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

Monday, October 31, 2011

Pretty Flowers

If you tried to watch/listen to Joy's talk on Friday night then you already know that they were having technical difficulties and the screen was black.  Sorry.  The kids and I were all geared up to watch, but alas we'll just have to use our imaginations.  I think she's still planning to put up a link to the audio recording on her blog at some point, so we'll have to hold out for that.

In the meantime, I'll share some random "pretty flower" shots that I've had for a while.  Some of these were taken in our yard, some in the jungle, some by the edge of village airstrips.  What gets me is how much beauty God hides in plain sight--many times we walk right past and don't even notice.  Well here's a chance to take in a bit of that beauty from the comfort of your office chair, without having to soak up the heat and humidity that goes along with it here in Indonesia. :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Don't Miss Joy's Talk

So apparently Joy's Friday night (Oct 28th) keynote talk at the Relevant 11 conference in PA is going to streamed live (video) on the internet here starting at 7:00pm EST.   (For us, here in Tarakan, that's on Saturday morning at 7:00am.)  If you go to the streaming video sight and there's nothing playing right now, scroll down to the bottom to see the "upcoming shows" where you'll see Joy's keynote listed.  There, you can sign up for a "reminder" if you want one.

Photo by Tripp Flythe
If you can't tune in live, then I'm sure she'd at least appreciate your thoughts and prayers.  Pray that the Lord would speak through her in a powerful way so that many would be encouraged and challenged.

Also, if you miss it live, but still want to hear it,  I think she'll be putting up a link to the audio recording on her blog when she gets a chance.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What Happens When Mama is Gone.

Joy left for America on Thursday to speak at the Relevant 11 conference this coming Friday.  You can read about it on her blog.  The kids and I are so proud of her, but we sure do miss her!   While she's gone we're trying to think of all the fun and crazy things that we can possibly do and cram them into the two weeks before she gets back!  Obviously this is a plan to help the time go faster, not to leave her out of the activities.  

Today we took a hike in the jungle.  Don't be fooled by the solemn looks on the boys faces.  They were having a blast!  But after five minutes of waiting for my camera lens to unfog in the hot, humid air, I think they had long since slipped into daydream world. 

In this shot Britton and Hannah are looking for "artifacts" in the stream bed.  Britton keeps a big supply of spare rocks, wood, moss, etc. for his pet reticulated python and turtles.  Hannah just loves to collect anything and everything that she possibly can--in this case pieces of petrified wood and coral that are abundant here in the stream.

Aw, Tyler!  The little guy cracks me up.  Check out those socks!  He refused to take them off, even when we were walking through sand and water.  He loves 'em!  And boy can he talk!  In fact, he never stops talking--ever!  Fear not mama, any snake within a 100 miles of us had plenty of warning to run away before we ever got close, because Tyler was talking continuously.  I must have heard "I'm o.k. dad. I'm o.k."  at least 50 times or more, as he reassured himself (he's tougher on the outside than he is on the inside) that he was going to be o.k. by telling me as much.  And of course, I told him that same thing, "Yep, you're o.k. buddy, you're doing just fine." as I held tightly to his hand.  The jungle stresses him out even though he begs me to take him in.  Meanwhile, Tanner never says a word and refuses help, plowing full steam ahead trying to keep up with Britton.  Amazing how unique and different the twins' personalities are!

The kids were spotting all kinds of bugs and flowers and stuff.  Here's one of the flowers.

And here's some thorns.  These suckers are BIG and SHARP!

Just as we were reaching the bottom of the ravine, Hannah spotted a ginormous wasp nest not more than 15 feet away.  We were standing right in line with the HUGE wasps that were flying into and out of the nest.  I've never seen anything like it!  It was at least six or seven feet tall and probably two and a half feet wide at the base, attached to a dead palm branch hanging close to the stream.  These wasps were crazy BIG!  And EVIL looking!  One of them landing on Britton right about the time Hannah pointed out the nest.  Fortunately he kept his cool as it climbed in his shirt and I slowly turned it inside out until it flew away.  Others were flying over our heads.  Praise the Lord we got out of there without any stings.  There were thousands of them and I'd of hated to see them stirred up and mad!!!

Shortly thereafter we got overtaken by a thunderstorm and made our way back to the car in a downpour, dripping wet like a bunch of drowned rats.  But the kids had a blast!  We've also been playing a lot of board games and drawing pictures.  Last night we took the RC plane down by the hangar and joined another MAF guy and a group of Indonesians who had brought their own Radio Controlled planes to fly.  It was like an air show!  We've also enjoyed a family movie night with popcorn and sodas.  Oh, and we've been blessed by many of the other families here on our program who have graciously and generously done everything from having the kids over to play, to making us yummy pumpkin bread, scrumptious doughnuts, amazing pizza and more!!  We have the best team!

This afternoon we also busted out the Red Ryder BB gun for some target practice.  Each kid takes a turn as I teach them basic gun safety and they get to try their turn at becoming the "Top Shot".  Of course, Tyler (at left) who is a weapon fanatic, always takes a turn every single time, with or without the real gun.  In this case he's "shooting" with the scope covers that came off my pellet gun (not pictured).  Oh, and just to put your mind at ease, the gun was unloaded and the safety on for this picture.  Obviously this is rule number one--never point a gun at a person.  Of course, there's always exceptions to rules--like when your dad wants to take a picture and personally takes responsibility for the risk of getting shot in the schnoz!

On Wednesday we got a unique flight request.  It was actually a "no fly" day as we had a full day of meetings planned here in the hangar--tech meeting, staff meeting,  and then a half day of prayer.  However, an Indonesian pastor had died the night before in Samarinda, and we were being asked to fly his body back to his home and family in Malinau.  We agreed to do the flight.

Samarinda is about 1 1/2 hours direct flight from Tarakan by Kodiak and we rarely make that flight from our home base.  In fact, I had never done it before--been there quite a few times from the Apokayan region, but never directly from Tarakan

Large areas of limestone formations appear out of nowhere, like the Badlands of Borneo!  It's hard to capture it from three thousand feet above, out the window of a bouncy airplane with a point and shoot camera, but these things are seriously impressive!

It's literally miles upon miles of sheer rock spires and cliffs and caves in the middle of the jungle!  Nothing much seems to grow on them or in between them.  It would be an awful place to have an engine failure, but a really sweet place to explore!  I think I just got a new idea for a future trek!! :)  Anyone wanna join me?

MAF used to have a base in Samarinda but eventually closed it, for among other reasons, the fact that it was getting so dangerous on the runway.  The runway is literally carved out of the middle of a very densely populated city.  The approach and departure take you directly over the roofs of houses and mosques, which also line both sides of the runway very closely.  Since the time when MAF moved out, the conditions have improved a lot.  Though the runway is still surrounding by dense buildings and population, the runway is controlled tightly and we haven't had the issues of the past with people and vehicles running out in front of us on the runway.

We still have an old hangar and a employee there and he helps with the arrangements for a flight like this.  After we loaded up the pastor's body the large crowd gathered around the plane for prayer.  It was touching to see how extremely grateful the family was to me and to MAF for helping them in such an important matter.  Likewise, when I landed in Malinau (another 1 1/2 flight) we were greeting by hundreds of people, all offering their deep gratitude for the help that we provided.

That's a bit of what's been going on this week.  We're missing "our Joy" as she's thousands of miles away.  But we're so excited for the opportunity that God's given her, and proud of her for taking it.  In the meantime, we're holding the fort down here, and having fun doing it! :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Oh Rats!

A few weeks ago we decided to start paying Britton 10,000 Rupiah (that's about $1.00) for every shrew he catches and 20,000 Rupiah (about $2.00) for every rat he catches.  It's like a win-win for us.  He certainly has the energy and drive to set lots of traps, which will help cut down on the ever-plentiful rodent population.  AND, the small ones that he catches in live traps can be fed to his reticulated python, which means we don't have to buy a baby chicken every week.  So you see, it's a great solution!

He's been catching several a week, but this week he caught the big one that's been out-smarting us for weeks.  He (and JOY!) were pretty happy about that!

Here's a few shots from my office window this past week, which happened to be the Kodiak.  Not a bad view hugh?

And one more plug for my beautiful wife's new blog, Grace Full Mama.  It's obviously geared towards women and specifically moms, but I gotta tell ya, there's a lot of good stuff in there for the rest of us too!

I'm so proud of Joy for stepping out and starting up her new blog.  It obviously takes a lot of time and energy, but she's very disciplined to only work on it during specific times she's set aside for that.  I feel like the Lord has given her many wise insights and experiences to share, and I think many women are being blessed, encouraged and challenged through her blog.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Snapshots from Various Villages

Last week was busy--with the Kodiak in for an inspection during the first part of the week.  In addition to helping on the inspection I was also involved in several other things going on in the office.

Being busy in the hangar and office, the only day I flew was on Saturday.  I had the privilege of flying down to Samarinda to move a national pastor and his family to Long Nawang where they will be serving in the village church.

The Kodiak was stuffed to the gills with over 700kg (over 1,500 lbs) of "stuff" (all of their personal belongings and possessions in this world).  The pastor's wife also rode along.  Next week the Pastor and his kids will ride on a different flight, as their wasn't enough room on my Saturday flight.

The above shots and the one below are just little random glimpses into the Kodiak' operations in various villages throughout Northeast Kalimantan.  They come from my own personal "stock" photos, for weeks like this where I'm too busy to be more creative.   Below, "Mike Echo Bravo" is approaching the island of Tarakan (where we live) as the sun sinks low over the mainland of Borneo to the west.

That's all I got for this week.  Don't forget to check out Joy's new blog "Grace Full Mama".

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Back in the 206 Saddle Again

After nearly nine months of not flying any of our Cessna 206 aircraft, I finally climbed back in the 206 saddle with a full PFR (Proficiency Flight Review) last week.  From here on out I'll hopefully be staying proficient in both the 206 AND Kodiak aircraft, flying either one as needed day to day.  Below is a shot I took of our newest pilot, Brian, taking off from PaUpan back in August.

In February of this year I went to the U.S. to attend Kodiak training.  After returning to Indonesia and completing a local Kodiak checkout, I've been tearing it up in the Kodiak ever since!

On Friday I flew a group of government officials into Long Bawan in the Kodiak to attend a grand opening of the first official bank in that region of the interior.  Several months ago we flew the bank vault into the village in our Caravan--a very difficult and awkward thing to load/unload.

Last week I took 28,000 tea plants in one load, into the village of Long Nawang--a government sponsored project to help the people start a little tea plantation.  Each box contained 1,000 small tea plants, shipped directly from JAVA on the airlines the afternoon before.

The weather has been a little cantankerous as of late.  The haze has been thickening up and mixing with smoke, which has cause our blue skies and nice visibility to all but disappear.

Why?  Well, simply put, lots of people are burning jungle.  Actually, in our area of Northeast Kalimantan most of this was already done back in August.  Here's a shot I took a few weeks ago when the sky was still blue.  This was a big, billowing pillar of smoke that went up to more than 20,000 feet!  In fact, later that afternoon it grew into a self-generated thunderstorm, producing plenty of lightning and heavy rain.   However, believe it or not, these are not the fires that have produced our bad weather.

Although this one was putting out a lot of smoke, the fires in our part of Kalimantan generally only affect our weather temporarily and locally.  Often if you fly a few miles to one side or the other, or wait till the next day, the sky is blue and nice again...unless the winds blow from the Southwest!

In that case it looks like this!  Down in Southern Kalimantan the smoke is much worse and lasts for a much longer period of time.  Large fires burn newly cleared small fields and huge palm oil plantations.  The fires get down into the peat bogs and smolder and smoke for months.  When the wind blows from that direction day after day (as it has for the past week or so) it brings the smoke with it.  And that makes our flying job much more difficult!

If you squint and look carefully you can just see the horizon line below the wing, where the smoky haze layer meets the high overcast/haze layer.  When you're up above it, it's not too bad.  But obviously you have to get down into it to takeoff and land...and that's not nearly as comfortable when you're flying into a little jungle strip on the side of a mountain.

Here's a shot from Saturday, when I was flying down to the Apokayan.  I actually thought things were looking better.  I had good visibility, though the overcast layer above was producing some light rain and fog here and there.  However, things got bad again with 30mph winds from the South bringing in smoke and thunderstorms.  So I turned around on the way to Samarinda and cancelled my flights.  Dealing with the weather can be one of the most challenging aspects of jungle bush flying.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Grace Full Mama

My amazing and beautiful wife, Joy, launched her new blog today, Grace Full Mama.

Many of you followed her old blog a while back, and I know you'll be encouraged and blessed by the "all new" Grace Full Mama.  Why not take a few minutes to check it out right now.