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

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Idul Adha - The People

The Muslim Center has a vast open courtyard.  After the morning prayers and service, I milled around with the hundreds of folks that were lingering there.  Many people asked me to take there photos.  Others I just snapped from a distance.  In either case, I plan to return and give them printed copies.  Folks here always  really appreciate that!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

"Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.  Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  Know that the LORD is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." - Psalm 100

On Thursday evening our MAF team gathered together to celebrated Thanksgiving.  The wives worked very hard to prepare a huge FEAST!  It was unbelievable...especially considering what they have to work with as far as ingredients and whatnot.

Obviously we have much to be thankful for--not just food.  Wherever you are, whatever the circumstances, I hope you too can see and appreciate His blessings in your life!  Happy American Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Idul Adha - The Tarakan Muslim Center

Last Wednesday was Idul Adha (or Eid al-Adha), one of the most important and sacred Muslim holidays of the year.  I had the privilege of being allowed with my camera inside the all new, still-under-construction, Muslim Center and Mosque in Tarakan during the morning prayers and service.   

I've seen this Mosque from the air numerous times, (it's visible from many miles away) and from a distance on the ground.  But I've never seen it up close, and certainly never inside.  The above picture only shows the front of the Mosque.  It's true size is not apparent unless you see it from above, or circle it on the ground.  It's absolutely enormous, especially by Tarakan standards, and the architecture both in size and detail far surpasses anything I've seen in Northeast Kalimantan.

I was greeted warmly and kindly by everyone.  In fact, many people specifically asked me to take their pictures after the service was over.  I'll do a separate post sharing some of those pictures another day.  These are a few of the shots I discreetly gathered during the prayers and service.

As you probably already know, Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world.  It's the fourth most populated country in the world with a vast majority of the people ascribing to Islam.  Being that we live in a predominately Muslim city, with many Muslim friends and neighbors, I felt it was important to learn more about this holiday and what it means to them.  

Later that day we observed the sacrificing of bulls and goats at a smaller, local Mosque in our neighborhood, and then I went to an Indonesian friend's house to visit and eat with his family.   More on all of that later.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Stinky Shoes!

Yesterday after an early morning run, I left my shoes on the front porch.  This morning at 6:00 I went out to put them on and smelled something funny.  It smelled like a strong herb or juicy weed of some kind.  Joy was reading her Bible in the living room and saw me sniffing my shoes over and over.  Of course, she wondered what in the world I was doing.

Well, I brought them inside as I explained that I kept smelling something weird--not really a bad smell, just a strange smell.  She thought I was nuts till a few seconds later she too caught a whiff.  These types of things drive me crazy, so I had to find the source.  Nothing was obvious, so I started searching deeper.  Pretty soon I was sticking my schnoz down into the shoe, when suddenly I saw something move...or maybe I just sensed it.  One thing is for certain--it freaked me out!!!  Joy screamed!  I yelled for Britton.  The neighbor boy heard Joy's scream and came running.

Ah, yes.  The snake saga continues.  This time it was a little "harmless" rat snake.  Britton and the neighbor boy, Carter, were all too excited to identify him/her and instigate the cobra-like, self-defense mechanism that this snake is known for.

After positively making sure that it was not poisonous, I allowed the boys to handle the snake.  It didn't take long before they excitedly remarked, "It's bite doesn't even hurt that much compared to other snakes."  Is this a normal thing to hear your 10 year old kid saying???

Meanwhile, in the living room, I heard Joy saying something entirely different to the other kids.  "Close all the doors and lock them.  I'm moving to Siberia!"

After it was all over, we had to laugh.  I mean, the whole idea of me sniffing my nose right into the forked-tongue of a lounging snake in my shoe...yeah, it's pretty funny.  I guess the snake was putting out that scent as a warning or something.  But for me it didn't work--I almost got my snout bitten.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What Missionaries do for Fun!

Today is the Muslim Holy day of Idul Adha (there's different spellings, but this is the Indonesian way.)  I took a vacation day so that I could observe and photograph the festivities in our town and neighborhoods.  More on that in a later post...there's a lot of photos to go through first.

In the meantime, here's what we did for fun last Friday evening--light paintings!  We all love packages, and our parents keep them coming on a regular basis.  Thanks!!!  So every few weeks or so we all gather around like it's Christmas and open up a package to see what types of surprises we'll find.  Well, this time the kids all got some glow sticks, among other things.  As they were twirling them around, I got the idea to take some time exposures and let them paint a picture in the dark bedroom with their glow stick(s).  We had a blast.  Here they are.

Tyler (a depiction of his personality and emotions???)

Tanner  (a good example of how different Tanner and Tyler are)

Hudson (two big eyes)

Hannah (Micky Mouse)

Britton (a dinosaur head)

Joy (I think you can figure it out)


It was great fun, but I think next time we'll do it with fire!  It just didn't seem dangerous enough. :)

In flight news:  been flying with Chris, one of our former pilots that returned to the U.S. to get married and recently returned with his wife after being gone for 15 months.  He'll be ready to fly solo again by the end of this week, but we'll have to wait for his license to be re-issued.  On Monday I flew a bunch of national pastors from villages throughout the Apokayan over to Long Nawang for a national church conference.  I also brought two medical patients back to Tarakan that same day for treatment.  There's never a dull moment as a missionary pilot out here!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Trip to Mahak Baru (Part 2)

Well, the following morning, Friday, Paul flew directly to Long Sule with my spare tire assembly and a load of fuel drums.  He got an early start and arrived about 9:00 am.  (The photo below was taken over Tarakan, but not on the day of the aforementioned story.  This past Monday we had the opportunity to do an air-to-air photo shoot with all three of our aircraft type in Tarakan, as well as just the Kodiak.  This is one of the shots I took, but I'll post more of them later.  I just thought a Kodiak pic would fit in nicely here, since it and Paul came to my "rescue.")

After helping me get set up and seeing that I had the tools I needed (and snapping the below photo,) Paul took off and started flying fuel drums, while I finished changing the tire.  I wish you could see all the people that were watching me.  There were literally probably more than 50 people intently watching every move I made.  I certainly have never done aircraft maintenance with a crowd of spectators...but the hardest part was simply keeping them from gathering under the wing or too close to the aircraft in case the jack slipped.  All went well and within the hour I was up and going again.

Paul and I spent the rest of the day flying fuel drums back and forth between Long Lebuson (below) and Long Sule.  After another night of very heavy rains, the river had actually risen enough to cover the end of the airstrip in Long Lebuson.  We had to evaluate the remaining runway length and surface condition from the air to deem it safe and sufficient enough to land.  It was certainly a muddy operation, but we managed to get about 45 drums over to Sule that day.  (The picture below was taken the following day, Saturday, b/c I did not have my camera with me on Friday.  That's why it doesn't appear as wet and muddy.  It dried out quickly in the hot sun.)

At about 1:00 pm I finally stopped back in Mahak Baru for lunch and fuel.  Again, it was a blast to see Joy and the kids there by the airstrip.  We exchanged stories from the previous day's events, and then I quickly hopped back in the plane and jumped back over to Lebuson.  As you can see, the kids were having a great time playing in the puddles by the airstrip!

Paul and I finally finished up and landed in Mahak about 45 minutes before sunset.  Tyler was all too anxious to help me fuel up for the next day's flying.


Then we had just enough time before dark to take a nice little walk down a meandering footpath into the jungle by the airstrip.  Even on that short walk we enjoyed the scenery, like this nice flower.

We got back to the airstrip just after the sun had set, and made sure the aircraft were secured for the night, before enjoying a wonderful meal of soto ayam at a friends warung.  It was a beautiful evening!

The following morning, Saturday, Paul and I got another early start and managed to fly all of the remaining fuel drums over to Long Sule by noon.  We were sweaty, hot and tired, but it was a lot of fun to complete the job and to have been able to spend so much time with our friends interior!  (Below, the folks in Long Sule are standing by my plane, while watching/waiting for Paul to land.

We made one last stop in Mahak Baru to add fuel again and load up our planes for the flight back to Tarakan.  The kids and Joy were quite sad to be leaving "so soon!"  They thoroughly enjoyed their time in the village and were already asking when we could come back.

But as often is the case, the weather was building rapidly over the mountains to the North, so we gathered our things and piled into the plane for the one and a half hour flight back home.

There you have it--our trip to Mahak Baru.  Not only did we really enjoy our time in Mahak, but it was a great way to efficiently and effectively serve the people with the aircraft.  The kids and Joy made many friends and we all look forward to the next opportunity to temporarily relocate our family and plane to serve the people of Northeast Kalimantan.

On Thursday I flew 20,000 baby fish from Tarakan to Mahak Baru--part of a government program to provide each family fish to grow in their little ponds to eventually eat.  When I arrived I was peppered with questions from everyone about Joy and the kids--where are they?  How are they?  What are they doing?  Do they miss us?  When will they come back?  etc. etc.  It's fun when the people that I serve and meet on a regular basis, finally get to meet the rest of my family.  Now they feel like they really know us.  I handed out pictures of our time there, and enjoyed some tea and visiting before climbing back into the plane for another flight to Malinau.

P.S.  Please continue to pray for Katie and Jeremiah Uskert and their extended family and the MAF team in Aceh.  Thanks!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Please Pray!

The following text is from the MAF Website.  Photos are by Tripp Flythe.

Sumatra, Indonesia—11-08-10—Benjamin T. Uskert, a pilot and mechanic serving in Sumatra, Indonesia with MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship), died Sunday, Nov. 7, in a swimming accident.
Ben was at a beach with a group from a local orphanage when two teenagers ventured into deep water and were swept away from the shore. He and another adult swam out to assist them, but Ben and one of the youths were overcome by the waves and current. Ben was pronounced dead at the scene; the body of the teenager has not been recovered.
"We are profoundly saddened by the loss of our friend and fellow worker in Christ, as well as the young man he was attempting to rescue," said John Boyd, president and chief executive officer of MAF. "Please pray for Ben’s wife, Katie, and son, Jeremiah, as well as the other members of the family."
The Uskerts joined MAF in 2008. They attended language school in Indonesia for nine months before beginning service with the MAF Sumatra program in December 2009.  Memorial services will be held on Saturday, Nov. 13, in Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia.

Several of our folks from Tarakan and Palangkaraya will be heading over to Banda Aceh to be there for the Katie, Jeremiah, their family and the MAF team.  Please keep them all in your prayers during this very difficult time.

We only recently met ben and Katie when they came over to our program a few months ago to help with a Caravan inspection.  Even during our brief visits with this young couple, their love for the Lord was very evident.  Ben's never-ending smile and upbeat, positive personality were contagious.   My friend and fellow pilot, Tripp Flythe, knew Ben well, and was a close friend.  I love what he shared about Ben on his blog.  If you want to read another take, here's an article from a news outfit in Indiana that gives more of their background info.

Thanks for praying.  God is sovereign!