Back to the Drawing Board
After 10 months of negotiations, construction clearance applications, meetings, and more paperwork, and despite a favorable vote from the public, our request for permission to build a helipad on the land we had found was ultimately denied. While January and early February was a discouraging time, the Lord deepened our trust and reliance on Him through this setback. Josh also made a trip to Manila and Palawan negotiating to transfer the lease on our old Palawan hangar to another company.
While searching again for land to build a new flight center on, Josh also made another trip back to Palawan to bring our remaining Cessna 185 back to Mindanao to eventually be shipped back to the U.S.. With the exception of a couple of quick maintenance flights, this was Josh’s last flight in a 185.
A New Car!!!
After a quick vacation where all four of us got certified as open water scuba divers, Josh spent the rest of March focused on transferring the lease on our old Palawan hangar to another company and searching for land for our new hangar. This involved several trips to Manila and Palawan meeting with government representatives and potential lessors for our old Palawan hangar. Toward the end of the month, we were finally able to purchase a new (to us) car!
Dust, Dirt and Cobwebs
Our family spent nearly two weeks back on Palawan to cleaning out and packing up 40+ years of accumulated parts, tools and junk in our hangar there. It was a good time of closure and saying goodbye to our home, friends and ministry of almost seven years, and as a bonus, our kids got to attend VBS with friends at our old church on Palawan!
May was a crazy month! Joshua and Anna and one of their friends got to fly in to one of villages we serve for a birthday party. Martial Law was declared on our island, resulting in massive delays at checkpoints just as we were ramping up to receive NTMA’s new R66 helicopter. At the last minute we were thrown some crazy paperwork curve balls resulting in long, tense hours on the phone and in meetings for Brian and Josh. The month ended with our team still waiting for the helicopter’s release from customs.
June was another crazy month! Prayer and God’s timing finally won out, and the helicopter was released from Customs at the beginning of June. We spent a week living out of a guesthouse again while Brian and Josh assembled it. It was super exciting to see our dream of over four years realized when the first ever R66 in Mission Aviation took off for it’s first operational flights on June 15. The month finished up with our regional NTM conference. Brian and Josh attended conference in the mornings and spend the afternoon and evenings disassembling our old R44 that was due for overhaul, and preparing to ship it back the U.S.
Josh’s Parents and youngest brother got to visit us for the first time! We had an amazing time with them, and also had the privilege of visiting one of the tribal villages we serve as a family. In support ministry, it’s easy to become focused on our tasks and lose our eternal perspective of the lives that are being transformed here. It was so encouraging to spend time with our church planters who have worked with one people group for over 30 years, and who have lost track now of the number of outreaches and churches that have been started now as a result of the church that they planted so many years ago! Now they are focused on translating the Old Testament into the heart language of the people they work with, and getting as many resources and materials into the hands of the believers as they can.
Josh and Brian spent a week with a helicopter consultant from the U.S. launching our sling loading program. We can now haul large loads like roofing, plywood and rolls of water pipe on a line under the helicopter. This has opened a whole new world of opportunities, especially for community development projects.
One of the highlights of August was when our church here began periodically integrating kids with musical training into Sunday morning worship services. Both of our kids have been able to serve with the worship team several times now, with Joshua on drums or guitar, and Anna singing. We are so blessed by the way our church here is discipling kids into ministry!
Land in sight!
After countless pieces of property explored and negotiated over to no avail, in September we found a lot that met all of our criteria, and was available for lease at a really good price! We began negotiating contract details, and working on the preliminary community permissions and clearances we would need to build a hangar there. Josh and one of our pilot/mechanics from another island also spent a long week doing a 100hr inspection and giving our helicopter some TLC.
Paperwork and Provision
We began the long, slow process of scheduling hearings, doing initial site layouts, and applying for the first round of permits that would determine whether or not we could get approval to build a helipad on the land we found. In the middle of working through paperwork, building plans, etc., God chose to provide a pre-fab hangar for us! Now we just needed to finalize land to put it on. Josh also travelled to another island to assist with an inspection on our other helicopter.
While normal life and ministry continued and we waited on clearances and signatures, we had the opportunity to visit one of the villages we serve as a family. We were invited by the Banwaon church to share in their thanksgiving as they appointed elders and deacons for the very first time! What an amazing experience to join with our brothers and sisters in worship and celebration as we thanked God together for bringing the church to this milestone of maturity. After a Saturday night worship service that went long into the night, and a Sunday morning service that began at 7:00 and went until after 10:00, the church fed us all an amazing traditional feast, including rice and sweet potatoes that had been cooked inside a bamboo tube.
The reason for it all
December was an amazing month! We had the opportunity to visit yet another village that we serve, and this time Candy and Bailey had the privilege of handing out certificates to graduates of the school that our missionaries have established there. Two young mothers graduated from the school with teaching certificates as well. Their passion for Christ has led them to routinely hike a day or more through the jungle alone or with their young children to teach in other villages, and train more teachers as well. With the helicopter, many times the villages they need to reach are 5-10 minutes away, saving them hours or days of treacherous hiking. Also, just before Christmas we were finally able to sign a contract on a piece of property for our hangar!