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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.