Monday, September 5, 2011

Maule Miracle

The Baby Moses of Guyana Adventist Medical Aviation Services (GAMAS).This spring one of the GAMAS airplanes had an unfortunate bath in the waters of the Kamarang River at one of the villages in the interior of Guyana. A wet runway and a sudden tail wind on the last part of the decent to land resulted in a Maule aircraft and the pilot/passengers 10+ feet down over the river bank and into the river. Thankfully, no one was hurt and the villagers came out and helped turn the plane around and pull it out of the water. The plane then became part of the runway scenery for the next few months, waiting for a mechanic.

We believe that this Maule project was part of the reason that God wanted us to spend some time in Guyana. Gary Roberts came from his GMI project in Africa to help, and his 6 years of experience as a pilot/mechanic in Guyana were invaluable. Cliff Brooks also came to help and investigate the idea of being a long term missionary with GAMAS. His prior mission experience showed and we enjoyed his help for the last two weeks of the job. DJ, Gary, and Cliff spent many long days in their little "shop" that they set up with the GAMAS C182 wing and some hammocks and boards. With parts that came down with Gary from the States, borrowed instruments, and some patchwork, the little airplane soon began to revive. New struts, a partial engine teardown, new magnetos, a patched cowling, a new nose wheel support structure, and clean wheel barings made it a mighty fine looking gent.

***(left) A break for lunch with the family by the river.

To get to Paruima, the little village in the beautiful Guyanese interior where the Maule airplane was located, we flew 1.5 hours over lots of broccoli heads. Paruima is a special village due to its heritage (more below). Radio communication is the only form of modern communication technology found in the village and we used it a lot to talk to the other GAMAS projects and to the airplane when it was flying. Many villages in the interior such as this one are only accessible by aircraft and by foot.
Transportation within the village happens by foot or by boat. Here's a picture of one of many trips up/down the river that we made in the dugout canoe that often serves as a pick-up truck. The villagers do a lot of subsistence farming. We were priviledged to share in the blessings of the land, including an abundance of bananas, bokchoy, and green onions.Here is a picture of the Adventist church in this village. It's set up on a hill in the middle of the village where almost everyone can see it. The village of Paruima has a very interesting history that has resulted in most of the villagers following the Adventist faith. They became known as the "Davis Indians" about 100 years ago because of a missionary, Elder Davis. A few years later, they fled from Venezuela into Guyana because of religious persecution. Their story can be read at . Missionaries that came after Elder Davis wrote books about the Indians that are very good including "The Davis Indians," "Destination: Green Hell," and "Jewels from Green Hell" by Betty Cott.
So while DJ, Gary, and co. worked on the airplane and made a few flights in the 182 for parts or checkouts, etc., the ladies stayed on the Davis Indian Industrial College campus working on various cleaning projects. Many hours were spent washing mosquito nets and sheets in the river, organizing medical supplies, and working in the library.

The library was of particular interest and importance because of its chaotic state. All the books had been removed from their shelves in order to spray for termites. While at first the job seemed easy enough - put the books back on their proper shelves - it turned into a two and a half week project. It was actually quite fun.

And back to the Maule mission... After 3 weeks of work we ferried the airplane out of Paruima back to Georgetown - Gary flying the Maule, and the rest of us in the 182. God is good. There were no problems with the airplane during the entire flight.

The plan was then to fly the Maule to the States to sell it as this airplane is not very good for the needs in Guyana. It does not haul very much weight with the quantity of fuel needed to make trips into the interior. We are now looking for another Cessna 182 which has similar fuel consumption to the Maule but hauls much larger loads. However, God had his hand in this Maule project and saved us the trouble of flying it to the States. The day that Gary and his family were going to leave for the States flying the Maule, through a series of God-planned events, a prospective buyer here in Georgetown showed interest in the plane. Less than a week later, the paperwork was signed and the plane was moved a few hangars down at the local airport. We are so thankful and were again reminded that we are working for the Lord and that He has special plans for GAMAS and His children in Guyana. Thank you for your prayers and support in our mission projects.

1 comment:

Raluca said...

Thank you so much for this blog entry! Oh, how I miss Paruima, Gary and Wendy! I spent there 3 years and it was so good to see some recent pictures of the campus. May God bless you and your service!