THE LORD GIVETH AND THE LORD TAKETH AWAY
Dwayne and Sean working on the Cessna 206Dwayne
Plane #2 Down
The past few months have been challenging but rewarding. In May we had the privilege of visiting and helping with some other mission aviation projects in Indonesia, and while we were there we attended a Medical Missionary Summit put on by Southern Asia-Pacific Division’s health department. The day before we left, Ray Sikich, one of our new pilots and I were busy flying a U.S. mission trip group to and from a remote island off of Palawan. Ray was flying the Cessna 172 and I was flying our Twin Comanche. Everything went well until the last load, which Ray was going to pick up the following morning. As he was taxiing to the end of our runway in Palawan he did not see a small ditch that had recently been dug to bury some wire. In the early morning light it was hard to see the changes that had been made to the airstrip. The nose and right main wheel dropped into the ditch and the propeller hit the ground which requires repair before further flights can be made. With the 206 still down waiting for parts for an engine overhaul and now the Cessna 172 down for repairs, this left only the Twin as an option, which by now was with me in Manila. Since the last of the mission group was stranded on the remote island, I decided to fly down to pick them up, even though I had limited time before our flight to Indonesia. There was also a serious patient needing transport from another island so I attempted to make all the flights and get back by the next day. The patient ended up not being able to fly because the Twin does not have big cargo doors that can easily accomodate a bed-ridden patient. This is one advantage of the 206. I was able to pick up the last of the medical team and they were very thankful, though they said it was good they stayed longer because they were able to help many more people with the extra time they had there. This island rarely gets any medical attention because it is so remote. I barely got back in time to pack my bags and shower in 15 minutes before our ride left for the airport.
Plane #3 and Helicopter Down!
Since Wendy and I were going to be gone for 3 weeks, I left the Twin Comanche with Sean to fly. I had already been working with him in getting him checked out and proficient in the Twin. Everything went fine for the 3 weeks we were gone and Sean stayed busy making medical flights. When we returned to the Philippines I asked Sean to come get us in Luzon and then we were going to fly down to MVC where we had work to do. On the day he was coming to get us he ended up needing to do a flight to Mapun for the Mayor so he left early and planned to continue on to pick us up after the flight. Unfortunately as he was flaring to land in Mapun he confused the landing gear for the flaps and retracted the gear and landed on the belly of the airplane. He called me from Mapun and told me what had happened. I was still digesting this news when a couple hours later I got a call from Daniel Lui, our helicopter pilot, who was in Mindanao deploying the SULADS missionaries to their remote mission posts. Daniel said they had some engine problems but had landed safely and were trying to figure out what the problem was. An intake valve had broken and there was no easy fix for that so our last flying aircraft was down. I could do nothing about what had just happened but reminded myself that all things work together for good to those that love God and are called according to his purpose. Martial law had just been declared a few days before in Mindanao and it’s possible that maybe these things happened to save us from something much worse.
God gave Dwayne (and all the missionaries) peace through all the recent trials. We can truly say:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21
Plane #1 Back Up
A few days later we were going to Iloilo for a PYC gathering (Philippine Youth for Christ). The day before we left God answered our prayers and all the engine parts for the Cessna 206 arrived in Manila that we had been waiting for for months. We shipped them to Palawan on our way to the airport for our flight to Iloilo. The PYC was a blessing and spiritually uplifting especially because of our circumstances. We were able to inspire some youth in missions and meet potential volunteers. Daniel, Carlos, Ray and Phoebe were also able to attend and they were blessed. After PYC, Wendy flew to Palawan and I headed to Mindanao with Ray and Phoebe to move the helicopter from Lake Sebu (where it had been stranded) to MVC. We had to add about a foot to the width of our trailer before we left. Then we drove down and took the helicopter apart, loaded it on the trailer, and drove it back to MVC, which was a day’s drive away. With that finished, I flew back to Palawan, picked up the engine parts, and put the 206 engine back together. After about a week of work we had the 206 flying again, though we had to wait a couple weeks for the certificate of airworthiness renewal to be complete before we could legally fly it.
We were issued a flight permit for the engine break in (for the 206) so Sean and I took the opportunity to fly to Mapun where we were able to assess the damage to the Twin. We pulled both propellers and did a runout check on the crankshaft flange. We found one bent so we pulled the right engine off, as the crankshaft will have to be replaced. The damage to the belly was minimal and will be easy to fix so we were thankful for that. We just have to replace the propellers and one engine. We have seen God’s hand in all of these incidents and we can only praise Him that everyone is safe.
Transporting the helicopter to a safe place for repairs was no small endeavor!
Helicopter Back Up!
We flew back to Mindanao commercially a couple weeks ago to work on the helicopter. A kind friend brought two cylinder assemblies from the U.S. In the end it cost us around $3,000 for the repairs to the engine. We were able to work on it at a nearby hangar where New Tribes Mission is based where they also have a R44 helicopter. New Tribes allowed us to use some of their specialty tools which was a big blessing. Daniel flew it back to Palawan last week. The emergency calls and needs for the helicopter and airplane in Palawan continued to come in almost every day. There are many happy people now that the aircraft are back up and flying!
God provided a hangar and specialty tools near MVC for fixing the helicopter (Pictured: Daniel and Dwayne)
Everyone is happy that the helicopter is back in Palawan making flights again! (Pictured: Missionary children of the Boutet family)
There have been many delays (weather, workers, equipment, vandalism) on the hangar/housing complex construction at MVC (nothing unusual in the mission field :). But with Ray and Carlos helping for the last few weeks, and various friends and volunteers chipping in to help, we were able to get some good progress made, finally! We poured the cement floor in sections, often using 100 bags of cement a day, all with a barrel mixer except for one day that we had a cement truck. The whole hangar/housing floor cementing has now been completed – an area of around 6,000 square feet! We prayed a lot for good weather and more workers and God blessed. The hardest part is over and once God provides the containers things should move a little easier.
Another gift from God– weather cooperation, workers, and equipment needed to finish the cement pad for the hangar/housing complex in Mindanao!
Homeless Again 🙂
I enjoyed our short time in our “temporary home” on the MVC campus (where most of our stuff was). Unfortunately MVC needed their house back and we had to move out to another temporary place for the last week. It was disappointing, but I can see how God cares enough about us to not let us get too attached to any place in this world! And I am so thankful for the many ways He has provided for us! It’s getting easier for me to deal with our housing situation being in limbo. More and more we are traveling anyway between our different projects depending on where the needs are. It’s fun and I don’t mind at all. I’m so thankful to be able to travel with Dwayne.
We moved most of our stuff to the containers at the hangar construction site and moved to the SULADS guest rooms temporarily (all 5 of us – Dwayne, Wendy, Ray, Phoebe, and Carlos). SULADS has been so kind and accommodating, as always. They bent over backwards to help us and even adjusted their whole guestroom situation so that we could have 3 bedrooms and the “dirty” (open-air) kitchen to ourselves.
Our “dirty kitchen” for our last week in Mindanao
MVC loaned us their water truck every day for the cement pours (L – R: Ray, Dwayne, and Andrew)
Even the ladies helped every day as much as possible! (Left: Phoebe and Michel)
We are also so thankful to MVC for the house they let us use for our missionaries for the last 8 months, as well as for all the heavy equipment they continue to let us use for the hangar construction.
Phoebe and I had fun working together feeding the guys and doing a children’s Bible/health program in a village school up the mountain. We even helped with all the cement pouring for the hangar, which was a lot of work but fun! We were both so happy to have the fellowship and the help of another woman in the house! 🙂
Donation of Plane #4!
Through all these trials, we are amazed how God has shown His love in many ways and also kept our teams united and even growing through the experiences we’ve faced. Another way that God has shown His love during this time is by providing a donation of another airplane! Ray and Phoebe and Dwayne and I will be going to the States this August to pick up a Cessna 182 (4-seater)! We will also attend Dwayne’s sister’s wedding and visit friends and family all across the country. We’ll be in Montana, Seattle (to ship the plane), central and southern California, Georgia, and Tennessee. Contact us if you’re nearby so we can see you!
Though it’s a bit of a challenge at times, we still love this work and find it a joy and a privilege to be part of it! Thanks so much for your prayers and faithful support for this ministry!
Dwayne and Wendy Harris
This week we enjoyed a short visit from the inspiration behind the PAMAS ministry– David and Becky Gates! (Pictured: Palawan missionaries, teachers, and a few village chiefs and new converts)