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

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Family Conference

We enjoyed a wonderful family conference last week. Thanks to Kevin and Linda Swanson for making the long journey over hear to share with with us from the Word. We really were blessed by that! Here's our awesome MAF Kalimantan team.

The kids had a blast in VBS. Thanks to the MAF gals that came all the way over here to do a program for the kids. I don't know how they do you can see, there's a TON of energy in this group!!!

Aren't I a lucky (blessed) guy?!

Guess what? They opened up a new movie theatre in Balikpapan! Don't worry, we don't have one in Tarakan. But once a year, when we go to Balikpapan, we can see a movie...that is, if there's anything good showing. Joy and I took a little date there one evening, and guess what they had? Diet Coke fountain drinks and popcorn with extra butter! I think Joy would have bought a ticket just to get a soda and popcorn, even if she had to sit in the lobby all night. She was pretty excited!

As for the kids, they were excited about the dolphin show. Dolphin show??? Yeah, that's what we said. What dolphin show? When I was jogging one early morning I saw a random sign between buildings advertising a dolphin show (almost like a traveling circus in the U.S.) It was pretty sad really. They basically dug a big hole (well not very big) and put a plastic liner in it, filled it with water and put some kitchen style vinyl around the sides. Then they erected some makeshift stands and a tarp roof and charged $3 per person to watch the dolphins, a sea lion and some otters do tricks.

Hudson was chilling with his buddy Seth.

I had to show you this...b/c it totally captures what we go through on a daily basis. Here we are at a dolphin show--IN BALIKPAPAN--I mean, when was the last time they had a dolphin show here. And what are the people beside us most interested in? Not the dolphins. No, they couldn't get enough of the little white kids. They kept standing up and taking pictures and video of our kids...what dolphins? Check out these strange white kids! Get some video of these creatures! :) I'm thinking we should make a big tent, teach them to do some tricks, and sell tickets to people to come watch us. What do you think? :)

I didn't take my good camera along to conference--to much other baggage. That's why the movie and dolphin pics are so grainy. But a special thanks to my friend and fellow pilot and awesome photographer, Tripp Flythe, for our new family photo below, and the top three photos above. Tripp and Heather are our newest family here in Tarakan. This week I started working with Tripp to get him checked out to fly solo in the Krayan region of northeast Kalimantan. I'm sure I'll share some photos of that soon.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pulau Derawan

This week our entire MAF Tarakan and Palangkaraya teams are meeting in Balikpapan for our annual Kalimantan staff conference. This is always a wonderful time of spiritual encouragement and team-building, and something we all look forward to very much. But since I don't have any pictures of conference yet, I figured I'd show you a few shots from a trip that Britton and I took to Pulau (Island) Derawan a few weeks ago.

If you've been following this blog for a while, you know by now that our home island in Indonesia, Tarakan, is not exactly a "paradise" type of island...unless you consider muddy water and mangrove swamps paradise. However, a few hours boat ride from here are a couple of gorgeous islands that offer a cheap and fun weekend get-a-way.

A few times per year, a group of us MAFers get together and rent a boat to Derawan. Britton and I love to snorkel, and we hope one of these days to succeed in getting Joy and the other kids to come along. As usual, I spent a few hours walking around the little fishing village on the island. The people are so very friendly, and always want to visit and have their picture taken. Next time I go back I'll bring them printed copies of their pictures, which will absolutely thrill them! Here's a few of the dear folks that call Derawan Island their home.

Sometime when I get a chance, I'll post a few underwater pics as well. I know there's a bunch of kids out there that like to see "critter shots", and we got some good ones again. So keep checking back for those!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Checkout in Lumbis

Yesterday Paul College and I were able to get checked out at another airstrip (thanks Craig, "Iceman" Hollander!) up near the Malaysian border. Lumbis is a small village that's nestled around a short, flat runway at the edge of a river. The airstrip itself is pretty nice...but the approach and abort path are quite exciting!!

One of the neat things about Lumbis is the Theological Training by Extension that goes on there. In the picture below you can see an MAF plane ready for takeoff. Above, on the hill, is the church that hosts these training opportunities for Indonesian pastors and teachers in the remote interior of Northeast Kalimantan. And MAF is the method by which all of this is possible. Cool stuff!

It's not often that a plane comes into Lumbis and does multiple patterns. The kids obviously found it very entertaining. I guess the view from this tree would be like box seats in a stadium. They had the perfect view!

But it's not just kids that find the plane interesting. Frankly, most of the village was out there watching the show...though I didn't see any adults climbing trees for a better look.

As with many of our strips here, Lumbis has an airborne commit point--in other words, there's a certain point on the approach after which you are totally committed to land, no matter what happens. After passing that abort point, it would be nearly impossible, and probably fatal to attempt a go-around. As part of the checkout at a new airstrip, we always practice an abort at the abort point. As I mentioned above, one of the really "exciting" things about Lumbis, in addition to the tight hooking approach, is the go-around. I shot this picture of Craig and Paul on their go-around, as they were turning to fly down the tight river gorge to the right beyond the end of the airstrip.

And of course, when we were all done with the checkout, we climbed up the hill to the pastors house, beside the church where we all dug into big piles of fried, sugar-dipped bananas, loads of rice, and fresh boiled babi hutan (jungle pig)...oh, and of course, hot tea! After doing some intense flying and then running up and down the airstrip shooting photos and video of Paul, I was so hot and soaked by that time, that my shoes were squishing from constant dripping sweat working it's way from my head to my toes. The last thing I would want at that point is a hot drink. But it's part of the culture here and of course we happily, smilingly down one after another mug full. So four or five steaming cups later, smiling and dripping like a rat drowned by a monkey, we snapped a photo for posterity sake. From left to right, Craig "Iceman", our fearless Instructor pilot, myself, Paul, Pastor Lukas and Pastor Lukas's understudy (I forget his name.)

We had plans to also do a checkout at Long Pala (the last and also by far the most marginal and challenging airstrip for a Cessna 206 in Northeast Kalimantan.) However, conditions have to be near perfect to allow operations in Pala, and yesterday it was too wet. So hopefully we'll do that sometime in the next few weeks.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Kodiak Flies in Kalimantan!

Many of you have heard of the the Quest Kodiak, a brand new airplane designed for bush-type flying, and geared specifically towards mission aviation. Our MAF Kalimantan program took delivery of the first Kodiak to enter Indonesia, way back on Christmas Eve last year. After three months of dealing with a ton of government hoops to jump through, our Kodiak finally got cleared to fly last week. I was asked to go along the first two days to document the historic occasion in photos. Here's a few of the many shots I snapped on Wednesday and Thursday.

Eventually, our program will get several more Kodiaks, which will replace some or most of our smaller Cessna 206's. The Kodiak can carry nearly twice the payload from the same strips as the Cessna, and burns jet fuel which is much cheaper and easier to get in most third world countries. As you can see, the folks interior were very excited to see this new shiny airplane!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Recent Happenings!

Hope you guys are still out there defending the stem burn! I really laughed at your responses to my last post. Glad you enjoyed it. Here's a few pics from the latest happenings around this part of the world.

We continue to be very busy flying for the folks in the interior regions of Northeast Kalimantan. Seems like lately we've been getting a ton of medevac flights. Each time I'm reminded of how critical a role MAF plays in the lives of these dear folks. And nearly every day at least one person in a village tells me that very thing.

Yesterday I had the privilege of flying the Consul General, Jeffrey Tunis, from the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta. He came all the way out here to Tarakan to visit the U.S. citizens (that would be those of us with MAF) who call this home. It's really nice to know that they know we're here, and care enough to check in on us. So anyway, we thought it would be neat to show them a little bit of who we are and what we do. It was a great day!

Last week we had a petugas seminar. A petugas is an "agent" or someone who helps arrange things. In almost all the villages that we frequent, we have a petugas (usually the village pastor if there is one) who helps us in a myriad of ways. They report weather over the HF radio each day, report on flight requests, medevacs, etc, and weigh passengers and barang (stuff), as well as helping to load/unload the aircraft and maintain their airstrip. Our job would be infinitely more difficult without their help. Every few years we try to get them all together in one location (no small task since they come from numerous villages scattered over hundreds of miles of jungle.) It's as much an opportunity to hang out and fellowship together, as it is to brush up on the skills needed to be an effective, efficient, and safe petugas. At the end of the time we took a group shot with all the folks from interior as well as our local hangar staff here in Tarakan. There were nearly 80 people in all!

This past weekend we attended Stefny and Yusuf's wedding. Stefny used to work as a house helper for another MAF family before they moved to a different base. After that she worked part time for us until we went on furlough. It's always fun to go to weddings here, as the bride, groom and families get totally decked out in traditional garb!

The truth is, it's usually hard to even recognize them after they're dressed up and "made up". Someday Joy and I thought it would be fun to rent the costumes and do the make up and take some know, sort of like when you dress up in old western clothes and get your photo taken? But then again, it's probably really expensive!

There's always tons and tons and tons of traditional type foods at an event like this. Since we like the local foods, we love it!

Here's a shot of Joy and kids, along with our wonderful helper, Abi at Stefni's wedding. Abi has been a working for us since we got here several years ago. She is an absolute blessing to Joy, and the kids totally love her! It would be nearly impossible for Joy to get everything done here on a daily basis without her help!

And these are just some random shots from around town the past week or two.

Happy Easter! He is Risen!