It was 1984 when I received a phone call from the pastor, pilot in Manaus, Brazil. He said, “David, I will be leaving soon and we are looking for a replacement for me here in Brazil. You are a pilot, mechanic and nurse. You speak fluent Spanish and will find Portuguese easy to learn. Would you be willing to accept a call from the General Conference as a mission pilot here in Manaus?”
I really had never thought about working in a Portuguese country before. My eyesight was set on a Spanish country. But if that is where God wanted us, Becky and I were willing to accept the call. So we waited for that call from the world headquarters.
Then the call came from GC Headquarters. “This is Pastor Leo Ranzolin from the General Conference,” said the voice. “We are sending you three calls, one from Brazil, one from Peru, and one from Mexico.” I was confused. I asked why three calls at the same time, and he said all three countries apparently had sent in invitations for me at the same time. “You pray about it and let us know your decision,” he said and hung up. Now I was in a quandary. Peru I was familiar with. About Brazil, I knew a little. In the case of Mexico, I knew nothing, so I called the Union President there and learned that they needed a hospital administrator and pilot/mechanic that had to be fully bilingual. After several days of prayer, God confirmed to us that he wanted us in Mexico. There I was soon to be hijacked and experience the most painful, but most spiritually strengthening experience of my life. The book Mission Pilot would be written and translated into 19 languages and encourage young people all over the world. You can download your own copy online at www.missionarybooks.net.
I never forgot about Brazil – Years later the airplane was sold, the aviation program was closed and the Luzeiro church boat program terminated. While working for the Venezuelan Union as departmental Associate Director for ADRA, Communication and head of Aviation for 7 years, I made numerous trips down to Manaus to meet with the conference administration. The vision was reignited once again and today there are several Luzeiro boats on the Amazon once again. However, the aviation program was never officially reopened! Though we have been flying in Brazil for many years now, we have been praying for an air base and a float plane.
Tucked into an inlet of the Rio Negro, just South of Manaus, is a beautiful air base called Base dos Anjos (Angels’ Air Base). Built by a Swiss family as a getaway for tourists, this beautiful property currently functions as a base for our small medical launch and soon to arrive first Brazilian medical float plane which will provide free medical transport to hundreds of riverside villages along the Amazon river within 200 miles/322 kilometers of Manaus. Through many hours on our knees, we saw not only the financial resources come in to cover the costs of the property purchase and monthly operations, but many wonderful volunteers and families came also which are worth more than money. Now that things are picking up speed the results of many months of work are producing results, here is the story of what happened at Base dos Anjos this past few weeks.
What is our priority they asked each other as they gathered for group worship every morning? Together they agreed that it was reaching souls for Christ, so the three families decided to dedicate at least 4 days each week to visiting their neighbors in houses and nearby villages along the river. It wasn’t long until people began exclaiming!
“At first we thought that you came because you wanted us to join your church and get our money. Now we see that teaching us the truth and preparing us for Jesus’ coming is what you want to do.” Word spread rapidly among the villagers until 40 families were taking studies. Many of these have already asked to be baptized and join the church. So a High Sabbath was prepared where all the families could come together to the airbase to celebrate God’s Sabbath together. The local Adventist Military Association composed of church members in the armed forces, came for a visit the week before while I was there and directed the Sabbath School, Divine Service and afternoon AY program. All the food and transportation was provided by our staff.
“The weekend exceeded our expectations. Before it was over, they were asking when would be the next time they could come,” commented Geralda, a Brazilian Registered Nurse who had retired in the US and is now a full time staff member at Base dos Anjos. “On Sunday, we had a team of physicians, dentists, nurses and other health professionals and technicians which provided services to hundreds in the local village next door. We are praising God for all the miracles and help provided. But the people are poor and are needing Bibles, school supplies, clothing and food. We are praying for resources from heaven to provide for these needs.”
She finished by stating that the “Adventist Military Association has made the decision to come back and continue working together. But we are praying for the resources to provide the food and transportation for the people that want to keep the seventh day every week along with church members. I can see that the great interest being developed in the communities will require a greater volunteer force to keep up with the need.”
The air base (Base dos Anjos) became a reality a couple of years ago. But what about float plane? Praise the Lord that is now becoming a reality. I flew up to Andrews University to pick up our plane to prepare it for the flight down to Brazil.
After evaluating many models of planes, and discussing it with civil aviation authorities in Brazil, we decided to begin operations with an experimental aircraft especially suited for short landings. As all our flights will be free of charge, this will reduce our operating costs significantly. After arriving in Brazil, floats will be placed on the plane for permanent river operations.
Currently in training to join us as a pilot is a young lady who has not only been working as a Commercial Copilot, but also is a Registered Nurse and Software Engineer. Please pray that her bush training program will go well. Two new pilots, also in training, will also be stepping up to join us as part of our staff.
Workers are needed in the harvest. If you feel called of God to be a volunteer missionary in the world field, please fill out your application online at www.GMIvolunteers.org. God will bless and use you richly.
From the Frontlines,