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.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Update on J and other news

As some of you will know Joshua has been having diarrhoea issues for a few months now.  We have completed a barrage of tests but nothing conclusive has shown up.  Last week, Simon and Joshua headed down to Townsville (4 hours south of Cairns) to meet with a specialist and to have an endoscopy done.  The specialist believes that Joshua issue is related to abdominal migraines.  We now need to get in touch with a dietician to see if food is a trigger for these migraines.  We are thankful that it is nothing more sinister and that there is a way forward in finding out the root cause.  Thanks to all of you who have been praying for us and especially Joshua.  It has been a long road in some ways but thankful that we have come this far.

My 6 month interim stint as HR Officer in the MAF Cairns office is coming to a close.  It has been quite the learning curve and I have had some amazing opportunities including delivering some training at the RMC (Regional Mangers Conference) last week as well as supporting some managers face to face whilst they have been in town.  Some of them I knew already and others only via skype and emails.  Great to be able to work with different people from all over the world.
After praying and talking it through with others I have put in my application for the permanent role that was being advertised.  Next week I will have two interviews and a presentation to do.  Pray that I will present my best during these meetings and that whatever the result may be will be good for MAF and our family.

Monday, 9 October 2017

A new addition to the family and other news


Since our last post we have had a new addition to our family, Islay, our 7 month old puppy.   We got her from a family who were fostering her for a rescue home.  She was very nervous and timid when we first got her and almost scared of her own shadow.  However, after being with us for two weeks now we are seeing a big difference in her confidence.  She is not so scared to go on a walk will play happily in the garden.  She loves all the attention she gets from us.  Good to see such a difference in a short space of time.


It has been a busy few months with guests.  In July we had Simon's sister and brother-in-law visiting us from Switzerland.  It was good spend time with them and explore parts of our local vicinity that we hadn't taken the time to do.  

Following that Nadia and Olivia Dick stayed with us whilst connecting with other friends in Cairns.  Nadia, Andrew and the kids were good friends of ours in Uganda and left a month after we did to return to New Zealand.  Olivia and Zara had fun catching up and loved the time together.  It was a fun time!

A week later a good friend of mine from Scotland, Lillian, stopped in for a few days on her way to New Zealand to visit with her sister and family.  It was good to reminisce about old times and also make new memories. We have had some funny moments over the years.

Last but not least my Mum, Aunt and Uncle are with us for a few weeks.  At the moment my Aunt and Uncle are off to tour New Zealand for a couple of weeks so they are making the most of their time on this side of the world.  Good to have family around and the extra help doesn't go amiss.


Simon has almost completed another Standardisation course.  It has been a busy period for him with training different pilots.  One is heading back to Uganda, one to PNG and two to Arnhem Land.  Great to see new pilots going out to serve with MAF.

Pray for Simon as he adjusts to more of a ground role than involved in operational flying.  It is quite the change for him.


Joshua has been struggling with some health issues on and off since we arrived in Australia.  He had an ultra sound today for one issue which came back clear.  So thankful for answered prayer.  Another test also came back clear but further investigations are required.  This means a bit of travel as the test can't be done in Cairns.  

I am sure he would value your prayers as he is tired of dealing with health issues and, at times, frequent trips to the doctors.  He is not the only one!


Thankfully she is doing well and although suffered with pharyngitis (as well as Joshua and Simon) a month ago she recovered well.  She is so enjoying having a dog in the family.  They are like best friends already.  Islay can't wait to play with her.  Joshua and Zara both missed having a dog around so there has been a lot of joy with our furry friend.


My 6 month stint with MAF is almost up and it has been a great experience, although challenging at times.  I have applied for the full time role and so interviews will happen at the end of this month.  We will see how God leads this one.

Just today I received my certificate from the Australian Institute of Coaching.  I am now officially a Professional Life Coach.   All the studying has been worth it and has come in useful in my role with MAF.

Visa Update

Give thanks that we are now on a bridging visa for the 187 which is a more permanent visa.  It won't fully come into play for another year but will help us in terms of receiving full medicare instead of partial which will help.  Simon will also be able to get into the system which will be a bonus.  

Monday, 11 September 2017

Prayers Answered

We give thanks that Simon received notification from CASA (Aviation Authority) that they have granted him a restricted flight license.  He has been given a VFR (visual flight rating) which enables him to continue in his role as a flight instructor in the standardisation department.  In the future he hopes to challenge the aviation authority and pursue the full license with IFR (Instrument Flight Rating) and night flying.  However, one step at time.  Grateful we have made it this far.

Thanks to all of you who have been praying through this situation with us.  It has been quite the rollercoaster but thankful that God has been with us on the rollercoaster.  So thankful that we don't do this alone!