Hello Friends and greetings from
“Winter” has taken over in Zambia, and while it’s nothing near what I am used to from Ohio, it’s interesting to live in a house with no central heating or insulation. When the temperature outside dips into the 40’s at night, the temperature inside quickly follows, and it makes for some chilly evenings and mornings! However, the sun comes out almost everyday and warms things back up, so that is a nice difference from winter in Ohio! Since my last letter I have gotten my official Zambian Commercial Pilot’s License and have been able to see much of the country from the air, including Victoria Falls which is included in the pictures! It has been very fulfilling and gratifying to finally be doing what I felt called to so long ago, and I praise the Lord for sustaining and leading me to this point!
There have also been some challenges that have come along as well, and the greatest so far has been my need for reliable ground transportation. The truck that I bought has continued cause problems and it even seems that whomever sent this truck to Africa intentionally made it to look good on the surface, but to be made up of worn out and bad parts underneath. It’s also frustrating because I went through what seemed to be reputable sources to obtain it but still ended up in this spot, and while I have attempted to deal with the company, they have been unwilling to help. It’s interesting really, and I think it illustrates one of the problems that Africa as a whole is facing. Those that have interest in Africa for non “mission” reasons seem to mostly see it as a place to be used for their own personal gain. Things that are substandard for “western” countries are sent to Africa where they are accepted because it’s the best they can get. Certainly much of the aid is good and helpful, but it seems like the more Africa can stand on it’s own, the better off it will be (but I’ve only been here 5 months, so we’ll see what I think after a few years 🙂 ). All that to say, I’ve decided to try to sell this truck to someone who might be better equipped deal with it, but because I’m going to be honest about the problems that it has, I probably won’t be able to get get back out of it what I have invested in.
SME (Share my Experience)
On to more enjoyable topics… Last time I left you wondering if I was “fit” enough to drive. The good news is now that we knew what hours the hospital was open for examinations, we went back right at the opening time and 3 of us got exams passed in less than 30 mins!! So I guess it’s really all about having the right information to do what needs to be done. I’ll spare you the rest of the details on transferring my US driving license to a Zambian one, but three more trips to RTSA buildings and a 60 days of waiting for them to print and laminate my card (and you thought 45 mins at the BMV was bad…) and I have a official Zambian driving license!
This month though I want to share a little bit more about my “African Family” and the work that they are doing on building their church. When I stayed with them, it was obvious that their current church building was too small for the congregation and not a good space at all. I had been given some extra money from a few of you to use to bless some African’s however I felt led. The church wanted so badly to begin building, but the concrete slab is the most expensive part and they didn’t have enough to lay it first. They were considering building the walls and leaving the floor dirt, but I didn’t want them to have a church with a dirt floor!! So I was able to step in and help! With the money donated plus a little extra I had we were able to come up with enough to lay the slab! The church is excited to have a floor and the walls will soon be going up. They have enough blocks for the walls to go up about half way, and will continue to raise money until it’s all done! It’s been a blessing to me to be used by the Lord to bless them with the floor they may never have had for their church!
If you have any questions or comments please email me, I’ll be happy to answer them and give you even more information on what life is like here in Zambia!
God’s Blessings on you all,
Want to see more pictures? Check out my facebook page HERE (you don’t need to be a member to see the pictures).
I have been in Zambia for a little over two weeks now, and I’m sure that many of you are wondering what I have been up to! Well, just for a quick update, I have been getting to know Zambian culture, the city of Lusaka, and the Flying Mission team. They have asked that I do not spend a lot of my time sending out prayer letters, and corresponding with people back home during this time of transition and orientation, but instead focus on learning about and adjusting to my new home! So at the end of orientation (about 3 months) I will send out a more detailed description of all that has transpired. But for now I do want to let you know that things are going well, and I am learning a lot! Tomorrow, I will be leaving to live in a rural village for two weeks. This will help me to understand and empathize with how most Zambians live. I am looking forward to it!! I have a Zambian host family, and I will just be living life with them for two weeks. After that time, Lord willing, I will return to Lusaka (the capital city of Zambia) and continue with several more weeks of learning the culture, adapting to the differences, visiting places in the city, and getting details sorted out like finding a vehicle, obtaining a driving license, etc. Then I will move into the flight orientation phase and transfer my flight licenses, and get adapted to flying here in Zambia with Flying Mission.
- Safe travels through out my time traveling to Zambia!
- A warm welcome from the Flying Mission family.
- The many new things I have learned thus far about Zambia and it’s people!
- A healthy, beneficial time in the village.
- Finding a good vehicle at a reasonable price.
- Continued focus on God during the transition.
Send me Mail!!!!
Postnet #197, P/Bag E891
Many have asked what exactly I am learning during my three and a half months here in Waxhaw, NC at JAARS. Well there is almost too much to list. But I’ll at least give a brief overview. First on the maintenance side, I am learning the detailed systems of the Cessna 206, the aircraft I will be operating in Zambia. JAARS has been operating the Cessna 206 in missions work around the world for longer then I have been alive, so they have a pretty good handle on how to maintain them and what areas to pay special attention to during inspections etc. In addition to classroom learning, I will be doing “projects” on a maintenance 206 that is no longer flying. This will give me hands on experience working with, fixing, and rigging the different systems. Further the two 206’s that we are flying for orientation are also our responsibility to maintain while we are flying them. So we perform post flight inspections, and if any discrepancies are found it is our responsibility to fix them (under the supervision of the maintenance trainers). At orientation with me is one maintenance specialist who is headed to Indonesia, one other pilot/mechanic who is headed to Kenya, and a helicopter pilot headed to Papua New Guinea.
On the flight side of things, I am learning many things as well. Basically we are learning to operate the Cessna 206 safely at the edge of its operational limitations. JAARS has a well thought out philosophy of flying, and a very good safety record, while operating in some of the most challenging flying environments in the world. They have been able to do this because they are won’t just accept any pilot, and then the ones they do accept they train well. That is the training I am receiving. Most of the flying will focus on STOL (Short Takeoff and Land) procedures, and emergency procedures. But perhaps even more than that, they are teaching me a philosophy of flying and STOL is the platform for teaching it. The JAARS philosophy of flying focus’s on 3 fundamentals: positive aircraft control, consistency by reference to standard models, and the discipline to adhere to close tolerances. A pilot is in positive aircraft control while flying a STOL approach when he understands what control movements need to be used to get the results desired, and carries them out with precision while also reacting to constantly changing environmental factors (wind) at speeds barely above stall. We have to fly the airplane and not let the airplane fly us. 🙂 They have set up a standard model of aircraft pitch, power settings, rate of decent, and altitudes at key points, that help us confirm we are on the right track for a stable and safe approach and landing with positive aircraft control. Finally they have set a strict set of tolerances for us to adhere to (4 degree approach with a landing in a 100-200ft touchdown zone). When we combine these three things and discipline ourselves to always follow them, the margin for error goes down and safety goes up! Well that got a little technical… but somebody that reads this will think it was interesting. 🙂 All that to say, I probably won’t fly many STOL approaches where I am headed in Zambia, but I can apply these fundamentals to any aspect of flying (and perhaps other areas of life) and it will help me to have many safe years of flying in a harsh and unforgiving environment.
Speaking of safety, that is the other huge focus. Safety is paramount, JAARS procedures take into consideration the risk verses the payoff, and they will not do things that do not have a acceptable amount of safety margin built into them. A safe pilot is a pilot who stays alert, he knows exactly how his aircraft should perform in any given situation, and if it isn’t performing correctly he takes appropriate action if possible before it becomes an emergency. These are the things the JAARS instructors are drilling into my head over and over, day after day. And I think it’s a good thing. 🙂 I am being stretched, and pushed to learn new skills and pick things up at a pace that is faster than I am used to, but I know in the end I will be as prepared as I can be for what I will face as I serve with Flying Mission in Zambia.
All of my instructors on both the mechanic and pilot side, have spent years overseas doing the very things they are now teaching me. It is truly a blessing to learn from them. Real world examples take on an even greater significance when the person telling the story was actually there and experienced it. If you want to pray for my remaining time here, pray that I will learn and soak in as much as I can, and not grow weary, but finish strong!
There’s always something exciting going on with Flying Mission in ZAMBIA! This is a recent posting from their website. www.flyingmission.org Check it out!
Recently Flying Mission Zambia Chief Pilot, Rick Rempel, organised a 3-plane flight to the village of WAKA WAKA. A group of doctors and dentists from Singapore needed transport to this faraway rural place in Eastern Province, where they planned to help out in their various fields of expertise. Rick tells us:
Our passengers flew into Lusaka International Airport in the afternoon. Then they transferred from the ‘big bird’ to our little Cessnas and we headed out, following the GPS co-ordinates for Waka Waka. We had not landed there before but had the assurance that the airstrip was in good order. As we drew near to our destination, clouds obstructed the sun and there were a few rain showers. Searching below us, we could not see an airstrip anywhere!
Then God stepped in to help. A commercial aircraft was flying into Waka Waka and informed us that the GPS co-ordinates were a couple of miles out! He gave us some landmarks to look for. Once over the airfield we understood why it was so difficult to find:it blended seamlessly into the surrounding countryside. We landed safely before dark and were met by 100 or more local people. Our passengers were ushered away to their accommodation and we to ours: a nearby Safari Lodge! What a pleasure to wake at 5 in the morning to around 100 hippopotami chortling in the river, with stunning birds flying overhead. It was quite sad to have to go home so soon! Our job has its challenges – and other great moments too.
Psalm 143 v 8: Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go for to You I lift up my soul.