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.