All photos and text are property of Dave Forney and may not be used without express permission.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Eastern Uganda

Here's a few shots from Eastern Uganda, close to the border with Kenya.  The people in this area are cattle herders.  In fact, at the strip below, there's usually hundreds of cattle wandering around (and on) the airstrip just before we land.  The boys and men quickly get the cattle off of the strip before the plane is on final approach.  Then, as we drop or load passengers the cattle tend to wander back out onto the strip again until just before we're ready to take off.  I thought it was funny that the first and only photo I've taken from this strip has a goat in it, rather than a cow.  Oh well.  

I wish I could speak the local languages.  The people are so smiley and friendly, but don't understand much English in these parts.  But I always feel super welcome here! 

I love the big, vast skies up in the northeastern parts of Uganda.  They remind me of the skies in the American West and Southwest, where you just feel so tiny and insignificant.  There tends to be a lot of haze and dust and poor visibility around Kampala, where we live, so it's nice to see the blue skies and epic clouds stretching from horizon to horizon out in these parts.  Can you spot the plane in the picture below?  It's there, on the runway, just to the left of the mountain in the distance.

Here it is up close.  Looks a lot different than the Kalimantan, Indonesia scenes I was used to for the past eight years!  No steamy jungles and dogs and chickens running around--and the strips aren't in the center of the villages.

Here's a beautiful mountain peak that rises from the valley plateau.  It's 10,000' or so tall, whereas most of the valley around is about 4,000' above sea level.  I don't know what it is about peaks like this, or big rocks, but when I see something like this I desperately want to be standing on the top.  One day I'm going to find a way to get to the base of this mountain and climb up there and fly a kite from the top.  Or even better, get a hang glider and jump off the top!  There's actually a little village located just over the edge of that grassy slope, not far from the top.  It's really picturesque looking.  It always amazes me where you find people living.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Our Little Pack Rat (And other animals)

So last week our little "pack rat" had an actual pack rat in her closet.  It's no secret in our family that Hannah loves to collect things--anything and everything.  If we're throwing it out, it's a priceless treasure for Hannah, and she wants to collect it and keep it.  We often joke that she's our little pack rat.  

Well, it wasn't a joke last week when Hannah informed me that she heard "rat noises" coming from her closet.  I looked it over briefly and thought there was no way a rat could get in through the doors--they fit too tightly.  So I told her not to worry about it.  The next night she said she heard it again.  And the next.  So finally, armed with a flip flop (I might have gotten something more substantial had I actually expected to find something) I began pulling all of Hannah's priceless treasures out of her closet one at a time.  The pile in the center of the room grew ever larger...but still no rat. Finally I pulled out the last drawer at the bottom of her dresser and guess what popped out?  Yep, a real, live rat--a pack rat!  A few well placed blows with a flip flop dispatched it, but Hannah was absolutely horrified that a pack rat was living among her treasures.  And despite the extreme irony of it, and the jokes from her siblings (and daddy) she insisted that it was NOT because she was a pack rat. :-)  But we all had a good laugh over it.  Here's a shot of the newly deceased.

Speaking of being horrified, a few days later I came down in the morning to make some coffee.   It was about 5:00am and still dark outside and Joy had just walked into the kitchen a few seconds before me and claimed she'd seen a rat scurry across the kitchen counter.  I looked around and thought, there's no where for a rat to hide here...they wouldn't be dumb enough to come out into the open like this.  But I pulled the toaster out just to put Joy at ease and guess what popped out?  Yep, another rat, though a tiny one.  The only thing available were the flip flops that I was wearing which chocked up kill number two!  Who needs a rat trap when you're wearing an old pair of cheap flip flops?  

Now, in order to balance out the disgusting-ness of rat pictures, here's a shot of one of the pretty little birds that frequents the flower bush just beside our porch in the early evening.  Some day I want to walk around and take pictures of all the birds and butterflies and flowers in our yard (or garden as the Brits call it), but I just don't seem to have time for that yet.

Since we're on the theme of animals, check out these ape hangers!  OK, so it doesn't really fit into the animal theme exactly, but I still wanted to show you.  For those that aren't into motorcycles, "ape hangers" are a term used to describe the modified motorcycles where they make the handlebars super tall, so that the rider has to put his hands way up in the air like an ape while riding.  This guy could just barely reach them with his fingertips.  And the best part--he was riding while talking on his cell phone, although when I took the picture he had briefly stopped at an intersection.

Two weeks ago I had to fly in to pick some people up from the very exclusive Chobe Resort on the Nile.  They had done some short-term mission work and then took a few days here to unwind.  I took a picture just to show you how gorgeous it is.  The staff invited me to bring my family back and stay there some time.  I looked at the prices and ummm, yeah, we'll never be staying there.  "Sorry kids, no college for you--we went to the resort for a few days instead."  But it was nice to get to see it anyway.

And while I was waiting for the passengers I did get to walk around a bit and managed to see a few African animals other than the cows, goats and birds that is basically all we get to see around the city.  I didn't have my "good" camera with me, so I couldn't get really close-up shots, but at least I can prove that I've now seen a hippo and some warthogs.  I also saw some buffaloes but didn't get a picture of them.

Sometime we're hoping to do some camping (more in our price range) and then I'll hopefully get some shots of some of the other African wildlife.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Under the Hot Sun of East Africa

Although we live really close to the equator, the temperatures aren't too bad here in Kampala.  In fact, because of the higher elevations here (close to 4,000') the weather is usually rather pleasant. But that's often not the case in the villages where we fly.

As you get further north, especially when you get up into Northern Uganda and South Sudan, it gets really hot! And the sun is oh so bright!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

More Than Just a Job!

On a number of occasions I've had the opportunity to chat with airline pilots about who MAF is and what we do.  As you might expect, the initial reaction is often something like, "Wow!  that sounds really awesome!"  I assure you, it is!  But trust me, there are tons of easier jobs out there.  Many that pay more, take less training, or offer up less stress.  The thing is, this is more than just a job!  It's an entire way of life!

People who do what MAF does, they don't do it for the pay or the benefits or the adventure of it.  Sure, I love adventure--but there's easier, cheaper ways to get the adventure fix.  No, we do it for the people.  We do it to invest in peoples' lives for eternity.  We do it to help and to serve, in the name of Jesus.  To be His hands and feet.   And trust me, you can't quantify that with a paycheck, or compare it to a benefits package.  What we do provides a level of satisfaction and joy and fulfillment that can't be measured in numbers.  So yeah, it's more than a job--it's a ministry and a way of life!  And we couldn't be here without a whole big team of YOU guys out there, backing us and MAF.  Thank you!  Of course, this type of commitment doesn't only have to take place here on the "foreign" mission field.  It can happen anywhere God puts you--as a pilot in the airlines, as a teacher in a school, a nurse or doctor in a hospital, a mom raising your kids, whatever and wherever.  In Uganda, in Indonesia, in the U.S., in the UK--wherever God has you, you can live and serve and be the hands and feet of Jesus too!  Trust me, you won't regret it!

But back to the people here.  Seriously, just look at those smiles!  Don't you just love that?  It's not always easy doing what we do--in fact it's often really, really hard.  But it's SO worth it! 

Last week I went fully operational (meaning I can fly on my own again--yippee!).  It's a real joy to be out there doing what I love--serving people and seeing the effects of the ministries and work that takes place as a result.  

I wish you could have heard these kids.  They were all gathered to greet a ministry team I had brought in, and they were all singing together in perfect harmony, and clapping a lovely beat--a special song of welcome for the group that had just arrived.  I just can't get over how adorable the kids are!

This week I completed a G1000 checkout.  MAF International recently took delivery of a very nice G1000 equipped Grand Caravan here in Uganda.  It's their first that's equipped like this.  The G1000 is Garmin's "glass panel" consisting of three large, beautiful electronic displays and a bunch of integrated avionics stuff (below).  It's been fun to fly with Hansjoerg, our training captain.  He's a fellow Moody Aviation grad and friend from back in flight school days.  Since the Kodiaks that I was previously flying in Kalimantan also had the G1000 panel, the transition for me was very quick and painless.

And once we landed, since there were two of us, Hansjoerg agreed to handle all of the ground stuff so that I could snap some shots--something that can be tough to squeeze in on a normal flight day when I'm on my own.

But then, seeing me with my camera, there was soon a huge crowd of kids following me around and asking for photos.  The crowd of school kids and some pastors asked if they could get their picture taken with me in front of the aircraft.  So I handed over my camera to someone, and after a half dozen  attempts to find the button, they snapped this one almost by accident.  Not bad hugh?   But personally, I prefer to be on the other side of the lens.

A parting shot...I told you the kids were adorable!  They're so curious and  friendly and fun.  I had a great time taking pictures of them and then showing them on the camera screen.  They often react with a mix of something between awe, confusion, fright, and usually wind up giggling with excitement.  Some time when I'm back I'll bring them some prints to keep. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

THANKS! And a Few Birds.

Joy and I just want to say a big THANKS to YOU, our ministry support team!  We couldn't be here without your faithful prayers and generous ministry support.  And recently several of you have been a blessing to our family above and beyond the norm.  Thank you!  If you ever have any questions as to what's going on behind the scenes here, either with us personally, or with the ministry, or with our support or finances, or whatever, please don't hesitate to drop us an e-mail at any time.

This week I'm scheduled to be set free to fly on my own here in Uganda, East DRC and S. Sudan.   If all goes according to plan, I'll make one more flight on Tuesday up to S. Sudan with another pilot riding along, and then on Wednesday I'm scheduled to make my first "solo" flight, which will be to East DRC.  The rest of the week I have additional flights scheduled to various places.  Since everyone we fly is involved in missions or NGO work in some way, it's always encouraging and exciting to hear their stories.  There's a lot of critical ministries going on here, which are being directly facilitated through MAF.  And I'm thrilled to get to be a small part of that.  I hope to slowly begin taking more pictures as I get accustomed to the local cultures and dynamics in each place.  So keep checking back here.  Thanks to Hansjoerg for snapping the one above.

Well, I promised you some shots of a few birds, so here they are.  We're not the only ones flying around out at the MAF airfield.  These Hadada Ibis are actually quite an annoyance and hazard to the aircraft.  And man do they have a loud squawk!  They love to squawk outside our window early in the morning.

Here's what they look like up close.  They're a big bird and more than one has been hit by a plane on takeoff or landing.  They're often in groups of several or more.

Speaking of planes and birds, there's a whole bunch of Pied Kingfishers that like to claim the "King of the Mountain" spot on top of the MAF planes' rudders.

But they're not the only Kingfishers around.  The bright blue Woodland Kingfisher is especially fun to see, though they seem to be a bit more shy.

This one was pretty far away so I couldn't get a very good picture.  I think it's a Speckled Mousebird, not as colorful as some of these, but sporting a pretty cool spiked hairdo.

This male, Double-toothed Barbet was sure colorful though.  

Perhaps our favorites were the Black-headed Weaver birds.  The males are bright yellow, with vibrant, red eyes staring out from a black head.

These birds are master weavers.  There's dozens of nests in the weaver tree, and many birds constantly hard at work making and fixing these works of art.  The males work feverishly to construct the perfect nest for their females.

However the females aren't necessarily easy to please.  If they don't like something about the nest they simply cut it down and the males have to start again from scratch.  Below the tree are a bunch of nests that didn't make the cut...or did.

Here's a female doing a very detailed inspection.  In the background the male nervously watches, hoping that she loves it!

These are just a few of the birds we saw during our picnic last week out at the MAF airfield.  Uganda is a great place for birdwatching.  There's so many amazing and colorful species here.  And we continually marvel at the beauty, imagination, and detail of our Creator!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

An Update

My lack of posting on the blog recently is directly related to how busy I've been.  A few weeks ago I got a temporary pilots license in Uganda (good through mid-August) and immediately started my Caravan checkout.  The picture below is one of our Caravans taking off at our home base in Kajjansi.  

Below is a picture from a flight I did last week into the Karamoja region of Eastern Uganda.  The people and the landscape are so beautiful there.  And everyone is so friendly in that region.  But these are people who've been through a LOT over the years--more than you can imagine!  It's a real privilege to be providing a crucial service that gets missionaries and aid workers into and out of these remote areas.

By the way,  if you've followed my blog for a while and have come to expect a bunch of pictures of the flights and people we and I are both going to have to be a bit patient.  It's a bit trickier here for me to take pictures than it was over in Indonesia.  In Kalimantan, I could simply snap away, virtually anywhere, and everyone loved it and was fine with that.  But here I have to be a lot more careful...especially up in South Sudan.  Because of the security situation there and for other reasons, it's a lot tricker.  So bear with me.  Over time I'll try to show you more and more of what we're doing.  But I want to be sure to do be respectful of the local cultures and protocols.

Here's a few random shots from closer to home.

Our kids playing in the mud with some of their new friends--another one of the MAF families here.

Here's Tanner showing off the newest member of our family.  We got her from the pastor, who's dogs had puppies just after we arrived (she's half lab, half doberman).  Right now she's too small and cute to be anything other than cuddly, but eventually she'll serve as a guard dog. 

Ain't he handsome?  I can't believe how fast they grow up!  It seems like just a few years ago when we were in Alaska, and he was one year old.  Now look at him!

This little gal saw me with the camera and boldly came up and asked me to take her picture.  She wanted to see herself on the camera screen.  She was all giggles right up until I was ready to snap the picture, then she was instantly serious.  As soon as the shutter released, she was laughing again.

Here's Joy doing what she does best!  The opportunities are endless here for her to be involved in the lives of little kids who are desperate to be noticed and loved.

And here's two kids that like to be noticed too. :-)  On Sunday we drove out to Kajjansi, where the MAF hangar is located, for a picnic.  Joy and the kids had actually only been there once.  Even though it's not that far out of the city, it can take quite a while to get there because of traffic.  So you sort of need to have a good reason for heading out there.  Our reason was simply the need to get out of the city and get some fresh air and see the birds and flowers and enjoy a few hours of down-time after the crazy pace of life over the past two months.  It was well worth it!  We needed that!

While we were there at the MAF airstrip I got some great shots of some of the local birds.  There are so many amazing and beautiful birds here!  Next time I'll show you a few pictures of some of the birds we saw on Sunday.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


On Thursday I got the chance to do a "Ride-a-Long" to observe a typical MAF flight day here with MAF Uganda.  I accompanied MAF pilot, Dallas, on a day that took us on a few stops up through Uganda and into South Sudan and back.

After meeting at the MAF office in Kampala and then driving out to the hangar in Kajjansi, the first thing was to go over loading stuff and paperwork with the local MAF staff there.  I'm sure I'll come to greatly appreciate all the great work and effort these guys put into the operation.

Then it was time to preflight and fuel the aircraft.  This is an MAF-owned strip so it's all MAF staff doing the fueling, runway upkeep, everything.  Again, they seem to do a great job!

Nearby, another MAF Uganda pilot, Rembrand, was pre-flighting the Cessna 206.

Here's one of the strips we landed at during the day.  Uganda only has three paved airstrips, and I'm sure South Sudan is similar.  So most of the strips are some form of dirt or gravel or grass.

And here was one of our cute little passengers--the little girl, not Dallas.  They were on their way up to South Sudan, but there were several stops along the way, so they got in and out to stretch a few times, and take care of immigration concerns before leaving Uganda.

Here we are somewhere up in South Sudan.  MAF Uganda flies primarily ministry and NGO staff, so almost everyone on the aircraft is going or coming from somewhere where they were/are doing something significant to help the local people and share the love of Christ.

Twice we had to add some JetFuel along the way at one of the strips where MAF keeps a stockpile.  There's always someone with a big smile ready to help.

Here's a very typical village scene throughout Northern Uganda and South Sudan.

And here's a typical scene over the Northeastern part of East DRC.

The leg back from South Sudan to Entebbe, Uganda was much longer than anything I typically flew in Kalimantan.  After about 2.7 hours we landed in Entebbe in the late afternoon where our passengers could clear immigration and catch connecting flights.  Then we hopped the 5 minutes back over to Kajjansi where MAF's little airstrip is.  Here's a view out over Lake Victoria to the South, which is gorgeous from the air, but rarely seen from the road we travel.  This is right near the MAF Kajjansi airfield.

And here we are back at MAF's home strip.  MAF's hangar is down at the far end.  The other airplanes and little hangars you see are private operators and flying clubs that use the field as well.

After doing post-flight and more paperwork, we drove the hour or so back to the office in Kampala.  Traffic was very heavy, as the long Easter weekend was starting, so we took some "short-cut" roads.  I should have taken some pictures of that, but I was hanging on with both hands.  I'm telling you, the roads here are pretty crazy and many of them would be almost certainly impassable without 4WD.  I'll get some good shots of those sometime so you can appreciate them better.