Vanga Hospital: Masha’s Story

While we were staying in Kikongo, MAF was able to provide a medical evacuation flight for Masha, a girl with a severe infection on her leg. They flew her to the village of Vanga, where there’s a large mission hospital. We were had the opportunity to fly to Vanga just a few days later and see her progress. We got to see firsthand how MAF’s IT infrastructure is making a difference for patients like Masha, enabling doctors to email x-rays to specialists for consultation and provide better care.

Kotiak Bible Translation

The village of Kotiak in Papua, Indonesia was one of our favorite places to visit in MAF’s floatplane. We flew in to spend some time with Myu-Sook Sohn, a Bible translator who’s lived in the village for 16 years. When the river’s high, MAF is able to dock the floatplane right at her front door!

Rebuilding in Nepal

We had the opportunity to visit Nepal one year after a devastating earthquake shook the country. It was incredible to see how MAF is facilitating helicopter flights to reach some of the hardest hit and hardest to reach communities.

Family Photo Album

Did you know that you have family members in every country on earth? It’s true!

In some of the most remote parts of the world where MAF serves, people have been living in isolation for hundreds or thousands of years. This isolation enabled tribes with rich, unique cultures to develop, but they were cut off from the rest of the world. What contact they did have with neighboring tribes was often dominated by war and violence.

When the first missionaries began reaching these remote people groups, they brought with them a radical message of peace—that these tribes were now no longer separate, but were all part of one tribe, the family of God.

As we’ve been traveling around the globe the past two years, we’ve had the privilege of meeting some incredible people who we never knew were part of our family. Guess what? They’re all part of your family too.
 

This is your grandmother in Kalimantan, Indonesia

Your grandpa in Ecuador. He’s so happy to see you!

Your mischievous nieces and nephews in Haiti

Your mother in Congo, cooking for you over a hot stove all day

Your brothers in Papua, firing up the grill for a backyard BBQ

Your sisters in Nepal, and their morning knitting club

The newest addition to your family, just born in a remote clinic

Even your cat’s here, at a village in Lesotho

And your dog too!

So often, we resort to an “us vs. them” mentality, whether it’s about our neighbors next door or halfway around the world. We focus on the tiny differences that separate us rather than celebrating our diversity and embracing the similarities that bring us all together.

We are all one tribe, one huge global family. Let’s live like we believe it.

NNU Team in Jeremie

While in Haiti, we had the opportunity to fly along with a mission team from our alma mater, Northwest Nazarene University. We had a blast hanging out with the students and leaders for five days in Jeremie, at the Haiti Bible Mission compound. It was great to see the long-term work supporting education and developing leaders in that remote part of the country, and encouraging to see the impact that short-term trips can have to help support the overall mission.

Our 100th Flight with MAF

As roving photographers and videographers for MAF, Mark and I have had the chance to ride along on many MAF flights to document the work of the ministry. Emergency flights to transport patients, planes full of building materials, motorcycles, and even live pigs, and plenty of “regular” flights to take people from point A to point B.

Recently, as we were preparing for our final week serving with MAF, we decided to calculate just how many flights we had been on in the past two years. “Maybe 70 or so?” I thought to myself. Mark added it up and it was 99! We were in Haiti at our final MAF program before coming home and we knew we had one flight to go before we left.

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Our 100th flight with MAF was very unique… it was the first flight where we got to be real passengers for a change. We spent our last week in Haiti traveling around with some good friends, and needed to get from one city to another. The hardest part about traveling in Haiti is, well, traveling! The roads connecting the major cities are rough, and local buses are the most common way to get around.

It would take at least a day and a half of bumpy, sweaty bus travel from the city of Jacmel to Cap Haitien, but luckily for us, MAF was able to help cut our travel time down to about an hour. It was fun to finally experience MAF through the eyes of a passenger.

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We asked David Carwell, the pilot who came to pick us up, how many flights he’s been on in the many years he’s served as an MAF pilot. He told us that he’s made nearly 10,000 landings! Sure puts our 100 flights into perspective.

Even though this wasn’t a life-saving flight, and it certainly wouldn’t make the cover of FlightWatch, it still meant a lot to us. Thank you MAF for 100 amazing flights!

We had the opportunity to spend two weekends in the remote mountain village of Kuebunyane, Lesotho. There’s no road or cars in sight, only horses, donkeys and lots and lots of sheep. There’s also no church, and that’s why MAF is partnering with the Lesotho Flying Pastors to reach this community.

We had a blast hanging out with the pastors and pilots, and spending time with the Basotho people.

A Haircut Story

A couple weeks ago, I did something I’ve been avoiding for the past two years we’ve been on the road.

No, it wasn’t giving in and finally eating a plate full of caterpillars (though I did do that, and they weren’t bad). This was something that should have been easier to swallow. Getting a haircut by a local barber.

It’s fairly universal idea in most of the countries we’ve visited. There’s a guy with a hole-in-the-wall shop, usually classy enough to have barber-style chairs and huge mirror, offering super cheap haircuts.

I love a good deal. But I also love knowing that the person holding sharp objets near my face has adequate training and has sterilized those sharp objects sometime within the past month. Then there’s the language barrier. In more than one language, I’ve looked up how to say “Short on the sides, long on top” but then chickened out in the end.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t go two years without cutting my hair. Kelly has been faithfully borrowing clippers and trying her best to give me cool haircuts. “This is better!” I’d tell myself, sweating profusely with a trash bag wrapped around my shoulders out in the hot tropical sun.

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But when we were visiting Nepal, there were no clippers to be borrowed. It had been a few months since my last trim and the situation was starting to get desperate. So I decided that it was time to get over my fear. And guess what? It was the best haircut of my life.

And not just a haircut – shaping with a straight razor, anointment with various oils, creams, and colognes, and even a head, neck, and shoulder massage. All for less than $3! How had I been missing out on this awesome experience for the last two years?

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I don’t know how many times Kelly and I have looked at each other and said “Can you believe we almost didn’t go there/see that/meet them because we were scared?!” Of course we have plenty of stories that end with us looking like total dummies, but even those experiences have taught us something.

I guess the moral of the story is: whatever you’re scared of, just go for it. Get out of your comfort zone a little. So what if you look like a dummy? You might just get the best haircut of your life.

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(After my haircut. Guess I should have been worried about this giant fish!)

Nepal: 1 Year After the Earthquake

One year ago today, a massive earthquake ripped through the mountains of Nepal, killing thousands and leaving many more thousands without access to shelter, food, and clean water. We visited some of the hardest hit areas while we were in Nepal and saw the devastation firsthand. A year later, reconstruction still has a long, long way to go. Thankfully, MAF is committed to continuing relief efforts in the country as they partner with many other organizations to help communities rebuild.

We made this video to remember the 1-year anniversary of the earthquake, show the hope that recovery is bringing to the people of Nepal, and help get the word out that there’s still much more to be done.

Himalayan Tea Time

After a breathtaking flight from Kathmandu, we arrived by helicopter to a valley surrounded by tall Himalayan peaks, the site of the old village of Langtang. Nearly a year ago, the Nepal earthquake unleashed a glacier landslide that wiped out the entire village, killing over 300 people, Nepalis and foreign tourists alike. Buildings and bodies were buried in up to 50 feet of rubble and the immense force generated by the avalanche flattened trees on the other side of the valley.

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Today, there is little left of the town. Loose rocks, torn clothing, and abandoned household items litter the area where the village used to be. Not only did many people lose family members and homes, but also their livelihoods, as tourism was a huge source of income.

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Over the last year, MAF has partnered with other organizations to fly aid workers and relief supplies to those left in the Langtang valley. We had come to interview an engineer who is leading reconstruction efforts. A new, safer site for rebuilding the village had been chosen up the hill from the original town site, so we began the hike up the hill, cameras in tow.

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Before long, we arrived at a small, stone house with a corrugated metal roof, the only building in sight. A colorfully dressed Nepali woman was sweeping the front porch and greeted us warmly with “Namaste.” We asked her if she knew where the engineer was, and after a few confusing exchanges, she kindly ushered us inside her small home and sat us down next to her fire to wait. She handed us hot cups of milk tea and asked us simple one-word questions in her limited English. She offered us some food and smiled shyly when I took a photo of her stirring a pot.

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Eventually, we figured out that the engineer wasn’t here nor was he coming! This sweet woman had taken in a couple of strangers and offered us what she had without hesitation. Her kindness touched me. Sitting on the floor next to her fire, I wondered what horrors she had witnessed over the last year, seeing her village destroyed and her friends and family scattered. In a place where so much destruction had taken place, I felt a little surge of hope that at least here was a bright spot in a bleak landscape.

As we said our goodbyes and continued up the hill, I prayed that more people like this kind woman would continue to rebuild and find hope for life in Langtang once again.