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

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Welcome PK-MAE!

For quite a few years, MAFers here in Tarakan have dreamed of having a larger plane, that could more adequately serve the needs of the interior community. Last year, with the costs of Avgas rising ever higher, our program began taking a more serious look at this possibility. This past spring, with authorization from our headquarters, a Cessna Grand Caravan was purchased in the U.S.

After stopping for some major modifications and fleet standardization items at our U.S. hanger, it was ferried across the Pacific Ocean to Papua, Indonesia over a month ago. Since then, our MAF teams in Papua and Jakarta have been busy working through the Indonesian importation process, and adding additional things to the aircraft to make it “Indonesian friendly.”

Finally, yesterday afternoon, we proudly welcomed the newest member of our fleet, PK-MAE (Papa Kilo Mike Alpha Echo.) It dwarfs our much smaller fleet of five Cessna 206’s, and seems to swallow up our little ramp. Many, many people throughout the interior have been very anxiously awaiting the arrival of this new, highly capable airplane. It will be used to service our larger airstrips where there tends to be higher passenger and cargo loads. The Caravan will not only be a blessing to the people we serve, but will also play a role in helping to offset the high costs of operating our fleet of very expensive-to-operate, Avgas-burning 206’s.

As Mike Alpha Echo rolled into the the MAF taxiway in Tarakan for the first time, there was a crowd of MAF folks, national employees, friends, and frequent users of MAF waiting to greet her. We took the opportunity to immediately thank the Lord for this new ministry tool, and dedicate it to His work and glory. Please join us in praising God for His provision, and praying for safety as it begins regular service next week.
(At left, a couple of our guys are checking out what's "under the hood.")

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Story Time

While I'm out buzzing around in the airplane and turning wrenches, Joy stays very busy here in the home, among other things, she home-schools the kids, prepares meals from scratch, keeps things clean and organized, and all the other things a great wife and mommy does in a third world country. She also enjoys being involved in several local ministries, one of which is "Story Time."

A while back, Joy and a few of the other MAF moms began having a story time every other week. Basically it's a great opportunity for some of our friends and neighbors to bring their children over to "learn" English from the Americans in a non-threatening environment. The group has been steadily growing over the past several months. It's not just an opportunity for them to learn English better, but also for the wives and kids to develop deeper relationships with our Indonesian friends. They have a lot of fun in the process.

Last week for the fun activity, they got to get crazy painting on a sheet in our back yard. Most things in the Indonesian schools here are very regimented--you must use this color, and you must make it look exactly like this, and so on and so forth. So Joy decided they should have the opportunity to get creative and crazy with the instructions, just go for it! They loved it!

In other news, the twins are into everything right now. This is Tanner. He's extremely mischievous, and can climb anything that doesn't climb him first. His latest trick is to pull his pack-n-play along the wall, until he gets it close to Tyler's crib. Then he arranges his pillow like a step, so that he can pull himself up onto the rim of his pack-n-play. Next, while teetering on the top rim of the pack-n-play, he pulls himself up and over the edge of his brother's crib with sheer arm strength, after which he awards himself by attacking his brother. What fun!

While Tanner is our little "jock," Tyler is all verbal. He's talking circles around Tanner, but not quite as far along in the athletic department. Right now he's in the "I'm a parrot" stage, where anything you say will be repeated back to you with laughs and giggles. He often seems like the underdog in the brotherly skirmishes that inevitably develop at this stage. However, more often than not, we winds out on top through pure determination and stubbornness. O.k., don't worry. It's not like we just let 'em go at it for fun, while taking notes and making psychological evaluations. It's just interesting and amusing to notice how completely different they are. But without a doubt, they are each others' best friends, and a tremendous blessing to our fam!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

When Pigs Fly!

Ya, pigs were flying this week, that's for sure! Here's just a few of the "passengers" I flew between villages over the past couple of days. Oh, and just for the record, pigs do NOT like to fly--especially huge, fat, smelly pigs. It makes them mad!In addition to "bringing home the bacon" in the figurative sense, I also got to bring home a chicken--literally. After returning a young mother and her new baby to a remote village, I recieved several gifts of appreciation from the family, one of which was a live chicken. After waiting patiently for me to finish my flight schedule all day, (of course it's feet and wings were tied up and it was wrapped in a bag--so it didn't really have a choice,) then flying 130 miles back to Tarakan in the pod of the airplane, and then riding home in the pocket of my backpack (picture), Clucky the chicken apparently didn't see any reason to stick around her new home after being freed. She ate the rice kernels we gave her and then promptly flew away. Beware all you future chickens...we won't make that mistake again! Next time, straight from the jungle to the frying pan!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Working With My Boys!

Today, Saturday, was a good day! I got to do some work with my buddies, Britton and Hudson. For several weeks now we've been planning to do some work around the house, but it's just been to busy. Finally we got a day where I wasn't working, didn't get called in for a medical flight, and we didn't have torrential downpours.

So first we transplanted some flowering bushes into the front flower bed for mom (that's Joy I'm referring to, not my mom.) Then we fixed the shower head that broke off two weeks ago. And finally we we worked on the stairs in the back yard. The stairs go up to the College's house first, and then continue on up to the Holsten's house (both good friends and MAF co-workers.)

Well, these stairs are quite steep and high, and each step has a gap in between that is just open to the concrete far below. It's a bit scary going up and down for the kids and for everyone when it's slick. But to make matters worse, the twins recently discovered how to climb up onto the stairs by coming up from underneath and going through these gaps in the first couple steps. NOT GOOD! We have a gate at the bottom, but apparently that wasn't going to cut it.

So my boys and I got some ruff-cut lumber and went to work closing in the stairs. It's always fun to have a project to work on with my boys!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Busy Flight Week

It's been a busy, but good week here in "the office." In addition to the normal passengers, government officials, and "barang" (stuff) I flew throughout the week, I also had the privilege of flying quite a few national pastors here and there. On Thursday I flew some groups of national pastors to a village along the Malaysian border, (Pa-upan,) for a church conference. As I was finishing that up, there was a call from Long Pujungan, quite a ways away, for a medical flight. A young man was having extreme stomach pain--perhaps a bleeding ulcer?

You know, there sure are tons of times when I'm out here wishing I'd have had some basic medical training. I actually enjoy the medical stuff, and would find it quite helpful to have some training under my belt. But in the meantime, the best I can do is to try to show the love of Jesus to people who are physically hurting, while trying to get them alive to a hospital. Well, this young man initially wanted to go to Malinau, which was closer than Tarakan, but doesn't have as good of a hospital. However, before I got there, they changed their mind and asked if they could go straight to Tarakan b/c of how serious his condition was.

Unfortunately, as often happens out here, I was forced to make a tough decision. Even though it would have been better for him medically speaking, I couldn't take him to Tarakan, b/c I had to return to Long Bawan (back near the earlier location) to pick up two more medical patients that also needed to go to Tarakan. If I'd have taken this young man straight to Tarakan, I wouldn't have had time to go back and pick up the others--one of whom was a woman having a baby. She or her baby might not have made it though the night.

It was a busy flight week as far as medevacs go. I had about a half dozen myself, and I know several of the other pilots also had a few. In fact, on Saturday three of us got called in to handle separate requests for help. Each Saturday and Sunday one of us is on standby, in case we get a medevac call. Usually, people interior try to wait till Monday if possible, b/c of the cost and logistics involved in getting a special flight just for a medical patient. But if it's serious enough, they know that we'll always come if there's a plane available and the weather cooperates.

Well, it's rare but occasionally we'll get two calls in one day on the weekend. However, since I've been here, I've never heard of three in one day. I took the third one, and it was to Long Nawang, the furthest village from Tarakan that we fly to on a regular basis. It was after lunch when we got the call, and quite a bit later than we'd normally leave for a flight deep into the Apokayan region. A trip to Long Nawang involves flying over many, many miles of nothing but rugged jungle, where wild, tropical weather can quickly sneak up on you, and there are few options for alternates, (above, you can see some of the weather I had to work around on the way back from Nawang.)

Thankfully, though the weather was a bit challenging, I was able to get down and back just before the airport here in Tarakan closed for the evening. The young woman who was having major complications in childbirth was obviously in a lot of pain. Her husband was SOOOO grateful for the help that MAF provided. I know that if it was my wife, I would have done anything to get here help, so I think I can understand his gratitude. It sure is a privilege to be able to provide such a necessary service to people who are so appreciative, and to do it all in the name of Christ!

Below, I snapped this shot while waiting for a heavy rain shower to pass in Mahak Baru--actually, what turned out to be a fairly long and drenching rain. I was ferrying groups of government folks between two villages, and was fighting weather all day. Finally, it just cut loose and poured, giving me a chance to eat some scrumptious "nasi goreng" (fried rice) with my friends there, and visit with the government folks. The two-hour delay, as often happens, turned out to be a blessing as it allowed me to deepen relationships I already had, and begin to make some new ones. Plus, did I mention the food was really good?! :)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

So Much For Smoky Season!

The weird weather continues. Just after I posted the news about smoky season last week, the skies opened up and poured. Usually we get all of our house water from rain that's collected from our roof. Last week was the first time since we've lived in Tarakan that we ran out of water. Here in town they have little trucks with water tanks on top, that will deliver water to your house for a small fee. Common, we live in the tropics and we're out of water?

Well, we broke down and bought some water. But, you know how it works in the U.S...if you get the snow blower out and ready, it won't snow. If you don't get it out, it'll probably be a blizzard. I guess the same goes for here. We ordered water--two tank fulls, and then it rained all that night, and we had a monstrous storm the next day. Everything was flooded!! Well, we take comfort in thinking that if we hadn't ordered the water trucks, the city of Tarakan would probably be planting cactus down the middle of main street instead of the current palm trees. That was a joke. We're not superstitious about our water supply--really! It's just funny that we paid for water, and then got flooded, don't you think?! :)

Above, is a picture of our MAF neighbor's back yard area, as the floodgates were opened from above. The water gushes out of the retaining wall and floods their back yard area whenever it rains hard. Below is a picture of the street below our house. I actually saw a few kids trying to tube down the road.