Friday, August 13, 2010

Still the same in Haiti.

“ Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is how Paul opened his letter to the church in Rome, what an awesome opening!
One day I was sitting in my office, when the Holy Spirit moved me to make some calls to local flower nurseries. Edgewood Nursery donated the purple fountain grass, and gave us a good deal on the red mulch. Now, let me say this, I am not a gardener, as a matter of fact I have the black thumb of death when it comes to plants. Since this is for the glory of God; it seems to have turned out very well. All things are possible through Christ Jesus. The beautification project continues. If you have a green thumb, join me

Well here we are, six months after the earthquake in Haiti. What has really changed? Well aside from all the death, injuries, and rubble that once used to be homes, not much. The Haitian government is slow to move and no housing permits are yet to be issued. The presidential palace is still in the same condition after the quake.
The last time I was in Port Au Prince, the terminal building and control tower was still in shambles. Yet the Haitian people go about their daily routines and life goes on. Here we get all bent out of sorts if our coffee isn’t prepared to our liking. There is much to learn from these people.
We are trying to resolve some problems in Santiago, as customs is giving us some new regulations that we must comply with. One of the regulations states that the manifests must be in Spanish, and that they must arrive at the customs office before the load arrives by two weeks. We don’t know what is arriving at Agape from day to day, it varies greatly. Luke, our new chief pilot, has taken the “bull” by the horns and is asking lawyers what the options are. One option is to wait for the new government to come in the fall and see if things change.
Fortunately, we are still getting the cargo to those missionaries, it might take us a little longer, but it still gets there.
One of the big joys for us, is to give six-packs of Mountain Dew or Dr. Pepper to the missionaries. That really puts a big smile on their faces. “you just can’t get it here” No problem, glad to help.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer @ Agape.

Blessings abound! Our trip to Brazil went great, we learned many things about our new to us plane, and got to practice many otherwise dangerous maneuvers in the simulator. Now that we are equipped with our new knowledge we are better able to manage the unforeseen when we fly in the service of the Lord.
Please keep the missionaries and the people of Haiti in your prayers, as the situation has not really improved much. I happened to catch a story on TV about how rice vender's in Haiti are having a tough time making a profit because there so much rice that came in after the earthquake. (If its not one thing ,its another).
Unfortunately, the world has moved on and Haiti doesn’t make the news anymore. Here at Agape we are very aware of what is happening, and we are still getting supplies. Not like we used to, but its good to still see it coming in.
I hope that you had a chance to come to our plane dedication on July 26, a good time was had by all.
On June 26 Agape dedicated our new(to us) plane. Agape celebrated with a picnic and hot dogs , hamburgers and frys were served. Local entertainment was also on hand. The last time we lost an aircraft ( our Cessna Caravan) Agape went an entire year to the day without an airplane.
God is so good that he brought people and aircraft to Agape, and service to the missionaries was not affected . I don’t think that a month went by this time when we got the “Bandit”, Praise God!

Now more than ever the people, and leaders of Haiti need your prayers. It has been six months since the earthquake and nothing has been done with respect to removing rubble or rebuilding. 98% of the population is still living in tents with no water or electricity.
The Haitian government is tying up many of the critical medical supplies because the customs officials in Haiti what to impose a 20% tax on all relief supplies. There are warehouses full of supplies, but very little if any are getting through.
On the Dominican side, the Dominican government felt taken advantage of during the earthquake relief effort because little or no oversight was taken as to what was coming through the country. Now they are knuckling down on everything and making the process of Agape getting cargo through tough.
But God is bigger than any of these problems, and we continue to get the mail and much of the supplies through with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
On another note; many projects are abound here at Agape, they seem to grow like the grass during the summer months. Just when you think you have them under control; you find your self drowning in the tide that is the infamous “honey do list”
If anyone finds time to come in and give a hand with gardening, painting, or just general up keep, please give me a call, I would love to share my Agape honey do list with you.

Friday, June 4, 2010

June is here! Here is an update.

Praise God from which all blessings flow! If you read this log between the 4-12 of June, chances are, I am in in Curitiba Brazil. The weather is a low of 52F and a high of 62F. Four of us from Agape will be there going through the paces of getting checked out in the new plane. Unfortunately there are no simulators in the U.S.

The hangar is starting to look “normal” again, but it’s a new normal. Lately we have been flying Tuesday and returning the same day. On Thursday & Friday it has been a two day trip. Now that things have slowed we are going back to a Thursday / Friday only schedule.

In a way its sad to see that peoples attention span is so short; we received emergency donations for a solid 14 days, then it dropped off. Please keep the people of Haiti in your prayers; many of the people are still living in tents, and now the rainy season is here. It makes for a miserable combination. Thank you to all for keeping this ministry going!

Praise God from whom all blessing flow! The mad rush which has been our lives for the last 6 months is slowing to a more normal pace (what’s normal?). We have had quite a few youth groups visit with us, one from Christ United Methodist Church, and the other from Georgia. The blessings that these young people bring to us here is great! They may be a little timid at first, but by the time its all done they see and learn that servitude isn’t as bad the world makes it out to be, and in the end we all learn something and the Holy sprit is awakened; aglow in our faces which makes others take note.

Yes the mission of Agape is to serve Gods missionaries, but there is a ministry created by the ministry. All that come to Agape are welcome, weather you come of your own accord or if you are ordered to come to serve community service, Agape is here to give Agape.

There is one gentleman which stands out in my mind. His name is George, and he is handicapped because upon coming out of a bar he wondered out into the street to be hit by several cars. After coming out of a comma for a few months the doctors told him that he would never walk again. George was ordered to serve community service. When he came to us at Agape he could barely walk or talk. We didn’t treat him any different than any one else. Now you wouldn’t recognize George; he now moves boxes speaks clearly and we love having him around. George said, “If it wasn’t for you guys, I don’t know where I would be, my body gets exercise from all the work you let me do and you treat me like a real person! Thank you.”

Thank you Lord for letting me serve.

Friday, May 14, 2010

June is almost here...Time to go to Brazil

WOW, what a fist half of the year!
Earthquakes, Medical emergencies, airplane crashes; if I didn’t know any better I would say Christ is coming back real soon!
On a good note, the Lord provided for many people in Haiti, and I was witness to many miracles.
It never ceases to amaze me how God always comes through. Always. Just when you think that all is lost , or how in the world is something going to get done without ( insert need here). God has an answer; just ask.
One of my recent problems was how am I going to afford the training for our new airplane? God answers… No problem, my child, your airfare to Brazil...Paid. Your training...No charge...Your hotel...Paid.
God is good, all the time. Yes I have to go to Brazil because there are no simulators for the Embrair here in the U.S. so please say a prayer for me on June 7-12.
Thank you to all who helped put together all the back packs full of goodies, they were a huge hit.


I don't think I've ever been to a place that was such a mess. That is not to say that God has forsaken Haiti. I see many Haitians that have taken Jesus into their hearts and are happy despite their hardships, we could learn a lot from them.
I would like to think that I've learned to take myself a little less seriously , (I know my wife Kristin would say otherwise) it’s a work in progress. We are so blessed, beyond comprehension, yet I get bent out of shape if my sneakers aren't white enough, or my coffee isn’t the way I like it. It makes me feel spoiled and ungrateful.
I suppose that many people would look down on Haiti, and point out all the things that are wrong, (and there is much room for improvement), but I choose to look at the strength of the people there. The average Haitian earns $135.00 a year, yet the price of food and other goods is equal to what we pay here in the U.S. That blows my mind! How resourceful one must have to be to live on $135.00 a year! At the same time it makes me think of what we have here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hait is getting better? Not really.

I must say that it is indeed a blessing to be in the service of the Lord. We have delivered over 500,000 pounds of relief supplies since the earthquake. In the process we lost our King Air 90. Fortunately no one was hurt, but the plane was not so lucky. We continued to provide relief regardless. The good Lord then mad in-roads for us to have a bigger plane that can haul double the load that the king air could carry.

The hanger has taken a beating during all this time that supplies have been coming in. The floor of the hanger is in a word, trashed. I’m going to need some big help in getting it to look good, so a word to you volunteers out there, come on in and give me a hand!

The situation down in Haiti is getting better. Instead of it being an intolerable mess, its now just a mess.

Haiti is back to its old tricks, I recently went to Port Au Prince where I would normally go to the “G.A.” ramp to off load. Now I am told to go to the main terminal to pass customs and pay all the fees. For a while we were exempt from fees due to the fact that we were bringing in humanitarian relief. Back to normal I guess.

The fees and taxes that were lifted for the relief effort for all that were bringing in tons and tons of food and medical supplies. But now we are being charged landing fees, parking fees, and communication and navigation fees. Unfortunately this is discouraging many people from coming down again after being slapped with all those fees.

Agape sent five 40’ containers only to have them held up so that the Haitian government can assess taxes and fees on the contents. Not to worry God is in control, and be glad to know that most of the containers have now been released.

I hate to think of some one going hungry, or not getting what they desperately need because of bureaucracy and greed. The world is a cruel place.

I’ve seen the cargo change through all this, from medical supplies to food, then to shelter, and now its transitioning into building supplies and construction.

Now for the most important: Your prayers.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Giving Issac a ride of a lifetime

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 4:30 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.

The 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.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Disaster relief

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 by one of the missionaries that we serve in a caged truck. 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 readiedgot 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

Haiti as of 1/20/2010

It's Kristin again...

What a crazy weekend! We spent at least 12 hours at the hangar on Saturday and another long day on Sunday. Mark flew a tiny Aztec to the Dominican Republic on Monday. He is supposed to be there for a few days. He says he is coming home on Friday, we shall see...

This morning he felt the aftershock, but didn't say much more about it.

Anyway, the PAP airport is working on a reservation system. So he had one drop off yesterday and another today. Today he is bringing water - about 700 lbs of it! The King Air is bringing 2500lbs of beans and rice. That will feed a ton of people - but my question is how do they cook if the water is needed for drinking? But I imagine they have that figured out.

Mark also mentioned that customs is a huge hassle. If you don't have the exact paperwork, you are out of luck and Haitian customs confiscates your cargo. The Dominican Republic is also becoming an issue because they are probably tired of being a staging area. There has always been hostility between the countries and so seeing all this help go to Haiti when they have poverty too is probably difficult.

There are still 17 Agape families unaccounted for. Please pray for them and their families back home.

On the home front, the boys miss Mark and ask where he is frequently. But we are having our own fun and our own adventures. This is a busy week, so that helps us from "getting into trouble" and keeping the boys off my nerves. Getting the kids to school was the smoothest it's ever been! How great is that... Thank you for caring, reading, and praying! God is doing mighty huge works right now (well, when doesn't He?) and it is exciting to be on the front lines. Thank you for helping! I'll add some pictures tonight when I'm at home.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti Earthquake

Wow, has it really been since November that Mark has updated his blog. I guess nothing exciting has happened in our family or with Agape?? Just kidding, this is Kristin taking time out from writing my blog 2corinth1-4mom.blogspot.com to update his.

Mark is currently returning from the Dominican Republic. He was flying one of King's Wings airplanes. He flew a group of doctor's. They wanted to get to Haiti, but since the airspace was closed yesterday, they did the next best thing and landed in Santo Domingo. The doctors chose to rent a car and drive to Haiti. They should have waited 12 hours and they would have been delivered directly to Port au Prince. Here's hoping the doctors are safe on their journey - definitely not one that I would take!

Anyway, Agape is coming up with their "game plan" and working tirelessly to help with the relief efforts. I am amazed by the help that is pouring in and the servant-like attitude of everyone! From what I can gather they will continue working through the weekend.

www.agapeflights.com has so much more information - head over and pray for, by name, the people mentioned!

Captain Mikarts

Captain Mikarts
Mark always says he has the best office view!
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Hispanola

Hispanola
These are the mountains on the island of Hispanola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic)

Haitian Airport

Haitian Airport
Here is a picture of an airport in Haiti!

About Me

My photo
Mark and I created this blog so that our friends and family could see all the blessings God is pouring on our family as we serve Him through Agape Flights. Mark is one of the captains, a flight instructor and maintenance man for God! We believe that through the thick and thin of life, you have to find the humor. We want the joy we get from the Lord to be evident in our daily lives. Our children have unidentified developmental delays, because of this, we have a heart for parents of children with special needs. Our kids have brought us the biggest joy - and the biggest challenges. Through our experiences, we pray we can help others.