MAF Papua Conference 2016

  This year we had the privilege of spending a better part of a week in the mountain village of Mamit for family conference. This was the first interior conference that we have been a part and it was a wonderful time, but there was also a lot of work involved from our entire team. Everyone with their belongings, all the food, bathroom supplies, fridges, cooking items, LPG, a water filtration system, and the list goes on and on, was flown in which was quite to undertaking. Some of the guys like Greg who have back grounds in other areas (like electrical and plumbing) besides flying got put to work through out the week. For Greg though it was like coming home a little bit as this was one of his favorite places to fly into before moving to the south coast. So he greatly enjoyed those first minutes after landing as he was able to greet people that he had not see in a while and make that connection with them again.
      It took us over two hours to reach Mamit from our location in Meruake.  So we had the privilege of flying in a day early so that they could use the plane to help shuttle the rest of the people the next day. It was neat to land and see all the people gathered around the top of the airstrip and have them help carry our things. The people seemed to really enjoying having us there in their village. Our kids loved that they could explore and be out doors with all their friends and loved getting to know the New Heights team that had come from the States to lead our conference. I guess that the best way to describe what conference is like for the kids is to think about VBS and summer camp all happening on the side of a jungle mountain. For the older children like Franklin they got to sleep with the New Heights college members that help run things. He loved hanging out with them and enjoyed the freedom of staying up later playing board games up in the dining hall. During the day Isaac was part of the youth group but at night he bunked with his parents. Isaac loved all the silly games that the youth played and being apart of the youth group for the first time.
     I would say that one of the top things that happens for at least the kids is having a snack shop through out the week of conference.  And this year Greg and I had the privilege of running that for the first time. Our wonderful New Heights teams brings a lot of fun candy that we can’t get here plus things like beef jerky, wheat thins, mixed nuts, and dried fruit as well. It did mean that we had to work through the conference but it was fun talking with everyone and watching the children enjoy things that they were missing from back home.
     I would say for me though the highlight was singing and listening to messages in English as we do not have that privilege where we live. I think that even Isaac was missing it as well as I caught him singing along which I normally do not see very often. And mixed in with the singing and wonderful messages were a lot of silly games especially during the night meetings. This is also the kids favorite time as the team that cames does a wonderful job incorporating wonderful costumes and games that really go along with what the kids are really into. Last year was a Star Wars theme and this year was a Minecraft theme. However, since our children are older this year Greg and I found ourselves volunteered for way more them we ever wanted by our wonderful children. And I will admit that they got me to do somethings that I would never do in front of people but it brought great joy to them to be doing this kind of thing with their parents.
     And since this years conference was held in a village our family got to experience things that a lot of the time only pilots like Greg get to see. One morning the village came and did a big traditional presentation of food and a large pig to our group that they were going to cook kind of like what we would call a pig roast. Then one of our team building games for the adults was to see what it took for the people to make a quick meal. It took us over an hour to do it in different teams though. I found myself heading down the path with a group of ladies to dig up some different veggies while the guys got a fire going. Now we could only use what they used so we found ourselves digging up veggies with a pointed stick while the guys tried to start a fire the traditional way. It was a fun team building time. And then during family fun night the New Height team got the joy of trying to learn how to properly tie up a pig in the village before it can go into a plane. The kids really enjoyed watching this in action as they have all seen pictures of the pigs being put in and out of the plane but not this part.
     It was a great time interior filled with lots of wonderful memories and a time to reconnect with different teammates that live all over the island. And I will say that we all went home with much stronger leg muscles as you were either walking straight up or down for the entire week.

My Life as a Missionary Wife

     From the very beginning my husband started to call our life as missionaries an adventure and I can say that is probably the best way to describe my life as a missionary wife. For when people take an adventure there is always excitement and great things that happen while you are on an adventure. And there is also those hard and challenging times mixed in as well.
     I can still remember when our plane landed in Jakarta for the very first time and we looked out the window an saw all the palm trees and different types of landscape for the very first time. I remember the excitement on my children’s faces and the sheer thankfulness of being able to finally get off the plane. Little did I know that those first few steps off that plane would be the easiest part of my journey. And that God was about to walk me through times of great joy and that He was going to allow me to see the world through His eyes and forever change who I was as a women, mother, and wife.
     I leaned that I could be a strong women in the Lord but still be shaking on the inside. Like that time when I was driving home and a snake dropped out of the tree and almost landed in our laps. Or when my children are struggling with things like homesickness and they looked for encouraging words from me even though I am was also homesick at the same moment. Or when the drunk man was standing in the middle of the road and really did not want to let me pass through at that moment. It is not the circumstances that have made me a strong women but it was learning to rely on God through every one of them that helped me become a strong women.
     Then came the joy of entering that terrifying age of having pre-teens and teens in my household. I think that this was the first time I really needed my parents advice daily but now they were clear on the other side of the world. I could no longer just pick up the phone and talk, because now I first needed to figure out the time difference and hope the internet was working good enough before I could talk. However, I have the privilege of having my Lord with me every step of the way. And now being the mother of a teenager and two pre-teens I am beginning to understand that the only way to get through this stage of life is with a direct line to the Lord that never closes or get’s disconnected. God has walked us through some interesting things with our kids here (homesickness, dengue fever, fear of new things) but God always provides for them beyond what I could ever imagine. That does not mean I do not worry about them or wonder if they are missing out on things because they live here instead of being back home. However, there is peace when I remember that God called us here for this season of our lives and He will help me be the mother that my kids need no matter where we live.
     I could probably write a book on being married to a missionary pilot in one of the most dangerous places to fly in the world. I have watched while Greg has worked through times of intense training. Which also added a lot of intense stress and doubts to our daily life. I learned the importance of how to be a true helpmate through prayer, encouragement, and helping him through those days of doubt. And now as he continues to move into the routine of a line pilot, I get to support him through the joyous times when the medivac has a happy ending or a missionary needs a special flight request that he can help with.  And through the hard times when the medivac doesn’t end well or flights are cancelled or postponed because the plane is down due to maintenance problems or government documents are delayed and people are left stranded somewhere.
     Then there were all those fun things that most missionary wives normally get to tackle like learning about going to the local market. For me the hardest was defiantly getting use to the meat market while in language school. Next was learning where to buy things like medicine and of course knowing what it is called in a different language ( I have learned to write it down and take it with me just in case I am not pronouncing it right). I now keep a journal with all the different types of medicine that we have used and what they were for. Since there is not always a doctor around (normally though only a call or text away) it sure saves time getting what we need. I have also learned creative ways to dry clothes while going through rainy season without a dryer. And I have totally picked up some very bad driving habits through these past three years. As the driving here is in itself  a whole other world here. I am happy to report that when I was back home last summer for the first time, all those crazy driving skills were left behind, only once did I catch myself driving on the wrong side of the road.
    And since arriving in Merauke I have learned to make sure to check for toads when I open the front door as there is a gap between the screen and the main door that they like to hide in. If you leave shoes outside always dump them upside down and bag them for that is another place the toads like to hide. I am happy to report that I can know cut the feet and head off a chicken and not be totally grossed out, but the boys on the other hand are so not there yet. Oh, I never fold up my clothes rack without looking for tree frogs because they love to snooze there through out the day. Surprising though I still find the ants the worst to deal with, they love to get into our damp towels and if they bite me I  really react to them. And sadly I will admit that I miss frozen pizza and just having a Wendy’s or MacDonald’s around. I don’t actually miss it for the taste of the food I just miss having the option of that quick meal on those crazy days when there is just no energy left to cook.
     However, at the end of the day I am still thankful for everything that I have learned on this adventure that God has been leading our family through. Life as a wife, mother, and a women can become overwhelming no matter where you are but the trick is deciding on whose power you are going to lean on to help you get through. Will it be your own power or will it be God’s?


Flying Footage

Here are the two short videos I promised last week.

I haven’t been able to get a lot of footage yet but I was able to put together a couple basic videos with the footage I do have.  The first on is some shots while in float plane mode landings and take-offs on the water.  The second one is what it’s like when operating the plane on land.  I think if you click on “vimeo” in the lower RH corner, it will take you to our vimeo site where the videos are available in HD.  Not sure if the embedded version on our blog are in HD or not.
Playing On The Water from Greg on Vimeo.
The Flying Shopping Cart from Greg on Vimeo.

Hope some of you enjoy seeing life from the float’s perspective :).

The Dole Clan

Goodbyes, Pineapples & Birthday Parties.

Hello again from the tropical town of Merauke, where you’ll find the sun almost always shinning and almost always hot ;-).  These past couple weeks our family has been busy with a oodles of different activities.

Shortly after we celebrated my (Greg) first Amphibian Caravan Solo flight, we jump on a jet plane to Sentani where we spent sometime with friends of ours that are being called back to their passport country.  It was a wonderful/sad weekend of visits and memories made for all of us especially the kids.  It’s been a bit different this go around as in the past it’s usually us doing the going as we said goodbye but this time, we are the stayers. Which I’m learning has a its own set of emotions and feelings to navigate as we again say goodbye to friends.   
During our visit to Sentani we also acquired some pineapples, which we ate then planted.  Well we ate the good stuff and planted the top, just encase that needed clarification.  So far a after almost 2 weeks the first of the plants seem to still be alive.  This morning I planted the last of our pineapple top supply.  Hopefully in a year or so we will have nice pineapple hedge out front that will treat us to a fresh pineapple now and then.  Not sure if a mango tree or papaya tree will be next on our “to plant list”, maybe even a banana tree.  

This weekend we also celebrated Jaclynn’s 10th birthday.  Wow no more single digits in the family.  Sunday evening we had a small gathering to celebrate.  Julie whipped up some home-made pizza pockets that seemed to be a hit.  

In the next blog post I hope to have a couple short video montages of some recent flights.

Blessings The Dole Clan

New Milestone of God’s Faithfulness in Our Family

     It has now been over twenty years since I (Julie) first felt the Lord calling me to missions. I remember feeling so excited about doing this one moment and then the next becoming totally terrified the next. For I new God called me but I never felt a clear call to doing translation work, medical work, or teaching at the time which was about all I had ever heard about women missionaries doing. It was just that simple call to go that began to take me down a path that has been so amazing that words can not describe it.
     This path led me straight into meeting my husband over 18 years ago and opening my eyes to a new world of missions that I never really knew that much about.  In fact my first plane ride only happened three weeks before I met my husband. Even though the world of mission aviation was new to me there was a draw from the very beginning. I enjoyed going up in the smaller planes and I loved seeing the passion in Greg as he went through his flight training. Little did I know or understand how much flight training or years of experience that it would take for him to reach where we are today.
     Which is why I find it to be such a blessing that Greg passed his flight test this week giving him permission to fly the float plane by himself. And yesterday our small team here in Merauke had the privilege of watching him complete his first solo flight. It was a cooler day here but the kids and staff enjoyed soaking him never the less.
     As I watched my husband climb out of that plane I could still see that same kind of passion that I saw inside of him when he was in college. He just loves to fly and he loves to share his love for flying while reaching out to the people  here in Papua.
     Here are a few pictures of his special day here at our Merauke hanger.




The month of April has flown by figuratively and literally.  I’ve made some good progress on the final stages of my Caravan Amphib checkout.  Next week I’m scheduled for my first PFR (Proficiency Flight Review) in the Amphib.  At the completion of that flight if all goes well I’ll be given the green light to start flying solo.  I’m sure there will be pictures in a following post of me dripping wet again.  It’s not a bad way to celebrate the mile stone in the tropics as I’m often soaked with sweat anyway so a nice cold water soaking isn’t so bad.  Back home in Canada however I’m glad I missed out on that tradition during my initiate pilot training ;-).
Anyway lets talk about the title of this post.  I’ve been struggling with concerns about how to connect with our neighbours here of late.  It’s been heavy on my heart and one of the main reasons why we were so excited to be assigned to Merauke, was the idea of being apart of an Indonesian neighbourhood.  As I’ve been praying for ways to connect.   Which can be hard in many facets, logistically not being an exception, with the sometimes long work days, process of learning new skills, operating in a different culture and language, and life in general brings you home tired and exhausted.  How an I going to build these friendships with my neighbours?  It’s a slow process which I often forget, wanting things to happen fast or instant.  Anyway I want to share specifically about an a cool experience I had one evening early this week.    As I was heading out to lock our gate for the night which is a nightly routine item here.  Our neighbours across the street saw me and called me over.  At first I was thinking, ah I need to get to bed it’s getting late.  However, as I walked over in my bare feet I quickly noticed that there was a whole lot of people sitting gathered around their front door, sitting on whatever was available drinking tea and eating peanuts.  My need to go to bed quickly disappeared as they handed my a plate of peanuts and a cup of tea as I sat down to listen and share stories with them.  I can’t say that I understood all of the conversations as I still struggle with the language if I don’t know the context or subject of the conversation.  I was able to laugh with them as I messed up some of my Indonesian and they messed up some of their English.  The story telling/conversations last about 2 hours as we moved from their yard to standing in the street for a while then going our separate ways back into our respective homes.  It was an exciting thing to be included in their spontaneous neighbourhood meeting.  Please continue to pray for our family as we desire to become part of this community and be able to shine Christ’s love and light here.
The Dole Clan

The Up’s and Down’s of Starting Over

    When you move to a new area it can be a time of excitement and wonder but also a time of confusion and stressful moments. I (Julie) like to refer to this time period as the foggy stage of a move and find that it takes me about two months before I start coming out of the fog and feel more normal. During this time I find myself busy beyond words as I am trying to unpack and organize the house. Keep the kids focused on setting up their rooms and not just playing with all their lost treasures that they have now found. Also there always seems to be one or two really important items that we thought we had packed in a great spot this time but are still always missing when it come to the unpacking stage. And most important of all trying to stay on top of those important things like knowing where to buy food, toilet paper, locating sheets for the beds, and towels for showers. Since moving to the mission field this would be about the time that I really miss have a local superstore around the corner that we could just pop into for all those little things.
    Since I have finally come out of the foggy stage of life I am feeling a lot better and have confidence that I will not go crazy after all. Despite all the work and stress of moving to a new city it can be a wonderful time of discovery and learning. The city of Meruake seems very spread out compared to the other places that we have lived in since arriving in Indonesia. I will also admit that I was really surprised when we got our first tour of the city. Most stores seem like mass chaos but here they are all organized with nice and neat shelves where you can find things. And most importantly when they restock the shelves it actually all goes back in the same place. Which is very helpful when you go shopping the next time. Then there is one entire street that is full of fruit stands on either side as you drive down the road. They are normally always selling the same kinds of fruits so you just kind of pick one and continue to go there an work and building a relationship. We also have veggie stands mixed in all through town here. Oh, then we have all the locals who set their fruits and veggies along the roads through out town plus there are two different pasar (markets) that you can find things in as well. Personally I was a little over whelmed at first but also thankful that we have so much here in this city compared to some of our other bases. And I am happy to report I have found a great fruit stand, two different veggie stands, one store that sells great chicken and eggs, another store which I can find bread and baking items, one store that we buy most of our other items, and a few that we just check out once in awhile that can normally bring in those hard to find items like tomato paste. As you can see this is not a shop at one store kind of town like back home but I get to meet a lot more people this way.
    The kids seem to be finally settling down more now that the house is set up and we have gotten a good school routine in place. It has been a year of constant moving so having a normal school routine is kind of nice. The kids (along with Greg and I) had a hard time adjusting to the intense heat but we are starting to find that they are getting use to it. Isaac by far had a hard time and was sick for about a month until we discovered that he had a iron issue which the heat was not helping. Now that we are getting him a little more healthy he is enjoying life more. They all enjoy the fact that we are only about a 5 minute bike ride from the beach and we have made it out a couple of times. Even though this city has a very small expat community (only 7 families at the moment) we find ourselves always getting together with the other families which helps with being so far from everyone.
    At the moment we seem to be healthy and Greg is preparing for a full 5 day flight week next week so he could use your prayers. A couple of those days are overnight trips which means that while he is gone I am busy keeping life going here at home. Please also keep Isaac in your prayers as we work to bring up his iron levels. And we are also about to meet our new pembantu (house helper) and see if it will work for her to come one or possible two days to help with house work. It has been about a year in a half since we have had a house helper so it will be adjust having someone in the house again.
    Thank you for all your amazing prayers and encouraging emails that you have sent us over these past weeks and months. You are all amazing and we feel so blessed to have you walking along side of us through out this journey.

Float Flying

Greetings, wow so much for getting another post up on the blog before the end of February well maybe it will still be February in parts of the world if I get this done in time ;-). February was a fairly busy month of flying for me as I transition into the world of float flying. Some of the major differences I’m learning about between operating on wheels versus floats; On the ground with wheels, besides the weather, the surrounding environment is pretty constant. On the water however, it is a very dynamic place. For example the river currents here are greatly effected by the ocean tide and rains up river. It’s not unheard of to have the water levels change while waiting on the water or current direction to change. Wind also can play a stress adding role to a pilot as you plan; how and where to dock and then how to depart the docking area safely. The current can bring debris from up river that can create hazards for the aircraft and personal. Boat traffic that we share the same space for taxi, takeoff and landing. Their concept of safety is quite different than ours. Some of the things that are constant with landing on water versus runways or grass strips; the braking action, slipperiness and firmness of landing water is the same every time rain or shine. Most times but not always runway length is not an issue using rivers.

For us the busy time requiring our full attention is from the time we circle overhead to evaluate the landing area until we have taken off again with climb checks complete, than we can relax a little bit during cruise. Previously it was after I had shut-down at the top of an airstrip, I could relax and decompress a bit. Now that happens in cruise flight if the weather in nice. Lack of attentiveness while on the water even with the engine off can end up with bent metal or someone hurt. We have a couple locations where there is no place to safely dock, but because of the size of the river we can float down the river and have speed boats come along side and transfer passengers on and off the aircraft. Even though these rivers are big there are a lot of thinks to keep a very good lookout for particularly if the current is strong. If the winds are light and the current is neutral it’s not to bad. Mix in some current and or winds and then things can become very exciting quickly. Hopefully Bade will have a dock again soon  as their previous dock which is in the following picture was run over by a large ship and is no more. This being one of the places we are drifting in the river with speed boats to do the passenger exchange now.

Bade from overhead.
Bade’s former dock
Bade’s former dock
Here in Agats is the other place that if we can’t find a place to tie to we will drift.  We prefer tying to a mooring point here if we can find it.  Speed boats are used here as well for passenger transfer.
Speed boat approaching in Agats
Local Tink Tink boat.
Many places were we can, we just pull along shore.


The following video is a good representation of why we are here and more specifically why we have a Caravan C208 Amphibious Plane in our fleet here in Papua. This is one of those unique places that our unique PK-MAO can go and serve. Which is also a place that I will be privileged to serve in the not to distance future. [youtube]