Friday, October 30, 2015

Robbed (...but not taken)

Read more reports at:
Is this email not displaying correctly?
View it in your browser.

C.T. Studd 

"Christ wants not nibblers of the possible, but grabbers of the impossible." 

Clothes for Wax Creek

It never ceases to amaze me how big hearted and generous the Amerindian people can be.  One day I flew into Kaikan to pick up a Pathfinder director and his family and shuttle them across to Paruima.  I happened to be in a hurry and was just wanting to pick up and go.  But when I arrived, one of the elders from the church asked me if I was ready to take the bags of clothes.  They must have read the confusion on my face, because they quickly explained that they had done a clothes drive for Wax Creek (very poor village), and they had collected 4 large bags of clothes.  At first I was a little skeptical and asked, half jokingly "Are you giving away good clothes, or are you giving away clothes that are full of holes, and you don't want any more."  "No no", the elder assured me  "these are good clothes!"  Then it struck me that this was their way of fulfilling Matthew 25:43 "...and I was naked and you clothed me."   They were just asking me to be the "air mail" delivery man. 

Women's Conference in Paruima

This last weekend they had a large conference for women in Paruima Village.  I was tasked with the job of flying in (and out) the pastors from Georgetown.  The one lady to my right was a medical doctor had never flown in an airplane of any type, and so this was a very exciting moment for her.  Several times when we flew through a cloud and the airplane bounced around a little she would close her eyes, as she was undoubtedly praying for deliverance.  I've been in that situation, and I know the feeling!  Trust me...  I've logged many prayers in small airplanes!  So whenever this happens, I have a habit of looking my passengers in the eye and giving them a big smile and thumbs up.  This helps the first-time-fliers feel more relaxed.  Hey!  If the pilot is relaxed and smiling, everything is probably going to be ok!   I wasn't able to attend, but they say that the conference went really well.

Prayer & Praise

PRAISE: God has really been blessing on all sides.  After the robbery, we were worried that maybe this would ground us for a period of time as we try to replace equipment.  But praise God we were able to dig out some backup equipment, and get back in the air the very next day!  Since then we've been going non-stop.

REQUEST: We're starting a new campaign for two more aircraft.  One will be an amphibious aircraft and the other a twin engine airplane for long, international flights.  Please pray for this as we 

REQUEST: Also pray for new pilots who are willing to come on board and join our growing team.  

If you know of someone like this, please contact them, or send them this newsletter.  - Thank you.

Robbed! (...but not taken)

Bang!  I felt something hit the back of the van.
It was a Thursday afternoon and hotter than Hades in mid-summer.  All the windows that could be rolled down in my van were fully down since the air conditioner was out of commission.  A little while earlier I had picked up some Novocaine to fly out to our school for a tooth extraction, and had dropped by a Cambio to change a $210,000 Guyanese Dollars into $1000 USD for one of our schools.  Now I was stopped at a traffic light on my way out to the airport.
When bang!!!  An African man on a bicycle slammed into the back of my van.   I froze for a moment, not quite sure what had happened, but I didn’t have long to wait.  The man wobbled around to the drivers side and started a one sided argument with me that I was parked in the middle of the road.  I was dumb struck.  What could be so wrong with driving a van down a street and stopping at a red traffic light? 
After a minute or so, the man calmed down and said in a snickering voice.  “Don’t worry, it’s ok…” 
By this time the traffic light had turned green and so I pulled ahead onto the shoulder of the road and got out to investigate the damage.  The back of the van didn’t appear to have any new scratches, so I calmly climbed back into the drivers seat. 
It didn’t look right…  Something was missing.  Immediately it clicked.  Where is my flight bag?!  I quickly searched the passenger seat and the back seats, but no bag.  I ran around to the back of the van to see if I had per-chance thrown it in the back.  Nothing…
Then it hit me…  I just fell for one of the oldest tricks in the book.  When the man on the bicycle had distracted me, another had reached in through the passenger window and snatched my flight bag. 

I scanned the road behind me, frantically searching for anyone carrying my bag.  The coast was clear… I jumped in my van and madly drove around the block, hoping, praying, and frantically searching for my Blue and Grey High Sierra flight bag.  With each passing moment the grim reality began to sink in.  It was gone for good.
“Ok Lord?”  I wondered,  “What do I do now?”
All of a sudden my carefully laid plans for the day were turned completely upside down, and I found myself sadly driving the van to the Brickdam Police Station to file a report.
The lady officer at the police station was very sympathetic about my loss, and carefully wrote down on lined notebook paper the whole sordid ordeal.  At one point we even left the station and drove to site of the robbery, hoping that there might be a camera at the traffic light or perhaps a security camera at a nearby business.  Once again there was nothing.  We had absolutely no clues whatsoever.  The bag had just vanished without a trace.
So back to the police station we went to finish off the police report.  After she read it back to me, and everything sounded pretty accurate, I signed the report and left.
Later that evening after I had a chance to mentally digest the events of the day.   I puzzled over why the Lord would allow something like this to happen.  I didn’t doubt for a second that God had foreseen this event, but why had he permitted it to happen?   Wasn’t I one of his missionaries?!  Surely God doesn’t allow the bad guys to harass His good missionaries.  Right?
Whatever the case was, I knew that God was in control. 
Obviously I was now at a significant “Y” in the road.  I could succumb to feelings of discouragement and sink into a black state of depression.  Or on the other hand I could choose to face the future unafraid, and not allow the thieves to take my courage.
That evening I wrote out a reflection on my day and posted it on Facebook.

Today I felt the hand of the devil
Try to drag me down
Today I felt darkness and discouragement
Creeping in on every side.
Today I heard the whispered temptation
To quit, to give up, to walk away

But just in case the devil might be reading his Facebook Account this evening… Let me be crystal clear.

I refuse…

I refuse to be discouraged.  
I refuse to slow down the work that I’m doing.
I refuse to ever consider quitting.
I refuse to cower in fear for my safety or the safety of my stuff.
For everything I own already belongs to Jesus.

I’m more confident that ever before that God has called me to work in his harvest
I’m daily struggling forward in the journey of faith.
I’m confident that God will complete what’s He’s begun.
I’ve put my hand to the plough.
And I’m definitely not looking back.

This incident is not a setback but a stepping-stone.
It’s not a sink hole but a launching pad.
Today is a blessing in disguise, and for that I’m eternally thankful.

Tonight I’m turning a corner…

Now is the time to take the struggle to another level.
Now is the moment to pledge total allegiance to Jesus.
Now is the time to accelerate my work as I see that glorious day approaching.
Now is the time to put it all on the line and risk all that I have, or am for the kingdom of heaven.

What about you?

Would you like to use your flying skills to serve God? Email James -[]

Join the Team

If you would like to help the missionary work go forward, you can send a tax deductible donation to:  Gospel Ministry International, PO Box 506, Collegedale Tennessee 37315.  Kindly write on a separate note that it is for Guyana Aviation Evangelism project (GAVE)
Copyright © 2015 Gospel Ministry International, All rights reserved.
You got on my list because you were on my other list
Our mailing address is:
Gospel Ministry International
121 Durban Backlands
Georgetown, No Region 0

Add us to your address book
Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp

Monday, October 19, 2015

Fixin the Ol' Girl

Read more reports at:
Is this email not displaying correctly?
View it in your browser.

Jim Elliot

"He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose"

The "Maintenance Game"

Most people know about the flying aspect of our mission, but very few realize how many hours are necessary to keep the airplane safe and in the air.  This is why I wrote a lengthy GMR on the subject, because it gives a more balanced view of what we do.  Someone once told me that to maintain a small airplane the way that it really should be maintained, requires approximately one hour of maintenance, for every hour in the air.  There is also a cost involved, for airplane parts.  If you would like to read up on the nuts and bolts of our program, you can read more about our Sustainable Aviation Maintenance (SAM)

Roller Coaster Ride!

Boy I had quite a roller coaster ride on one of my first flights after our maintenance. 
I was flying back from Paruima village late one afternoon when my phone began to pick up cell phone signals and give me that irritating buzzing in my headset. As I was trying to figure out how to put the phone on "Airplane Mode" I unwittingly flew directly into a towering thunderhead. Bam! It felt like I hit a wall. I've flown through quite a bit of nasty weather over the years, but nothing quite like this. The turbulence was so strong it would Literally throw the aircraft into 45 Degree unusual attitudes in a fraction of a second. I heard myself say... "Ooooohhhh! Lord help me!!" Praise God it didn't last for too long. When I came out the other side 1000 feet higher, I turned the airplane 90 degrees to get a picture. This really doesn't do it justice.

Tuberculosis Patient

Here was a sad situation of a 22 year old girl who had been sick for nearly an entire year.  They weren't sure quite what she had, but they suspected tuberculosis.  I have to hand it to the husband.  He carried her for over an hour to the Arau airstrip, and then walked back to the village to pick up their bag and the medical referral.  In a rare moment, while I had nothing to do but wait, I sat on a rock and chatted with the villagers.    

Prayer & Praise

PRAISE: My wife and two girls have safely returned back to Guyana.  I'm glad to have my family back with me.

REQUEST: Please pray for us.  A week ago today I was robbed in Georgetown.  I will give more details in the next GMR, but right now we're struggling as we seek to move forward in obedience to Jesus' call.

New Flight Base in Paruima

A couple weeks ago I met with the villagers from Paruima Village to discuss the plans to build a new flight base house at the airstrip.  After outlining the vision for about 30 minutes, the villagers responded overwhelmingly in support of the project.  This new flight base will allow us to base an aircraft and full time pilot in the Upper Mazaruni River.  I just gave Elder Shadrach Reuben the first instalment of funds to start the ball rolling.  The pilot house and hangar will be located at the far end of the airstrip pictured here, on the left hand side of the runway, tucked back in the trees.  We want to start the project immediately since we are currently in "dry season". 

Sweating through my IPC

I did my Instrument Proficiency Check (IPC) today. Once we were airborne, to my dismay, I discovered that my VOR receivers were acting very erratic.  But thanks to Darren Lea, we pushed through and completed it. In a week or so I'll be doing the same thing for him.  It's sure nice to have another flight instructor around!

Fixin the Old Girl

“Hey Darren, could you take five minutes and help me figure out what’s wrong with my trim control on my airplane.”

That was the first domino that set off a chain reaction which put the airplane on ground for a little over three weeks.  My trim control had completely locked up, forcing me to manually fight the controls to fly the airplane.  Any pilot out there will quickly affirm that this is not a fun way to fly!

As five minutes turned into ten minutes and then fifteen minutes it became apparent that "the issue" was going to take much more time to address than we anticipated.  As we began exploring how my horizontal stabilizer trim control really worked, it slowly dawned on us that the only way to get at the problem was to remove the entire tail, elevator controls, and the horizontal stabilizer.

Darren and I looked at each and asked the obvious question.  “Uhhh…. Do we really want to dig into this now?”  There were missionaries out in the field that needed air support, and there was (and currently is) only one airplane.  But the alternative was to continue flying the airplane manually, which was a real chore.  After much discussion and prayer we decided that now was the best time to dig into the problem.  Pastor David Gates was scheduled to fly down through Guyana in a week or so, and if we needed parts, now was the best time to buy them.

So with a deep breath we decided to take the plunge.  Five and a half hours later the tail, horizontal stabilizer, and elevators were completely off and we were able to get unfettered access to the trim jacks.

By this time the Ogle mosquitos were out in full force so we decided to wrap it up for the night.

The next day Darren and I were able to remove the jacks and disassemble them so we could see what was the matter.  The right hand jack had lost all it's grease, and had bound up.  With much WD40 and and patient work we were finally able to get it completely off.

Our great concern was that the jacks would be severely worn and would need to be replaced, but much to our relief they looked to be in very good condition.  One had just lost it’s lubrication and had locked up.  So after working on both the whole day we were able to clean them up, re-pack them with grease, and reinstall them back in the airplane.

Then it was that we faced our second tough decision.  There were some Teflon bushings that desperately needed to be replaced.  Unfortunately these were specialty items that could only come from the States.  So…  the question was whether to put “humpty dumpty” back together again and fly for a week, only to take her back apart.  Or... would it not be better to keep the airplane on the ground for a little longer so we could dig into other snags, and then put everything back correctly, once and for all.

After more discussion and prayer, we concluded that if we were going to do the job, we might as well do it right the first time. 

At this point, I was bound and determined to fix a whole slew of issues that had been a thorn in my flesh.  I reasoned that if the airplane was going to be down anyway, it was time to knock out all those issues on the back burner.
The first and most obvious issues was the spider-like filiform corrosion that was slowly spreading out underneath the aircraft paint.  Evidently the previous aircraft paint shop hadn’t fully prepped the airplane before they shot the paint, leaving micro amounts of paint stripper residue in the cracks between the overlapping aluminum skin.  Now, I decided, was the ideal time to hit it with a vengeance since it would be easier to deal with on a bench instead of a ladder.

I also had a chronic issue with a slow fuel tank leak that needed to be fixed.  It would only leak when the fuel reached the very top of the tank, but I had fought with this issue for over a year, and enough was enough!  So in one day I completely disconnected and removed my right fuel bladder.  Sure enough!  Right near the top there was a crack around the fuel cross-feed vent.  Unfortunately the maintenance manual stated that it wasn’t repairable.  So that evening I shelled out $930 for a new fuel bladder.  Ouch!!!

Daily I would come into the airport and work on the airplane.  Sometimes alone, sometimes with other mechanics.

One of my work buddies that helped me quite a bit was a young aviation maintenance student, by the name of Matthias.  Usually when 4pm would roll around, everyone was packing up and ready to head home.  But not Matthias.  He would work together with me (slapping mosquitoes) until 7:00 or 7:30pm. 

Between the two of us we were able to set up and paint our entire tail section.  It was a little hit and miss at the beginning, but by the end we were getting the hang of it, and I could see that Matthias had a real knack for it.

By the time David arrived with the much-needed parts, everything was ready for reassembly.

Little by little, we began reassembling the tail section, careful to follow the maintenance manual.

One of the things we wanted to do was replace corroded bolts and nuts, with brand new hardware.  I honestly didn’t know when I would pull the tail section apart like this, and I thought it would be good to start fresh.

At one point, late on a Friday afternoon, as we were hurrying to get everything wrapped up before Sabbath, one of the few structural bolts that I had chosen to reused, which was to hold the tail in place, snapped when we tried to torque it.  I stared in disbelief and shock.  My high hopes plummeted like a rock.  By this time it was 5pm, there was absolutely nothing I could do but to pack up for the weekend.  I was pretty discouraged because I knew that we may not be able to find another bolt that size.

Very early Sunday morning I scoured our little cardboard box of structural bolts, but all my searching turned up nothing.  Things were looking real bleak.

"Lord, you're going to have to help me with this one..." I breathed.

In a desperate moment I called my good Muslim friend “Faz” at Guysuco and poured out all my woes.  I told him that I had sick volunteers in the interior that really needed the airplane, and asked if he might be able to come to the airport to see if they had any bolts like this.  He was so gracious, that on his day off he dropped by the airport just to check for me.

My cell phone rang a short time later and when I answered, Faz quietly asked, “How many do you need?”  My heart leaped for joy.  “Just two!!!”  I nearly shouted into the phone.  There was a short pause, “You can come down and pick them up.”  I didn’t walk across the ramp, I floated across the ramp to the Guysuco hangar.

By now we had been on the ground for three weeks and missionaries were running out of food in the interior, and everyone was anxious to see the airplane.   The race was on to get everything back together again.

The next big task was wrestling the new fuel tank into position.  After much coaxing, and effort I was able to waffle the flimsy tank through the small hole in the top of the wing and get it positioned correctly.

Now came the hard part.  To install the button hangers.  This was where my 6'9" reach really came into play!!!  Even so, I must have spent close to 2 hours with my arm shoved completely in the wing, installing these button hangers by braille.  Oh the fun times!

Hooking up the fuel sender unit was also fun.  There were all these gaskets that had to be perfectly aligned with the inner bracket had to line up perfectly.  This was clearly a two-man job since someone had to reach in through the top to position the tank just right.  Our first attempt was a miserable failure.  Gaskets were twisting around in all the wrong positions, and screws were falling out of the holes and getting lost under the airplane.  Finally someone had a bright idea, and suggested that I hold the gaskets temporarily in place with masking tape.  Brilliant!!!  A short while later everything was connected and I was able to close up the top of the tank. 

My day had started out at 5:30am, and as the last bit of sun was highlighting the western sky, we started wrapping up our airplane.  Thirteen straight hours working on the airplane!  I was dog tired, but thoroughly elated.  We were back online once again.

The next morning, after a short test flight, I flew out to Paruima Village and stayed the night.  Just in time, too, because one of the missionary families had just run out of some staple food supplies.

Would you like to use your flying skills to serve God? Email James -[]

Join the Team

If you would like to help the missionary work go forward, you can send a tax deductible donation to:  Gospel Ministry International, PO Box 506, Collegedale Tennessee 37315.  Kindly write on a separate note that it is for Guyana Aviation Evangelism project (GAVE)

Copyright © 2015 Gospel Ministry International, All rights reserved.
You got on my list because you were on my other list
Our mailing address is:
Gospel Ministry International
121 Durban Backlands
Georgetown, No Region 0

Add us to your address book
Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp