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

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Greetings from Northeast Kalimantan!

Greetings again from Northeast Kalimantan, Indonesia

Last week I had the privilege of flying an Indonesian Christian medical team into the village of Long Nawang.  This is the third time that these dear ladies have come all the way from Java to minister to the people in the Apo Kayan area.  I just think it's so awesome to see Indonesians reaching out and ministering to meet the needs (both physically and spiritually) of their "neighbors" in remote parts of their own country.  But again, without the wings of MAF, this would almost certainly not be taking place.  It is a one and a half hour flight from Tarakan direct to Long Nawang.  Traveling there by foot and boat would take at least two months one way!  It's so exciting to be playing such a small but vital role in the national ministry that's ongoing here!  Anyway, in addition to medically treating hundreds of people, the women also held Sunday School style classes for kids and had various other meetings with folks in several villages.  Cool stuff!

Here's the airstrip and village (in the background) of Long Nawang.  It's a short strip, but those of you that have flown or been here in the past will notice that it's been improved some.  Though only a few meters longer, it's been made straighter and wider than previously. 

Several of us pilots were also very busy for the first half of the week flying people back out of Long Layu after a HUGE church conference that took place there.  It only happens once every five years, and usually not in a location that remote.  People came from all over East Kalimantan.  All in all we flew about 180 people into and out of Long Layu.  The village and church were extremely grateful, as this would never have been able to work without the help of MAF!

On Saturday I got called in for a medevac.  I had a lot of medevac flights this week.  In fact, on Thursday, I flew all day, mostly just taking medevac patients from remote villages to Malinau and Tarkan.  But since this one was on a Saturday I got to take one of my kids along.  Hannah had never been along on an "operational flight" before, so it was her turn!  The picture says it all.  She had a blast, and I was thrilled to have her along.  The patient we picked up in Long Ampung had fallen head first from about 20 feet up while working on making a bridge.  He was in what I would consider critical condition with head and neck injuries.  I don't mean to keep saying the same thing over and over, but it's the truth...without MAF, he would have never stood a chance! 

Of course, I also had my fair share of "unusual passengers".  This was actually last week, but I didn't include flight updates on last week's post.  This is a horn bill.  They are obviously very large birds!  I've seen them a few times from the air, usually flying in pairs or small groups over very remote and dense virgin jungle.  They're very majestic, gorgeous birds, especially when viewed in flight like that.  I've also seen them from down under the canopy on the jungle treks that Paul and I have done.  Again, very impressive!  But this is the first time I've seen one up close.  I was a little sad to see it like this, but apparently the guy actually rescued it two years ago when he was out hunting pigs in the jungle.  He said it was a baby and had fallen or something and couldn't fly.  So he brought it home and raised it.  It was actually quite friendly, though I was a little nervous with it's massive beak so close to my face.  I mean, seriously, that thing could have probably pecked my schnoz right off of my face if it wanted to!  The box was vine wrapping was simply used to render it "immobile" for the flight.  Can you imagine if a bird that large (or any size for that matter) got loose in the cockpit while flying?  Yikes!

Last Sunday I took my boys and the College boys (Paul, their dad, is back in the U.S. for a few weeks of flight training on the new Kodiak airplane) out into the jungle for some guy time.  Their were seven boys plus me!  From left to right:  Tanner, Blake, Seth, Tyler, Britton, Tate, Hudson.  We had a blast! 

I cut a vine in a safe place so they could each get their fill of Tarzan swings.  Tanner is taking a turn below, while the other boys watch in the background.

A few shots from the "office window".    This is one of the rare times when Mount Hebon is in the clear.  It's one of the tallest peaks around (about 8,000 feet) and is most often obscured by clouds and rain.

Waterfalls are abundant in the Apo Kayan region.  Hannah got to see a bunch on Saturday because the weather was unusually nice.  On this large mountain near the Bahau / Kayan River junctions, there are nearly a dozen waterfalls that are large enough to see from several thousand feet up.  In this picture you can see three of them.  I know they look small here, but keep in mind that I'm about a mile away.  

Here's two more closer to the Long Ampung area.  Most of these falls are so remote that I doubt if anyone has ever gone to them by foot.  I have to admit, I have about a hundred treks l'd love to do if I ever had the time and resources to do them.  Places like this just seem to draw me in!

Been seeing a lot of rainbows lately--usually several each day.  If you look closely, you can see the second (double) rainbow in the background.  Doubles are pretty common, but I've only seen a triple once.

This is not unusual weather in the Krayan region in the morning--one of the reasons we usually can't get going from Tarakan earlier than about 7:30am.  On this particular morning I was trying to get into Long Layu at about 8:30am (a one-hour flight from Tarakan) and had to circle for about 15 minutes before the morning fog and clouds lifted and broke up enough to allow for a safe descent and landing.

Of course, this is an entirely different type of weather.  Sorry, you probably think this stuff is boring, but I love weather.  This is an example of the typical early afternoon weather that builds up over the rugged terrain as the hot moist air gets pushed up and cooled.  Obviously I took the picture from a safe distance, where I was still in nice weather, but you can see why we have to be so careful to keep a close eye on weather out here.  It's probably one of the biggest challenges to operating safely in these remote locations.  There's no weather reporting stations in between villages, and sometimes these showers can form impenetrable lines of nasty thunderstorms, that you wouldn't want to go anywhere near in a little plane!   

Large afternoon thunderstorms are common over the flatter areas.  This one is still in the developing stages, but again, it would be foolish to approach even within a few miles of a large storm because of the violent wind shear, turbulence, etc that often accompanies these storms.

I'll end with a more "pleasant" rain shot.  This is a classic example of what happens all over the jungle nearly every single day.  Showers build up, rain themselves out and leave a trail of low clouds or fog behind in the canopy, as the moisture immediately begins to evaporate and start the process all over again.  These "fog trails" can quickly tell an observant pilot exactly which direction the rain is headed, because they stretch out for a few miles behind the advancing shower.

Well, there you go.  Weather (misspelled on purpose) you like it or not, you got to learn a little about tropical weather today.    Just be glad you're not Hannah--she got an entire semester's worth of weather info on Saturday.  Hey, she seemed interested!  Anyway, I never grow tired of it.  Every day, even if I'm flying over the same areas I've been over a hundred times, I always love seeing how the Lord paints it new and fresh.  My photos never capture these scenes in all their glory.  You'd have to come along in person to get the true experience!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Family Photos

Last weekend we headed out to Amal (the "beach" on the other side of our island) and took some family pictures (we try to take family pictures each year around our anniversary.)  Actually, Tripp, our newest pilot here graciously took the pictures for us.  As you can see, he's a fantastic photographer and really enjoys doing portraits.  Here's a few of them.  

I know, I know.  I married way out of my league!  She's gorgeous!  What can I say?!

Come on over for a visit and YOU TOO can walk the beach at Amal!

Tyler's smile is quite unique.  It's sort of a mix between a smile, grin and scary growl!  He's very consistent with it which cracks us up. 

Thanks Tripp for the great photos!  

Sunday, July 11, 2010

11 Years!

Friday Joy and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary!  We got Britton to snap the picture below, just before departing for a nice dinner at the Le Grandeur Hotel in Tarakan.  After dinner we took a little motorcycle ride around town.  Yeah, I know it doesn't sound too exciting, but it was an enjoyable evening for us.  There's really not a lot to do here in Tarakan so splurging for a nice dinner and going on a motorcycle ride without the kids is a nice treat!

Just as we were leaving for dinner, I surprised Joy with a new picnic table for our back "patio" area.  She has dreamed of a picnic table for several years now, and had collected pictures of various tables she liked.  I took the picture of her favorite one to a local craftsman a while back, and had it made to the exact dimensions and color that she wanted...but all without her knowing.  What's crazy is how cheap it was, especially considering the quality of wood.  It takes four guys to lift this table--that's how hard and dense the wood is!  Anyway, she loves it, and we've already enjoyed eating outside several times since Friday.  Below, Joy and Abi (our helper) and the twins are trying it out just after it was delivered.

Last Sunday our MAF team here had a little July 4th celebration.  It was nice to have Independence day on the weekend, since we normally do not get this day off here in Indonesia.  Anyway, we enjoyed hanging out with our friends, grilling some "hot dogs" (they were something like hot dogs anyway--you can't get real hot dogs here), and generally just having a good time.  Below, Hudson (in the front) and Seth, best buds, are just chilling out at our July 4th picnic.

And here are the moms of Hudson and Seth, just chilling out at the picnic.

Hannah was getting pretty serious about the wiffle ball game!

I don't often bring my good camera to events like this, because I'm usually too busy wrangling kids and stuff to take pictures.  So I had fun snagging a few pictures of my beautiful wife when she was least expecting it.  

We set off a few locally purchased fireworks which the kids really enjoyed!  I had a cool shot of that, but somehow deleted it earlier.  But we've been getting a lot of sweet thunderstorms lately, so I figured I'd
show you one of the natural fireworks displays that lit up the midnight sky over Tarakan on Sunday.

It's been another busy week of flying.  Two of our pilots are gone right now, one in Singapore waiting for the birth of his second kid, and one in the US doing flight training on the Kodiak.  So those of us that are here are flying a lot.  I'm enjoying it!  This week I flew an Indonesian Christian medical team around to several different villages in the Apo Kayan region.  There were also a lot of school children and typical medevac flights and the usual food, supplies and passenger flights.  But we also did a TON of flying for a massive church conference in Long Layu.  Below, three airplanes are parked in Long Layu, two Cessna 206's, and our Quest Kodiak 100.  We've been using all of our aircraft, including the Caravan and Kodiak, to help move up to 200 people into Long Layu for the conference that starts this week.  Obviously, without MAF, national church leadership gatherings in remote locations like this one would be virtually impossible!

When the airplanes start up and go through pre-takeoff checks in Long Layu, the children stand a long, safe distance behind the airplane (there's a fence for safety) with their home-made, wooden, toy airplanes, and take advantage of the wind to make their props spin fast.  I always admire the creativity and ingenuity of Indonesian kids to make toys and games out of anything and everything!

A few shots from my "office window" over the past week or so.

Have a blessed week!  Thanks for your prayers and support of this ministry!  We count it a real privilege to be serving Christ here with MAF in Kalimantan!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Proving our Manhood!

It's been a busy week with lots of cool ministry flights.  Among the many people and things I flew this week were a bunch of national school kids going from their small village to a larger village for education, Indonesian pastors and their families, government workers, food supplies, two MAF mechanics to work on a stranded plane, and hundreds of pounds of medicine.

I also did several medevac flights, all of which were quite serious.  One of the flights was for a young man about my age from a village about 1 1/2 hours from here by Cessna 206.  I honestly didn't think he would make it to Tarakan.  About 10 minutes from landing in Tarakan, with the runway in sight and already talking to the tower, he had a massive seizure, which led to his tongue being swallowed and his airway cut off.  Fortunately, on this flight a doctor had accompanied the patient, and he was able to get the young man breathing again.  By God's grace we were able to get him and all the other patients to the hospital in Tarakan safely and efficiently.  There is absolutely no doubt that some, if not all of these precious people would have died if left untreated in there respective villages.  I feel so blessed to be able to play a small role in this vital testimony of the love of Christ to the people of Northeast Kalimantan!

Of course, I also carried the typical variety of "unusual passengers" back and forth between villages... pigs, chickens, dogs, and even another pangolin, (type of anteater). He enjoyed a leisurely stroll and a little fresh air before getting stuffed into a rice sack and shoved into the belly pod of the airplane.    

And speaking of critters, this is the newest one to take up residence in our backyard.  We got a little citrus tree, and these particular caterpillars only feed on the citrus leaves.  We're looking forward to watching him fatten up and then form his cocoon.

OK, so I can't ignore it forever.  Brazil lost.  So much for my "Viva Brasil!" statement at the end of the last post.  They got beat by the Dutch.  Since my Dad is from the "Pennsylvania Dutch" area, I guess that makes me sort of "Dutch-ish".  So I guess it's not all bad.  Perhaps I'll go make a hog maw (that's for you dad) and eat it all myself to deal with my sadness.  Well, I guess I'm pulling for Argentina now.

Anyway, since the boys and I had pretty much counted on Brazil taking it all, we had to go do something manly today to prove that our manhood wasn't attached to Brazil's World Cup results.  So we decided to do some good ol' fashioned jungle exploration, right here on the island of Tarakan.

It's actually amazing how much you can see right here on the island.  We first came across a whole pile of pitcher plants, growing on the ground and in the trees all around the area.

Pitcher plants are carnivorous--they get their energy by digesting insects that fall into their water-filled traps and drown.  But we proved our manhood by getting up close and personal with these crazy plants... Britton even went the extra mile by putting his finger in one or two. 

Then we came across one of these evil-looking, crazy spiders.  I don't like spiders, and this one is particularly gnarly!  I mean, seriously, what are those big evil horn-like things for???  Well, Hudson and I proved our manhood by getting up close enough to take a few pictures... that is until it started moving.  

Then both Britton and Hudson had a go of it on a jungle vine, proving their manhood by swinging fearlessly off a steep, slippery slope.  I proved mine by "weight-testing" the vine before I let them try it.

Then we came across some more pitcher plants of a different kind.  There are many different types of pitcher plants, and Borneo is home to a vast number, including some of the largest and most unique and beautiful!

Hudson wasn't afraid of no meat-eating plant!  

We even saw and appreciated the beauty of some wild flowers and orchids.  It takes a real man to stop and smell the flowers!!!

At some point we looked up and saw a huge tree a few hundred yards away, sticking up through the canopy.  There was no trail to it, but the three of us looked at each other and immediately had the same thought.  "Tree!  Big!  Go!"  So we spent the next 45 minutes hacking a trail through dense undergrowth, getting ripped up by thorny palms, chewed up by ants, stung by a wasp (Britton), back flipping off of a slippery side-slope (Hudson), and generally just proving our manhood.  Why?  Well, so we could stand at the base of the tree and take a tough guy shot.  Yeah, that's right.  We're not afraid of a little jungle in our way!  

Well, there you have it.  Despite Brazil's untimely loss and exit from the World Cup, the Forney boys are o.k.!  We've proved our manhood to ourselves and are now ready to move forward.  Of course, there's a lot more jungle to explore here, so we may have to do this again in the not so distant future.  It's rather addicting getting out there and proving your manliness! :)