Captain’s Log – 21 July 2018 – Runways, Refugees and Rehab


Chad greets missionaries at Amadi after his first landing there. They had done a lot of work and cut grass after much rain. Still a few puddles and quite a few motorcycles, and the strip is in a different place than the coordinates said it was, but hey, “garbage in garbage out!’

I recently had a great opportunity to fly with one of our pilots to check him out at Amadi, an airstrip he was unfamiliar with. It is on a road and there is always the odd motorcycle on the “runway” that you have to watch out for. We got a chance to practice a few aborts as well, and had a wonderful time of “working with weather” all the way back. The concept of ALWAYS having an “out”, a place to go when you can’t go forward, will keep you alive. Having the GPS programmed with the 9 closest airships to your present position, and the heading and distance to each, is a wonderful advancement in technology from the early days of flying here.


Happy to help unload food, some of these guys were carrying 3 X 25 kg sacks at a time on their heads. My neck was sore just watching. I made them stop and do just two.

So much has happened since we l wrote.  We are still working at the IDP camp (Internally Displaced  People camp), and through a fund that MAF set up we have been able to distribute thousands of pounds of rice, beans, soya, and other foods, soap, clothes, firewood, and other essentials to keep people alive, as well as hundreds of tarps for tent houses.


Dave Jacobsson looks over all the supplies we brought this week.


All these people in one little tarp tent. Can you see the ones inside? Very cozy! We gave them another tarp.

Overwhelmed is a good word. Everyone I have taken to the camp comes away with different feelings, but usually they involve a sense of being overwhelmed by what needs to be done.  Compassion. Hopelessness. Frustrating. Sad. “What can I possibly do with so much need?” These are some of the words I have heard, but they all express the overwhelming nature of the task. It has been a privilege to work with the Christian volunteers from Bunia who are distributing what is being donated to the people at the Hospital IDP’s camp.


Deo, Dave and others unload our supplies for the IDP’s.

Bisoke is our national staff chaplain sho shows the “JESUS” film for us and has a great ministry. He has shown the film three times now in the Bunia area refugee camps and will again this Sunday. As people responded and he heard some of the stories of people there, many girls and some were telling of being raped. Bisoke has a real heart for this ministry and he and his wife, Furaha, have run a school in Bunia for orphans from the Congo war days.


Rachel, a little girl hacked across the face and side of her head with a machete has scars that are healing now. Who knows what is going on in her mind. The man behind us was also hacked.        Who does these kinds of things?

He suggested that we start a sewing class with these women ad use it as a platform for ministry and healing of their traumatic experiences. My heart also goes out to these girls and women and I was more than happy to use $1000 of the refugee camp funds to start a class. This involves a teacher who knows sewing and can counsel as well, materials like needles and thread, scissors, and cloth. I budgeted for three sewing machines as well,  but they want to start with the basics as the ladies have no training any all. We already have 157 ladies who want to be involved. Not all have been raped, but many tell stories of not being able to survive without their husbands when they get in the camp, and feeling that they need to sell their bodies just to stay alive.  There are so many needs and we are only touching a portion of them.


Some of the women who are really excited to come and learn a new skill for life that the come to practice even when no class is going on.

When I visited yesterday, although there was no class in session, there were 10 women there sewing on squares of cloth, practicing various stitching and embroidery techniques.  When I left the classroom, I noticed many women throughout the camp with their pieces of cloth, practicing what they had learned so far.

All of this is a way outside of MAF’s usual focus of ministry, but it is in our back yard and hard to ignore and we must do what we can to help.  I want to thank each of you who have given toward this.

Early this year Cher, my lovely wife, fell while gathering grass for her guinea pig. Injuring her right shoulder. It continued to get worse and worse until, at the end of June, we had to go to Nairobi, Kenya to get it operated on. There is a great specialist there who operated on her and repaired torn tendons and muscles, cleaned out the joint, and cut some bone away.  It was a big deal and has been very painful for a long time. She is just coming out of the worst of that now, but we would appreciate your continuing prayers for her recovery.  While in Kenya, I took the opportunity to get my FAA flight physical renewed.


Cher’s new scar. Doesn’t look quite so much like a centipede now that I took out the stitches. Still painful, so you can pray for a full recovery.


This entry was posted in IDP Camp Bunia, Medical, Pilot stuff, Pilot Technique and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Captain’s Log – 21 July 2018 – Runways, Refugees and Rehab

  1. Vicki says:

    So inspiring! What good things you’re doing with your life. Empowering women can be sustainable too, I’ve been privileged to be part of a team effort of informal education as a starting point to help people become autonomous with fantastic results. It is often true that if you educate a man he will educate his children, but if you educate women they will educated the entire village!

  2. abbie says:

    Wow, great work is being done in that camp!! God bless you and the others fliers and the whole team, praying that you guys have resources and energy to get it all done!! I really enjoy your posts’, it’s awesome to see a direct way in how funds are being used overseas. Rice, beans, and sewing classes, all necessities 🙂 Also, I passed my checkride this past Friday, I’m a private pilot now onto IFR!

    love and prayers from Oregon,

    – abbie

  3. Kathy love says:

    Wow ..we haven’t heard too much from you so we assume things are quieting down over there..i’m so glad you’re there to help John and Cher have done so much over your times heart goes out to all those poor people that of been hurt and are hungry and have to live in those tarps.. Like you said how can I human being do these things .. You did say that the pastor that is there is showing the Jesus film that lifted my heart ..knowing that this gives people hope .. Thanks for all you guys do over there you’re the kind of people that even though you’re retired just keep going .. Thank you for blogging occasionally because it reminds me that you still need prayer ..I hope Cher is feeling better.. Wow that’s quite a scar and the fact that you took the stitches out just speaks for your abilities to be where you are .. Love you guys hang in there God sees you ..He sees you will both have a special crown when you get to heaven..

  4. Amen Dube says:

    Hi Cher and John. Always humbling and inspiring to hear the tales from my continent. As you say, what kind of people do these things? Wishing Cher a speedy recovery, I know the pain as 3 weeks ago I also had shoulder surgery… Painful. Keep the wonderful deeds, somewhere someone notices. Best wishes Jon,

    • Jon says:

      Hey Amen, Always wonderful to hear from you my friend. Very proud of all you have achieved. Thanks for writing. going through your area in December. You still flying Emirates?

  5. Jack & Jeannette says:

    Dear Jon & Cher – We always enjoy and rejoice reading your postings. I think y’all are most veteran, senior MAF field active family that we knew from our MAF days. Having spent about
    6 weeks in East/South Africa in 1984 visiting the famine areas, capturing stories for MAF TV special, and seeing it all from a Cessna…. does gives us even better perspective. Most grateful for all the experiences of our 30 years MAF. J & J

  6. Dianna Gibney says:

    Hi Jon, thanks for writing at this blog post. I always enjoy reading what you write. I’m so sorry to hear about Cher’s hurt shoulder! That scar looks nasty and painful. 🙁

    In the sentence that is supposed to say “sell their bodies”, there are some really strange typos that you might want to correct. If I hadn’t read that sentence in a previous email I wouldn’t have understood it at all.

    Thanks, Jon, for all you are doing to make a difference there. Blessings, brother.


    Sent from my iPhone

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