Thursday, 5 April 2018

Trip to Arnhem Land

Simon and I recently did trips to visit our MAF Arnhem Land programme in the Northern Territories.  It was great to finally visit this place I had heard so much about.  Simon's project was to help out in the Operations Department and to give some insight where required.  Working in a different culture has its unique challenges and so it was interesting for him to get to know what they were in Arnhem Land.  He was able to give some insight from his time in the Uganda programme and give recommendations where necessary.  We will see what happens next.

A week later it was my turn to go up to Arnhem Land.  For me it was in the capacity of HR which is has a broad remit..  It was great to meet many of the families in the programme and get to know them better.  It is quite a multi cultural team and so reminded me a lot of Uganda.  There were folks from the Netherlands, Switzerland, PNG, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, England, India and more.

On Wednesday evening we had a fellowship time.  It was helpful to get to know some of the ladies in a relaxed environment playing a game and worshipping together.  Also good just to laugh and relax for a while.

I also had the privilege of flying out to one of the islands where two MAF families minister in the communities.  The photos below show how beautiful this area is.

Unfortunately, one of the families had experienced a break in and some of their belongings were damaged which are still in the process of being fixed and replaced.  However, it was good that no-one entered the house or threatened the family.

Please pray for those who work amongst our aboriginal communities.   Pray that they would be able to navigate the cultural divide and be able to share the love of Jesus and bring them hope where there is none.
If you can find Nhulumbuy then you found where I stayed for the week. :)

Opposite our MAF base in Gove is a control tower and a plane that have seen better days.  I was told that the control tower was never used but might now be turned into a museum

Not a bad office view.  I could get used to that!

One of our many Airvans that are vital to the operations in Arnhem Land

A few more waiting their turn to go fly

One of the buildings used for operations

Our MAF hangar with the Cessna 208 inside

Flying over the "broccoli"

What a stunning coastline - shame about the crocs

On my way to Elcho Island

The airstrip and community at Elcho Island

Standing guard over the food, mail and other goods going to the MAF families who are ministering in this community

A bit of a traffic jam at Elcho Island

The community at Elcho Island

More stunning views on the way home

Back home in "Gove"

Friday, 9 March 2018

Pray for PNG

As many of you will have read on the news that PNG has suffered a couple of earthquakes in the last week or so devastating many communities and many people have lost their lives.  The following link will give you an idea of how our PNG programme is involved in the relief efforts.

it's raining cats and dogs and more

This past week we have seen an incredible amount of rainfall.  The photos below will give you an idea of what it is like.  It has continued to rain through the night and it is still raining.  Pray for those that have been greatly affected by all the flooding.  Some cars have just been washed away and towns have been cut off.

Outside the office yesterday as the waters continued to rise.  Some of the cars were moved to a bit higher ground.  The water got higher than what is displayed in these photos.  By the time I left the water was up to my knees before I got in the car.

No walk for the dog in the park this evening.  It is more like a lake.

On the way back from school yesterday.  Simon said when he was driving by later that evening and people were out in boats and rubber tyres enjoying the recreational side of it all.

Zara checking out the path we normally use to cross the wee creek.  The path had disappeared further down and no chance of crossing to the other side.

No access this way either...

This morning I was driving back from Cairns and within two hours the bridge was covered and the road closed.  

No grass or road left.  It is just one big river!

Saturday, 24 February 2018

New challenges

We arrived in Australia in November 2016 and here we are in February 2018.  A lot has happened in those months and more still to happen.  Simon continues to train new pilots for the field and is currently doing a standardisation course with an Indian national who is heading to PNG with his family.  His wife will be the new HR Manager there which will be a blessing to the team.

Simon has been asked if he can help out in the Arnhem Land programme in Australia.  They are needing help in their Operations Department and so the plan is for Simon to go up there for a week or so to look their systems and to advise where he can.  I am looking forward to the outcome of this visit since I am helping out with HR in Arnhem Land remotely so I have a vested interest in it all.

Simon is also studying for his PNG license.  The idea being that he can go up to PNG and help out with flying and with flight checks and training.  It takes about 3 months for a visa to go through so the process is not fast but he still has some work to do in studying so everything has its time.

Joshua is busy with school and is currently looking for a part time job.  Part of the curriculum at school is to have one weeks work experience.  This will be good practice for him as he starts to think about what he will do once he leaves school.  He is enjoying playing basketball and plays in a futsal team (indoor football) on Friday nights before youth group.  On Monday nights he takes our dog to "Puppy school".  Islay is less impressed with the whole idea and often will sit down and refuse to move.   I am not sure who is more frustrated, Islay or Joshua (haha)

Zara had her braces off this week so she is delighted about that.  Some work still to be completed but at least we are heading in the right direction.  She has started going to a new youth group with her close friends and really enjoys it.  You can only guess what Mum and Dad are up to on Friday drivers :)  She loves everything animals and often will find a bird that has fallen out of a tree in the park so will take it over to the nearby vet.  Sometimes she will go back and ask how it is doing.  Maybe there is a voluntary opportunity ahead in this area.  We shall see.

I am busy with work and it looks like I will be travelling in the near future up to our Arnhem Land programme also to see how it works so our HR department know better how to support it.  It will be good to visit an operational programme again.

I  have been facilitating a Bible study on Friday mornings with some ladies.  We have been studying  the book of James with Francis Chan.  It has been a interesting study and I am amazed again at how God uses a book that is familiar to all of us and yet He always highlights something new.

Another new venture that Simon and I have been involved in organising is a small fellowship group every two weeks on a Sunday afternoon.  The house that it is hosted at has a pool so that suits the kids very well.  Our second time together is tomorrow and we are going through the Follow Me series from Freedom Church.  I am hoping to having some structured time for the children so that they take some Biblical truths home with them too.  We will see what God does with this group in the future.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Flourishing in 2018!

Verse for the Year

Psalm 92:12-15Amplified Bible (AMP)

The righteous will flourish like the date palm [long-lived, upright and useful];
They will grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic and stable].

Planted in the house of the Lord,
They will flourish in the courts of our God.

[Growing in grace] they will still thrive and bear fruit and prosper in old age;
They will flourish and be [a]vital and fresh [rich in trust and love and contentment];

[They are living memorials] to declare that the Lord is upright and faithful [to His promises];
He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our family, friends and supporters for their continued support of our ministry with MAF here in Australia.  We are very aware that there is a host of people who lift us up in prayer and support us financially and we don't take that for granted.

On New Years Day we visited a place called Babinda Boulders.  J and Z and their friends were jumping off trees into the river until they found a bigger challenge which involved jumping off huge boulders into the water.  The photos below show the height they were jumping from.  One guy that passed us said "...that's not for the faint of heart...".  Fortunately we had watched other folks do it so we knew it was pretty safe.

Zara in the distance making the impressive jump

Joshua taking a leap off the rock with his friends watching below

Stepping off this boulder into thin air for at least 10 metres made me think of our initial thoughts of moving to Australia back in 2016.  It would have been easier in many ways to stay in Uganda with everything that was familiar, however, that was not to be and the Australian adventure began.  Despite the transition being challenging at times we are thankful, as we look back, at what has been achieved.  Below is a list of things we are thankful/grateful to God for in this last year and for those who have stood by us and prayed for us.

God's faithfulness through all the ups and downs in 2017
Reaching the end of 2017 with a 187 permanent visa in our hands
Amazed at God's goodness in enabling Simon to pass all his exams
Thankful that Joshua and Zara have settled well in their new school and life in Australia
Encouraged that God provided Pam with a job and that she qualified as a Professional Life Coach
Family, friends and faithful prayer warriors - for their support of us along the way
Unique experience of being able to live, work and minister in another country with MAF
Learning to trust God each day and especially as we walk into the new year - 2018

Love and blessings to you all in 2018.

Simon, Pam, Joshua and Zara xxxx

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Over the moon, under the stars and under the sea

Over the Moon

We had an amazing Christmas gift just before Christmas.  We were granted our 187 permanent residency visa for Australia.  A huge answer to prayer. Part of the letter is below.  We did not expect to see this until next year.  To say we are thankful is an understatement.  We are grateful to all those in MAF who made this possible.

20 December 2017
P O BOX 1477


Notification of grant of a Regional Employer Nomination (subclass 187) visa
A decision has been made on this application and visa(s) have been granted on 20
December 2017 to the applicant(s) listed in the attached visa grant notice.

Under the Stars

Simon had to do an airstrip evaluation and was able to take Joshua, Zara and Islay along for the experience.

Out in the bush in Australia

Joshua and Islay helping Simon measure the airstrip for an evaluation

Luxury accommodation for the night

Dinner anyone?
Zara wasn't going to be eaten by anything so took the mosquito net.
Africa or Australia?

Under the Sea

A day out on the Barrier Reef - An awesome gift from friends.
Our pontoon for the day including a BBQ

I got a bit of a fright in the water when a jelly fish floated by.  Thought my time might be up but thankfully I managed to dodge it and we were wearing stinger suits so all good.  At the back of the pontoon there was an amazing amount of jellies.   The crew on the boat said these were of the non stingy variety so that was happy news!

Zara having her last swim in the ocean before heading home.  The water was a bit churned up so didn't see a whole lot under the water but a thoroughly enjoyable time nevertheless.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

The heat is cranking up

In the last couple of weeks the temperature and humidity has notably increased.  Mopping floors, vacuuming or some other necessary household task can reduce you to looking like you just got caught in a monsoon.  As I sit and write it is already over 30 degrees in the house and humidity is rising.  However, for all of you sitting in the northern hemisphere I am not jealous of your cold weather although maybe of the snow.

This past month has been eventful to say the least.  In my last update I mentioned that I went through an in depth process for the role of HR Officer in the MAF Cairns office.  I am thankful that I was accepted for the role and will start under the new terms and conditions in January.  Thank you to all of you who have been praying.  Along with that our new HR Manager will be starting this week after her induction in the UK.  We have been without an HR Manager for a number of months now so it has been quite the juggle managing the needs that are far and wide.  We are looking forward to having a new team member join us.

We seem to be managing Joshua's issue with diarrohea.  After a few conversations and time spent looking into the issue it appears that he has an issue with an amino acid called Tyramine.  Foods such as cured meat, aged cheese and sourdough bread, to name but a few seem to be the cause.  His body doesn't have the enzyme to break down this amino acid in big quantities.  If he has one food item on his plate containing this amino acid then it is fine but if he has multiple then it is a problem.  We are just so glad it is easy to manage and for the past few weeks he has had no further stomach issues.  Thanks to all of you who have been praying for us in this regard.

Joshua and Zara finished school last week and they were rejoicing at the much needed break after a busy first year in a new school.  Simon finishes this week with instructing and then is planning to scope out a new airstrip next week that could be used for training.  The plan is to take Joshua and Zara along and they can help with all the details that goes into planning and evaluating an airstrip.  Looks like they might be camping under the starts as it will be an overnight trip.  Islay, our puppy, might also get to go also and have a change of scenery from Cairns.  Thankfully she loves to go in the car.