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.
On the last day of our time in Bali Greg and Jaclynn headed for the Bail Zoo.
As you can tell by the pictures that our little animal lover had a great time.
She had a wonderful time feeding, holding, and playing with a wide range of local animals from the different Islands of Indonesia. It was a great day for hanging out with her dad and just exploring and learning as much as she could about the different kinds of animals. She really loved playing with the elephants and greatly enjoyed going for an elephant ride with her dad. Not many girls her age can say that they have rode an elephant with their dad.
For this family vacation we wanted to try something new as a family. And believe it or not it was both Julie and Jaclynn who thought about trying surfing before we even headed to Bali, Well as you can tell from the pictures below we all enjoyed learning something new but it was Franklin who fell in love with the sport of surfing in a huge way. The whole family did a two and a half hour lesson but Franklin went back for more lesson over the next couple of days after that. I think we found his recreation/hobby of choice. Isaac and Jaclynn were the first to make it to a standing position but it was Franklin who really enjoyed it the most. And all the Indonesia people in the background are the instructors who are teaching and helping us in the water.
This was me most of the time, falling, however I did mange once to stay up for a short run. It was worth the pulled muscles, stubbed toes, and sunburn to see the kids succeed especially Franklin as this was what he wanted to do the rest of vacation. Franklin continued to improve over the next couple days as he continued to practice. Unfortunately here in Merauke we don’t have good surfing waves. Franklin is already made his request that we schedule more days at the beach next time so he can continue master the finer points of surfing.
I’ve been hearing that Winter is approaching and in some places already arrived. Warning this post and the next couple contain no snow or winter weather conditions, viewer discretion is advised for those suffering from winter blues already. There are some perks to living in the tropics, and you are always welcome to come for a visit. Here is the next segment of our family vacation the Villa.
When looking for a place to stay in Bali, the choices became quickly overwhelming for me to say the least. Which was the main factor for taking us 3+ years before finally planing a vacation to Bali. I’m someone who likes simple choices and searching the web for the right place that suites the budget and family was too much. Thankfully a couple months back we received an email about a Villa in Bali that was being managed by a family that had previously lived in Papua and offered a discount to those serving with overseas ministries here in the South East Asia region. Having this new information relieved me of wading through hundreds of hotel/villa web pages looking for the right one, and made the possibly of getting away to Bali a reality for our family.
The Villa was a very nice 2 bedroom, open kitchen and family area with sliding wall that opened up to a nice private pool. It was a perfect fit for the family. Sorry we didn’t get very many good photos of the villa but here are a few from an evening swim in the pool which the kids did almost every night after supper.
These pictures were from just searching the web for this villa, I copied just a few, what these pictures don’t have is the clutter of beach balls, sandals and the fallen leaves.
Again we want to extend our great heart felt gratitude to all of you that are faithfully partnering with us, not so we can enjoy lavish holidays like this, but rather that we can enjoy these times of refreshment, to recharge for the tasks that have been put before us serving here in Merauke, for many years to come. Next up family suffering adventure.
We just returned home from a wonderful time in Bali. Our family vacation experience started out with seeing some cool blessings some of which happen in the travaling to and from Bali. We booked our tickets weeks in advance, not knowing that one of the airlines competitor’s was about to add a competing run from Makassar directly to Merauke. Our original tickets gave us a 2 hour layover. We’ve learned in the past anything less than 1.5 hours can create some stress catching the next flight. Still a few weeks before our vacation while I was departing Merauke, listening to the other traffic on the radio I caught on that the plane we were going to be taking to Bali in a couple weeks was no longer going to Makassar (transit airport) like it was originally scheduled. After getting back I asked one of our staff to investigate if our tickets were still good. Turns out what they had done was their Makassar – Merauke – Makassar flight became Makassar – Merauke – Sentani and there Sentani – Merauke – Sentani had become Sentani – Merauke – Makassar. The only problem with this is now we are departing 2 hours later than originally scheduled. And this flight from Sentani is notoriously late. On a side note Merauke is about as close as you can get for the end of the line. There are or were no connecting flights here prior to this switch in scheduling all the planes would return to their point of departure. And by 12:00 all the jet traffic (3-4) had come and gone and left the Merauke airport for us (MAF) and another small operator to enjoy, outside of the occasional military flight. Back to getting to Bali, as we prepared to depart they continued to assure us that we would make the connecting flight in Makassar as they had moved it back 45mins. But as for normal our departing flight was more than 45 mins late which gave us no layover time. Also knowing that our connecting flight was the only Makassar – Bali flight for the day I was preparing myself and family for the high likely hood that we would be trying to find a place in Makassar for the night. Upon arriving the flight attendant assured me all was good, but knowing a bit of the culture here they will tell you what you want to hear rather than to truth a lot of times. So I didn’t get my hopes up until exiting the aircraft and was met at the bottom of the stairs by airline personal. They whisked us into a van which then raced across the tarmac to our connecting flight. During this whisking across the tarmac I inquired about out luggage which I was assured would make it. But again knowing that I’m likely going to hear what I want to hear rather than reality, and the fact we hadn’t finished stowing our carry on luggage and seated before the plane was being pushed back for start. I was thinking there was no way our bags made the connection. After departure I dug out the address of our villa so I would have it ready to give to the baggage claim counter in Bali. The flight went smoothing and we were looking forward to enjoying our first night in Bali as planned, even if it was going to be with our carry on luggage only (which Julie had packed a few extra sets of clothes just in case). Once we arrived in Bali I almost didn’t bother but we stopped at the luggage belt just in case and low and behold it made. Wow, we were stunned and very thankful! So we started our vacation with what started out looking like a lot of inconveniences ahead of us to everything falling into place. Backing up a bit as were waiting for our first flight (late one) Pak Hammi met us in the waiting room telling us that the flight home at the end of our vacation had been cancelled and we needed to find something else. One bright side for the late departure was I had time to go with Pak Hammi to sort out tickets for our trip home. So we ended up on the competitor’s airline for Makassar – Merauke, but choose to stay with our original tickets from Bali – Makassar (portion of the flight not yet cancelled). And yes the day before we are to come home I get a text message that this flight was also cancelled, thankfully Pak Hammi was able to arrange a different flight from Bali – Makassar. And yes we arrived home safely with all our stuff in toe after a great vacation. Being that this post is already getting long I will close with saying there will be more to come on what we did, along with lots of pictures over the next couple days.
The Dole Clan
These first few pictures are from Piramapun, which is just down river from Saman where the NTM missionaries are considering as there location of service. The first picture is the landing area at Piramapun it’s nice and wide with a gentle curve in the landing and takeoff area. The ocean is there as well but we choose not to operate on the ocean for a few reasons so a gentle curved river is our preferred landing zone.
This picture is of Saman from overhead, the curve in the river here is a bit sharper. Hopefully in the next few months I’ll have gained enough experience to be able to up the level of difficulty of my landing and takeoff locations.
A random photo from the trip that Julie wanted me to include.
This next group of photos are from Senggo, which is the place Julie mentioned regarding the book our family is reading together.
They are not standing on water as it may appear in the picture, there is a dock of sorts below their feet and yes below the water.
These next pictures are from Tanah Merah which means red soil. We don’t have a dock here so we just find a good spot along the shoreline to pull up to and secure the plane. The location changes depending on the water levels. The week before these picture was taken, the high area where the people are standing and holding the rope was covered by about a foot of water and we ended up docking up river against a wood dock that during this visit was high and dry. When the water is lower than this (which 2 days later was the case) we beach bit further down stream up against a gravel beach that is visible during low water times. This like many of the places we go to our docking methods/locations vary with conditions. (The flying is the easy part some days)
This picture is of the Boma or Bomakia airport terminal building. This was our last stop before heading home that day. Boma was previously an MAF base for float plane and wheel plane operation for the south coast several years ago.
The MAF hanger just in front of the tower (left side of the picture) as we approach to land back home in Merauke.
Hope you enjoyed seeing some of what we have the privilege of experiencing daily.
As Greg mention in our last post I was able to have my very first ride along in our float plane. MAF allows wives to go along twice a year which allows us to really see what it is like for not only our spouse but for the people that we serve.
For the first stop of the day Greg was able to land at a new place to drop off another missionary who had missed his plane ride the day before. He was hoping to meet up with other missionaries to help them with the process of surveying the area for possible places for three new missionary families to move to. Since this was not a normal place for us to land you can imagine that having a float plane land next to your village would be greatly noticed. There was even a school at the edge of the village that I am hoping was having recess while we were there. For it seemed like all the kids where standing along the river in the white and red uniforms waving to us.
After dropping off our missionary we headed to our next stop to pick up a load of local pastors from a retreat that Greg had dropped off a week before. The cool thing about this stops is that we are actually reading a book about one of the first missionaries to this area with our kids. Since those first few years this village has turned into a large trading post for this area. So right on the edge of the water were small stores where you could park a boat/canoe and find food or clothing as well as bring stuff to sell. My favorite part was watching all the kids swimming off the docks. However, but I had a hard time watching people drive their motorbikes down the boardwalk as I noticed all the boards move and shake a little more then I would be comfortable with!!!
Also, this is were I got to see just how tense it could sometimes be for my husband. As one tries to load passengers and their belonging on a dock that if you step in the wrong place it would start to sink. After watching this for the first time I am very thankful that one of our staff rides along to help him out with this as well as docking the plane. When you are out in the village there is no way for them to weigh belongings so the guys have to do this as the passengers get on, write out their tickets, collect money, and make sure the plane is not over weight. Now remember that this group of guys had already been flown in a week before and knew about all of this. However, through the course of the week they ended up collecting a lot of stuff and most of them had way to much stuff.
After getting that all figured out I was able to see two different places as we started to return all the pastors to their destinations. I loved how it felt landing on the rivers and taxing down them to where they docked (or where they had someone just hold the rope). I loved looking along the banks and watching people appear to see what the noise was or to just watch the plane. And I was really blown away by the different types of boats that I saw on the rivers. I saw those small canoes that barley have room to sit in to larger canoes that they had added a motor to. Then smaller fishing boats to larger ones as most of the rivers do connect to a larger river that would lead to the ocean. And I even saw some very nice looking speed boats especially at our first stop. And I was really surprised for a few minutes when we landed at our second place as one whole side of the river had different types of satellite. Then I remember that was the only way for the people to connect with the outside of the world.
At the end of the day I would have to say that landing on a river is my new favourite thing to do. Even though I enjoyed my time it did open my eyes a little more to what my husband has to do daily. Not only does he fly the plane and deal with passenger but he has to deal with some pretty extreme heat that just drains your body. After I arrived home I could hardly move and he told me that I was feeling this way because of the heat and the continual change in altitude. This would explain while on flight days my guy is falling asleep before seven at night.
I am so thankful for my husband and how he uses his gifts that God has given him daily. Whether he is landing on land or water, dealing with passengers, or dealing with government paperwork he is always trying to honor God in all things.
With grateful hearts we are in the midst of what has become a pretty busy flying month for our base here in Merauke. The September’s calendar was filled very quickly with the hopes of MAO being up and ready to fly. And for the most part we have been able to meet those special flight requests for Church events, missionaries, medivacs and even some general passenger flights. Thank you for all your prayers for us as we worked hard at getting MAO back into the air and for continued prayer as we are now busy flying it again. So much so that next Tuesday it will have 100hrs flight time already and will be ready for a mini inspection. October will also be potentially a busy month for me as I will be the only pilot in Merauke for about 6 weeks.
An up and coming flight, which you can probably expect a post from, will happen this Saturday. As Julie will be joining me on my second outbound which will be taking us through a couple different places. Last week I helped pickup 7 local church leaders for a training/leadership conference in Senggo. And on Saturday I’ll be taking them back to their home villages, or at least close enough they can grab a speedboat or tinktink ride home on the river. Julie is pretty excited as this will be her first ride in the float plane. I’ll make sure she is armed with the camera so we can include some pictures in a following post.
Also happy to report that the rest of the engine that previously was on MAO will be showing up tomorrow, which will allow us to get MPF back in the air serving Papua as well. This will also free up our hanger again and possibly return operations back to normal, maybe ;-). Sometimes I’m not sure what normal is suppose to look like anymore. Keeps us on our toes or better yet our knees this way I suppose.
Thank you for your prayers and support, this summer we have been stretched and challenged in many ways, and through this we couldn’t have done it alone. Thank you for partnering with us through your prayers.
Franklin, Isaac, & Jaclynn
Well since the last blog post I’ve done 2 more medivac flights. Friday night I got my “first” call for a weekend (day off) medivac flight. It’s nice to be able to be in a position now that I can be called upon to do these kinds of flights. Saturday morning I showed up to the airport surprised to hear that we had a full load to Kepi with less than 24 hrs notice, and I would also have a full load coming home. I made sure that I had our stretcher on board this time as I didn’t want to be caught by surprise like I was with the two patients on Thursday’s flight to Kepi. Arriving in Kepi they already had the young girl on a stretcher that I could return the following Monday (today). The stretcher isn’t much more secure then just gently strapping the person to the floor but it is likely a little more comfortable. Off we went with the patient and other passengers filling the other seats. All seemed to go well as we returned to Merauke, where the ambulance took the young lady to the hospital. Monday morning (today) however, shortly after getting to the airport I received news that the young lady had passed away Sunday.
Today I was schedule for a Kepi on my second outbound just like last Thursday with the stretcher and O2 bottle from Saturday all loaded up to return. When I arrived in Kepi again hoping for a quick turn around, (I had some maintenance that I needed to take care of after the flight home) I again received word that there was another patient that needed to get out to Merauke. This time a 10 year old boy, that apparently had the same thing or something similar to the young lady I had picked up on Saturday. So instead of returning the stretcher and O2 bottle it was utilize again. And I pray this time that the outcome is different and that this boy will get a second chance at life and more importantly get an opportunity to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ if he hasn’t already.
Sapi is the word for cow in Indonesian. However, today it also happened to be the name of one of my passengers. His possibly unique name, is not the reason I’m writing and sharing about this flight, but rather how and why he was on board my airplane today. Since June 14th MAO our amphib plane has been down for maintenance issues. So in the meantime we have been operating a wheel plane to a few of the locations here that also have runways. Now many of the locations we typically serve have been without service of the airplane as the river is the only landing option which isn’t conducive to the standard airplane. One of these particular locations called Eci happens to be connected with a road/trail/path to Kepi were there is a runway. The distance between the two towns as the crow flies or caravan in our case is 50km (30miles). The road/trail/path (sometimes passable by car, most times passable by motorcycle) winding around a lot so I’m not sure how far the trip is overland. The construction crews get paid by distance here so the longer the road the bigger the paycheck. Anyway back to Sapi’s story. I showed up to Kepi on my second of my two outbonds for the day excepting to pick up 9 passengers and some baggage with a good chance of a quick turn around. Our agent in Kepi is always on top of things which makes my job a lot easier. Upon arriving to my surprise I was greeting by our agent from Eci not Kepi. I hadn’t seen him since 14th of June when I last flew into Eci with the amphib. Turns out he had brought a couple of patients that needed more medical attention then what the small local clinics could offer. The ambulance brought the two patients around to the cargo door. From what I gathered one patient would need to lie down and be strapped to the floor (something you wouldn’t dare do in Canada or the US). Through conversations as we were getting everyone settled into the plane I come to find out this young man (Sapi) who’s leg is broken (had been splinted up) along with other injuries due to a motorcycle accident had just spent 3.5 hours on the back of a motorcycle to get to Kepi from Eci. I didn’t get the back story on the other patient. He was able to sit but didn’t look overly strong himself to have just made the same trip as well to get to the airport to catch a ride into town so to speak. As I think about what these two men and those that brought them to the Kepi airport had to go through. The service that our amphib is greatly missed, as the amphib could have picked them up in Eci and saved them what was likely a very grueling trip to the airport this morning.