There is a great change that I hope to make in our blog: I hope to actually post every once in a while. Our apologies for not getting it done any sooner, we have had a couple tough weeks, followed by some busy times. Allow me to explain.
We arrived back from the Bongor Bible training roughly a month and a half ago. We updated the blog then, so that’s where we last left you. From there, we started getting ready for a ton of new stuff. Gary, Wendy, and Cherise were expected back within a couple weeks, and I had a list of stuff I wanted to accomplish before they got back. Trying to impress them a little bit. :) It also just happened that, as it was the end of dry season and just starting wet season, food is quite scarce. They say it has never been so good as it was this year. I wonder how they survived in years past. We also were busy making arrangements for everything that was to come in the future months, with our travels and everything else.
As we were working, I got a confirmation from Gary that he was coming back the 27th of May, and that once he got back, he would want to do some heavy training with me in the airplane. I guessed he was thinking that since I’m coming back to Chad in September, and he was planning on staying in the US a little longer to work on another plane to bring out, he wanted me to be ready to fly on my own. When he got back and I picked him up, I knew the schedule would be full from then on out.
We started doing training, trying to land as cleanly and precisely as possible on markers we had laid on the runway. We went out empty, and did all sorts of various tactics. I finally, finally started feeling comfortable with the plane like I had been with my works’ planes back in Ohio that I could spot-land almost every time. Then another trip took Gary away for a couple of days, so in the meantime Jonathan and I went out together and fine-tuned each other, then loaded the plane up half-full, did a couple landings each, and then brought the weight up to within 5 lbs of true Max weight, and did some more. It’s amazing how much easier it is for me to land accurately with a full load than with an empty one.
Also, while Gary was gone, Jonathan and I got up to finish a little project we had started after Bongor. Our hangar roof is made mostly out of tin. As they were building it, however, they had the brilliant idea to put clear plastic sheets in three rows as part of the roof, to provide a little natural lighting when we work. But this is Africa, the cheap plastic sheets were starting to disintegrate, and the rains that were becoming more and more common were not fully being kept out of our hangar. Things had to move. So Jonathan and I jumped up on one of our containers, climbed onto the roof through a hole we made, and began dismantling the old, worn sheets and replacing them with brand new, soon-to be worn sheets of a plexiglass nature. The project took several mornings, because by 10 am the sun gets unbearably hot, and it took us a little while to get in the groove. Before we left, we had finished 2/3 of the project, and the remaining 3rd will go much quicker, and is less essential as it was not already leaking.
Sometime during all this, Jonathan disappeared one morning, and I learned he was having a meeting with Gary. “That’s strange,” I thought, “We have so much to do with so little time to do it before Sarah and I leave, why are they having an all-day-long meeting instead of waiting to do it once we’re gone?” The next day, I learned the answer. Gary texted me asking if I could join Jonathan and him for a meeting, so I went. Gary began to explain what was going on in Indonesia, as his dad’s project. He said the General Conference was looking for a qualified pilot who would be able to take it over and make sure it kept running. They needed someone with lots of experience, who speaks Indonesian, and would be able to keep it going. My heart skipped a beat or two. I’ve always dreamt of running my own project, but I thought it would be years down the road. Then I heard, “The GC has asked us to move to Indonesia and manage the project for a couple years until they can find someone else suitable for the job. When we go to the US for the meetings, we will go from there straight to the post in New Guinea.” So now I’m going to be responsible for the day-to-day operation (and growth) of the program. I still will have Gary by email and Jonathan present, but Jonathan wants to focus his efforts on the Bible school, so the flight stuff falls on me. I’m not ready for this, I’m definitely not mature enough to take over such a responsibility. If you had seen me during those last several weeks, you too would wonder if I am mature enough to be in the mission field, even. Praise God that He doesn’t look for perfection, ’cause if He did I’d be so far out… Praise Him that He’s willing to work with us where we are, and that His strength is made perfect in weakness. He’s definitely going to perfect His strength in this project, because there is no human strength there to run it.
The last few days were a flurry of activity. Packing, saying goodbyes and assuring our friends that yes, we are coming back in September, flying more. In the end, Gary took Jonathan and I around the compound, sharing his ideas and plans with the various projects underway. He also wanted to take me and Jonathan up to the capital to show us around the more technical areas, how to get overflight permits, who to talk to for this and that, do a little more landings at alternate airports (if the capital closes for VIP movement), etc. Since it was Wednesday and we were going to go to NDJ on Friday, he proposed we just add Sarah to the flight and go up Thursday, spend an extra night, then we’d stay and they would fly back to Béré. Thankfully Sarah had been more free than I was to pack, so she had everything ready to go.
Thursday morning, we loaded the airplane up (again to max weight), and started our way to NDJ, making several stops along the way as training for me. The last push really made me comfortable that I can at least survive landing at a non-paved airport, if I’m careful. We did our stuff in N’Djamena then said goodbyes to Jonathan and Gary the next day, ever-so-briefly seeing Dr. and Mrs. Bland in their return from their own break from the US and Turkey. We then profited from a shower (the first real (i.e. not bucket) shower we had in some time), and relaxed a little before we left last Saturday night for our next grand travels. We’ll have to tell you about them all soon, but I figure there’s enough in this post to satiate you with our lives for a couple days. But stay tuned, we’ll have another one coming out soon. We’re making up for our lack of electricity and internet by adding a lot when we are where it is easy.
We can’t wait to see you all when we’re in the states, starting in late July. If you want us to come visit churches, please let us know as soon as possible, as our schedule is filling up quickly. We really only have maybe 1 or 2 Sabbaths that aren’t already spoken for. But we already plan to see all our core churches in New York, Centerville, and Denver. Please keep praying for us, there is a lot of stuff we are trying to accomplish in just a little bit of time back in civilization. Not to mention the major changes that are going to happen to the programs, and the organization we’re personally going to have to do to be truly prepared. If you’re interested in coming back with us in September, we would be thrilled to help you through the process!
God bless you all,
David & Sarah