Monday, July 31, 2006

Happy rainy afternoon! Today has been busy getting last minute financial reports in order for the field committee, packing for Garry's trip, and doing a few last minute fun things with the boys. Now Garry is at the hangar helping Jason with a special "frame" for carrying large pieces of tin roofing in the airplane. What a privilege to be a part of what God is doing here!

These separations, though short, are not our favorite part of the job. Yet we know that this is what God has for us. The boys and I are making plans to do some interesting things while Garry's gone. And Garry's time away is already planned quite full, so I don't think he'll have time to miss us very much:).

This morning Delores also came to say her final goodbyes.... it is so sad to see her go. She's spent a lot of hours at our house and has become like part of the family in different ways, so we are going to miss her. The opportunities God gives us to be involved in people's lives are nearly always unexpected and always a blessing! Such it has been with Delores-- good times, bittersweet times, times of sharing and learning together.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Do you ever make donuts?! I haven't done it for a lot of years, but the boys and I were looking for something interesting to do and decided on donuts. So this morning found our kitchen a mess of dough, hot oil, and donuts in all stages. Kevin made the toppings-- glaze, cinnamon and sugar, and plain sugar. They turned out quite well (thanks for the recipe, Mom Barkman!). We ended up with more than we had bargained for, so invited a few friends to help us eat them!

When we were finished making donuts the boys returned to their other projects. Kevin is making a knife out of an old sawblade he found. Unfortunately, the steel is harder than his grinding bits, his file, or anything else he's tried to sharpen it with. I believe he'll think of something yet:). Kaleb is enjoying looking through art books and doing different projects. Today he did an oil pastel picture and a project where he cut out the armour of God and pasted it on a knight.

This evening we went to the sports complex and had a good walk while the boys played soccer. That felt good after several evenings of not being able to work it in!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The inspection is finished and the airplane is flying again! Today Jason is picking up some passengers from a tribal station so the daughter can head to boarding school in Manila. As we watch so many friends say "goodbye" to their kids at this time of year we are reminded to pray for them.

Garry is back in his office, taking care of the many e-mails and office details that have been set aside over the past two weeks. He enjoyed his time flying again and also working on the inspection, but he'll be glad to get his inbox cleaned out as well! On Tuesday he heads to Manila then Mindanao, so there is also a short list of "honey-do" things to take care of before he goes.

Last week Garry found out he needed a chest x-ray and ekg for his flight medical he'll be renewing in Manila. I was at the doctor's office getting some blood work done, so when he came to pick me up he asked the receptionist if they could do the test there and if he could make an appointment. She told him they could do the tests, "right now!", so in 20 minutes he had everything in hand! That's the fun side of medical care here. The other side is that since you can seldom make an appointment, you may go sit in the doctor's office for an hour or more, only to find out the doctor won't be in today.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Did you know that an airplane has to have a major inspection after it flies 100 hours? The airframe has to have many inspection covers removed and all seats, control surfaces, cables and other things have to be inspected. And the engine has to be tested for compression, oil changed (actually I think the oil is changed far more often than that!) and hoses and other things inspected. Parts that are worn or broken are replaced. To tell the truth, I don't have a very good idea of what is inspected every 100 hours, but I do know that these inspections usually take about a week-- more if one guy works alone. This time Garry and Jason had the help of Kevin (and sometimes Kaleb), and they've been working on the inspection for 3 days already and aren't finished yet! Non-urgent problems on the airplane are also fixed while the plane is down for an inspection.

So, that is what Garry and Kevin have been doing this week. Kevin's pretty handy with inspection covers already and is also learning to do some other things.

Meanwhile, this is the last week that Delores will be working in our home (she is moving to another island), so I've been dealing with that. I've found a new girl, who unfortunately doesn't speak a lot of English. Neva seems really nice and is being trained partially by Bel and Delores. She is genuinely helpful and needs the work, so it's been fun to meet her and get to know her a little bit. I will soon be finishing up training Bel to do the radio work I've been doing, which means she will also move out of helping in the house... life really is full of changes!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Garry flew yesterday, so it was a busy day at home as well. He was thankful to have some time with the missionaries whose cargo he was flying. Then he stopped at our old flight base to refuel and replace some of the fittings on the fueling system there. He arrived home just before a big storm hit, which always makes us doubly thankful to have him home!

Garry needs to go to Manila at the beginning of August as well as make a short trip to another of the islands where we hope to re-open the flight program in the future. We've been trying to arrange his travel, and had finally succeeded so we headed to town to pick up his tickets. Unfortunately, neither the first nor the second ATM that we stopped at was able to dispense cash. We tried paying for the tickets with a credit card, but that was "impossible" due to some paperwork issues at the travel agent. We decided to stop for a few minutes for coffee, then tried another ATM. We finally got some cash and purchased the ticktets, much to our relief. We live on the outskirts of town, but going to the center of town is always a bit of a hassle:).

The boys received their Tagalog language course last week and we are are learning some words and phrases. Learning a language is quite an undertaking, but one make much easier when living in it!

Jason and Jen arrived back from Manila yesterday! We were thrilled to have them home again and had invited them for supper. When we arrived home I went to the kitchen to check on the chicken pot pie the girls had prepared. What greeted me was not the delicious aroma of pot pie, but the distinct smell of sewage. I should be used to it by now, but it always seems to catch me off guard... you see, we have a unique sewer system here that has to be pumped from the tank to somewhere else nearly every day now during rainy season. And the pumping is a very smelly job. When we first moved in we only had to pump every few weeks, which increased to once a week, which is now every day. I'm sure there's some "key" to why and how to solve the bottom line, but we haven't figured it out yet!

The smell did pass, and we had a great time with Jason and Jen over supper. It's so much fun to see thier kids growing up and learning different things. Mirielle is 3 and Kellan is 9 months old, so they are both changing rapidly!

A thought for today: When we try to control our lives we are living by the law, imagining that we can perform well enough to get what we want.

Today is another flight day, so I'd better close for now and make sure everything is in order for the next few hours when I'll be by the radio.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I just received this article about the project that is going on with the tribal folks where we recently re-opened an airstrip. I thought you might enjoy hearing about it as well!


July 14, 2006, by David Bell

NTM missionaries are trusting that a new training program will equip the Tagbanwa church to reach the remainder of their tribe -- about 7,000 people.

The missionary team has seen the birth of 15 churches in the Philippines with nearly 1,300 believers. They have translated the New Testament, 60 percent of the Old Testament, and a couple hundred songs into the Tagbanwa language, along with their ministry of evangelism, literacy, teaching and medical work.

The Integrated Tagbanwa Project, as the new venture is being called, is a church-based demonstration farm and training center. The leaders of the Tagbanwa church are overseeing the birth and implementation of the program.

The three pronged project will provide training in Bible, community health care, agriculture and animal husbandry. It will enable evangelism training, leadership training, and the development of life-skills to take place in the same environment.

"Four of our young leaders have undergone three years of instruction to prepare them for leading this project," the Crains wrote.

The men's studies included in-depth training in Bible, animal husbandry, caring for fruit orchards and vegetable gardening, hygiene and sanitation, and basic community health care.

With their training complete, 52 acres of land has been secured for the project, and God has wonderfully provided the finances for the program's infrastructure. Preparations are now being made for the first group of 25 students in September. The trainers have already experimented with a pilot group.

"We are projecting that in three years the project will become self-sustaining in its day-to-day operations," the Crains wrote.

Pray that the program will equip the church to complete the task of taking the Gospel to the unreached parts of the Tagbanwa tribe and into neighboring tribes.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Wow-- another interesting day! Garry had the airplane all loaded and fueled yesterday, so he didn't need to leave for work until nearly 6:30 this morning. He was in the air a little after 7:00, headed to one of our tribal locations to pick up 4 passengers and bring them back to town. A simple, straightforward day. Or so it seemed!

When Garry arrived there the winds were so strong that he could only take off with half the cargo he had anticipated, meaning he needed to shuttle half the passengers to a longer airstrip. He took out two teenagers and returned for their moms (just the 4 of them were in the tribe). However, when he returned to the station the winds were so strong and gusty that he could not land. He headed back to the second location, to find there was a big storm passing through-- he couldn't even see it! Since he didn't have closer options he was thankful to come back home-- a 45 minute flight.

He arrived at the hangar in town around noon and waited for a good weather report. Things didn't look too good, so the teens hopped on a van that would bring them the 5-hour trip to town. By 2:30 things were looking better, so Garry headed back south to pick up the other two passengers. Kevin was glad to hear there was actually room for him to ride along... I'm wondering how the trip was after all the bad weather this morning, not that he would have cared! They arrived in town around 5 p.m., and their teens should be here around 6 p.m. We are thankful everyone is "where they belong" and are ready for a quiet evening!

PS The young boy is a tribal boy in the station Garry visited today, and Kaleb and I are standing by a tribal house in another location.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Jason and Jen left for Manila today... Jason is renewing his flight medical among other things. We hope they have a great time! We had planned to head to Manila and to visit another flight program base in two weeks, but some maintenance issues have come up, so we're going to postpone that trip until the end of August. This means our time is currently taken up with running the flight program here again.

The partner of the family who moved into the tribe on Tuesday had to leave the day they arrived. (He has a rather serious infection on his leg, which he has already spent some time in the hospital trying to resolve. He is currently in Manila.) They are much in our prayers as they adjust to life in a tribal setting without any partners! Hopefully Garry will be able to take thier partner and the rest of their stuff in on Monday.

Another flight came up for tomorrow, so Garry's at the airport right now getting the airplane loaded and adding a bit more fuel to the tanks. The boys are with him. On the way home Kaleb hopes to pick up his new bolo at the blacksmith shop. I'm hoping they take a few photos that I can post tomorrow:). I had hoped to get a good start on the flight billing, but a few other things have come up here at home. Maybe tomorrow:).

We got our Tagalog language course this week and are enjoying learning a few phrases. Learning to speak a language fluently is an incredible amount of work, but we hope we can at least learn enough to act more friendly in stores and on the street!

Monday, July 10, 2006


I just realized I never posted about the actual opening of the airstrip we made a road trip to see! Last Friday the scheduled flight to another station was cancelled, so Garry took the opportunity to take the airplane into the new location.

This location is about 20 minutes from town, and when Garry arrived there the people were still working on the airstrip! We had set up a signal for them to let us know everything was in order, and they soon signalled and Garry made a low pass then landed.

Sure enough, the house on the approach had been moved, coconut trees cut down, low places filled with gravel (filling with dirt makes the pigs tear up the airstrip!), and the sides of the runway had been cleared. A lot of work has gone into getting this strip ready!

The whole village came out to welcome him and be thankful that the plane could once more come into their village! He did several more landings, walked the airstrip, and officially declared it open. Yeah!

We pray that air serive will be a blessing to the local church and community, allowing them to better fulfill God's call on their lives!
Good morning! These are just some fun photos of the guys playing basketball. The boys are getting pretty good... they do a lot of practicing to play as a team. Apparently Kevin shoots better and Kaleb is an awesome rebounder:). Sometimes Garry and Kevin play one-on-one and Kaleb plays on the side:).

Life is never static, and the flight program here in Palawan certainly has a propensity to keep life interesting! Yesterday we found out we have a problem with Jason's medical certificate, so they are heading to Manila to do paperwork. Since he has to go anyway they are going to take a week and see some doctors and take a little time to enjoy Manila. Which has put Garry back in the air again-- today a family is moving into one of the tribal stations for the first time. Their move will probably take another day or two of flights. Garry enjoys the flying, but it means we're trying to fit into this week the flights plus what we had planned!

I got a call from my parents this weekend. My Dad went back to the cardiologist and his heart medication is not working properly. Since the doctor in town isn't sure what to do since his blood pressure is already low and he doesn't have other risk factors for heart disease, my parents are heading to Caracas this week to see a specialist.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


As we are handing over many of the flight program responsibilities to Jason and Jen, we are finding that our lives are beginning to find a new kind of "normal". Garry is doing very little flying these days so he has more time to do other things. He still gets up around 4:30 or so and on flight days goes to the hangar to help Jason get loaded and ready for his flight. Then once Jason is in the air Garry comes home to work in the office for several hours. If there is no flight on a given day Garry spends time in the office first thing in the morning.

Once his brain is fried from office work he heads back to the hangar to help Jason get unloaded and finish up from the flight. While there he spends time working on getting things in the hangar set up. Our desire is to finish all the set-up work of the program here in Palawan-- see the hangar well-organized, a permanent fueling system set up, fueling steps and shelves in place and ready for use, etc.

Meanwhile, the boys and I try to get started on school first thing in the morning. When school is finished the boys work on one of their many projects or interests-- drawing, reading, basketball, research, etc. While they pursue those things I usually try to accomplish some office work. Lately we've had a bit of company coming and going from the house, which has kept life interesting.

As we move into a role that is further from the daily "running" of the flight program, we have more control over our schedules. It's a good change as it it moving us forward toward Jason and Jen taking over here and allowing us to move on!