Well, the following morning, Friday, Paul flew directly to Long Sule with my spare tire assembly and a load of fuel drums. He got an early start and arrived about 9:00 am. (The photo below was taken over Tarakan, but not on the day of the aforementioned story. This past Monday we had the opportunity to do an air-to-air photo shoot with all three of our aircraft type in Tarakan, as well as just the Kodiak. This is one of the shots I took, but I'll post more of them later. I just thought a Kodiak pic would fit in nicely here, since it and Paul came to my "rescue.")
After helping me get set up and seeing that I had the tools I needed (and snapping the below photo,) Paul took off and started flying fuel drums, while I finished changing the tire. I wish you could see all the people that were watching me. There were literally probably more than 50 people intently watching every move I made. I certainly have never done aircraft maintenance with a crowd of spectators...but the hardest part was simply keeping them from gathering under the wing or too close to the aircraft in case the jack slipped. All went well and within the hour I was up and going again.
Paul and I spent the rest of the day flying fuel drums back and forth between Long Lebuson (below) and Long Sule. After another night of very heavy rains, the river had actually risen enough to cover the end of the airstrip in Long Lebuson. We had to evaluate the remaining runway length and surface condition from the air to deem it safe and sufficient enough to land. It was certainly a muddy operation, but we managed to get about 45 drums over to Sule that day. (The picture below was taken the following day, Saturday, b/c I did not have my camera with me on Friday. That's why it doesn't appear as wet and muddy. It dried out quickly in the hot sun.)
At about 1:00 pm I finally stopped back in Mahak Baru for lunch and fuel. Again, it was a blast to see Joy and the kids there by the airstrip. We exchanged stories from the previous day's events, and then I quickly hopped back in the plane and jumped back over to Lebuson. As you can see, the kids were having a great time playing in the puddles by the airstrip!
Paul and I finally finished up and landed in Mahak about 45 minutes before sunset. Tyler was all too anxious to help me fuel up for the next day's flying.
Then we had just enough time before dark to take a nice little walk down a meandering footpath into the jungle by the airstrip. Even on that short walk we enjoyed the scenery, like this nice flower.
We got back to the airstrip just after the sun had set, and made sure the aircraft were secured for the night, before enjoying a wonderful meal of soto ayam at a friends warung. It was a beautiful evening!
The following morning, Saturday, Paul and I got another early start and managed to fly all of the remaining fuel drums over to Long Sule by noon. We were sweaty, hot and tired, but it was a lot of fun to complete the job and to have been able to spend so much time with our friends interior! (Below, the folks in Long Sule are standing by my plane, while watching/waiting for Paul to land.
We made one last stop in Mahak Baru to add fuel again and load up our planes for the flight back to Tarakan. The kids and Joy were quite sad to be leaving "so soon!" They thoroughly enjoyed their time in the village and were already asking when we could come back.
But as often is the case, the weather was building rapidly over the mountains to the North, so we gathered our things and piled into the plane for the one and a half hour flight back home.
There you have it--our trip to Mahak Baru. Not only did we really enjoy our time in Mahak, but it was a great way to efficiently and effectively serve the people with the aircraft. The kids and Joy made many friends and we all look forward to the next opportunity to temporarily relocate our family and plane to serve the people of Northeast Kalimantan.
On Thursday I flew 20,000 baby fish from Tarakan to Mahak Baru--part of a government program to provide each family fish to grow in their little ponds to eventually eat. When I arrived I was peppered with questions from everyone about Joy and the kids--where are they? How are they? What are they doing? Do they miss us? When will they come back? etc. etc. It's fun when the people that I serve and meet on a regular basis, finally get to meet the rest of my family. Now they feel like they really know us. I handed out pictures of our time there, and enjoyed some tea and visiting before climbing back into the plane for another flight to Malinau.
P.S. Please continue to pray for Katie and Jeremiah Uskert and their extended family and the MAF team in Aceh. Thanks!