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Jay | Susan | Alex | Beth | Samantha
September 10, 2011 9:19 am
Published in: Flying

We get to do these from time to time, though we wish we didn’t.  I’d flown in Congo earlier in the week for Samaritan’s Purse, hitting the usual spots of Banda and Faradje, then overnight in Bunia, and then taking the airplane to Lokichogio, Kenya, to fill in.  We’re down one Caravan at the moment due to engine difficulties, so the two flying are swapping around quite a bit.   I flew from Loki up to Longchuk, where I got stuck in the mud.  Trying to dig and pull a Caravan out of the mud is quite a chore, let me tell you.  Fortunately I had about 50 helpers.  I rigged cargo straps around the main wheel hubs and we put about 20 people on each strap, and pulled.  An hour of digging and pulling later, the plane was on solid ground again.  That’s my “pit crew” there in the picture, and the mud covered pilot off to the side.

After getting unstuck I headed back to Lokichogio for the night. I expected to spend the next day doing paperwork while waiting for a flight down to Nairobi.  Wrong.  A bit after 5am Jon Hildebrandt woke me up (our visiting pilot quarters are the Loki program office, next to his house).  New plan, we’re going to Sudan to pull Samaritan’s Purse and SIM missionaries out of the area of fighting that flared up in the night.  So, off we went.

Jon flew the plane, I handled the radios.  On the ground at our first pickup Jon kept the engine turning while I went out the back and got the passengers on board.  Two minutes on the ground to load 6 adults and one infant. Not bad.  Then it’s off to the next spot to get the SIM guy.  Same drill.  One minute on the ground this time.

Airborne again we started for Loki.  A bit less than 10 minutes later we got a call on the radio…”Run a parallel course and standby, we might have you go back and pick the others out of that last spot.”  A few minutes later it was “Head for (a nearby mission station) and fuel and wait while we coordinate.”  So we went there and waited.  I talked with AIM Air ops on the phone once there and we started making plans to go back and pick up two more missionaries.  Here’s their recap of the events (edited for names):

“Greetings from Nairobi. Here is a brief account of our evacuation.
Yesterday, God has once again shown his great love and faithfulness to people like me and my wife despite uncountable shortcomings that we have, for which, we thank God and praise him with all our hearts, may his name be glorified. In the morning as we were busy doing our own works, news came about a town, the next town from our station that there was problem and the missionaries would be evacuated from there, so W, our dear missionary friend also got ready to go by that same flight since he is going to America. But we were not ready to go because the bombing was in that town not in ours. However, as soon as the flight took off from our airstrip within a minute a plane came in and bombed the airstrip area two times. When we heard the sound everyone ran to different directions like frightened animals, trying to hide in the bushes holding grab-and-run bags. While running I prayed, Lord, please look at us and do what is best for us.

God did not fail us; He protected us and brought us safely to Nairobi. And I know that all these are possible because of your sincere prayer and tears. Thank you so much may God bless you all. We still want to request you to pray for our fellow workers, the teachers and staff left behind in our town, for God’s protection and help. Our hearts pain when we think of them. Please, please pray for them for their safety. For everything, we really thank God and thank you, the authority of SIM, Chris and all the staffs in Nairobi, different SIM bases and SIMNEI for your concern, love and prayer. May God bless you. Also we thank all our supporters and friends for constant prayer and support
Thank you
God be praised
H & R

In short, we went back and picked up H and R.  We left our other evacuees where we fueled and once we’d gotten H and R we went back and picked every one up and went to Lokichogio.

The flights, as far as the flying went, were routine.  As far as the reason and situation around the flights, those things were tense.  As far as serving brothers and sisters in Christ were a huge privilege.  To God be the glory.