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.

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.

 

 

 

 

Update September 2013!

Greetings from Zambia!

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

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

SME (Share my Experience)

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

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

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

May the Lord bless you and keep you,

Jonathan

Pictures are worth a 1000 words.

My house!!

My house!!

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

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

Local on the Zambezi!

Local on the Zambezi!

Sunset on the Zambezi River!

Sunset on the Zambezi River!

Up close and personal!

Up close and personal!

Lovely view before sunset.

Lovely view before sunset.

The beautiful "common bee eater"

The beautiful “common bee eater”

My (semi) sea worthy vessel on Lake Tanganyika.

My (semi) sea worthy vessel on Lake Tanganyika.

Hungry hungry hippos...

Hungry hungry hippos…

Almost looks like paradise!

Almost looks like paradise!

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

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

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

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

The walls are going up at the Church!

The walls are going up at the Church!

My tools finally arrived!!!!  Yay!!

My tools finally arrived!!!! Yay!!

My cousins the Weaver birds!

My cousins the Weaver birds!

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

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

Fresh Fish!!

Fresh Fish!!

My little Gecko friend.

My little Gecko friend.

Mongu Harbor, anyone want some fresh fish??

Mongu Harbor, anyone want some fresh fish??

I learned a ton in my cultural orientation class!

I learned a ton in my cultural orientation class!

My living room!

My living room!

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

I often get stuck in heavy traffic.

I often get stuck in heavy traffic.

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

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

Winter in Africa

Hello Friends and greetings from

chilly Zambia!

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

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

SME (Share my Experience)

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

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

God’s Blessings on you all,

Jonathan

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

The church foundation, waiting for the slab!

The church foundation, waiting for the slab!

The new concrete slab for the church!

The new concrete slab for the church!

Victoria Falls from the Air!!

Victoria Falls from the Air!!