Sunday, December 23, 2018

Puddles, Presidents, and Peace on Earth

Merry Christmas!

 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2: 10-14)

A little of Jill's Christmas artwork

What a great reminder that the arrival of Jesus is reason for GREAT JOY for ALL people.  Without the baby, we would not have the Savior! 

Thank you so much for your encouragement and support over the last year!  So much has happened and we are grateful for our friends and family, as well as strangers we barely know, who care, pray, and continue to support our work in Mozambique. 

We are having a pretty low-key Christmas holding down the fort while our colleagues are on furlough in the US. We plan to enjoy a Christmas dinner with some friends to celebrate.  Friday our staff did our annual distribution of cookies and cokes to the various workers at the airport.  We went to dispatch, up in the tower, the airline offices, the fueling stations, to the police and military posts, and the parking attendants to share some Christmas cheer and hand out the Christmas story as a reminder of why we are celebrating. 

The coke/cookie delivery team

Cookies for the firefighters
 While our friends in North America are turning up the heat and maybe even playing in the snow (I saw the fun pictures on Facebook!), we are in the middle of our hot season (for some reason I still have trouble calling it summer in December).  November and December are quite warm with many days over 100 degrees.  In mid-December, the rainy season gets going and shows us where the leaks are in the house!  The rain does cool things down a bit, but with the high humidity it can get quite balmy.  Charlie is a bit neurotic when it comes to storms and Lobo doesn’t mind running around in the rain and then rubbing his drenched fur on us!  Laundry takes forever to dry and the roads get potholes or turn into rivers, but after a long dry season, things really start to green up!  The foggy mornings and stormy afternoons can be a pilot’s nightmare, but it is also beautiful. 

A nervous Charlie

A wet Lobo
One cool thing that happened a couple of weeks ago was flying the President of Mozambique.  This was the second time for Ambassador Aviation, but the first time for Dave.  He was able to shake his hand and have a brief conversation with him.  We are now calling our Caravan “Ambassador One”!

Procession for the President before he left on our Caravan (to the left)

Dave with the President in the background at the airstrip at Memba

And a couple of birds pics that didn't make the cut on the last blog...
Green-Backed Heron

Weavers enjoying the water

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Transects, Turkeys, and Turning Wrenches

Baobab tree next to the Caravan at Lugenda

In the span of a few weeks, Dave flew about 80 hours doing an elephant survey.  This consisted of flying transects at low-level (about 300 ft above the ground) following the terrain over the wildlife reserve areas.  Dave had to maintain his altitude and stay on course for the survey (in order for it to meet scientific standards) while spotters counted and identified the wildlife seen.  It usually entailed a five hour flight in the morning followed by a two hour flight in the afternoon for six days straight and then a day of rest.  The purpose of the survey was to help Mozambique get an idea of the elephant population and the effects poaching have had on the population.  While it is a fun experience, the long days of flying can be intense, hot, and exhausting. 
A look at the transects from our tracking software
 Shortly after he got back, one of the families on our program left for their furlough leaving just two pilots to manage all of the flights.  November is always one of our busiest months so Dave was busy flying many different organizations all over the place.  One interesting flight was for some Norwegian missionaries who work primarily in southern Mozambique.  Dave flew a long day getting them from Chimoio, in the southern part of Mozambique, to Cuamba, in the north.  

Caravan taking off at Lugenda

Thanksgiving is not a holiday celebrated in Mozambique, but we had a group of 22 Americans (kids and adults) that got together to give thanks.  The group represented 4 different organizations serving Mozambique in very different ways.  We were able to eat most of our beloved traditional foods (even turkey), play games, and enjoy multiple types of pie… yum!

Jill's apple pie

 Our most recent medical flights to Niassa included an eye doctor.  Like the dentist on previous trips, this was most certainly the first eye doctor to visit these villages ever.  Various reading glasses were taken and it was a blessing to help give the gift of improved vision to patients.  It makes me realize how much I take for granted my ability to pop in my contact lenses for 20/20 vision without any thought. 

Getting an eye exam
First pair of glasses
Pulling a tooth
 Because of our busy flight schedule and being short-staffed, a couple from our headquarters was willing to come to Mozambique for several weeks to help with a major inspection on our Cessna 206.  Larry has spent most of his time in the hangar, while his wife, Linda, has continued to do her work for headquarters remotely.  What a huge blessing to have the help during such a busy time! 

Larry and Nelson working on the landing gear
One of the things we love about living in Mozambique is the sense of community and how everyone helps everyone out.  Northern Mozambique is a difficult place to get things as we are far from major cities where parts and services are more readily available.  Since aviation is quite a technical field requiring very specialized skills and parts, this can often pose a problem.  Two different small aircraft operated by conservation groups in the Niassa Reserve had mechanical issues that our MAF mechanics were able to assist with.  I was able to tag along on a flight in our Caravan on a trip where Dave, Dave, and Larry were putting their mechanic skills to good use.

Someone had to squish down the lid on the box!

 And of course, wildlife pictures... courtesy of my walk along the Lugenda River while the mechanics were busy doing their thing!  It has been so hot here lately (over 100 degrees) that it didn’t take long to get a sunburn on that walk!

Little Bee-Eater
White-Fronted Bee-Eater
Bush buck
African Jacana
Monitor Lizard
Yellow-Billed Stork  

Family of hamerkops living on our property