Monday, December 8, 2014

Life Goes On

Once again, time has flown past (pun intended) and I find that there has been much too much time in between postings here.  In some ways a lot has changed since the last post but in others things are very much the same.  We are still not able to fly our aircraft outside of Uganda, and as a result the amount of flying that we have been doing as a program has been much lower than usual.  On the other side of the coin, Dave Forney and myself have both been "checked out" on the new avionics system that was recently installed in one of our airplanes, and as a result of being the only two pilots able to fly that plane we have been getting a few more hours than the other guys.  In a few more days when our other airplane comes out of the hangar after getting the avionics changed over as well, he and I will almost have our own airplanes for a short while until the other pilots get checked out on it as well.

One thing that I have been able to do on several flights lately is to take a few pictures.  I've never really done much posting of photos here and I've decided that it is well past time that I do so.  So I'll endeavor to tell the story of the past few months in pictures.  Enjoy.

 When beginning the avionics install for one of our airplanes, one other pilot and myself spent a week in the hangar, working on the "wiring loom".  The loom is laid out in the exact dimensions of the actual airplane, and each wire is individually labelled and run by hand from one specific terminal to the other.  Each "wire" has from one to 4 wires inside the insulation sheath, and when we were finished running wires we spent another week putting pins on the end of each individual wire.  This involved stripping the insulation from the wire, soldering a ground to each one and then crimping a pin on the end.  The finished wire bundles look somewhat like the computer cables that you use to plug in your monitors, but some had around 50 pins rather than the smaller computer cables.  We guessed that we crimped on about 1000 pins during the project.  There were only 4 that failed the continuity testing and had to be re-done.

 I took this after coming down the hill to our house one day.  It's as close to ice as you'll find here in Kampala.

Meet Dave Forney, the pilot I was mentioning earlier who did the check out on the new avionics with me.  I was sitting in the front row waiting for my turn and took a few pics of him sweating his way through the exercises.   Looking at the avionics displays, you can probably imagine why the wire bundles terminate in a plug that is similar to a computer plug.

 I was flying back home with no passengers one day after dropping off a group in Soroti, northeastern Uganda.  I was trying to get a little creative with my smart phone and I thought that this one turned out ok.

 I didn't get my phone out to get a picture of the two big guys at the front of the herd, but you can still see what it can be like to drive the streets of Kampala.  I usually don't even think anything of it anymore, but this herd had some impressively sized horns.

 My two oldest kids.  This picture was taken and set up by our youngest, and I thought it turned out pretty nicely.

 A team from Flame International, on their way up to South Sudan.  They were on their way to do ministry with the military around the Yambio area as well as to minister to some of the local villages.  They came back after a successful time telling stories that sounded as though they were pulled straight out of the book of Acts.

 Chris Ball and myself, switching passengers in Arua, Uganda.  Since we are not able to fly across boarders at this time, we fly the passengers as far north as we can, and then they switch onto a MAF South Sudan aircraft that comes down to pick them up.  Chris and I went to Prairie School of Mission Aviation together 10 years ago and it's always a treat when we run into each other on this side of the world.  If you remember, please pray for the South Sudan team as they do their own regular flights and also cover our MAF Uganda flights.  They are extremely busy and stretched to their capacity as they work hard to do these extra flights for us.

 5X-SCO, or "Scotty", as he is affectionately known.  We were flying back from Arua one afternoon and as I was more lightly loaded, I was a bit faster and able to fly past him on the way home to take these great pictures of him with the Nile River in the background.

 This is a small community located on one of the Sese islands of Lake Victoria.  I would hazard a guess that the fishermen who live on these islands are probably some of the least reached people in Africa, as it is extremely difficult for workers to reach them.  Our 12 minute flight takes them about 9 hours by boat, and many people die when storms swamp the boats during the voyage.  MAF is currently doing some studies and assessing how we can more effectively assist in reaching out to these many fishing villages.

 More of the many beautiful Sese islands.  Only one of them has an airstrip.

 Crested Cranes, the national birds of Uganda.  They enjoy the airstrip area, and we pilots are always on the lookout for these large, beautiful birds, as well as the ugly Marabou Storks, whenever we are taking off or landing.  That's our red murram runway in the background.

 I was able to fly a group from my home area in Canada last week.  We visited the Baby Watoto project in Gulu, northern Uganda.  Cuteness abounded.

 It was great to see these professional businessmen get down on their knees on the hard concrete floor to help feed the babies during their lunch.  The circumstances that these kids come from before Watoto takes them in are often difficult to hear about.  It's always a treat to be able to fly people up to these places so that they can see first hand the difference that their sponsor money is making in the lives of these children.

 On the ground in Pakuba, where we stopped on the way home to check out some of the local wildlife.  If people don't take the time to stop in one of the national parks, the most wildlife that you'll see will probably be the mangy wild dogs that roam the streets.

 Some of the local wildlife.

 Red-Breasted Bee Eater.  Yep, that's a bee in it's beak.  

 Working on getting that bee down.

 It was still quite dark and I didn't have the time to properly set up my camera, but I did snap this pic of a hyena crossing the road in front of us.

 See the giraffe?

 Way out in the sticks.  You can see the other group just encountering a group of buffalo.  Even out here in the middle of nowhere, 5 bars on our cell phones.

 This guy was laying down enjoying a wallow when we approached. 
 Local fishermen on the Nile river.  They catch small fish in the morning that they then use later on in the day as bait fish for the larger Nile Perch.

 Flat tire.  The change allowed us a little more time to try to find the lions that were thought to be nearby, but alas, we weren't that lucky.

 Hippo.  Averaging 1,500kg.  They are large.

 This smaller elephant posed nicely for a few pictures.

 This larger bull wasn't so happy to see us.

 Smaller Nile Crocodile's sunning themselves on a rock in the middle of the river.

 Same Croc, just closer.

 This one was a little bigger.  He has fresh wounds from what we only assumed was a recent fight.

 A bump in the road disturbed my shot and I jiggled at an inopportune moment, but I still like this picture.  He's probably about 2 years old and was hunting with his sister.  Two other lions from the same litter were killed by buffalo when they were younger.  He wasn't terribly happy that we were there.


Well, that's it for now.  There are a lot of animal pictures here, but my favorite ones are still the ones of people, because that's why we are here.  Cool animals are just a really cool side bar.  It is an honor and privilege to be able to fly so many people from so many different missions around east Africa, having a small part in the ministries that they are involved in, whether it be church planting, leadership training, AIDS awareness and prevention, famine relief, Bible translation, water well drilling, radio ministries, medical evacuation flights, and on and on and on.  Thank you so much for your support and prayers for our ministry here in Uganda with MAF.  It is a blessing for us to be an extension here in Africa of each of your own ministries back home, and remember, our door is always open.

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