging about 8 hours a day without power.  I am very thankful that at our base we have a generator and some solar and battery backups to keep us working while the power is out.  This has been a difficult situation for the country and for companies and local industry it has made the cost of doing business much more expensive and difficult.  The Kwacha (Zambia’s currency) has also fallen quite quickly verses the dollar causing some economic instability.  Please pray for the country as it handles this crisis and for wisdom as the government officials make difficult decisions.

SME (Share my Experience)
My work permit… Every two years I need to renew my work permit to remain in Zambia legally.  In January, we submitted the paperwork for my renewal which expired in February.  Once submitted it often takes a few weeks to be processed, approved, and renewed.  Usually, someone from Flying Mission will stop by the immigration office once a week to check on pending work permits.  When I left for the States in March, it still had not been renewed for an unknown reason (I am able to stay in the country with a pending application).  I went to the office the week before I left and was told they were having a meeting about it that week and it would be renewed very soon.  While I was gone weekly visits were made, but still there was no progress.  We finally determined that my file had been lost.  Unfortunately, no one at immigration did an exhaustive search for it, and each week we were just told to come back next week and it might be approved.  Sometime in July it was actually “approved” but still the actual paper file hadn’t been located… So we waited some more and continued our weekly visits.  Finally, one of my colleagues was able to speak to someone who eventually had a search done to find the missing file!  So after 9 months of waiting and 30+ visits to the office by someone from Flying Mission (usually at least a 45 min drive into town), I am the proud holder of a renewed employment permit!!  Praise the Lord!

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:
The renewal of my work permit.
The chance to work with the Zambian Wildlife Authority again.
The backup electricity FMZ has in place to continue to function without power.

Prayers for:
Safe flying with for out animal surveys.
Energy for the extra work of the surveys.
My Bible study to help these young men to grow in their faith.
Zambia’s leaders to wisely handle the power crisis.

Favorite Memories

Having arrived back in Africa with Flying Mission Zambia after my 3 months in the states, I wanted to take a few minutes and just sit back and remember what God has done and some of my favorite memories so far.

 

Flying with and observing the doctors at work.

These doctors give up some of their weekends to fly with us out to rural villages to perform surgeries on people who would never make it to the big city for medical care.  I have really enjoyed the trips I have done with them and knowing that on each weekend we fly them to a rural part of Zambia 15-25 lives are made better because they can have the surgical procedure they desperately need.  I have also really enjoyed the fact that I can go and watch them at work, the operating room is much more accessible here in rural Zambia and I have enjoyed observing them.

Getting started on a little guy with Club Foot.

Getting started on a little guy with Club Foot.

Flying with the Zambia Wildlife Authority.

We have gotten the opportunity to fly with the Zambia Wildlife Authority several times to do aerial survey work in the national parks.  It is great for us to build relationships with them and to help with conservation efforts here in Zambia.  We get to see lots of cool things as well!

These was my ZAWA crew with our Airforce representative.

These was my ZAWA crew with our Airforce representative.

 

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.

 

Saturday morning Bible Study

Almost every Saturday morning 5-15 young men come to my house to do a bible study for about an hour.  We have been slowly working our way through the main points of the whole Bible.  We are currently finishing Acts, and maybe will finish the study by early next year!  It has been rewarding to build some relationships with some of the boys and I hope to continue to deepen them the longer I stay.

Saturday Mornings on my back porch.

Saturday Mornings on my back porch.

 

My Cat Setting herself on Fire

My cat Randy always keeps me on my toes, and provides plenty of entertainment in my life.  She enjoys chasing a laser pointer all over my house and leaping up walls chasing after it, brings me plenty of still living mice, birds, and lizards just in case I’m hungry for a late night snack, and is always happy to see me (unless I haven’t brought any food for her or am going to lock her in the house).  A few weeks ago she topped it all though… burning candles to see at night is a normal thing with so many power cuts, and well cats are curious.  Needless to say she got too close to one and part of her fluffy backside went up in flames!  She quickly left the room after her fur and the candle went out, leaving us with the overpowering odor of burning hair.  Good thing she has 9 lives.

 

Notice the Brown area below the black fur. That was what was left of the fire.

Notice the Brown area below the black fur. That was what was left of the fire.

 

Joining with the Mwembeshi Village church to construct their building! 

The church is almost finished!  We have come such a long way and it has been rewarding to join with the congregation in raising money, and also worshiping with them on many Sunday mornings.  Check out the pictures in order over the last 2 1/2 years.

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!

 

The walls are going up at the Church!

The walls are going up at the Church!

 

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!

 

Almost done with the exterior of the building!

Almost done with the exterior of the building!

 

The roofing sheets have gone on! Just a few final touches remain.

The roofing sheets have gone on! Just a few final touches remain.

Well these are just a few memories that came to mind of what has happened in my time in Africa so far.  Hope you enjoyed them.  I am looking forward to many more as I continue to serve here in Zambia with Flying Mission.

The return to Zambia

Hello All,
I have arrived back in Zambia safe and sound and am just about over the jet lag. Just wanted to update you on how my time went in the States and what I am anticipating in my first few months here.

Thank you SO much to everyone who hosted me to speak, or helped out with food or planning for some of my events. I was able to share the story and vision God has given me with 6 churches and so many others through smaller group meetings. God allowed my prayer and support base to broaden and blessed me with many happy reunions and a nice catch-ups with my family and friends.

It feels good to be back in Zambia, to reunite with friends here and to see what has changed in the few months that I was gone. Children have grown, new roads have been paved, and even a new shopping center has opened on our side of town! Progress, though sometimes slow, is happening in Zambia. Our flight schedule has picked up and there are airplanes in the hangar needing maintenance so I am hitting the ground running and anticipate a busy finish to the year here in Zambia.
Again, I just want to send a warm heartfelt thank you to so many of you that made my time back in the USA so great and to all of you who pray for me and support on this journey.

God Bless,

Jonathan

P.S. Praise the Lord I was able to raise the support I needed to continue here and am not currently in need of extra, BUT if you are looking for a good spot to give some money, we are still raising money to buy the second half of our airstrip! Only about $10,000 to go! Click HERE to get more information and give.

 

Prayers for:
– 
My work permit to be found and approved.

– My readjustment into life in Zambia.

– My workload and continued adjustment in overseeing our aircraft maintenance.

Praises for:
– 
A nice time in the USA and good connections with supporters and churches.

– Safe travel for myself and all my bags back to Zambia.

 

Imparting words of wisdom about french fries.

Imparting words of wisdom about french fries.

I enjoyed spending time with my nieces while I was home.

I enjoyed spending time with my nieces while I was home.

Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I was able to have a brief stop in the UK on my way to the USA.

I was able to have a brief stop in the UK on my way to the USA.

Beautiful Scottish Highlands!

Beautiful Scottish Highlands!

Homeward Bound!

Hello Friends!
I hope all is well, and that spring is finally showing signs of arriving for those in the northern hemisphere. Life has continued to be busy here in Zambia. We are just finishing the rainy season and soon the lush green will fade to brown. This newsletter is to update you about my coming travels back to the USA. I have been living in Zambia for just over two years now and the time for my scheduled home leave has arrived. I am really looking forward to seeing as many people as I can while in the states, speaking and updating people on what has happened in the last two years, and taking some time for rest. I will be leaving Zambia in just over a week and after spending a few days in the UK will be arriving back in Ohio on April 8th. I will be scheduling times to speak and visit with those at the churches that are supporting me as well as at least one or two other dates with open houses for everyone to come hear and see what I have been involved in for the past two years. Stay tuned for the dates which I’ll be sending out soon! Then, Lord willing, I will be returning to Zambia for another 2 year term on June 28th. I would love to make as many personal connections as possible while I am home. I’m sure my calendar will be filling up quickly, so please email me back or contact me on my cell (330-310-3702, working once I arrive in the states) to set up a time for us to get together and catch up on life.

I am looking forward to being home and seeing as many of you as possible during that time.

God’s Blessings on you all,

Jonathan

 

Below is a list of positions Flying Mission is currently looking for, we are growing quickly and looking to grow more, please pass along to anyone who might be interested in joining the team!

Flying Mission Zambia is a support ministry which provides aviation and logistical services to other missionaries and NGOs working in rural Zambia.

We are URGENTLY looking to fill the following volunteer (faith supported) positions:
 Construction Manager – Build needed infrastructure on Flying Mission Zambia property.
 Finance Assistant – Data entry for the finance manager (Part time ok)
 Finance Manager (Senior Management Team Position) – Manage the financial systems of FMZ using Pastel Software and be able to provide information needed for the annual audit; manage cashbox, payroll, and other cash financial needs of FMZ
 Fundraiser – Could be USA based.
 Grounds Keeping Manager – Maintain the current gardens and develop a plan for the future landscaping
 Local Outreach Coordinator (Senior Management Team Position) – Liaise with the local community in order to facilitate our outreach program. (LONG TERM POSITION ONLY)
 Logistics Manager (Senior Management Position) – Purchase good for FMZ and rural workers. Our goal is to keep people doing ministry in rural Zambia at their place of ministry by procuring and transporting the items they need.
 Maintenance Manager – Maintain the current buildings on the property, oversee mowing and maintaining of the runway

A successful candidate will:
ď‚· Come either long- or short-term.
 Have experience in the area for which they are applying – either professional or hobby level.
ď‚· Come fully supported in both prayer and finances (FMZ does not provide a salary)

For more information, or a complete job description, please contact our HR Manager at fmzamoffice@flyingmission.org.

 

Sometimes swimming seems like a better option then driving!

Sometimes swimming seems like a better option then driving!

 

One of the roads I drive often, just a bit wet during the rainy season.

One of the roads I drive often, just a bit wet during the rainy season.

Dinner?

Dinner?

A beautiful waterfall I was able to visit during one of my flights!

A beautiful waterfall I was able to visit during one of my flights!

I had a flight that where I needed to stay 2 days in the bush.  I "suffered" camping at the edge of this waterfall.  :-)

I had a flight that where I needed to stay 2 days in the bush. I “suffered” camping at the edge of this waterfall. 🙂

Update November 2014

Hello Friends!

The heat has returned to Zambia, and we are at the beginning of the rainy season.  The past several months have been very busy for me!  During September and October we were quite short handed on pilots and mechanics, thankfully our flight schedule wasn’t as busy as it sometimes is because for several days we only had one or two pilots available!  We can have up to 8 pilots if everyone is around (which also rarely happens).  Recently I have flown not only to spots in Zambia, but I also took some missionaries to Mozambique, one of Zambia’s neighbors, where they were able to do some teaching and visit with other missionaries there.  Check out my website HERE for that story!

Flying Mission Zambia is in a transition process of changing how the mission is structured and governed, as we grow we need to have a good leadership structure in place.  We have adopted a new model which should give us ample opportunity to grow and change.  With these changes, new positions have been added and others have shifted around for a 3 month trial period. I have been asked to assume the role of Chief Engineer (head mechanic) for the aircraft we operate and maintain here!  I was not expecting to be given this much responsibility in such a short time, but I am excited to have the opportunity to learn and grow in this new role.  This new position has been keeping me quite busy as I learn the ambiguous procedures and paperwork needed to keep the airplanes legal and flying in Zambia.

Zambia is also in transition.  Just a few days after celebrating 50 years of independence in October, Zambia’s President Michael Sata passed away.  He had been sick for some time so it wasn’t a total shock, but it a sad occurrence nonetheless and the second time a Zambian President has died in office in the last several years.  Zambia is generally a peaceful country and one of the only African nations to have consistently transitioned relatively peacefully between leaders throughout it’s history.  But there is always the possibility of unrest in times like these.  There will be general elections probably in January to elect a new president.  Please pray for the interim president and for peaceful elections.

 

SME (Share my Experience)

Amongst all the work that I have been doing the past few months, I was able to get away and have a bit of fun as well.  My good friend Ashley has come back to Zambia on a missions trip called “The World Race” (check out her blog HERE) and when one of your friends comes to the country you are living in you go see them!  So last weekend a few other friends and I made the 6 hr drive to Livingstone to visit her.  While we were in Livingstone before we met up with Ashley we also got the chance to go whitewater rafting.  It was tons of fun!  And thankfully the water is so rough that we didn’t see any crocodiles or hippos the whole time we were in the Zambezi River! We got to do 25 different sets of rapids ranging from very easy to Class 5, including Rapid 18 known as “Oblivion” where everybody went flying out of the raft as it capsized!  I’ve included a few pictures for your enjoyment.

Finally, the church I have been raising money for is in the final stages of exterior construction.  They’ve gotten the steel beams for the roof and are in the process of raising it, after that just the roof sheeting will remain! I have continued to use any excess support I have to match funds with what the church is raising itself, and they are still in need of more funds.  Hopefully soon they will be able to begin meeting in the building.  I don’t have any updated pictures, but as soon as beams are up I’ll get some pictures out.

 

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:

  • Continued progress on the Church Building.
  • Growth and changes for Flying Mission Zambia.
  • Continued safe flying and good maintenance.

Prayers for:

  • My transition to my new position, and Flying Mission’s transition to a new governance model.
  • Finishing the church building.
  • Safe Flying!
  • For the country of Zambia and peaceful elections.

 

Donate online here!

Visit Flying Mission’s Website!

Like my page on Facebook!

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

 

Almost done with the exterior of the building!

Almost done with the exterior of the building!

Just need roofing sheets!

Just need roofing sheets!

 

 

Going into Rapid 18...

Going into Rapid 18…

Getting wet!

Getting wet!

And coming out of it… Oblivion!

And coming out of it… Oblivion!

I'm the one on the left.  Don't worry, everyone survived and even enjoyed it!

I’m the one on the left. Don’t worry, everyone survived and even enjoyed it!

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.