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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Blowgun Competition

Last weekend we got invited to a blowgun shooting competition out at Amal, on the other side of the island of Tarakan.  It was quite impressive, with each participate getting two rounds (five darts each round) to shoot at a target that was about 80 feet away.  I would have been lucky just to get a dart to go 80 feet, let alone get it to stick into the target, or be anywhere near the center!


People from several different interior ethnic groups were represented, each trying to earn the title and pride of being the best shooter out there!


In the foreground (pictured below) is Pendeta (Pastor) Estenly, from PaUpan.  He actually lives and serves in the interior village, but two months ago I flew him and his family out so they could go visit their family down in South Kalimantan.  Like us, they are living and serving in a ministry role far away from their "homeland" and family.  It had been almost four years since they'd had the chance to go "home."  Well, their return trip back to Pa'Upan came through Tarakan at just the right time for Pdt Estenly to give it a go in the blowgun competition.  We were actually surprised to see how many people we either knew, or had connections with there.


I don't know what it was about this dragonfly, but the whole time I was hanging out with the guys on the line, the thing kept coming back and landing on the very top of the spears.  At the end of most blowguns is a stiff, metal spear.  These are used to spear wild pigs and other large game.


Tougher than woodpecker lips--Pak Nelson!  This was not a posed shot.  I was a long way away using a telephoto lens, and he didn't even know I was taking his picture.  But I think this shot totally does justice to Pak Nelson.  What can I say.  The guy is as tough and rugged as they come, yet no one is more generous and caring than Pak Nelson.  He originally comes from an interior village, but has been one of our indispensable national staff here in Tarakan now for quite a few years.  The people interior know and love and respect him, as do the pilots and mechanics.  Pak Nelson loves the Lord and it shows through his work, his relationships and his integrity.  He's also a great dad and husband.  No one is quicker to offer a hand to those hurting or sick or in need, than Pak Nelson.  He's always giving of his time and resources to encourage and love people the way Christ would.  But make no mistake; that doesn't mean that you have to be a sissy.  And he's no sissy!  He's as tough as woodpecker lips, and man can he shoot a blowgun!!!  Pak Nelson was the one who invited us to the competition, and I have to say it was pretty obvious right off the bat that he was one of, if not the very best there!


There was another guy there that looked particularly tough and rugged in his traditional attire.  I walked up and started talking to him.  I soon found out that he's originally from Long Alango.  I mentioned one of my good friends there, that I've gone on several hikes with, and it turns out that they're related!  So then he brought up the big sickness that occurred there almost exactly one year ago, and he mentioned that MAF had been the critical factor in averting a potentially huge disaster, by flying in the medical team on short notice.  I told him that I was the guy that flew in that medical team.  Well that sealed the deal.  We were now friends!  He took Britton aside and was determined to coach him on blowgun-shooting techniques.  (Notice the heavy-weighted rings in his ears, the pig tusks hanging from his neck, along with the clouded leopard tooth and monkey skull.  The designs on the bark vest are traditional Dayak.)


So, with his own separate group of spectators, a personal Dayak coach, and a snack box for a target, Britton set out with his new mini-blowgun to learn the finer arts of blowgun warfare.  I have to say, he was impressive from the get-go.  And the onlookers were quite impressed as well.  It was determined that he would indeed have to compete at next years competition.  Does that mean we need to find some pig tusks and ear rings???


It wasn't all testosterone-boosting manly, war games.  There were several other competitions going on as well including the girls from each suku (ethnic group) doing traditional dances.  Here's a few of the different suku, all dressed up and ready to dance.




Today there are four American college students coming to Tarakan to check out MAF and what we do.  They'll be here for about two weeks.  On Thursday, the big opening ceremonies for this year's Tujuh Belas Agustus (17 August, which is Indonesia's Independence Day) festivities interior start in PaUpan.  We will be flying in two government Bupati officialsa and all their entourages, from the two districts in this part of Northeast Kalimantan.  It promises to be a big shindig!  The people there, and the Bupatis asked MAF to be represented as well.  So I'll also be flying in our new Program Manager, Steve, and his family, along with the four college kids as well.  I'll plan to spend the night with all of them on Thursday night, and then fly everyone back out on Friday.  Should be fun!  

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Latest Happenings!

Joy's parents just left yesterday after spending a few weeks with us here in Tarakan.  The kids had an absolute blast with them playing countless games of Monopoly, building Legos, reading books, and generally just hanging out together.  Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of that...guess I was too busy working or playing to take pictures.  Oops!  But here's one of Britton with a monitor lizard from a few days ago.


Two weeks ago, "Baca" and Grandma Hlavka payed for all of us to go to the pool on the other side of the island.  Not only that, but they also bought a HUGE platter of french fries and a bunch of fried rice for all of us.  The kids thought they'd won the lottery!


Last weekend, we made ice cream with our old fashioned ice cream churn--a gift from my parents waaaaaayyyy back on our first anniversary (I think.  Maybe it was Christmas.  I don't remember.)  Anyway, we've taken it to Oregon, Alaska, back to Oregon, and now to Indonesia.  The neighbors and Baca and Grandma all got to help churn and then eat it!


Tarakan is not known as a tourist destination.  In fact, Lonely Planet pretty much says don't bother coming here unless it's on the way to somewhere else.  However, we think there's plenty of fun and adventure here...if you're looking for it.  One of the things we like to do is go for little "jungle" walks if/when time allows.  One day a few weeks ago we found ourselves walking down this little flowing muddy stream, surrounded by very tall grass.  The kids are always looking for critters along the way, and we're rarely disappointed.


Speaking of critters, I think I'll show you a few more of the monitor lizard.  Some of the coolest critters come right into our yard (or in this case the neighbor's yard.)  Steve, our new Program Manager and good friend is in the process of moving into the house just above ours.  A few days ago while up there working he came across and caught this little monitor lizard.   Knowing that Britton would love to see it, he handed over the "beautiful sheila" or "handsome bloke" (I have no idea what it was) to the smiling animal lover.


After keeping it for a few hours to observe and "study" it, and of course to show his daddy when I got home from work, he released it back into our yard.  It stayed for quite a while on our little palm tree, just sitting completely motionless until it was sure it was safe.  Notice the fire ant on it's nose.  It wasn't biting the lizard, but simply crawling down the tree and in the process, over the lizard.  The monitor lizard never even twitched.


And because he/she was sitting motionless, I looked deep into it's eyes, and what do you think I saw?  Well, I saw a reflection of the sky, a palm tree, our fence, and me!  Yikes!


By the way, one of the pieces of luggage that Joy's parents were bringing over here never showed up.  The airlines have now stopped looking for it.  It's officially gone.  It contained 48lbs of home-schooling books and supplies, which Joy was hoping to start using next week.  Obviously that won't be happening.  But MAF is working on a plan to get a replacement order and shipment on the way.  Please pray that we can find an affordable and efficient method to get the replacement books for the kids schooling in a timely manner.   Thanks!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Flying for a Church Conference (Part 2)

The third day dawned the same as the second, with low clouds and fog blanketing the jungle-covered mountains surrounding Mahak Baru.  Although finished with the pre-flight and ready for take-off, I had to wait another hour and a half before the clouds lifted and revealed a beautiful blue sky.  Meanwhile, Folks from the village were heading down the airstrip, branching off on various trails which lead to their ladangs (rice fields) for a day of hard work.




Among the many loads of people I flew from various villages, were two loads of kids from Data Dian.  Because of their small size, we were able to put two people in almost every seat, which meant I had 14 people in a plane that contained eight seats (we can't put two people in the co-pilot seat for obvious reasons.)


Although Data Dian is connected to Long Nawang by river (whereas all of the other villages that I transported people from are not connected by river), it would mean about four and a half hours of riding in a boat like these.  The airplane ride was seven minutes from takeoff to touchdown.  The river is full of dangerous rapids, and the price would have been about three to four times what it cost them to fly with me in the Kodiak!  Safer, faster, cheaper!


After another long day of flying, Britton and I headed for the river for a quick cool-down and mandi (bath) before dinner.  Kids in the village were out having fun.


Down at the river, a group of kids joined us.  The water was clear, cool and refreshing!  Although the gravel bar on the right side makes it appear the river is very shallow, just a few feet from the edge is drops into a deep channel.  There were two kids that were doing back flips into the deep water.  I wish I could to that, but no doubt I'd break my neck or back in the process.



As the sun set, the clouds lit up like fire!  Although it only lasted a few minutes it was gorgeous!


Well, as I said before, after three days of conference flying, we moved over to Long Nawang and spent the last night there, where I showed films and shared with a bunch of the people gathered for the conference.  But I didn't have time to take any pictures of that.

The following day, (Sunday), we headed back to Tarakan.  

One morning while waiting for the fog to lift, Britton and I took a little walk down the airstrip looking for interesting bugs and macro subjects to photograph.  Sometime I'll do a separate post showing you some of what we found.  

Monday, July 18, 2011

Flying for a Church Conference

Last week I spent three nights interior with the Kodiak, flying tons of people and stuff to the huge bi-annual church conference in the Apo Kayan region of Northeast Kalimantan.  This time it happened to be in Long Nawang (pictured below, as the sun was setting over their old hanging foot bridge.) 


All said, between Thursday and Saturday I flew about 175 people from several different villages over to Long Nawang.  (During the course of the entire week, MAF flew about 350 people total to this conference--there's no way an event like this would be possible without the wings of MAF!)  It was a festive mood that greeted passengers disembarking the plane in Nawang.  The pastors and folks from the village were always there to welcome people.  For many, this is the only time they get to see friends and family that live so far away.  Everyone was excited and cheerful!


My co-pilot was Britton.  Actually, he flew down with another pilot in the Caravan, b/c my flight down to the region was full.  But then I picked him up and took him over to Mahak Baru, where he spent the next three days hanging out and playing with his friends.  He had an absolute blast.  Every day he helped me pre-flight the airplane, then after breakfast I would take off and fly load after load of people and stuff.  Around 1:00 in the afternoon I'd be back for lunch and fuel, and we'd hang out while I was eating, after which time I'd be gone again till nearly sunset.  Then he'd help me secure the airplane and get it ready for the next day, with just enough time for a dip in the river before dinner.  It was a good father-son bonding time!


Here he is, late Saturday afternoon in Long Nawang with some of his new friends there.  After completing the conference flying we flew one final load of stuff over from Mahak to Nawang and then spent Saturday night in Long Nawang where I showed films and shared with the folks gathered for the church conference.


On Thursday and Friday Chris D. was down helping with a Cessna 206.  I love flying for church conferences, and it's always fun to have two planes and pilots working it together.  At the end of a very long day, Chris is finishing some paperwork on the tail of the airplane, having already tied it down and secured it for the night.


We stopped flying on Thursday evening at about 6:00 pm.  Here's a picture just after I landed in Mahak at the end of the day.  Isn't it a beautiful evening?!  You'll notice that my buddies are already fueling the plane for the following morning.  Over the course of three days I used about 10 drums of Jet Fuel out of Mahak Baru.  All of it was pumped by hand by these guys, a very physically demanding process!  It would be very difficult for us to do what we do with the help of so many people, from you guys that pray for us and give generously to the ministry, to the mechanics that keep the planes going, to the pastors and helpers at each strip interior!


Well, the clear, beautiful evenings almost always give way to foggy, ugly early mornings like this.  Isn't that quite a contrast?  The only difference between the two pictures is about 12 hours, and a whole lot of early morning fog!  Even though we were ready to go early, we always had to wait until about 9:00 am before we were able to take off the first time, due to the fog.


Speaking of helpers, here's Pak Taman Bang helping to tie down my plane that evening.  He's a good friend of all the MAF pilots and is always a joyful face greeting us when we land.  He helps with fueling, loading, and getting the passengers and barang (stuff) weighed and ready.


And this is Ibu Tinan Kule.  The smile says it all!  She's a wonderful lady who loves the Lord and loves serving people.  We are very grateful for her help with the passengers out of Mahak Baru, and of course the ever-so-delicious fresh pineapple that is often waiting for the pilots, as well as fried rice and tea.


As I mentioned, each night we made sure to have time for a dip in the river.  In fact, that's where we bathed.  Hey, it's either there, or out of a 55 gallon drum, and the river was nice and clear and refreshing!  Here's Britton with his good friend Markus.  He's the same age as Britton and was having so much fun showing Britton how to spear fish under water, make all sorts of toys with sticks and grass and whatnot, and generally just having fun in the village.


I have one more post I'll do about the village Church Conference flying.  Check back soon to see/read the rest.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

VBS in Pa'Upan

Two weeks ago I ended my "A Day in the life of our Kodiak" post by promising you a few more pictures from the VBS activities in Pa'Upan.  Here's a shot of the MAFers and some of the kids that attended.  This was just after I landed at around 5:00pm, so only the kids that were there at the airstrip gathered for the picture.  Apparently this was only a fraction of them!


The village of Pa'Upan surrounds the little airstrip, with houses lining both sides of the grass runway.


Since I was only there on Saturday evening and Sunday morning, I didn't get to see all that went on during the week, but I know that the last VBS classes on Sunday morning were pretty awesome.  Each of the MAF wives that went along played a role in teaching, games, music or whatever was needed.  Here Joy and Timo (our COM - Chief of Maintenance) are leading singing.


The kids always love the parachute games!


In the background is the Kodiak, waiting to take the team back to Tarakan on Sunday afternoon.


Timo showed some films.  Right now the kids are watching a bible story cartoon, which obviously has their full attention!



But the adults also love the films.  This was Saturday evening.


Hudson hanging out with a few of his Pa'Upan buddies.


This is a typical scene anytime we go interior...sitting around the evening meal visiting.  The woven mats are used to cover the floor where you sit, and they often sleep on these same type of mats.  Light is provided by a single hanging bulb, juiced by a battery that's charged by a solar panel during the day.


On Sunday after VBS, Timo preached a sermon and then the people went out of their way to thank the MAF team for coming to their village.  These hats were given as gifts of appreciation.  Here, Joy and Kathy are sporting their new "topi" (hat) fashion.


Well, there's a brief glimpse of some of the VBS stuff.  I'm sure there's way, way more, but since I was only there briefly, that's what I have.  When I brought the MAF team out, they were exhausted but energized and excited by the opportunities they had to hopefully impact little kids lives for Jesus in Pa'Upan.

This past week, I spent four days (three nights) interior with the Kodiak, flying a TON of people from various villages to a HUGE national church conference in the village of Long Nawang.  This sort of thing could absolutely not happen (at least not on this scale), without the help of MAF.  I love doing this type of flying--the people are so very thankful and you really get a sense of the need that the airplane is meeting.  I took Britton along with me, and he hung out with his friends all day, each day while I was flying.  Check back again soon and I'm sure I'll have some pictures from that trip posted here!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day U.S.A.!

Happy July 4th to all you people in the good ol' U.S. of A.  Obviously it's not a holiday here in Indonesia, but we still get together as a team for a picnic and a few local fireworks in the evening.  


A few shots before it got dark.




And then we lit off a few fireworks.  Sure it's not like what you're used to in America...but it's all relative.  To our kids, it was jaw-droppingly awesome!  You can see them leaning against the fence in the lower left corner.



It's shaping up to be a busy week.  This Thursday I'll be flying into the Apo Kayan and spending three nights interior with the Kodiak to fly a ton of people to a national church conference in Long Nawang.  On Saturday night I'll be sharing and showing films to the huge group that will have gathered in Long Nawang.  Appreciate your prayers for all of this, and for Joy and the kids and Grandma Hlavka (yep, she got here last week), who will be holding the fort down here in Tarakan while I'm gone.