Saturday, October 26, 2019

Pilot Training for Meninho

In September Holly and I made a last minute trip back to Mozambique.  We had several goals for the trip (mainly packing up our house to put in storage), but another goal was for me to talk to Mozambican friends and get details of a story that started long before our family moved there.

In 2008, Mozambique experienced significant flooding.  The UN and Moz government were collaborating on recovery and preventative efforts to mitigate future flood damage.  Working with them was a highly educated Moz Christian named Diniz (De-neesh).  Because of the remote location and impassable flooded roads, MAF helped with transportation and became connected with Diniz.

Before one MAF flight, Diniz asked if his 11 year old son Meninho (Mah-neen-you) could come along.  He sat up front, and once the airplane climbed to altitude, our pilot asked him if he wanted to try flying.  That was not unusual - what was unusual is that he was good at it.  Meninho took to flying right away and said that someday he wanted to be a pilot.

Our director told him if he came into the hangar and volunteered, MAF would help him learn about aviation.  He helped wash, load, and unload airplanes, and did anything else he could do to learn or help whenever he had a break from school.  He was often there for our hangar Bible studies.  When we had an empty seat on a flight, we would bring him along, and on empty reposition flights with our instructor, he flew.  The instructor pilot told me he was always incredibly impressed with his precision and decision making. 

Meninho volunteered so much between his first flight and high school graduation, he ended up riding along for over 500 hours of flight time!  When Mozambique’s aviation rules changed and we needed help with the new certification processes, Meninho’s dad, Diniz, came to work at MAF.  Diniz has been our administrator and an invaluable member of our team ever since.  It was Diniz who went with me to build the airstrip for the Micaune Bible translators, and without him that airstrip would not be built.

Meninho is graduating college in December with a degree in administration.  This year he began working part time for MAF as the assistant quality manager.  When he finishes college, our MAF program would love to train him in as an MAF pilot. 

We are raising funds to help Meninho go to flight school in the US.  Below are some of the reasons it makes sense to us:

              -  Aviation fuel is very expensive in Africa, making training in the US a cheaper option.
       -    Meninho already speaks English well.
       -   As a Mozambican, Meninho understands the Moz culture and people in a way that we and our
                  colleagues are still striving towards.
-  Pilot traing for a single individual is cheaper than sending a new MAF pilot family to Portugal
           for a year of language school.

       Generous supporters have already donated $32,000!  For travel, living expenses and training Meninho needs about $43,000 more.  Raising support from overseas is not a viable option, so we are helping fundraise for this while we are stateside.

We would love to talk with you about Meninho!  Please pray about helping Meninho get into the air with a tax deductible donation.  This would be a great cause to consider for year-end giving.  To donate online, click here, or call MAF at 1(800) 359-7623 and let them know you want to give to fund 4611.  You can also give via a check made out to MAF with 4611 in the memo line, and mailed to:

Mission Aviation Fellowship
P.O. Box 47
Nampa, ID 83653

From us, Meninho, and our whole program, thank you!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Update post back surgery for Grady

If you are following our MAF prayer letters you will remember that Grady went off to Portugal for a surgery at the beginning of April.  His surgery went well and the recovery is progressing as it should.  Thank you thank you thank you Lord!  At this point it is still too early to know how much it will help the back pain he has been dealing with since the accident. 
Grady waiting for surgery

He was scheduled to be gone just over three weeks but after the surgery the doctor felt it would be best if he had several weeks of physical therapy prior to returning.  Thankfully the car driver’s insurance agreed to pay for a ticket change and the required therapy!  Our Africa regional director even came for a quick, encouraging visit up to Portugal to see him – what an amazing way to show Grady he is appreciated, cared for and valued.  Grady is now set to return on May 12th.  And we are ready for his return as it will have been just over six weeks!  

The boys and I are doing alright.  We made it the first week and a half when Diego still had school and then my brother was able to come visit for two weeks!  It was his first time in Moz and in Africa and we were all beyond delighted to have him with us.  He was able to experience rats and power outages, a tiny bit of culture and normal life for us here, take a flight to the coast with me to pickup some passengers and swim in the Indian Ocean.  He did a great job keeping us (especially me) sane.  Now we are in the home stretch with a week and a half left before Grady returns. 
Diego in a relay race at end of term swimming event.
Swimming in the Indian Ocean with Uncle Cody.

Please keep praying for Grady’s recovery and for an uplifting time in Portugal for him.  Also for my patience with the boys.  I love them dearly but sometimes they are a handful that makes me fly up the wall in a less than loving reaction… :( Also for the boys, Diego especially is missing Daddy and just more emotional than normal. 

When he gets back it will be right into the frying pan because government inspections are scheduled for the week after his return!

Thank you all for your prayers and concern during this process – we appreciate you all very much.  

Hugs, Holly

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Medical Flight to Niassa

We left Nampula early in the morning after confirming good weather conditions at our destination via internet phonecall with a conservation worker in the reserve (what a luxury!) and then flew the two hours north to Erevuka, which is located in the heart of the Niassa Reserve.  Our team of Christian Mozambicans: doctor, nurse and healthcare worker, were met by a large portion of the village including elders, conservation scouts and many women and children.  After greetings, we took to the trail walking the five minutes in to the clinic.  The medical team worked there with the local nurse to see a group of villagers with a variety of ailments that included a minor hand injury, sick children with malaria and prenatal checkups.  Then a second group arrived who were brought in from a neighboring village.  The healthcare worker met with a group of volunteers in the village school to continue community service training with them.  This training is done in Portuguese and then translated into the local language for the nonportuguese speakers.  A big goal to this project is to come alongside the local medical workers and facilities they do have, and not to take over or replace what is already there.  The nurse is doing a good job with what is available, but, frankly, there are very stark conditions.  The little clinic has a solar panel to power a tiny refrigerator for some medications, but I did not see a single lightbulb. 

 We drew a colorful crowd!

 The clinic in Erevuka.

Over lunch we spoke with the village leader and nurse about several hernia patients, some of whom will require surgeries in Nampula.  It was inspiring to see the brainstorming and problem solving at work to coordinate this at a future date.  The patients will need transport (from MAF) as well as lodging, a caregiver at the hospital and during recovery in Nampula, food, etc. and it is a complicated process to gather all that together.
Erevuka's colonial era schoolhouse 

Before departing many of the villagers and staff requested photos with our team and the airplane.  Then we hopped 15 minutes over to the conservancy camp on the Lugenda River for dinner and the overnight (in really nice tents with attached waterfall showers built for tourists– we aren’t always so spoiled!)

Home Sweet Home for the night

Not a bad place for your quiet time reflections 

Classic Niassa Airstrip Visitors... Impalas

Not a bad view for AAL to fall asleep to...  

Another early morning saw us well-fed and off to Gomba, a village on the northern border of Mozambique, snuggled up against the Rovuma River with beautiful views of Tanzania for a backdrop. While the medical team went off to meet their patients, I stayed on the airstrip with a large group of curious and friendly bystanders.  My favorite time is often spent with the village children, showing them the airplane.  Since I was free until our departure I had a pleasant time giving every child an opportunity to sit in the plane and get a pilot’s view.  Some kids jumped in full of spunk and laughter, others climbed in for their turn literally trembling with fear (so brave) and still others were so little that I lifted them in where they were dwarfed by our small Cessna.  Everyone was dripping sweat in the hot sun so no one chose to stay too long in the airplane (aka winged oven) and when all the kids and a few adults had taken a turn, a young girl took me over to the clinic to await our departure.  I spent time “talking” with a couple ladies, one of whom had a baby with her.  It always amazes me what comradery mothers can communicate amongst themselves when speaking different languages! 

Gomba, by air

The grass was too long on one side of the runway so I had to find recruits for a quick trim... 

 Gomba's hospital 

Mozambique - Tanzania border - these particular mountains are in Tanzania

When the medical team wrapped up we walked back to the airstrip with a large escort of patients and villagers who waved us off as we began our uneventful, 2.5 hour flight home to Nampula that afternoon. 

A meeting of the Rovuma and Lugenda Rivers 

As this medical program progresses (it’s still in infancy) our desire is to forge strong relationships with these villagers, to aid them in building up the healthcare in their communities and to demonstrate the love of Christ to them. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Holly is in the Air!

**I wrote this up several months ago in February 2017, and somehow forgot to publish it!  I thought everyone would still enjoy it, even if outdated. ***

Both Grady and I have our pilot certificates validated for flying in Mozambique.  Praise the Lord for their arrival!  Our written exams in the capital were passed at the end of December and our validations arrived about five weeks later.

Six months to the day after our arrival in Mozambique I was able to do my first solo flight ops.  I took three passengers from our base in Nampula down to Topuito and then had an empty return leg.  Oh, it felt absolutely wonderful to be up in the sky again!  As per MAF tradition, the welcoming committee was a wet one.  Thank you everyone for praying for these validations to come through!  Unlike our pilot certificates, the validations expire and will have to be renewed periodically.

Below are some random pictures from life lately.
 Goats, people, and many things often travel in unusual ways.

 Seatbelts optional.

Gurue, Mozambique 

 Uncle Jody came to visit for Christmas!

Can you spot the lizard?

Did I mention it's hot?! 

Laundry line. 

All he ever really needs is a pile of dirt. 

Just chilling.  Diego loves the water.  We were able to take a couple days for beach camping several hours from our home with Uncle Jody. 

 Sails are made from many different products. Not sure what this plastic came from.

The oldest European building in the southern hemisphere... Vasco de Gama arrived on Mozambique Island in 1498. 

Used for pulling water from a well.  Clean water is still a big issue here.

The governor of Nampula Province came to a presentation at our hangar and the Caravan was sprayed in his honor. 

 Lucas makes friends wherever he goes.

Uncle Jody brought a care package from our home church in Washington - we had a blast with the train gingerbread kit! 

Lucas has a Land Cruiser too... it's made from bamboo.

Oma & Opa came to visit right after the new year! What a lovely way to begin 2017!

 Stop discrimination and human trafficking - we are all together fighting this evil.


“Home is where the heart is.” 

“Home is where you hang your hat." 

“There’s no place like home.”

 “A home away from home.”

Home.  I’ve been thinking on it a lot lately.  It is a word that invokes a lot of feeling.  Sometimes it brings positive emotions and sometimes negative.  It can bring peace, joy, loneliness… but for me the concept of home can also be confusing. 

How so?  Well, where is home?  We have just returned home to Mozambique from our first furlough.  But we were also “going home” for that furlough, and not just to one home but two, in two different states.  And last year at this time, we were getting ready to say goodbye to our home in Portugal.  For me, I keep coming back to that iconic phrase: “Home is where the heart is.”  But my heart is in a lot of places these days, with a lot of people. 

We enjoyed being back stateside, spending time with family for our six week trip.  Two weeks in Texas at my parents’, where I grew up from kindergarten on.  Soaking up time in the yard, watching my kids play with Oma, Opa and Uncle Cody, gobbling salsa and fried okra (not together), feeling comfortable. 
(with Oma and Opa enjoying tractors at a historic farm reenactment)

And there were three weeks in Washington, too, making memories with Grady’s mother, brother, and sister.  The weather was gloriously sunny.  We lived in that house for three plus years while Grady became a mechanic, coming when Diego was less than a year and only moving when it was time for language school in Portugal.  So, in both cases it was coming home, only not totally home anymore, a strange feeling . . .

 (sledding with Grandma and Uncle Jody on Mt. Baker)

Diego was asked while we were back how it felt to be home.  His response was swift: “This isn’t home! My home is in Mozambique!”  It does my heart good to know that Diego and Lucas are identifying home as Moz.  In fact, Lucas did not even remember the US – it was all new to him because we had left before he was seven months old.  We delighted in introducing him to our special homes in TX and WA, in building memories with him and our family there.

Now, we have returned home to Mozambique.  To be honest, I was nervous when we left for the States.  I thought I might not want to come back; that I’d come back resenting it.  The nine months we’d had in Moz so far hadn’t been easy ones and we left worn out.  But, while the goodbyes stateside were hard, while Diego cried as we drove away after each goodbye and it tore at my heart strings to leave, I didn’t really want to stay.  Because home is here in Mozambique, too.  We are building a life here, relationships here.  Our teammates met us at the airport to help with our bags, and oh, I had missed them!  We went to church on Sunday and during the greeting time I felt so joyful.  So many familiar faces that I am slowly coming to love. 

(a pause do admire our passion fruit vine during his ride)
(Diego riding to Lucas after school)

So, I’m learning that you can have more than one home to turn to.  And I’m so thankful for the people who make those houses into homes for us, all across the world.  The love found in each gives us a taste of our heavenly home. 

Can you be praying that our love for the Mozambican people would grow, that it would become more and more reflective of the love Christ has for them?  Please pray for these weeks of transition back into life here, dealing with jetlag, being willing to step out of my comfort zone into the culture, final recover from surgery, etc?  Also, for our family back home – goodbyes are hard and while we are missing them, they are also missing us!

Here are a few quotes on “home” that I’ve found and enjoyed lately:
“Like a bird that flees its nest is anyone who flees from home."  Proverbs 27:8
Home is where one starts from.” T.S. Eliot
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in. “ Robert Frost
“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” Jane Austen
“You’re traveling all over the world but to be home is something special.” Sebastian Vettel
“When you live far away, home looks a little different every time.” Gideon Raff
“Family makes a house a home.” Jennifer Hudson
“The thrill of coming home has never changed.” Guy Pearce
“Nothing can bring a real sense of security into the home except true love.” Billy Graham
"How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young - 
a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you." Psalm 83:1-4