Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Ride-Along

I have never in our history as an MAF couple gotten to go on a ridealong with my husband for a day of work (Mostly because we've always had young kids). This time when we came back to Tarakan, I told Dave that I wanted to go along with him sometime and get a first-hand glimpse of what he does every day. I've flown with him before when we've gone interior as a family. Our longest flight together was when we flew an MAF 206 all the way from East Kalimantan to West Kalimantan to have C.J. at a little mission hospital there. We actually crossed the equator on that one! Anyway, it has been totally crazy lately with Christmas activities, our school Christmas program, staff Christmas party, etc. So Dave said that it's only going to get busier for him when he starts training some people after the new year, so if I wanted to ridealong, we'd better do it! So, last Wednesday I had arranged a sitter for the boys, packed them a lunch, sent C.J. with a school check-list to complete, and dropped them off, then I took off to the MAF hangar.

Light drizzle rained down as I bounced down the muddy road to the hangar. After arriving, I had a little time because Dave was RTS'ing (Return to Service) the Caravan because it had been fixed the previous day for a minor problem. But, when he came back, the problem had not been fixed, so we had to wait while the mechanics made adjustments and then Dave would have to RTS it again. This is life in aviation - hurry up and wait! I was praying the problem would be fixed the second time or else that meant no flying that day because it would be too late. But praise the Lord, the problem was resolved and we could load up for the day. Better late than never!

It was fun to watch the passengers get loaded onto the airplane. We were taking them to a village called Long Ampung, which was an hour and twenty minute flight over the jungles of Borneo. I must admit, I do get a little freaked out when we first take off. I'm not fond of heights, and somehow the thought of how high we are above the water and the treetops can send me into a slight spurt of anxiety! But by the end of the day, it was normal because we had landed and taken off so many times! Dave introduced me to the passengers as the co-pilot, to which they all nodded approvingly. Yeah, right! Then he told them I was his wife, to which they laughed relievedly. He did this each time we got a new load of passengers. It was fun.

So, we flew through some clouds on the way to Long Ampung, to which one passenger responded by giving Dave dirty looks. Indonesians don't like flying and they get scared very easily, so flying through a bumpy cloud probably scared the tar out of her! This plane is equipped to be able to fly by instruments through the clouds. When we arrived in Long Ampung, we all deplaned and Dave took care of overseeing the unloading of the cargo and the reloading. I was approached by a young woman and man who were wearing headbands, and asked if I could take a letter for them back to tarakan. Then I learned that they were the sister and brother of a young man who had died recently. MAF flew this young man to Tarakan with a massive head injury from a motorcycle accident interior, and he had died in Tarakan. Then MAF had flown his body back to Long Ampung to be buried, and so we got to fly out his family and friends who had come home for the burial and funeral. Wow. That made it a bit more personal. We were assuming the headbands were a sign of mourning. When this young woman got out from the plane after we had flown her to Malinau, she broke down and hugged me and cried. It broke my heart, but yet by God's grace I was able to give her some comfort because of the comfort God had given us through Hannah's situation.

Next, from Malinau, we took a load of passengers (including a motorcycle) to Long Bawan, unloaded all that, turned around and flew a load back to Malinau, and were going to carry some empty fuel drums back to Tarakan to end our day when one of the men we had just flown seemed confused, and unsure of what he was going to do. Upon questioning him further, we found out he was the husband of a lady we'd heard about on the radio that morning who was pregnant and bleeding. She ended up taking a different airline to a place called Nunukan, so this man was trying to get to his wife in Nunukan. We found out she was eight months pregnant. So, after talking with Dave and our national workers in Malinau, the man decided to come along to Tarakan and try to get from there to Nunukan possibly the next morning. On the flight back home, Dave was talking on the radio to our base in Tarakan trying to see if we could get this guy a flight from Tarakan to Nunukan. Turns out everything was booked (MAF doesn't fly to Nunukan, so he was checking another airline), so he was going to see if he could possibly catch a boat instead the next day. Wow again. We were able to pray for him and his wife in our hearts on the way home and were glad to see when we arrived in Tarakan that he knew some of our national workers, and had family in Tarakan that could help him get to where he needed to go.

So, I got a little taste of a typical day for Dave. It's full of adventure, sometimes drama and sometimes trauma. But what a blessing to be used by God that day to give comfort and to help people get to where they need to be. Now I think he needs to come along on one of my work days! It's a different kind of adventure, as all you moms know! Love and miss you all! Linda (Sorry, I can't figure out how to delete the extra same picture, so here it is again!)