Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Giving Isaac the Ride of His Life

Once again, I aped this from Mark's blog... He is the "I" and "we". I was at home wondering what kind of adventures he was on!

On Friday we were headed on the way back, but first we had to make a stop in Cap Haitian. We were to pickup an orphan boy who had been adopted and take him to Sarasota, simple enough. Well nothing is as simple as it seems, and no good deed goes unpunished.

We had arrived at 1pm and were told that they would be waiting for us at the airport,WRONG. The truth is thy were more than an hour way and were trying to get to the airport on the back of a scooter! They were going as fast as they could to meet the plane. When they arrived the customs officer noted that it was 4:45 and purposely delayed us by letting others cut in front of us. It was no shock when he hit us up for a $50 overtime fee. Then Issac's passport came into question. "Where is the child's passport?" the customs guy barked. Erick, the boys new dad explained, "All we have is what you see here; his passport was destroyed in the earthquake." The customs guy didn't seem to understand. "How is he going to leave the country without a passport?" The father again tried to explain that it was under tons of rubble. Issac was now getting upset. He was tired and didn't understand what the big fuss was; he just wanted to go to his new home, where ever it was.The customs guy finally relented, and now we could depart.

It was now 5:30 and the sun was getting low. I figured we could make Exuma by night. I was desperate to get everyone on the plane as fast as possible. I was expecting the customs guy to charge us with something again.

Issac was still upset, I tried to tell him that everything is fine, and that the fun part was just about to begin. Once we departed and got to altitude I turned to see if Issac was OK. I reached into my backpack and pulled out a big bag of snack mix. He reached into the bag and commented, to his delight, that it was not rice and beans. "Are you cold?" He nodded his head. Again I reached int my backpack and pulled out a hoodie. Then I remembered that I had a whole box of Strawberry pop tarts. "Here try these." When I looked back he was well into his second, and was smiling from ear to ear.

He was warm, he was airborne, and peanuts and pop tarts aplenty!I almost wanted to cry. Here was a little boy who thought that the big city was Port Au Prince. And now in one day he had taken his first airplane ride, and had tasted something other than beans and rice.

We were almost to Exuma, but the reports that were coming in were telling us that Exuma was fogged in, no landings at Exuma. A quick discussion about whether we should hold over the island and wait for conditions to improve or continue to Nassau. Nassau it was. We landed and quickly passed through customs. Issac had never seen such opulent surroundings. The pilots lounge had leather chairs and a very big flat screen TV. Along with all this, he was quite the celebrity. That night he had his first hamburger and fries, and went to sleep with a full tummy probably for the first time.

Another two hour flight found us in Sarasota and we passed through customs. We were met by six agents who then treated Issac to Coke and quesadilla. He was smiling from ear to ear. Before we left and said our good byes I gave Issac an Agape pin and thanked him for being such a great passenger.

Welcome to America Issac, don't get a tummy ache.

I love my job! Thank you God for using me.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Logistical Aspect of Mark's Haiti Adventures

I copied this from Mark's blog. I am the [editor] and he is the "I". I asked him to blog about his adventure going to Haiti last week. He is one of Agape Flight's pilots. He been flying to Haiti for over 8 years (the first 6 as a volunteer the last 2 as a missionary on staff) This is what he came up with.... I'll ask him to blog again in a few days and share the stories that I have been hearing...

I must say that I have done a bit of flying in the last few days. On, Thursday, January 14th, I flew out to a small grass strip to pick up a Cessna 401 (twin engine,7 passenger airplane) then swung north to pick up my passengers.

The group I was picking up were a group of disaster relief experts that were to organize the relief efforts in Haiti. I arrived at 10am and the amount of cargo they had was surprising. Were they expecting a military transport? How was I going to fit all this gear in the plane and become airborne? After much figuring and head scratching by my co-pilot Paul, we were ready to depart. We received our clearance and we took off into the bright blue Florida sky.

As we neared our refueling stop of Exuma, the chatter on the frequency was that no flights were being allowed into Port Au Prince. We informed the passengers and they asked, "How close can you get us?" "Can you get us to Las Americas?" So off to to the south of the Dominican Republic went. After another refueling stop in Proveceales, we took off into the setting sun which then gave way to night.

Flying at night in the Caribbean is especially dark. It was so dark that for all intents and purposes I could have been on board the international space station. The only way we knew we were moving was because the instruments said so.

When we arrived in Las Americas it was clear that the staging for a massive influx of aid from all over the world was being staged. I saw aircraft from Russia, China, Italy, and Japan. Here I was in my little Cessna 401. Our passengers got off and they proceeded to rent an SUV and drove the rest of the way to Port Au Prince. I hope they made it.

On Monday I hopped in an Aztec (small twin) to act as a shuttle between Santiago and Port Au Prince. On Tuesday we woke and off we went, or so we thought. The Dominican flight plan office had not filed our flight plan, and now we were not going to make our 8am slot time in Port Au Prince; I was furious! I had flown five and a half hours on Monday, and made it to the airport three hours early to make sure all went smoothly and for all of that to be undone by a bureaucrat! I spoke with his supervisor [editor's note: good thing he speaks Spanish!!] and explained that that I had to make my slot time. We got out an hour late start and praying that by some miracle we would make it into Port.

We climbed up over the 10,000' mountains and all along the way I was expecting someone to tell us to turn back, but that call never came. When we arrived in Port Au Prince The frequency was a buzz with military traffic. There were all sorts of aircraft flying around,helicopters,big transports,and small aircraft were all coming and going smoothly. Praise God! We off loaded our 800 pounds of medical supplies and saw them whisked away in a caged truck by one of the missionaries that we serve. As thy drove away, I started to see the scope of the quake. There were tents on the airport and pallet and pallets of supplies of stuff that wasn't moving. Why is all this stuff her, I wondered? [Editor's note, again... I think they were the impounded stuff that Mark talked about on Facebook or in an email. The stuff didn't have the right paperwork.] All the missionaries that Agape had in Port were now a perfect distribution network, and our supplies were getting out right away as fast as we could unload them.

As we got ready to deport, I met other pilots that I had flown with in the past. It was as though we had all come together to fight against a common foe. That enemy was death, and it felt glorious; I had never been a part of something so big. Thank you God for using me!

We continued with our supply runs, two slots a day, and side runs to surrounding areas as was needed. We carried mostly food and water. We had the opportunity to pick up and drop off doctors and other folks. We carried four guys from Barahona [Dominican Republic] that were there to set up a massive tent as a MASH unit.

All in all, it was quite the adventure. Makes you wish you were a missionary, huh? I'm loving it! [Editor's note: Stay tuned for some amazing stories! This was his "logistics" post. Next will be a sights and sounds post!]

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Woo hoo!

Mark made his first delivery to Haiti yesterday and I did not hear how it went. He made mention of the airport in the Dominican Republic as being unhelpful. They are probably tired of being the staging ground and wish that some of the food and supplies were to help their impoverished people too.

This morning he felt the tremor, but didn't say anything more. Hopefully the people in PAP are ok and that it is not a huge setback. I am at work, so I haven't had a chance to hear what the news has to say.

Today, Mark is flying 700+ pounds of water. The King Air is bringing 2500 lbs of beans and rice. My prayers are that they get to where they need to be.

I heard of a missionary who had his arm aputated but is having major problems with his kidneys and other organs. Please pray for him. He was trapped for about 18 hours. He is currently in Miami.

Agape still has not heard from 17 missionary families. Obviously they need prayers as well as their families at home.

I think Mark will be home on Friday; this is much better than the "who knows" that I got when he left. I can live with him being gone during the week and home on the wekeends. I am not sure what the "long haul" is going to look like. I don't know how many other Agape pilots are available for long stays. Jeff and Kevin are both knee-deep in cargo and scheduling.

I think the folks at Agape need prayers for endurance. Their families miss them and they can't keep this pace forever!

I'll post some pics tonight!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Haiti updates and thoughts

The staff and volunteers at Agape are working tirelessly to get supplies organized and ready to be sent to the missionaries in Haiti. We usually move about 2500lbs of cargo a week. In the last five days we have moved 30,000lbs! There is much more ready to go and the amount of donations is mind-boggling. But not to the mighty God we serve!

I have had the privilege of helping the last 2 days. I love sorting, weighing and boxing up the supplies. I also love the physical labor of unloading the supplies. Today I left the boys with Mark and went and helped.

Mark leaves tomorrow for a week to ferry supplies between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. I am feeling sorry for myself because I will be with the kids by myself for that time. So I'm being royal pain in butt and I know that is wrong. So I think I need to work on the 'tude a bit, ya know?

I am not really worried about Mark's safety, I can't imagine he will be leaving the airport in Haiti. I do worry about the missionaries and their ability to get the supplies to the needed locations and the people they are helping.

Speaking of missionaries, Agape has heard from about 103 of the 130 missionary families we serve. With time ticking on, I am getting more concerned about the 27 other families! Several of the missionaries have had limbs amputated. From what I understand, it is not because the injury was so bad, it's because they weren't able to get medical attention in a timely manner. Wow, how heartbreaking. It's hard to wrap my mind around the suffering. You know, when I think it's a big problem that I'm going to be inconvenienced for a week because I have to take care of my kids by myself. How many moms in Haiti would do anything to hear their child cry!

Oh and, speaking of the Agape staff working crazy hours, pray for endurance! Also, pray for the families that don't get to see much of their mom or dad because they are keeping long hours! But despite our tiredness, we know that we are the lucky ones - for so many reasons!

God Bless!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti Relief - random thoughts

I am overwhelmed by the thoughts and pictures of the devestaion to that already destroyed country! I can't imagine what it looks like in person.

My husband flies for a mission organization that delivers mail, cargo and supplies to the missionaries in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. They have a relationship with over 130 missionaries in the Port Au Prince area. So far, they have only heard from 30 families. The good news is, of those 30 everyone is physically ok. Many have lost their homes, but not their love and compassion for Jesus - the ultimate healer and restorer.

Mark is flying a group of doctors today and for the first time EVER, he has admitted he is nervous. I am so anxious about that! I am giving my anxiousness to the Lord, but it keeps coming back.

I am also overwhelmed by the amount of support that has flowed! In my school alone, dozens of people have offered to help - and this is from a public non-Christian school.

My prayers are that the people of Haiti turn to the Lord and realize that He is what they need. has a great site that lists a bunch of needs and names to pray for.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Colorado Vacation

Has it really been a month since I blogged last?

Here are a few pictures from Colorado. I would love to share more, but the mountains will look the same to you guys and I didn't get that many good pictures of the kids.

We did a modified house swap with some dear friends of ours. They moved to Divide, Colorado about 5 years ago. Divide is 45 minutes "up the mountain" from Colorado Springs. Mohan used to say they were at 9,000 ft altitude and it meant nothing to me. But after the first night of throwing up and having a headache from the altitude it suddenly meant something - that and Mark telling me pilots use oxygen at 11,500 ft.

This was the perfect Christmas vacation - snow, scenery and friends. It was pretty cold, but when the sun shines, it wasn't bad. I never made it skiing, but plan to go back some day soon. We did go to Breckenridge for an afternoon. GORGEOUS. We rode a gondola and Zach still talks about going on the "helicopter". He keeps asking if we can do it tomorrow. We also rode the Pike's Peak cog railway and visited the Focus on the Family headquarters. We only went sledding twice and looking back, I wish we had done it more. Some days were just too cold. Plus, it takes so much effort to get everyone dressed!

Here we are sledding the second time. The hill was not nearly as steep, but there were steps to help us get to the top. Ryan was NOT a fan, but Zach loved it!

When we went on the train ride, we saw more gorgeous scenery. We didn't make it to the top because of the snow on the tracks. Ryan got a bit antsy, so we gave him our little camera and he actually took good pictures. Here he is showing Zach some of the pics.

Mark getting the boys ready the first time. Ryan's jacket was really puffy and a bit snug, so he was the stereotypical kid who can't put his arms at his side. The first time we put mittens and gloves on the kids was the hardest. They had no concept of putting your fingers in the holes. Florida babies...

Some of the gorgeous scenery...