Yesterday we celebrated the return to service for our south coast chariot (PK-MAO). After spending the last 8 weeks in the hanger in varying stages of disassembly/reassembly we were able to put the aircraft safely back in the sky. We are thankful for the safety throughout the process for us as well as the aircraft. The return to service (RTS) flight, went well and we were able to follow that flight up with a currency flight for myself and then a normal operational flight. This large inspection was required due to the age and experience of MAO as it nears the 20,000 hr mark, 19,857.0 to be exact. This inspection however is now required every 2,500 hrs (approx. 3 years of flying here) from here on in. So with that in mind we continue to pray for a newer less experienced plane to take the place of MAO. MAF in Nampa is working on raising the funds for MAO replacement and Lord willing in the next year or so we can introduce a new member to our Meruake team here.
Yesterday, the operational flight was transporting a new missionary that is in the process of learning the local language with the goal of being able to help a long time missionary there with the ongoing work of translating the Bible. From the same village I also pickup two mothers, one of which needed some medical care in the city. I don’t know the details other than she had a bandage wrapped around part of her face. She had also been patiently waiting for us to pick her up as the request had come in a few weeks prior but due to the inspection we were unable to do the flight until yesterday.
28th of March, inspection over time to go home.
29th of March, returning home at the end of the first operational flight in 8 weeks :-). Time for some celebration snacks.
Thank you all for your continually up lifting our family and team here in your prayers.
I will admit that this was a hard post to put into words for me (Julie) as it has been a unique week for myself and our family. I got to walk beside two very different Indonesian families as they held two very different events through out the week. One of the families was our neighbors that live directly across from us and hold to the faith of most Indonesian. The other family attends our church here and we also attend the same small group every week. Now, normally I would write about each family separately but both events actually happened at the same time and since I walked through both at the same time I can’t separate them.
A few months ago our neighbor came and asked Greg if they could host their daughters wedding in our front yard. Most people on our street do not have large open areas in their yards besides us and since our houses are almost directly in front of each other it would work very well. When Greg came to share with me this request I just paused for a moment in amazement at how God had just put before us such a unique way to be apart of our neighbors lives. As the weeks drew closer we allowed them to use our yard for parking cars and bikes in as they hosted all those fun pre-wedding events. And our family began to really look forward to the event and really wondered what it would be like. As every island and tribe will do it a bit differently and we had not attended a wedding in Papua yet. Sadly, though Greg discovered a couple weeks before that he had to be in Sentani for meetings and would not be here for the wedding. Now, I will be honest that this news had me more then a little nervous as this meant that I was going to be by myself while this was going on. And that I would be the one that all questions would be coming to instead of Greg. All I can say is man our God is so faithful!!! As the day approached I found myself more excited and less nervous.
Tuesday morning trucks began to come to our house to drop off all the metal frame for all the different tents that they were going to put up. This would have been the time if you were looking into my house when you would of found Isaac sitting in his big chair watching with great interest. He loved watching this process from a safe distance (where no one would talk with him) with a fan blowing right on him. During the morning I would pop out every so often to take pictures and greet people. This lead to me be invited to our neighbors house to take part with what the ladies were doing (which for me is still a very nerve wracking thing for me to do but I understood the importance of it). As I walked into the house I found about thirty women spread through out the house working on different things. For some of them it was likely the first time greeting a white women so I will admit it was fun seeing their reactions. After all the greetings were done I found myself seated on the floor drinking and eating with them for about another 30 min.
After leaving the ladies I walked through all the guys who were busy working on tents, chairs, tables, and different task to check on what my kids were up to. I was pretty sure school lessons were not a top priority compared to what was going on outside at the moment plus Jaclynn was coming down with a nasty cold/flu. And as I was checking on the kids I received a text message from Greg that broke my heart. One of our church friends had called him telling him that our friends daughter who was approaching her 2nd birthday had suddenly passed away. After confirming the news I had to call Greg (who was already disappointed about missing the wedding)??? that our dear friends were dealing with this tragic loss. Which meant that I would now be trying to show support, love, and compassion to our friends, along side our church family on top of all the wedding events that our neighbors wanting us to attend.
When a person dies here in Indonesia there is no funeral home like back home that prepares the body. And it is the family that takes care of the body inside the house. With this knowledge in mind I needed to find out were this was going to happen as that would mean about three days worth of special services and visiting with the family. Through this process I discovered that everything was going to be held at the little girls grandmothers house which is only a few houses down from our house. I was thankful that both events were going to be so close together that I could be apart of both but my heart was so torn. How does a person really go through the process of grieving with a believing family and not only attend but host a wedding in your yard with a family that believes very different then you do while everyone is watching you?
I was standing next to my gate watching all that was taking place for the wedding when everyone instantly stops what they were doing when the ambulance (ambulances are more commonly used as the function of a hurse here) turn onto our road. After the ambulance passes by everyone goes to that house and we watched the family caring the little girl into the house and place her on the prepared table that she would be laying on during this time. At this point it does not matter what a person beliefs are or if you really know that person. Everyone comes in and cries with the family for a short time. During the next hour I sat with different church members as we had tears rolling down our faces as we listened to family members cry and scream the little girls name. It did not matter that I could not understand every word as grief has its own language and needs no translation to be understood. After some people had left I was able to go into the house and hug my dear friend as we cried together. And as I turned to leave their yard and head to mine (where all the wedding preparation was happening) I realized that I was truly walking between two different worlds almost. One was a time of laughter, new beginnings, excitement, and joy. The other was filled with intense sorrow and broken hearts. More importantly though one has a deep faith (even though at the moment there were lots of questions of why) and one did not. I will admit that I was unsure if I could handle doing both the grief and happiness at the same time.
Oh, how faithful our God IS at answering prayers and giving strength to His people. So thus began three days of going back and fourth from the wedding to the funeral services. I am thankful that our kids were old enough to take care of themselves or they might of gone hungry on that first day. However, I think that Isaac might have just eaten cookies that day with all the cookies crumbs in his room. Franklin really stepped up to the plate with his dad gone. He attended the first service for the little girl even though he was scarred of crying in front of so many people. He even when into the house and shook hands with people as they sat around the little girls body. Then as we entered into our yard all the guys were sitting eating snacks and drinking tea. Most of the guys knew that Franklin loved to eat their small fried snacks just from watching him ride his bike everyday to buy some. So the guys convinced him to sit down with them to eat some fried goodies for a little while as I went into the house (a couple of the men could speak English).
The day of the wedding was very hot but it was such a blessing and honor to be apart of. Jaclynn was feeling better enough to attend and she loved seeing all of the fancy dresses and flowers. We laughed when we saw a young dad take his little son (about one) and douse him under our outside water spout. Isaac was pretty upset that I would not allow him to do that during the service as well. However, once the service was over and the eating had begun I allowed the kids to go sit inside the AC rooms for a few minutes. It was neat to see how the men set on separate sides as the women and they actually had the men get their food from different tables as the ladies. I think that the hardest part of the wedding was the music as it was loud and I laugh pretty good when I went to use my bathroom and the windows were actually vibrating. So you can all imagine that we all breathed a sigh of relief when they turned it off. Thankfully, the big reception for the wedding was at a hall and not in our yard so it got a little quieter a little faster. As our family was heading to the reception our neighbor asked if anyone wanted to ride with them in the cars. Franklin jump at the offer but later find himself apart of the wedding party as they walked into the hall. Jaclynn and I were already seated up front so he just smiled and followed the line of people until he got to us and sat down. I really had to not laugh out loud when he turn to me and shrugged his shoulders and shook his head in unbelief at what he just did.
After we left the party and got home I found myself switching gears once again as I headed to our friends house. While the reception was going on there was another service for the little girl and lots of people were still there so I went as well. While there visiting with people I watched how they carried in her little coffin and how they prepared it before they place her little body inside. It was a beautiful thing to be apart of even though it was such a hard thing as well. For three days family members continue to sit around the body working through their grieve while everyone is watching which makes it is a very intense time for everyone.
Even though Greg did and amazing job of supporting me through text messages and phone calls I was very happy to pick him up from the airport Thursday morning. Since his plane was actually on time he was able to drop his bags off at home, shake hands with neighbors who were busy taking down wedding tents, and go hug his grieving friends next door. Our neighbors did an amazing job of taking down the wedding tents quickly allowing us to use our yard once again for people looking to park cars and bike for the final service before the graveside service. Which Greg and I were able to attend as well and then afterwards Greg was able to spend more time visiting with our friends some more and help with a little bit of clean up from the wedding.
And words can not express how grateful I am for you all who saw my post on Facebook and prayed not only for our family but for our friends. Thank you for helping in this special way as I know that I could not have done this without your emails, text messages, and prayers.
Here are a few pictures from the wedding that was held in our front yard.
The daily grind continues as we are now past day 22 of our inspection. There is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel but it’s still pretty small. There is not much of the airplane or any system on the aircraft that hasn’t been effected in someway during this inspection. A few of the interior wall and ceiling panels have stayed in place but I think that is about it. The Lord has continues to show His grace and mercy to us throughout this project, as we’ve made a few mistakes. Have no fear those mistakes have been rectified and I will fly the plane with confidence in a few weeks from now. Our current goal is to have the airplane back in service by the 17th which might be possible we’ll see. The important thing is that it’s put back together correctly :).
This picture is from today as we started to reassemble the tail.
This picture from a couple days ago. We needed to lift the air-frame off the floats to change a couple bolts that were corroding in a lower attachment. Lot of work for just 2 bolts but it’s all part of keep the airplane in good safe working order.
This was the big day we removed the wings a couple weeks ago.
20,000 hrs may not seem like a lot or maybe it does. PK-MAO is now the second Caravan in the MAF worldwide fleet to reach this milestone. A milestone that comes with a lot of work I might add. For the past 2 weeks our team here in Merauke has been hard at work disassembling our beloved airplane down to bear bones. Here are a few photos; day 1, day 5, day 6, and day 8 which was yesterday.
Next week the wings will come off and the plane will be lifted off the floats just high enough for the special NDT (non-destructive testing) tool. The disassembly process is almost complete. Hopefully the following week after the all the NDT is completed we can start to reassemble which usually takes a bit longer than the disassembly part.
Some up and coming things for our family. April my (Greg) mom and niece are coming for a visit and following their departure back to Canada beginning of May we will also be heading to Canada/USA ourselves. As our travel plans start to fall into place we will be posting our schedule here.
Well it’s a new year again and with the new year brings new beginnings. One of which is a new home for our family blog. I was getting a lot of adds on our old blog and I wasn’t sure if others were also seeing adds pop when viewing our blog. So in hope of taking a bit more control over on our blog I felt it was time to relocate.
January has been an exciting month for our family. Julie and the kids have been digging hard into their school studies in hopes of being done before we head back to Canada and the USA in May. We are celebrating 1 year in the same house. This is the longest season for our family with out a move since coming to Indonesia back in Aug 2013. We hope to continue this stretch as we’ve started to plant things in the yard and have started to put down some of our own roots as we build some friendships in what contexts I wouldn’t have thought of before.
I’ve also been busy flying and doing some minor maintenance on MAO. Here are a few pictures from my cell phone on my way up to Sentani the other day. After flying in the swamps of the south coast, it’s a nice change of pace to be able to slip over the mountains at 13000′ on a nice VFR day.
Some challenges have also been faced already this year. Last week our Merauke office manager fell sick, to I’m not sure what. It started out looking pretty bad with blood pressure extremely high. We are thankful that only after a week he is now good enough to be back at home resting and recovering. We are thankful for God’s answered prayers.
Because of the frequency of power outages here it best to protect refrigeration units, A/C, fridges and freezers from starting under load. One of the ways to do this is putting a delay timer in the fridge circuit. However, when the delay unit starts to fail it creates a lot of noise as the contactor its controlling is snapping on and off. That was my project or shall I say a family effort as I removed this protection system that was failing last Saturday. And as per usual this quick project became a somewhat larger one. Before un-wiring the timer and related components it was quickly apparent that some other electrical things weren’t wired up quite right. So an electrical overhaul was in order. I gutted both the panels in the house and rearranged things and did my best to bring our electrical panels closer to a North American standard/code. Now things are better arranged having 220V in one panel and 120V in the other. I won’t go into anymore detail why but I’m thankful for completing the overhaul when I did and also thankful for God’s protection over our home and family this past year. And for those wondering why I would remove the timer system that was protecting our fridge. The system is needed for older fridges or fridges that are imported from countries with good power that don’t have timers built-in already. I did confirm our fridge has it’s on timer, so I see no reason to replace the timer at this time.
This is part way through the project which I will mention again, I had some great helpers and not too many complaints waiting for the A/Cs to work again.
4 hours later, power restored with organized and labelled panels complete with a directory.
And in closing I found this picture a few days ago. Taken by the Hewes family during their visit to Merauke a couple years ago.
Both Greg and I grew up in places that always turn cold and normally white for Christmas. And if I was being honest that was about the only time that I actually liked having snow. So as we prepared for our first Christmas here in Merauke that was one of the many little things about the holiday that we missed. Thankfully, we started to see a little more rain coming our way as we drew closer to Christmas which after having a time of dryness here it was just as special.
The kids jumped right into helping decorate the house, helped with shopping, and had lots of ideas about things to bake. Since this was our fourth Christmas in Indonesia the kids had lots of different things that they want to do. Somethings that they remember from Canada really came forward this year. And we added some Indonesia traditions as well to our celebration. I will admit that this can sometimes get stressful as we try to celebrate one holiday with two very different cultures wrapped into one day. While the kids and I were busy at the house all the guys at the hanger were trying to keep up with all the flight request that kept coming in. Normally, this is the time of year that the people want to come to the city in order to celebrate with family and friends.
This year our family was able to host our MAF Merauke Christmas party at our house. This is one of the blessings of having a small team of expats and national staff. The kids enjoyed preparing for this time with extra decorations, offering to taste test anything that I was baking, and helped with extra cleaning. The evening of our celebration we were all blessed to hear from one of the missionaries, who we serve here from Merauke. She spoke about her work in the community of Kotiak. Later each family had sometime to share the blessings God had provided to each of our families this past year. And of course there was a variety of food like a selection of chicken, fish and beef too, And it would not be a true Indonesia party without some nasi kunning and nasi putih, (yellow and white rice). Mixed in with some Christmas baking that has been popping up in our kitchen lately.
Christmas Eve found our family laughing at funny skits, singing songs, and enjoying fellowship with our local Indonesia church that we attend. Then after the service their was a tasty meal and a time of photos with people. The kids enjoyed playing with other children and watching fireworks that were going off around town as we waiting to get out of the parking lot. We were one of the first ones there which meant that we were totally boxed in for awhile.
Christmas morning found our family enjoying a time of opening gifts and talking to family through Skype which actually worked really well. Then our family opened our house up for a time of fellowship with any friends and neighbors that wanted to come for a visit. And we were blessed with have some of our new friends stop in and see us in our home for the very first time. And Jaclynn had some of her friends come to our door which lead to a few hours of playing with them. Then the next day we heading to different peoples house and had the chance to visit with them in their homes.
It was a wonderful time of fellowship and way to much eating as it is not polite to not eat things that are laid in front of you. We would always like to thank everyone one of you for all of those amazing Christmas emails that you sent. And our children (especially Isaac) loved seeing all the snow/winter pictures that were including in those emails. We hope that you all have a blessed New Year and looking forward to what God has in store for all of us in this coming year.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
Greg, Julie, Franklin, Isaac, & Jaclynn.
Well after a wonderful family vacation, we have returned refreshed and ready to get back to daily living here in Merauke.
For the first time anyone could remember, this past week MAF Indonesia stopped all operations across the country. To gather all the technicians (pilots, mechanics & IT), for 4 days full of meetings and reports. I’m not much of a meeting kind of guy so that part, well let’s just leave it at that regarding how the meetings went. My highlight for the week was the grand reunion with guys I had met at candidacy going back to 2010, others I had gone through A&P, pre-field training with and language studies. I was starting to get into bit of a low as far why were we here, what makes us different, etc. Departing this morning to come home I’m thankful for the renewed vision and excitement for why were are here and what make us different. As we head into December which will be a very busy month of flying I’m looking forward to the privilege and opportunities that my Maker in Heaven will put before me to serve, reflect His Light and show His Love to those I interact with in days to come.