It's been good to have Joy's parents visiting over the past few weeks. On Tuesday, her dad, Alan, road along with me on a flight up to the S. Sudan border, and then over to Karamoja. I also had our friend Chaundra, the wife of another one of our MAF pilots, Matt, along for the day. Since Matt and Chaundra have young kids, she wasn't able to ride along with him, but still wanted to see what goes on out there on a typical flight day. Below, Alan and Chaundra hanging out with some Karamojang kids up in Kotido.
They took turns sitting in the co-pilots seat, with the other one directly behind watching. Here's a shot of Alan and me, taken on my camera by Chaundra.
The day before, Monday, as I returned to Kajjansi, I saw a huge plume of black smoke billowing from downtown Kampala. I had no idea what was burning, but it was obviously big! I found out later that it was a factory that makes mattresses and foam, here in town, and it burned to the ground. Sadly 6 people died in the blaze.
Last weekend we drove up to New Hope Uganda to visit our friends, Keith and Laura Beth McFarland. They are a part of an awesome ministry going on up there, and we love seeing what they're doing, and just getting out of the city. Here's a shot of one of the New Hope facilities.
We enjoyed walking around the "campus" and visiting with the McFarlands, hearing about the ministry and just hanging out together and being mutually encouraging to one another.
On the drive home we had a full van--10 people, including our family plus Joy's parents, 10 large chickens under the back seat, (that we purchased from the Pastors Training Institute run by New Hope), and a big, fat chameleon that the McFarland kids gave to our kids. The chickens are part of our effort to cut down on the grocery bill--they will provide eggs, and eventually be eaten (although our kids are trying to get us to change our minds about that). The chickens sat (mostly) quietly under the seat, too terrified to make much noise, but occasionally pecking the feet of those in the back. The chameleon hung from a branch wedged between the ceiling bars of the van, occasionally getting knocked off by the relentless bumps in the road, and swinging by his tail. But he would slowly pull himself back up and cling on again for dear life. At some point it struck us that the comments we were making without a second thought, about chickens pecking our feet and chameleons falling off the ceiling, were actually quite abnormal things to be discussing in the context of a family van, for everyone other than missionary kids.
Speaking of chickens, we also got a handful of baby chicks two weeks ago in town. We are raising them along with the already laying hens, so that when the older ones eventually stop laying, we can start eating them while the younger ones will still be laying. We hope to keep this pattern going, as we can sell the excess eggs to pay for their feed, and it will cut a chunk from our grocery bill to not have to buy eggs or chicken. Plus, it's good experience and chores for the kids! This is actually a "bathroom" which has a "squatty potty" on the floor. I covered it with an old piece of plywood and made it the temporary home for the chicks.
While we're on the animal theme, here is a picture of a lizard that lives in the eve of our neighbors roof. I took this shot from our second floor window, as the lizard was peaking out of the roof tile while a bird sat oblivious just above.
This is a male, as indicated by his bright colors. There are several varieties here in Uganda, and they are all quite striking when they're full grown and sporting their colors. I guess that's what attracts the females. Meanwhile, the females are mostly brown, which I guess keeps them more camouflaged and less likely to be eaten by other predators.
Previously I mentioned that Chaundra rode along on a flight, and that her husband, Matt, is one of our pilots. We've really enjoyed getting to know these guys, and consider them great friends! Although a long-time pilot, Matt is the newest one to our MAF Uganda team. Even though he's very experienced, when a pilot is new to an area like this, it's typical for MAF to require a few "supervised" flights where one of the other pilots rides along for the first few days of operational flying. I had the privilege of riding along with Matt a couple of times. Here he is in Moroto, doing all the hard work while I snap some shots. :-)
And I also had the privilege to ride along with Rembrand, who was previously one of our Cessna 206 pilots, and just recently got checked out in the much larger Caravan. Below, in Kalongo, Rembrand is talking with a representative from the local hospital.
A month or so ago our son's school had a job fair, where they invited various people to come in and share about what they do and what it takes to be involved in that career. MAF was invited to share about mission aviation, and aviation in general. Greg and I, both having kids in the school, volunteered to do that. Although we had some great videos rolling on a big screen, it was the flight simulator we brought along that really captured the kids' attention. This was at the very beginning of the morning, when kids were just starting to roll in. But shortly thereafter, and for the rest of the morning, there was a large crowd of kids constantly surrounding the flight simulator, and they each took turns trying to fly, and sometimes crashing. Greg did a great job of keeping the sim going, while I answered a lot of questions and talking with a bunch of kids about MAF--who we are and what we do and why. Who knows, maybe some day one of these kids will be an MAF pilot. It often starts with something like this!
Well, that's a bit of what's been going on over here. Now I have to go feed the chickens!