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!

Earning an audience

“After your first winter here, people will treat you differently,” Jill said to me after I first arrived in Lesotho in 2007. Jill was the missionary I was working with. She had lived in Lesotho a few years already. I was the new kid on the block.

Sure enough, people in the mountains were always nice to me, but there was something stopping them from being too nice. A little hesitation.

A young me, working on getting though the Lesotho winter!

A young me, working on getting though the Lesotho winter!

As winter came and went, not as fast or easily as I just wrote those five words, but with its slow, bitterly cold nights and mornings, and its days spent just trying to get warm, peoples attitude to me warmed like the spring sun.

What was different? Pre-winter me to post-winter me? Nothing really. I had learnt that life wasn’t easy here. But I was pretty much the same.

In the eyes of the mountain people though, I had endured what they endure year after year. I had seen it for myself, and experienced what that part of their lives was like. And in doing this, I had proved to them I wasn’t just there as a tourist, enjoying the warm green summer mountains. I was there for something else.

This year, one of the programs Mission Aviation Fellowship has been supporting is the Lesotho Flying Pastors. The intention of this ministry is for pastors from Lesotho, mostly based in the city, to go out to the isolated villages where MAF fly, and pastor the Basotho people. Building relationships with people who don’t ever get to hear about such radical things as ‘Love your neighbor,’ or ‘There is a God who knows you and loves you.’ Their aim is to reach places no one else reaches. This year so far, they have done 3 successful visits to a village in the north-east of Lesotho called Tlhanyaku. They visit every month, for a week at a time, visiting people in their homes, praying with them, teaching them, and sharing with them a little of who Jesus is.

So far, their reports have been positive. They have been welcomed to the villages, and asked to return. The pastors come back to Maseru excited at what God is doing with them in these places.

April has been a little different.

The pastors put on their jackets soon after landing!

The pastors put on their jackets soon after landing!

I dropped them off last Thursday. I was due to return later that day with an extra load of equipment for them. A wood heater, some extra blankets, and things like that. Things they could manage without, but would prefer not to.

I didn’t get back there on Thursday afternoon. Or Friday morning. In fact, the weather system that pulled over Lesotho brought rain and cold from Thursday afternoon, solid until what looks like Wednesday afternoon. 6, or lets just say 7 days at this point, of solid rain and cold. No airplanes could even attempt getting close to bring them back, or to take more supplies.

The weather system that kept us grounded

The weather system that kept us grounded

We received a message from them about halfway through their visit, saying that they were “not able to do anything,” and “we are ready to go home anytime.”

This got me thinking. Previous visits, their reports were positive, they knew what they had accomplished. This time, in their view, they had not accomplished anything.

I couldn’t help but think they were wrong about this.

I can only think that after a week of being cold, and wet, and not being able to do anything easily, they are witnessing first hand what it’s like to be in Tlhanyaku. To be a villager in the mountains, where weather dictates what you will do today, and where nothing comes easy. These pastors, as much as they may have wanted to go home immediately, are witnessing something, and gaining respect among those to whom they preach.

It causes me to reflect on what Jesus did. Besides the earth-shattering sacrifice of Jesus dying on the cross, Jesus also lived with us. He endured more than 30 years of human struggles. Hot summers no doubt, and cold winters. Hungry nights and parched days. Jesus didn’t sit above us and tell us how to live. He lived beside us, showing us He wasn’t just a tourist to earth, here to enjoy its fruits and exiting when things got hard. He showed us that He was one of us, and that He understood what it’s like to be human.

The pastors, as they await their MAF airplane to get them back to a dry house, where they can buy food at the grocery store, will hopefully reflect on what it’s like to be a Tlhanyaku villager.

And as they go out and build relationships with them on their next visit, I won’t be surprised if next time the villagers greet them with more enthusiasm than ever before, knowing that the pastors ‘get it.’