Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mug 'n Bean, a restaurant chain in South Africa, was running a promotion called "who made your day?" last week and participants were invited to identify someone special who had made their day. We were pleasantly surprised when Tim and Barb left and gave us this mug, some chocolates and a kind note saying that we had made their day. We had felt they had made ours by coming so far to help get the cessna's annual done. That got me thinking about who had made my day and the thought has stuck with me all week. The possibilities are almost endless. It's like counting one's blessings. It is counting one's blessings!

After about 3 weeks in South Africa, we were finally able to finish up all our business and get packed up to head back home. We had lots of stuff to try to fit in the plane but since planes can only take so much weight, everything had to be carefully weighed. This is the scale in Mercy Air's office and those few bags weighed 14.6 kg. (What an arbitrary bit of info to have memorized...wish I could remember more important numbers that well.) Ann's dogs were very excited by the activity so I decided to get a picture of them but I couldn't have if she hadn't helped them settle down a bit.
While we're at it, here's a shot of Ann holding the fort down at Mercy Air's usually very busy office. Mercy Air has "made" so many of our days that we've lost count.

Loading the plane. 

Stuff, stuff and more stuff, and this was just one of several loads brought from the house to the plane! These boxes are full of study books for church leaders. They were heavy, so some had to stay behind and will be picked up on another trip.

Under Toby's watchful eye. His ever-present question is not "who made your day?" but, "is it walk time yet?" Not that he cares so much for walking, per se, because if we do go for a walk he bounces around for just awhile before bounding off at full speed across the fields to hunt monkeys in the bush nearby. 

Once loaded, we head for Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport to clear customs and immigration and get fuel. I prefer take-off's to landings because they seem more fool-proof to me. I've never experience a bad landing, but even so, at times I'll close my eyes while we squeak onto the runway.  


Above: out the front window. Below: out the back window. 

The cockpit. This is where Dwight does all the work and I read, study or nap.

Just after take-off. 
Arriving in Vilanculos where we clear Mozambique immigration and customs, and buy more fuel. It's right on the Indian Ocean so the view is always spectacular. This is a popular holiday resort area in Mozambique. From here, home is about an hour and a half away (as the crow flies).

The wind was whipping quite nicely when we landed. Unfortunately it was blowing right across the runway which doesn't make for an easy landing. I'm quite proud to say that I kept my eyes open for this one.

We're now home safe and sound, and it's time to shift into Mozambique-bush mode again. 

So, what made my day today? Well, today we visited the orphan home that I blogged about in my last post (the one getting its foundation done). We were amazed at the progress made by the builder (far left) in our absence. This home boasts 3 bedrooms and a huge veranda. Compared to the rickety shack (behind Dwight) that the orphan family is currently living in, and compared to every other place in the vicinity, this is an absolute palace! 

And if that's a palace, then this is the Prince Charming who will soon be moving in. 
He really is very charming. And chattery.  And happy. His bright little personality and that nice house helped make my day :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Finishing the annual

It was uncharacteristically cool and rainy for the first part of this week. And although that may make some activities, like drying clothes, downright miserable it's good for other things like doing maintenance in a hangar--in that it's not blistering hot. Tim Huebner (above: left) and his wife, Barb, have been serving MAF in Angola for the last 3 months so they could well appreciate some cooler African temperatures. Tim is a Canadian Aircraft Maintenance Engineer who was willing to come to the east side of Africa to help us out with the Cessna 182's annual. It's been great getting to know Tim and Barb and learning a bit about the Portuguese African country on the west side of the continent! Both Mozambique and Angola were Portuguese colonies, so they share a lot of similarities.

No job is finished 'til the paperwork is done, and there's quite a bit of that when it comes to an aircraft's annual! (Photo taken in one of Mercy Air's offices)

By the end of the week, our weather had started to clear and we were thankful for that because besides needing to get some laundry done, we also wanted to do a day trip into Kruger Park with Tim and Barb. Thanks for being brave and posing for a photo under this Cape Buffalo head, Tim and Barb! (Click here to visit their blog.)

Every trip to Kruger is a unique experience. One of the funny events of the day was when we were mock-charged by little Dumbo here. If his behavior had raised any alarm in his mom, I would have been worried. It didn't, however, so we were quite safe to laugh and egg him on just a little by letting the car roll a few inches now and again.

Wasn't that scarey?! No? Okay then, try several mock charges by the one below... Bigger size = bigger scare factor.

Another funny baby was this baboon riding on his mom's back. At least he was okay with us looking at him and taking pictures. Actually, I think he was as intrigued with us as we were with him. Well, almost. 

Two large male Kudu's challenging each other to a fight (with a female in the background). Just about the time we had settled in to watch a grand performance, one of them wimped out. 

One of the big 5 we don't always see is a leopard, so we were very pleased when Tim spotted this one. In my opinion, this is the most beautiful animal of them all.

Here a Legavaan, or monitor lizard, rests on a secure foundation. 

And in closing, here's a picture of another firm foundation being laid: a home for one of the orphan families. A widow with disabilities who looks after 3 children lives in this little shack (to the right), but because of recent gifts earmarked for orphan home housing, she will soon have a much better home.We're thankful for the Lord's provision and the compassion of His people which helps relieve suffering and brings hope and joy! 

Friday, November 14, 2008

Food distribution day and animal photos you won't make it to National Geographic magazine

At the beginning of each month, we deliver food to homes with orphans and people with disabilities. It always makes for a very busy but fulfilling day. Here are photos of our last food distribution day.

As excited as a child on Christmas morning, Felipe (above) watches as Jorge separates his home’s portion of dried fish, beans, rice, maize, etc.

One of Jorge’s (left) many responsibilities is to purchase and help manage and distribute food supplies for the mission’s feeding programs. Here he’s explaining to Matthew (right), our office administrator, how he fills out the control sheets.

Measuring out portions of maize into each family's basket. Right now, maize is about worth its weight in gold since last year’s crops failed badly because of flooding. This year's hungry season (when grain stores run out) arrived early and is widespread. There is a steady stream of requests for help.

During each visit, we evaluate the home to make sure everyone is well. We take time to discuss any concerns or other needs they may have then join together in a time of prayer with them.

Women walking away with baskets full of maize and joyful hearts!

Part 2: Photos of wildlife that will never make it into National Geographic magazine. 

Dwight and I spent this past weekend in Kruger National Park, alone, for the sole purpose of taking a break from the steady grind of work. This was a first for us on our own, since we usually only go to the park when we have visitors. It was a short time, but a great time as always. And of course for me, it’s just one great photo op (to use the term loosely)! Like most people, I usually try to put my best shots on display, but this time I want to share the less-than-ideal ones instead. 

An Impala, from the back. At least the bird posed for me.
That pre-mock charge pose would be more impressive if it weren't for the grass stuck between your trunk and your tusk, Mr. Elephant. But thanks for at least looking our way.

Real wild-life-ish. This Vervet monkey and his friends found a great cache of treats in a garbage can with no safety lid. 

Total vulnerability (or not). It may not be the proud-lion pose, but he is looking at the camera--isn't he??

This Kudu was looking straight at the camera just a few seconds earlier. Really. He was.

Not sure I would do that if I were lion food!

Checking out the humans' favourite hang-out places. (Not the well sealed garbage can in the background. Most of them are like this. The monkey in the above photo just got lucky.)

This baby Baboon was far too intrigued with his twin's tail to look at the camera.

Sigh. Another one walking away. Oh well, if she has a joyful heart it's all good.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The annual check-up

It’s November and that means it’s time for the Cessna 182 to have its annual inspection. Planes have these inspections for just the same reason that people have yearly checkups—to either avert problems, or catch them while they’re still small. This is especially important to do with aircraft since they are usually airborne while operational, and the need for a quick pit stop would be very difficult or even hazardous. (photo above: Vilankulo Airport, Mozambique where we clear immigration and customs)

It’s quite the rigorous process, and I’m sure glad people don’t have to go through the same thing. Well, come to think of it, maybe we do. You be the judge. I’m not sure what your last check-up was like. ☺

First, the “cowling” is removed to expose the engine so every part can be examined, compressions tests done, etc. Then, the interior is completely dismantled and removed so all the inspection ports can be checked. The wheels get removed so the bearings can be greased, the brakes get checked and so on. I always feel a little embarrassed for the plane at this stage, I mean really, how humiliating! We need some drapes for a little privacy here.

As with any procedure, there are “tools” to help get the job done.

Hey, hold on….what’s a dental pick doing there???

Dwight spent around 4 days working on the job along with John, Daniel and Andrew Herbert. John is a long-time friend and one of the mechanics at Mercy Air. Next week, a Canadian MAF pilot, who is currently serving in Angola, will come to do a final inspection of the aircraft and complete the paper work. So we’ll be here at Mercy Air for a few weeks while this all gets done. It gives us a chance to get other business done as well that we can’t do in Mozambique, and it’s a great chance to connect with our Mercy Air family.

This is Mercy Air’s Beech 18. It was used recently as a double in the movie Amilia Earhart that is due to be released next year (starring Richard Gere and Hilary Swank click here more info). John Herbert did most of the flying that was done in southern Africa for the movie, including the portion over Victoria Falls, which is quite picturesque.

The Beech coming in to land with Ron Wayner in the captain’s seat. If you can see him in the photo, you get to skip your annual eye exam.