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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Annual Conference

It's been a very busy couple of weeks, but now we're chilling for a few days in a hotel in Balikpapan, so I finally have a chance to catch up a bit. Above is a picture that our new Canadian Maintenance Specialist, Karl, took while I was unloading my plane in Long Rungan. A few weeks ago he had the chance to ride along with me all day, which was both fun for me, and an encouragement to him to see how his work fixing planes helps the ministry interior.

Our annual MAF Kalimantan team conference just got over. It was a real blessing and encouragement--always something we look forward to each year. Below is a picture of our MAF Kalimantan team. There's just one family missing, the Persenaires, who are on furlough right now. Missed you guys!

Leading up to the conference we had the privilege of hosting the Davis family who were here to help with VBS for all the missionary kids during conference. Our house was bursting with activity during the four days they joined us, as we had 11 people total calling the Forney house home (7 of us, 4 of them). They probably regret their willingness to live in our crazy zoo-house, but we sure had fun! :)

The Davis and Erickson families were a HUGE blessing to all of us. They came all the way over here from the U.S. to do VBS with the kids. As you can see, there's a lot of kids!! And that doesn't include the babies--there's tons of them too!!

Here we are at conference. Smiles all the way around, as we're taking the opportunity to stay a few extra days at the hotel here.

And of course, another trip to the crocodile farm. Hudson was definitely into the crocs this time. If you missed our previous trip to the croc farm, check it out here. It's pretty funny!

This time I got a little video of the chicken-chuckin' fun. There's nothing like throwing dead chickens into hungry crocs for a buck a piece! Listen carefully and you can here the distinct "pop" of the croc in the middle, when his jaws snap shut, just missing the chicken. It's right at the beginning of the video. The sound is slightly delayed from the powerful snap, probably b/c of the bad audio on the camera. In real life, it's way louder and scarier than my little point and shoot could capture. You could "feel" the sound of the jaws. Fun stuff!

Chicken Chuckin' Fun! from Dave Forney on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Our New Friend--Cute, Cuddly...and Slithery!

Here she is--the newest member of our family! Isn't she a beautiful little sheila? (Or perhaps it's a bloke--we haven't quite figured that one out yet.)

For now we'll assume it's a "sheila." She's a beautiful baby reticulated python, straight from jungle near the village of Long Padi. I had the word out for a while now, that my son would love to have a baby python. Well, when Pak Ronsono caught one he proudly walked half a day round trip throught the jungle to meet me in the village of Binuang with the snake. Since numerous people from several villages were looking to catch the snake for Britton, we was pretty excited to be the one that got it first. He was smiling from ear to ear.

His smile was matched only by that of Britton, who's been on cloud nine since the snake road home with me on Tuesday. Joy's reaction was quite the opposite--a high pitched scream followed by a world-record-setting dash that ended on top of the dining room table.

But things have settled down now, with the snake seeming to be at home in her aquarium, with plenty of love and care from her new friend, Britton.
On a side note, we're hoping that the info we've read on reticulated pythons is incorrect--that is to say, we're hoping that she in fact does NOT grow at the rate of 5 feet or more per year her first few years. That said, reticuled pythons currently hold the world record for the longest verified snakes in the world, though Anacondas (one of my childhood fascinations from Brazil) are the largest by overall mass.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Wild Weather, a Film, and an Upcoming Adventure!

It's been a wild weather week--massive, prolonged thunder and lightning storms day and night.

On Saturday night I set up all my film stuff in the hangar, and we enjoyed a time of food, films, and fellowship with all of our national staff and their families, and others. We're really blessed with a quality group of people here, without whom we'd really be hurting in our ministry and operations. It was fun to just hang out together. Along with some MAF flight videos, and Tom and Jerry (they absolutely love that here,) we also watched "End of the Spear." It was especially encouraging and interesting to them, not only because of the theme of true redemption and lasting peace, but also b/c of the piece of MAF history that played out in the film through Nate Saint and his little yellow plane. They really take pride in being a part of the ministry of MAF, and a famous part of that past ministry so vividly portrayed was indeed inspiring.

Here's some random shots from the rest of the week. The spots of sunshine and pretty scenery were hard to find--and short lived. But as usual, it further emphasized the reason why we're here.

Last week I spent a long night in the jungle, hunting pigs and fighting torrential rain swollen rivers. We were a few young men in fairly good shape only a few hours hike from the village, essentially stranded until the waters subsided. Can you imagine trying to make a hike through 100 miles or more of this jungle in similar conditions with an elderly or sick person or child? Yeah, that's why we're here!

In a few weeks, Paul and I are going to attempt our most ambitious adventure to date. If all goes well, we'll be taking a week of vacation to fly into the village of Pujungan. From there, we'll be trekking the old-fashioned way for seven to eight days over 70 miles through some of the most rugged and inaccessible terrain in all of Borneo to reach the village of Data Dian. The pictures above and below are all taken from above the area that we'll be crossing.

We'll have several experienced local guides leading the way, without whom we'd quickly become completely lost. However the reality will still be there. When you're that far out in the middle of nowhere, there's no one coming to rescue you should something go wrong.

I think that's part of the appeal really. First of all, Paul shares my characteristic of not being able to simply enjoy things from the "easy" perspective. We like challenges and adventure. But also, there's something to be said about experiencing the alternative to the MAF airplane. It not only opens our eyes to the hardships and challenges of foot and river travel, but also shows the people whom we serve that we understand their dilemma.

And the really cool part is the relationships that we'll build with the local guys. Trust me, when you're trudging through leach-infested, muddy mile after mile of dense jungle undergrowth, and sharing a campfire under a hastily-built shelter in pouring down rain, there's plenty of time to get to know each other. We really enjoy these times of fellowship and ministry, when we can connect on a deeper level than is typically possible on a busy flight day.

So stay tuned, I'm sure as the trip approaches, there will be more updates. And when it's all over, hopefully I'll have quite a story to tell, and a new appreciation for the role that MAF plays in the remote corners of the world.

P.S. I have an amazing, unbelievable wife to let me go on adventures like this, don't you think so?!