An update through pictures

Here’s a glimpse of our last few months

The first snowfall in July gave me some beautiful views. The reality is that life in the mountains in such conditions is even more harsh than normal. The day of the snowfall was bitterly cold and windy, and we were not able to fly due to the high winds. The day after, we heard that it was a tough day at the rural clinics, with the nurses doing their best to help patients and send them home to somewhere a little warmer than outside the clinic.

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If you follow @pulanechildren on Instagram and FB, you will know that there are always beautiful pictures on there. Here is a little glimpse at the person who provides those great shots! Whenever Emily visits Pulane Children's Centre, she spends the afternoons on the playground, observing all the kids and snapping great pics of them in their day-to-day lives.

If you follow @pulanechildren on Instagram and FB, you will know that there are always beautiful pictures on there. Here is a little glimpse at the person who provides those great shots! Whenever Emily visits Pulane Children's Centre, she spends the afternoons on the playground, observing all the kids and snapping great pics of them in their day-to-day lives.

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At Pulane Children's Centre there is an evening ‘Shepherd School.’ No, not a school to teach you how to be a shepherd, but a school FOR shepherds. The boys, and men, spend all day out in the mountains and don’t get a chance for normal daytime schooling. This evening school helps them learn basic reading, writing and math. It is just one of the many projects that fall under the banner of AFACTL (which is the trust that oversees Pulane Children's Centre and of which Emily is the Director). The Shepherd School project itself is managed by Jill Kinsey who lives a semi-retired life in Pulane.

Joe Adams, one of our pilot/mechanics has been hard at work over the last year using his wide range of skills to assist MAF. Joe and I arrived at the same time at MAF-Lesotho, but because he was able to be put to work on fixing planes, I did my flight training first. Now that I am doing regular flying, it has given him a chance to balance his fixing jobs with his flight checkout. At the end of June Joe did his first operational solo in Lesotho! And despite it being winter, he got well soaked by the rest of us!

Joe Adams, one of our pilot/mechanics has been hard at work over the last year using his wide range of skills to assist MAF. Joe and I arrived at the same time at MAF-Lesotho, but because he was able to be put to work on fixing planes, I did my flight training first. Now that I am doing regular flying, it has given him a chance to balance his fixing jobs with his flight checkout. At the end of June Joe did his first operational solo in Lesotho! And despite it being winter, he got well soaked by the rest of us!

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People are always excited to see the planes arrive to their village. One place in particular, I always notice a group of kids standing in the same spot when I taxi past for take-off. They are always waving and smiling. On one flight in June I stopped the plane near their hut (the huts are about 10 meters away from the runway) to offload. They were very excited to get closer and see what the plane looked like inside!

People are always excited to see the planes arrive to their village. One place in particular, I always notice a group of kids standing in the same spot when I taxi past for take-off. They are always waving and smiling. On one flight in June I stopped the plane near their hut (the huts are about 10 meters away from the runway) to offload. They were very excited to get closer and see what the plane looked like inside!

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I am training for an ultra trail race in September. The last few months have involved me and 2 friends training more and more and enjoying the Lesotho scenery while we are at it. On Father’s Day Jane insisted on joining me for a run!

We get a fair number of Code 1 (Emergency) flights. These are typically pregnant ladies, or head injuries, but occasionally something strange. One day in June I picked up a young girl who had swallowed a coin and it was lodged somewhere in her trachea! This lady on the stretcher had a broken leg. She had to travel over an hour on horseback to get to the runway closest to her village. In the picture here, I am helping load her in the ‘Ambulance,’ which is a Toyota Hilux pickup.

We get a fair number of Code 1 (Emergency) flights. These are typically pregnant ladies, or head injuries, but occasionally something strange. One day in June I picked up a young girl who had swallowed a coin and it was lodged somewhere in her trachea! This lady on the stretcher had a broken leg. She had to travel over an hour on horseback to get to the runway closest to her village. In the picture here, I am helping load her in the ‘Ambulance,’ which is a Toyota Hilux pickup.

Some of you may have heard about Sello, my MoSotho (people of Lesotho) friend who is very talented at running. Excuse the picture quality. He is currently living up in the mountains to do high altitude training in preparation for the Soweto Marathon in November. At his last race, a popular one run by professional marathin runners, he came 7th! We are excited to see how well he does this next time around.

Some of you may have heard about Sello, my MoSotho (people of Lesotho) friend who is very talented at running. Excuse the picture quality. He is currently living up in the mountains to do high altitude training in preparation for the Soweto Marathon in November. At his last race, a popular one run by professional marathin runners, he came 7th! We are excited to see how well he does this next time around.

On our recent trip to Pulane Children's Centre, Jane and I got to go on a few fun mini-hiking adventures. Jane is at the age when pretending is a high priority. I would say over the last month she has spent maybe 5 minutes being Jane. The rest has been as Wonder-Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, a duck, a cat, or any other thing that her imagination can come up with in a few mili-seconds. Here, she is walking with her cup of tea, telling me about how I need to be Batman and she will be Batgirl!

On our recent trip to Pulane Children's Centre, Jane and I got to go on a few fun mini-hiking adventures. Jane is at the age when pretending is a high priority. I would say over the last month she has spent maybe 5 minutes being Jane. The rest has been as Wonder-Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, a duck, a cat, or any other thing that her imagination can come up with in a few mili-seconds. Here, she is walking with her cup of tea, telling me about how I need to be Batman and she will be Batgirl!

Just about every place I land, I can’t quite believe the beauty and ruggedness of Lesotho. I try and capture it all in pictures that I share on Instagram, but they don’t ever get close.  Thank you to all our supporters who encourage us and help us to do these various ministries here in Lesotho.

Just about every place I land, I can’t quite believe the beauty and ruggedness of Lesotho. I try and capture it all in pictures that I share on Instagram, but they don’t ever get close.

Thank you to all our supporters who encourage us and help us to do these various ministries here in Lesotho.

May Update

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In the space of a few weeks, the weather went from being hot to cold. My view out of the airplane window quickly went from bright green, to a more rugged looking dark green and brown. As I drove past the coal supplier to place an order, I realized that one year ago, with similar cool weather creeping in and a garden filled with dropping leaves, we moved into our Maseru house.

It seems crazy to have already been at MAF Lesotho a year. The past year has been filled with learning and growing for Emily, myself and Jane. Each of us has had to adapt to our new roles, and as we reach the one year mark, we are so happy to be content in these roles.

One of the nurses doing a good job on an emergency pick up

One of the nurses doing a good job on an emergency pick up

We are challenged daily. I like to go through the mental list of our airstrips and try and figure out which is the hardest. It’s a fun exercise, because it’s tough to think of one that doesn’t have its own unique challenge, and I have concluded that the hardest one is whichever one I am landing at next. This feels like a reflection of what life is. We are content, much like I am in the seat of the airplane, but we are always challenged to face the next big thing. And with the right approach and focus, we are able to keep handling things well. That is our prayer.

Pulane Children's Centre boys having fun

Pulane Children's Centre boys having fun

Emily continues to do a great job leading and directing the staff at Pulane Children’s Centre. With her own strengths of caring and a desire for the children’s best interests, she leads with passion and love. I see how this rubs off on the staff who work there, as they reflect more and more a deeper sense of what PCC is all about. Emily visits every 6 weeks or so, often going alone in our 4x4 truck (the fierce and independent woman she is), over roads that sometimes get washed away. I am always proud of the great job she is doing there. Once again, while challenged by the work daily, she keeps faithfully pressing forward to keep PCC going strong. Be sure to see details of the PCC happenings here.

Jane wearing princess jewelry

Jane wearing princess jewelry

As Jane nears the end of her first year at preschool outside of Pulane Children’s Centre, she continues to keep us amused, proud and thankful. As a 4 year old, her interests change on a weekly basis, most recently shifting towards Wonder Woman, and a whole array of her own made up superheroes, including ‘Duck Lady,’ and ‘Butterfly Girl.’

I keep pretty busy with flying. As a non-mechanic (the other pilots on our team are dual pilot-mechanics), I often am able to pick up some extra flights, which allows the other guys the time they need to focus on maintenance. I am more than happy to do this of course, and usually say something like “Oh ok, I guess I’ll fly all of this week if I really have to.” I love every flight I get to do, and it never ceases to amaze me what a beautiful country this is.

And so, as winter draws near, we look forward to what is ahead. I can’t wait to fly over snowcapped mountains. Jane will soon be on her long winter vacation from school, which leaves Emily with 75 kids at Pulane Children’s Centre to manage, and one more at home!

Many thanks for all of your support. We could not be here without it. Please be sure to check in on our Instagram accounts (Emily, Grant) (including the one for PCC where we try and keep stories and pics regularly updated. Now, I hope that coal order comes through soon!

March update

Two days after my first solo operational flight in Lesotho, I was booked on the schedule again. 

A couple days after that, I was booked again. 

Hey thats me!

Hey thats me!

And lately, seeing my name on the schedule has become normal. Just yesterday, I had 6 hours of flying around the mountains, taking patients back home, moving a doctor team between clinics, and shuttling nurses to and from clinics for their 3-weekly shift change. 

Flying in Lesotho is pretty unique: Most scheduled flights will depart from Maseru, and visit as many mountain strips as possible while out there, depending on the needs for the day, and the fuel and weather. Yesterday I set out on one flight, and had 8 landings, at 7 different places. Many airstrips are minutes from each other, and we get pretty used to running through our startup, take off and landing checklists. Regardless of how routine though, each take off and landing comes with its own challenges, and theres never a chance to sit back and relax. And that’s why we like it.

Now that I have been operational for a while, it’s been great to see the effect MAF has on the effective operation of the clinics. Besides shuttling the staff and patients around 10 times faster than road transport, we also get to respond to emergencies. Just two days ago Bryan, our chief pilot, had an exciting flight with a baby being born in the airplane. The baby was breech and in distress as he flew between the mother’s village and the district capital of Mokhotlong, a 7 minute flight and couple hour drive. The nurse worked hard in the back of the plane, and when it was on the ground awaiting the ambulance, the baby could wait no more. Luckily for Bryan, the nurse did a great job, even having to resuscitate the baby, before the ambulance arrived. 

Not every day has such drama, but whenever there is an emergency call, we never quite know what to expect!

Needless to say, I have been enjoying the flying very much, and love that we get to do this.

The PCC staff having a celebration!

The PCC staff having a celebration!

While I’m bouncing around in the skies, Emily is usually hard at work either with Pulane Children’s Centre, or chasing around our almost-4-year-old. I’ve been so excited to see Emily’s strengths and passions come out as she leads PCC in her own way. Where I was focused on productivity, numbers, reports and all that fun stuff, she sees things through a softer and more nurturing lens. She has really been working hard with the PCC staff, to help them see their jobs more as a ministry and less like a 9-5 job. She is teaching and helping them to love the children who are harder to love, to communicate with each other, and to try and understand PCC’s bigger role in these children’s lives, apart from just food and shelter. 

Our big little girl

Our big little girl

Emily has almost daily interaction with the management staff, advising them and helping them with tricky situations. There is currently a major teachers strike in Lesotho, meaning no schooling at any government schools. While this was a challenge, Emily helped them figure out a solution and find a way to home school all of the PCC children. We sometimes can’t help notice the irony that the children in the ‘orphanage’ have more than the kids in the villages. This idea challenges us to think about how to make PCC’s presence reach further outward.

While I am flying, and Emily is working on PCC challenges, Jane is usually drawing something. This kid loves to draw and color, which might be true of all 4 year olds, but seeing as we only have 1, we can only comment on what she does! 

Jane’s iPad art of her keeping safe under her pet unicorn. Of course.

Jane’s iPad art of her keeping safe under her pet unicorn. Of course.

Thank you for supporting our family. We are grateful to have your support, not to mention how privileged we feel to get to do what we do here in Lesotho.











An important day

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For more than 10 years, I've dreamed about being a MAF pilot. I've also dreamed about flying in Lesotho. I've been working towards that for a long time, and more recently its been feeling close, but there always seemed to be another step before I could call myself a MAF pilot. Today, I did a flight, taking doctors and nurses into the mountains for their shift change. The weather was perfect, not much wind, not too hot, and not a cloud in the sky. The flight plan had 3 stops on it, a village called Lebakeng, then Nkau, and then Nohana. Each landing went smoothly, and I couldn't have asked for better flying weather. Nothing on the flight was out of the ordinary, except this time, there was no instructor pilot sitting next to me. That's right, after months of very specific flight training and preparation, today was my first operational solo!

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