Update: April 2018

Flight 1 of many, leaving JHB in January

We left our hut in the mountains of Lesotho on the 26 December 2017. We have been traveling since then.

As many of you know, the main reason for our travels has been to undergo training with Mission Aviation Fellowship, as well as raise support for our ministry with MAF in Lesotho. All of our travels over the last 3 months have been towards the goal of getting to Lesotho to start flying.

Speaking at our home church in Bray, Dublin

This is where we have been: We started off visiting our Pastor and friends in Ireland, where our home church is based (Liberty Church just outside Dublin). No, we are not Irish, but when you feel at home in a church, it doesn’t matter where in the world they are.

From there we visited Dallas for a few days to see Emily’s mom and stepdad, then on to Idaho, where we did our Candidacy (see more info on that here).


From Idaho we travelled to Montana, and then on to Amarillo, Texas, where we worked on raising support for the next 4 weeks.

I (Grant) then went back to Idaho for Standardization (see more on that here). While Emily and Jane went up to Minnesota, to visit the other side of her family.

In April, I was reunited with my two wonderful girls, and on April 9th we travelled back to South Africa, and then on to Lesotho.

Here’s where our plans get fuzzy:

With Grampy in Texas

We are currently at about 47% of our monthly support goals, and in order to start flying in Lesotho, we need to be at 100%. So, over the next months, we will be going back to Lesotho, to continue work at the Children’s Centre, and to continue seeking support from friends and churches. We hope and pray to reach 100% soon, which will allow us to focus fully on my role at MAF, and Emily’s at Pulane Children’s Centre.

As we continue these next few months, we are not sure how the timing works out. We hope to be in our roles as soon as possible, but in order to be secure and able to live and work here long term, we need to ensure we are 100% funded. We would love your prayers and support to reach that target as soon as possible. We really believe in the work MAF is doing in Lesotho and can’t wait to be a part of it.

Jane celebrated her B day in Minnesota on the 30 March

Back in Africa, April

Standardization: The short and the long of it

It's too easy for me to trail off into pilot talk, and this is a subject that contains a lot of technical jargon. Part A, therefore, is a short, non jargon read, and part B is a more technical look. Enjoy!

Part A- In plain language, or, read this if you want the short, easy version:

The airstrips in Idaho have the best names. This was at a strip called 'Hesitation.'

Imagine you play guitar. You have played it for over ten years. You have taught others how to play it and you feel like you have a pretty good grasp on it.

Then you get a chance to join a really good band, who plays a very specific type of music.

Before you can even practice for the next tour, you are handed a new guitar. This guitar is perfectly suited to the style of music, but it’s tuned differently and you find that you can’t play it like you used to. In fact, in order to stay in tune with what the others are playing, you feel like every nuance, every note, every pick of the strings needs to be perfect. All your habits, even good ones, need to be changed in order for you to make a beautiful noise in this context.

Taking a lunch break out 

That is my best attempt to explain what the standardization process has been like for me over the past 4 weeks. I came here knowing how to fly. I had habits, muscle memory from years of flying, that had to be chipped away and changed in order for me to fly safely and professionally in the type of flying MAF does.

If you can imagine, getting to play guitar with a great band would be a whole lot of fun, right? Yes. But it would also be a whole lot of hard work, focusing on every little detail of how you play, to make sure that you are a good fit in the band. Likewise, I have had such a great time during the standardization flights here at MAF, but its also been hard work to change my thinking, my procedures, and establish a new level of what is normal and acceptable.

I am encouraged that MAF set a high bar. It means that what they do, wait… what WE do, and what we will accept when it comes to flight safety, is nothing short of the best. I expect that this learning process will never stop, and when the day comes to start flying in Lesotho, it’ll be a whole new challenge. Until then, I’ll keep picking away at this new guitar, until this becomes my new muscle memory.

Part B, or, pilot talk:

Week 2 of Standardization began with a 3 hour pre flight.

I’ve been a pilot for 12 years, and an instructor, and never in my life have a done a 3 hour pre flight.

Let that set the scene for what MAF Standardization is all about.

Our day on the lake bed

There were 3 pilots in my class for Standardization. We each had an aircraft, identical but for the registration. We each had an instructor, not quite identical, but each one more than qualified to challenge me to my limit.

Week 1 was ground school, dealing with topics like how to make and use abort points (a central safety system in the MAF world), terrain flying, airstrip evaluations, as well as things like survival and search and rescue.

An EFB view of my last days flying. No straight lines here, as we were flying up the valleys and in the terrain.

Week 2 is where things heated up.

The flights began with us getting a grasp on the MAF procedures. How to handle the 206’s, how to use the switch checklists correctly, and things like that. Each flight progressed and built on the last one, with the end goal being for us to have a good feel for the aircraft, a good set of tools for how to assess terrain and unprepared airstrips, and a good ability to land, consistently and safely in places we couldn’t and wouldn’t land before.

The TU206G’s that MAF use, here in Idaho and all over the world, are not the same 206’s that Cessna sent out of their factories. They have each been specifically modified to better suit MAF needs, with Flint wing extensions, Sportsman or Horton leading edges, mud flaps, reinforced flooring, HF radios, and many other certified modifications that turn the standard 206 into a back country monster.

The first time I assessed a strip called Johnstone, I was thrown off by the way the airstrip dog legged in the middle. Flying a base leg to a dog leg strip, with some slops and only a little over 1500’ long was a challenge. After getting some kind of assessment done, and landing within the margin, we shut down, walked the strip and measured it out. We talked through where a take off speed check should happen, and where the latest possible take off abort point could be. All of this was done using MAF’s long tried and tested system of taking POH figures, and adjusting them to the conditions of the strip. It was amazing that the abort points could be measured out, and tested, and they worked exactly like the theory said they would!

On one take off, my instructor said ‘on this one, we will be planning to abort the take off at the abort point, for you to see what it feels like.’ This was on an unprepared strip, with a down slope, and a sheer drop off at the end. I applied power for take off, called out ‘power check,’ started rolling, called out ‘speed check’ at my speed check point, and shortly after, as I reached the abort point a cow walked onto the strip! I was already in the abort mindset, and it was like the cow had been planted there! We aborted as planned, and easily stopped with our safety margin untouched. What a great opportunity to put an abort point to use!

A beautiful strip, getting into the back country

On day 4 of flying, we did a navigation out to a dry lake bed. This lake bed was 10 nm wide and long, and we could land anywhere. We used it to practice some exercises that we usually couldn’t do elsewhere. We spent time testing the abort distances that we learnt in the class. this included practicing take off aborts with maximum braking. We also practiced doing airdrops, where we would safely throw small packages out of the pilot window and try to hit a marked square.

After day 4, we built on all we had learnt up to that point, moving on to harder and harder airstrips. Each airstrip required us to evaluate it, figure out how long, what slope, and what condition it was in, before landing. We moved onto strips that were 1200’ long, which is just about on the 206’s limitation with safe margin for landing. Meaning the touch down zone is 100’ long, and if you are not down and braking in that zone, you go around, without question. We also progressed to ‘go limited’ strips, where due to high terrain of the overshoot, there is no chance to go around after a certain point on the approach. This means that the a/c needs to be stable on the approach before that point, and the pilot will call ‘committed’ if things are within the envelope. After the committed point, the landing has to happen, one way or another, as there is no way to out climb the terrain on the upwind.

A bit too much snow higher in the mountains

There is way too much to write about, and it is all so exciting. All I would say to summarize is this, to each of these audiences: To future MAF candidates: If, like me, you have dreamt about this type of flying for years, keep at it, and discipline yourself. You will need it, and you will love it! To current MAF pilots: You guys are the best of the best, and I have so much respect for you. Thank you for glorifying God by being the best you can be, and not accepting mediocre. To supporters of MAF: This company is serious when it comes to safety and professionalism. You can rest assured that any donations given are being used with the same dedication and focus that is demanded of each pilot on each and every flight.

As pilots, we love the technical stuff. And what fills me with great joy is that God has made us this way. We get to love this challenge. We get to grow and be challenged, and all the while to know that these giftings, these skills, will be used to help and bring the Kingdom of God closer to earth.


On the 13 Jan, after 6 flights and a few visits with friends and family in different places, we arrived in Nampa, Idaho. We began MAF Candidacy class on Jan 15.

Our class

Coming from a smaller MAF program like the one in South Africa, we didn’t know 100% what Candidacy Class actually was. It is described as the ‘engagement’ phase of this marriage-like relationship between families and MAF. A time to ‘check each other out’ and see if we want to tie the knot.

We are here with 6 other families (one for just a few days, and they have already moved into the field for a 2 month service). The other families are all from the USA, and from various stages of life. Each family feels a strong call into mission work with MAF, and we bonded by our common call and all being in the same stage with MAF.

We are staying in visitors apartments that MAF owns. They keep these apartments in great condition, and they are available as a service to missionaries who are either in the process of training, or who are home on furlough. So we have enjoyed having a warm and comfortable place to call home for this month.

Top Left: MAF HQ, Top Right: The apartments, Bottom Left: MAF Offices, Bottom Right: Our home sweet home for a month.

The classes are aimed at giving us a healthy and realistic view of what MAF does. We have presentations from each regional director, explaining the work in each region where MAF operates, as well as presentations on what to expect, and how to deal with working across cultures. We also spend a lot of time talking about the ‘Why.’ So many operators focus on what they are doing, and they forget about why. MAF is driven by they why and it has been amazing to see every member of staff coming back to that reason, and showing that the why is what motivates them to be so professional and to strive for a great standard.

On Tuesday this week, the other families officially heard which region they are assigned to. They had a lot of input into this, and it wasn’t like in the South African defense force when my dad said ‘I’ll serve in the Air-force or the Navy,’ and based on that they sent him to the Army! Everyone has been really excited about their assigned region, and there will be families going to Indonesia, Africa and Latin America. For us, we are a little different in that we are on loan from MAF SA, to go specifically to Lesotho. So no big surprise!

Our turn to talk at Chapel

Our turn to talk at Chapel

On Wednesday the candidate class led the chapel service at headquarters. , which was a lot of fun. We heard stories from each of the families about where they are from, where they are going, and a few fun and crazy stories from their lives. We are a diverse group: a former F-16 and Reaper pilot, an IT specialist/bassist/pilot who also rock climbs pretty seriously, a Nashville musician, a Puerto Rican, an aerobatic pilot, a South African flight instructor (oh wait, that’s me) and more! We have had such fun with them and look forward to the next steps.

Monday, we launch into 2 weeks of classes about “Ministry Partnership”. This is the phase where we learn about inviting others into our ministry work, and giving them an opportunity for ringside seats to what God is doing around the world through MAF.

Top Left: The mountains around Idaho, Top Middle: Inside the MAF training hanger, Top Right: Farms nearby where we are staying, Bottom Left: Idaho landscape, Bottom Middle:MAF is in a well named street, Bottom Right: Jane playing on the MAF jungle gym.

Thank you for following along with us. We are excited about being with MAF, and taking part in their mission to share the love of Jesus by reaching outward and helping isolated people in real and important ways.

Our next few months

We will be at Pulane Children's Centre for Christmas.

We will be at Pulane Children's Centre for Christmas.

It’s worth taking some time to explain the process for getting our family to ready to serve with MAF in Maseru. Currently, we are accepted to MAF South Africa. Before we are ready to work ‘in the field’ with MAF, there are certain training steps to work through. Our situation is a little different, because we will be ‘loaned’ to MAF USA, because they oversee the Lesotho program. As such, our training will be with MAF USA.

In January we fly to Dublin for a week to spend time with friends of ours, one of whom also happens to be our pastor. Why do we have a Pastor who lives in a place we’ve never lived? Good question, with a simple answer: We developed a great relationship with Rob and his wife Patrice on their mission trips to Pulane Children’s Centre. Therefore, it made sense that someone like Rob should be the person Emily and I go to on spiritual matters, and to also be linked to Rob’s church, Liberty Church in Dublin, as a base of spiritual support. So, that week in Dublin will be important in preparing us to serve in Maseru.

MAF Headquarters in Nampa, ID

MAF Headquarters in Nampa, ID

From there we fly to Idaho, via Dallas (I think I can hear two happy grandparents from here). In mid-January Emily and I start a two week training course with MAF called ‘Candidacy.’ This is a way for us to be aligned with the vision and mission of MAF, and to develop relationships with the people at the home office who look after the not so glamorous tasks of admin and HR.

The following two weeks we attend a course to assist us in support raising. During this time we will also be focusing on reaching our support goal, which we need to achieve before we can be online in Lesotho.

We then have a break during February, where we will travel, meeting friends and family, as well as continuing to work on our support raising.

I'm itching to get into a MAF plane and standardization training! This picture is from some recent flying I did in SA.

I'm itching to get into a MAF plane and standardization training! This picture is from some recent flying I did in SA.

March, ahhhh, the time I am most excited about. Flight Standardization. I’ll be flying a Cessna 206 Turbo in Lesotho, which might not sound spectacular to those of you know know airplanes. But, what is spectacular is where we need to be able to get these 206’s into and out of! Mountain flying is a whole new ball game, and MAF recognizes a need for serious, focused training. I’ll spend 3-4 weeks doing this very specific training, learning to handle the 206 safely in Lesotho’s mountains and remote airstrips. What has always impressed me with MAF is their absolute focus on safety and professionalism, which are the goals of the Flight Standardization training.

In April, we will return to South Africa, and then Lesotho. We still have a fair amount of unknowns: Where we will live, how we move our belongings to Maseru, when I will actually start flying, and so forth. These questions will probably only have answers as that time draws closer.

Our family is excited about these next steps. We know that traveling, being away from home for so long, and support-raising are all pretty stressful things. But with our goal in sight, we hope and plan to enjoy every moment. We would love your prayers of support for this process, and as we chip away at our support goals, we would love to talk in more detail with anyone who is interested in helping.