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

Thursday, June 26, 2014

More Than Just a Job!

On a number of occasions I've had the opportunity to chat with airline pilots about who MAF is and what we do.  As you might expect, the initial reaction is often something like, "Wow!  that sounds really awesome!"  I assure you, it is!  But trust me, there are tons of easier jobs out there.  Many that pay more, take less training, or offer up less stress.  The thing is, this is more than just a job!  It's an entire way of life!

People who do what MAF does, they don't do it for the pay or the benefits or the adventure of it.  Sure, I love adventure--but there's easier, cheaper ways to get the adventure fix.  No, we do it for the people.  We do it to invest in peoples' lives for eternity.  We do it to help and to serve, in the name of Jesus.  To be His hands and feet.   And trust me, you can't quantify that with a paycheck, or compare it to a benefits package.  What we do provides a level of satisfaction and joy and fulfillment that can't be measured in numbers.  So yeah, it's more than a job--it's a ministry and a way of life!  And we couldn't be here without a whole big team of YOU guys out there, backing us and MAF.  Thank you!  Of course, this type of commitment doesn't only have to take place here on the "foreign" mission field.  It can happen anywhere God puts you--as a pilot in the airlines, as a teacher in a school, a nurse or doctor in a hospital, a mom raising your kids, whatever and wherever.  In Uganda, in Indonesia, in the U.S., in the UK--wherever God has you, you can live and serve and be the hands and feet of Jesus too!  Trust me, you won't regret it!

But back to the people here.  Seriously, just look at those smiles!  Don't you just love that?  It's not always easy doing what we do--in fact it's often really, really hard.  But it's SO worth it! 

Last week I went fully operational (meaning I can fly on my own again--yippee!).  It's a real joy to be out there doing what I love--serving people and seeing the effects of the ministries and work that takes place as a result.  

I wish you could have heard these kids.  They were all gathered to greet a ministry team I had brought in, and they were all singing together in perfect harmony, and clapping a lovely beat--a special song of welcome for the group that had just arrived.  I just can't get over how adorable the kids are!

This week I completed a G1000 checkout.  MAF International recently took delivery of a very nice G1000 equipped Grand Caravan here in Uganda.  It's their first that's equipped like this.  The G1000 is Garmin's "glass panel" consisting of three large, beautiful electronic displays and a bunch of integrated avionics stuff (below).  It's been fun to fly with Hansjoerg, our training captain.  He's a fellow Moody Aviation grad and friend from back in flight school days.  Since the Kodiaks that I was previously flying in Kalimantan also had the G1000 panel, the transition for me was very quick and painless.

And once we landed, since there were two of us, Hansjoerg agreed to handle all of the ground stuff so that I could snap some shots--something that can be tough to squeeze in on a normal flight day when I'm on my own.

But then, seeing me with my camera, there was soon a huge crowd of kids following me around and asking for photos.  The crowd of school kids and some pastors asked if they could get their picture taken with me in front of the aircraft.  So I handed over my camera to someone, and after a half dozen  attempts to find the button, they snapped this one almost by accident.  Not bad hugh?   But personally, I prefer to be on the other side of the lens.

A parting shot...I told you the kids were adorable!  They're so curious and  friendly and fun.  I had a great time taking pictures of them and then showing them on the camera screen.  They often react with a mix of something between awe, confusion, fright, and usually wind up giggling with excitement.  Some time when I'm back I'll bring them some prints to keep. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

THANKS! And a Few Birds.

Joy and I just want to say a big THANKS to YOU, our ministry support team!  We couldn't be here without your faithful prayers and generous ministry support.  And recently several of you have been a blessing to our family above and beyond the norm.  Thank you!  If you ever have any questions as to what's going on behind the scenes here, either with us personally, or with the ministry, or with our support or finances, or whatever, please don't hesitate to drop us an e-mail at any time.

This week I'm scheduled to be set free to fly on my own here in Uganda, East DRC and S. Sudan.   If all goes according to plan, I'll make one more flight on Tuesday up to S. Sudan with another pilot riding along, and then on Wednesday I'm scheduled to make my first "solo" flight, which will be to East DRC.  The rest of the week I have additional flights scheduled to various places.  Since everyone we fly is involved in missions or NGO work in some way, it's always encouraging and exciting to hear their stories.  There's a lot of critical ministries going on here, which are being directly facilitated through MAF.  And I'm thrilled to get to be a small part of that.  I hope to slowly begin taking more pictures as I get accustomed to the local cultures and dynamics in each place.  So keep checking back here.  Thanks to Hansjoerg for snapping the one above.

Well, I promised you some shots of a few birds, so here they are.  We're not the only ones flying around out at the MAF airfield.  These Hadada Ibis are actually quite an annoyance and hazard to the aircraft.  And man do they have a loud squawk!  They love to squawk outside our window early in the morning.

Here's what they look like up close.  They're a big bird and more than one has been hit by a plane on takeoff or landing.  They're often in groups of several or more.

Speaking of planes and birds, there's a whole bunch of Pied Kingfishers that like to claim the "King of the Mountain" spot on top of the MAF planes' rudders.

But they're not the only Kingfishers around.  The bright blue Woodland Kingfisher is especially fun to see, though they seem to be a bit more shy.

This one was pretty far away so I couldn't get a very good picture.  I think it's a Speckled Mousebird, not as colorful as some of these, but sporting a pretty cool spiked hairdo.

This male, Double-toothed Barbet was sure colorful though.  

Perhaps our favorites were the Black-headed Weaver birds.  The males are bright yellow, with vibrant, red eyes staring out from a black head.

These birds are master weavers.  There's dozens of nests in the weaver tree, and many birds constantly hard at work making and fixing these works of art.  The males work feverishly to construct the perfect nest for their females.

However the females aren't necessarily easy to please.  If they don't like something about the nest they simply cut it down and the males have to start again from scratch.  Below the tree are a bunch of nests that didn't make the cut...or did.

Here's a female doing a very detailed inspection.  In the background the male nervously watches, hoping that she loves it!

These are just a few of the birds we saw during our picnic last week out at the MAF airfield.  Uganda is a great place for birdwatching.  There's so many amazing and colorful species here.  And we continually marvel at the beauty, imagination, and detail of our Creator!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

An Update

My lack of posting on the blog recently is directly related to how busy I've been.  A few weeks ago I got a temporary pilots license in Uganda (good through mid-August) and immediately started my Caravan checkout.  The picture below is one of our Caravans taking off at our home base in Kajjansi.  

Below is a picture from a flight I did last week into the Karamoja region of Eastern Uganda.  The people and the landscape are so beautiful there.  And everyone is so friendly in that region.  But these are people who've been through a LOT over the years--more than you can imagine!  It's a real privilege to be providing a crucial service that gets missionaries and aid workers into and out of these remote areas.

By the way,  if you've followed my blog for a while and have come to expect a bunch of pictures of the flights and people we and I are both going to have to be a bit patient.  It's a bit trickier here for me to take pictures than it was over in Indonesia.  In Kalimantan, I could simply snap away, virtually anywhere, and everyone loved it and was fine with that.  But here I have to be a lot more careful...especially up in South Sudan.  Because of the security situation there and for other reasons, it's a lot tricker.  So bear with me.  Over time I'll try to show you more and more of what we're doing.  But I want to be sure to do be respectful of the local cultures and protocols.

Here's a few random shots from closer to home.

Our kids playing in the mud with some of their new friends--another one of the MAF families here.

Here's Tanner showing off the newest member of our family.  We got her from the pastor, who's dogs had puppies just after we arrived (she's half lab, half doberman).  Right now she's too small and cute to be anything other than cuddly, but eventually she'll serve as a guard dog. 

Ain't he handsome?  I can't believe how fast they grow up!  It seems like just a few years ago when we were in Alaska, and he was one year old.  Now look at him!

This little gal saw me with the camera and boldly came up and asked me to take her picture.  She wanted to see herself on the camera screen.  She was all giggles right up until I was ready to snap the picture, then she was instantly serious.  As soon as the shutter released, she was laughing again.

Here's Joy doing what she does best!  The opportunities are endless here for her to be involved in the lives of little kids who are desperate to be noticed and loved.

And here's two kids that like to be noticed too. :-)  On Sunday we drove out to Kajjansi, where the MAF hangar is located, for a picnic.  Joy and the kids had actually only been there once.  Even though it's not that far out of the city, it can take quite a while to get there because of traffic.  So you sort of need to have a good reason for heading out there.  Our reason was simply the need to get out of the city and get some fresh air and see the birds and flowers and enjoy a few hours of down-time after the crazy pace of life over the past two months.  It was well worth it!  We needed that!

While we were there at the MAF airstrip I got some great shots of some of the local birds.  There are so many amazing and beautiful birds here!  Next time I'll show you a few pictures of some of the birds we saw on Sunday.