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.

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:
 Come either long- or short-term.
 Have experience in the area for which they are applying – either professional or hobby level.
 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. 🙂

International Air Travel!

Recently I had the opportunity of doing an international flight for some of the Baptist Missionaries we serve. The two missionaries we flew were headed to Tete, Mozambique, to minister to their fellow missionaries there, as well as teach some local pastors. I was excited about this flight because I had never been to Mozambique, but also a bit apprehensive because with international flying in Africa you never know what to expect. The planning started with our chief pilot applying for clearances not only from Mozambique, but also from Zambia for an international flight between the two countries. He also called around to determine how much the international landing fees etc would be. I then did the actual flight planning and filed a flight plan. Tete isn’t actually that far from Lusaka, so the flight was only about two hours. The morning of the flight I took the plane to the Lusaka International Airport and found the passengers. Together we went through customs. Sometimes you get asked a lot of questions for a private flight, but usually it’s not too bad. We have nothing to hide, but too many questions can delay things. Thankfully, this time the customs agent was more concerned with his cell phone conversation than with us going to Mozambique, so he stamped everything with no questions asked!  After making it through the international terminal we found the exit door for the international flights. It was locked.  And the man with the key wasn’t anywhere to be found.  The airport staff prepare for the large airline flights, but in between there aren’t too many people around.  I went to search him out and left my two passengers at the door.  After several minutes of futile searching, I came back and found they had flagged someone from outside and he had gone to get a key.  So we made it outside, and loaded up the airplane and were on our way!  The flight went smoothly; as we reached the border Lusaka Air Traffic Control transferred us to Beira Control.  I made several radio calls but with no response. By this point we were well into Mozambique still with no response from their radios.  My passengers and I had a discussion on the correct way to say “Beira” thinking that my mispronunciation may have led to the non-response.  I pulled out my chart and found a different frequency and tried calling on that one. Lo and behold, they could hear me on that one and responded!  I’m still pretty sure I wasn’t saying “Beira” correctly, but they graciously overlooked that.  We continued on and made it to our destination Tete (we also discussed out to say that, because I heard it said three different ways on the radios during the flight…).

After landing we had to figure out where to enter for international flights. We made it in and found the window to clear customs.  After the initial confusion because there were 3 of us but only 2 had visas to enter the country since I was turning around and immediately returning to Zambia. They determined that I also needed to pay a fee because I was also at the window. So after determining that I would get a receipt for it, I paid the $25 dollar fee and we, along with the missionary we were meeting there, went to pay what I thought was my landing fees.  We were detained by a police officer because he wasn’t sure why we were going back out towards the airplane, but he only spoke to me in Portuguese .  The missionary we were with spoke Portuguese and responded to the officer. It was interesting because the officer continued to speak to me (I had the official looking pilot uniform on) even though I obviously didn’t understand a word he was saying.  He allowed us to continue and we paid the fee. I said goodbye to my passengers and went to the control tower to file a flight plan.  I wasn’t sure where to go in the building, so ended up climbing the stairs all the way to the controller in the tower.  He was tickled that I had come up to see him and we had a great conversation.  He pointed me to the correct spot to file the flight plan and told me if I ever came back to be sure to come up and see him again!  While I was filing my flight plan I was told that I hadn’t actually paid the landing fees; what we had paid in the other office was the “Customs fee” for bringing a Zambian airplane to Mozambique (even though it was in transit and wasn’t staying).  So I paid another set of fees and then was free to go.  My flight back to Lusaka was uneventful, and it felt like coming home when I landed back at the international airport to clear customs back into Zambia.  Overall, it was a successful day without any problems, so I thanked the Lord for that!  You just never know what to expect when you fly internationally in Africa.  I went back and collected the guys three days later, and even knew what to expect this time!

 

Sure doesn't look very far compared to how big Africa is!

Sure doesn’t look very far compared to how big Africa is!

Nice airport in Mozambique!

Nice airport in Mozambique!

Lusaka Kenneth Kaunda International Airport

Lusaka Kenneth Kaunda International Airport

Surgery in the Theatre!

A few times a month my flights take me on overnight trips to places all over Zambia, I thought I’d give you a taste of what one of these types of flights look like!  One of the organizations that we fly for works with specialist doctors and organizes for them to fly out to rural hospitals where there is a need for their specific specialization (orthopedics, gynecology, plastic surgeon etc). These trips are usually 3-4 days long and so the pilot usually stays for the duration to keep from having to make two trips.  The last trip I did was with an orthopedic surgeon and a orthopedic post graduate student.  On the first day we met early and took off out of Lusaka to a city called Mongu.  If the roads are good one can drive to Mongu in about 8 hours, if the roads are in need of repair it can take double that, but it only takes 2 1/2 to fly there.  So we arrived in Mongu mid-morning, and were picked up at the airport by the Irish Catholic sisters that run a guest house where we stay.   After resting with a cup of tea, the doctors went to the hospital and screened the patients to see who was the most urgent and in which order to do the surgeries (they don’t want the most challenging to come last).  The second day they began surgery early in the morning.  I was allowed to come along and observe!  So I got dressed up in some scrubs and hung out in the theatre.  Here in Zambia (and the UK) we call an operating room a theatre, and what I saw was as good as a movie.  🙂  Sometimes they do as many as 15-20 surgeries in 1 day! In this particular location they have a large number patients so they stay and do 2 days of surgery, this time they did around 30 surgeries over 2 days.  The final day the surgeons made their rounds and checked the patients, and then we headed back to the airplane and made the short trip home!  If I’m not observing what the doctors are doing, I often ask around (or get asked) to do odd jobs that need done at the mission stations or places we stay at.  Or I sit and write prayer letters, catch up on emails, and do website postings, just like the one you’re reading now.  But really lets be honest, for me watching surgery is much more interesting.  🙂

Most of the surgeries that I saw were for a problem called Club Foot.  A child with Club Foot is born with the tendons in the foot and ankle too short on the inside of the foot causing it to be pulled inward.  In most western countries it is a relatively easy fix with casts and braces used until the child walks to stretch and lengthen the affected tendons and put the foot in a normal position.  However, here in Zambia most children with club foot aren’t treated until they are close to or already walking.  At that stage it requires surgery to correct.  The surgeons basically go in and cut some of the tendons longways in half and then on one side each at the ends of the slit and then sew the two pieces back together, effectively making the tendon longer.  It can heal that way and will strengthen itself as it heals.  This then allows the foot to extend out and lay flat as it should!  Quite interesting to watch the whole thing first hand!  Something I’d never be able to do in the states…I’ve included some pictures but they aren’t for the weak stomached so be warned!!!

 

 

Notice the Bosch battery operated hand drill… Nope it's not for aircraft maintenance it's for the surgeons!

Notice the Bosch battery operated hand drill… Nope it’s not for aircraft maintenance it’s for the surgeons!

Preparing the theatre for surgery!

Preparing the theatre for surgery!

 

Getting started on a little guy with Club Foot.

Getting started on a little guy with Club Foot.

First incision, where's the blood?

First incision, where’s the blood?

Notice how curved the foot is sitting that's the furthest flat it will go.

Notice how curved the foot is sitting that’s the furthest flat it will go.

Finding the ligaments to "extend" them!

Finding the ligaments to “extend” them!

The foot can sit flat and normally now!

The foot can sit flat and normally now!

This boy is older and has already been walking on his foot this way.  He'll have a new gait in his step after the surgery.

This boy is older and has already been walking on his foot this way. He’ll have a new gait in his step after the surgery.

Update May 2014

Yep it's a real cheetah, she was much more interested in the meat then me.

Yep it’s a real cheetah, she was much more interested in the meat then me.

Hello Friends!

Putting up a quick update on what has been going on in Zambia the last two months since my last update.  Our flying has picked up considerably and so I have been flying all over Zambia, and it has been fun!  I also got a puppy and a kitten around the same time in hopes that they would keep each other company because I am away a lot.  The kitten worked out find, but the puppy was not house trained (though I was told it was) and I wasn’t around enough to be consistent in training it.  I have realized I need a good fenced yard in order to keep a dog well, thankfully my landlady, who is always home, loved the puppy more then I did and was happy to take it off my hands.  So now I just have the kitten, who is growing quickly, climbing the curtians, and attacking everything in sight.
I was excited to announce in my last letter that I had passed my maintenance exam, and while that is still the case, I still haven’t actually gotten the license.  I’m not exactly sure what all the reasons for the delay are, but right now they are delaying because they put the licenses in “booklets” and they are out of official covers for the booklet.  We don’t know how long it will take until the covers come in and are working to have it issued without the cover, but please be in prayer about that. I also finished my Cessna 210 transition, and have begun flying it and have been enjoying the 30kts faster speeds when I do.  🙂

SME (Share my Experience)

In this addition of SME I will be sharing about a vacation that I had the chance to take to the neighboring country of Namibia.  A few friends and I decided to take a bit of time and road trip through Namibia.  Namibia is south east of Zambia and has a strip of land that extends west and borders Zambia.  It was a German colony originally and is rich with amazing sights as well as diamonds.  We enjoyed nicely paved and well marked roads as well as considerably lower prices for fuel and food.  Namibia is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.  It’s geography is varied and gorgeous.  We drove though bush country, rolling hillsides, mountains, countryside scattered with stones, and some of the most stunning desert in the world, all to finally meet the Atlantic Ocean.  Some of the highlights were petting a Cheetah, the “Giants Playground,” KolmanskopDead Vlei, and quad biking through the desert and then coming over the last dune and seeing the ocean open up before us.  Check out the pictures!

 

Well that’s all for now, but 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

The pictures have been slow to load, so keep checking back I’ll slowly be putting more on!

 

I made a new friend!

I made a new friend!

The closest thing I've seen to Starbucks in Africa!

The closest thing I’ve seen to Starbucks in Africa!

Tropic of Capricorn

Tropic of Capricorn

It's harder then it looks!

It’s harder then it looks!

Climbing!

Climbing!

I felt like I had gone so far, but I think I wasn't even half way up this dune...

I felt like I had gone so far, but I think I wasn’t even half way up this dune…

Soooo beautiful! Saw the sunrise here.

Soooo beautiful! Saw the sunrise here.

I love the panoramas!

I love the panoramas!

Thankful for my truck which can take the rugged terrain!

Thankful for my truck which can take the rugged terrain!

Can you see the seals out on the rock?

Can you see the seals out on the rock?

This water was super clear but super salty just a mile or so from the ocean.

This water was super clear but super salty just a mile or so from the ocean.

I think it's the law of Entropy?

I think it’s the law of Entropy?

Just doing a little sun bathing.  :-)

Just doing a little sun bathing. 🙂

Good luck flushing that one!

Good luck flushing that one!

Now that's a sandbox!

Now that’s a sandbox!

This is what happens when you build a state of the art town in the middle of a desert… it gets abandoned.

This is what happens when you build a state of the art town in the middle of a desert… it gets abandoned.

Called the Giants playground, but I think it should be renamed God's playground.

Called the Giants playground, but I think it should be renamed God’s playground.

Meerkats are cool.

Meerkats are cool.

Panorama of the quiver trees.

Panorama of the quiver trees.

Lovely sunset in the Quiver tree forest.

Lovely sunset in the Quiver tree forest.

Update March 2014

Hello from Zambia!
I hope this update finds you well. Many things have changed for me since my last update! Firstly, on February 27th, I celebrated one full year here in Zambia!! It seems like it has gone by really quickly, and I am thankful for all of the things I have learned and experiences I have had so far. Secondly, I passed my exam to become an aircraft maintenance engineer here in Zambia!! This is exciting news, and will help Flying Mission on the aircraft maintenance side. Thirdly, all of the paperwork for the truck I purchased has been finished, and the vehicle has been working great! Thanks again to all who gave me a little extra help with this. Now I am able to reliably get from place to place in the air, and on the ground. 🙂 Fourthly, I have begun getting checked out in the Cessna 210, a faster and slightly more complex airplane. Once I am checked out in it, I will be able to fly all of the aircraft we currently have at FMZ. Finally, my roommate of just over 6 months has moved on and gone back to Canada, we are grateful for the help he gave us while he was here!! I am thinking about getting a dog for company and security (see my SME below), but am waiting for the right one to come along. 🙂

Flying Mission Zambia is still raising money for our runway purchase, our 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)
Most of the houses here in Zambia are one story and have steel “burglar bars” in the windows to help with security but no screens. This keeps anyone from climbing into your house through the windows. When I moved to Zambia I was told that it is a relatively safe place to live, but that petty theft is a problem and to be careful. So I keep my vehicle doors locked when I’m driving through town, and always lock my house etc., but kept most of my windows open, assuming the burglar bars would be enough security to keep everything safe inside. But I underestimated the ingenuity of those that would like to steal! I woke up early one morning around 4 AM and heard this faint “tapping” noise, I fell back asleep, and was in and out having dreams that continued to have this tapping noise in them. Finally about 4:30 AM I fully woke up to a loud tap. And laid there and listened and heard it again. So I got up to investigate. As I went down the hallway, I could hear the noise and it was coming from my living room! I stopped at the corner of the room and saw a young boy probably around 10 sitting on my windowsill hanging through the burglar bars with a rigid wire (like a long clothes hangar) “fishing” things off of my desk!!! The tapping noise I was hearing was his wire hitting the top of my computer. Well I wasn’t sure what to do, so I started walking towards him and got within about 3 feet without him noticing me, and then I yelled at the top of my lungs, “HEY, HEY, WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!” I think I about scared the daylights out of him (and my sleeping roommate), he was out of the window and into the bushes in about 2 seconds flat. After a couple of minutes of calming myself down and trying to see if anything was missing, I decided to go outside to see what it looked like out there. As I got to the back of the house, I found my computer charger, my kindle charger, and a few other things, as well as his rigid wire and a couple tools. Thankfully, he didn’t stop to pick up what he had taken when I scared him out of the window. It turns out the tools that he had been using were stolen from my co-worker’s/neighbor’s house several months earlier using the same technique. After doing an inventory of my things it doesn’t look like the kid actually got away with anything, but a hand held GPS that he apparently dropped from my desk onto the floor no longer works. Overall, I’m thankful because it could have been so much worse! But still it’s a good learning experience about leaving windows open with electronics within “fishing” distances!! Most of my windows are now closed, and I haven’t had any more problems. So that’s good.

Well that’s all for now, but 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

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

Praises For:

  • Passing my Maintenance Exam!!
  • Celebrating one year in Zambia!!
  • The Lord is blessing me with a good attitude through all the changes and challenges.

Prayers for:

  • Continued good adjustment and focus on God.
  • Safe Flying and a good transition into the new type of Airplane.
  • For the ministries we support to be blessed by God in the work they are doing for him.

 

Well turns out my feet are quite a bit smaller then an Elephants...

Well turns out my feet are quite a bit smaller then an Elephants…

Look who wants to come to breakfast!!

Look who wants to come to breakfast!!

I love the clouds here!!

I love the clouds here!!

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.

 

 

 

 

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!