The following is a description of a set of flights MARC flew in January. Mission Plan A1 was to take a group containing a magician, a person who would give his testimony and two helpers to Aniak, Kalskag, one other village (to be determined), Hooper Bay and Soldotna. Plan A2 was to watch the weather and if the weather was good move the trip to Hooper Bay earlier in the schedule. This group uses the magician to draw in the native youth and provide the group with the opportunity to bring the youth the Word of God.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Luke 5:31
Even Christian organizations are not immune to change – but this is ridiculous. It started this summer when Bob Widman, who’s been with MARC for more than 25 years, decided to accept an offer to go back to Africa, where he had lived as a child with his missionary parents, to temporarily replace a current pilot who has to come back to the United States for a couple of years. He was in the lower 48 on furlough when he found out that his daughter in law had fallen down the stairs with the baby.
Don arrived in Soldotna for two months to be on hand during the busy summer months. With his daughter Cheramie’s wedding and concurrent Boz family reunion the first week of June he started out the summer flying season behind. Below events describe the particularly busy time.
14 Jun – sent Casa and King Air out to YK Delta to pickup 17 kids from Hooper Bay and 8 kids from surrounding villages and take them to Soldotna where Grant Funk was to take them on a month long Warriors On Wheels trip to the lower 48.
“For I know the plans I have for you" says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster" Jeremiah 29:11
On a Saturday in early January while attending a memorial service for a very dear friend, Don was called away to answer his work phone. I knew that it had to be an emergency to call him away from something so important to both of us and boy was I ever right. For the next several days Don worked constantly to bring help to people suffering from the severe weather conditions in Alaska that you may have heard about.
“So I say that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot.” Ecc 3:22
Welcome to the New Newsletter from South of North. We are not sure what form this new newsletter will take. Probably the first thing you will notice is that there are a lot less pictures than you are used to seeing. I daresay that without the descriptions of the trips I used to take that this letter will be a mite shorter as well.
November found me getting used to working remotely.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5
September was pack and travel month for us. I started packing and was doing fairly well until the combination of an Emmaus Weekend event that I was leading and Cat’s surgery cut out a week of packing time. God and the MARC family came to the rescue. Saturday, 3 September, several MARC men and their sons showed up to move all the packed boxes out of the house up the 30 deg hill to the garage. Now we had a place on the lower floor to put Cat’s hospital bed.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Whew, another summer is over! We are just coming out of our summer flying season and it was a corker again this year. MARC flew approximately 400 hours during this time period while Samaritan’s Purse flew approximately 300 hours. The Samaritan’s Purse flying directly affects our scheduling workload because we do all their scheduling. MARC’s 400 hours were flown to transport 530 passengers and 15,360 lbs.
Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Is there anything more difficult than change? This is our seventh year in Alaska, and our work here is still as fascinating as ever. You may have noticed in our newsletters that Don has been flying less and less. This is due mainly to the deterioration in his back. At the same time the MARC scheduling workload has increased. Don used to be a pilot whose secondary task was to schedule.
2011 is just flying by. We are writing this in March so memories of January are sparse. We had a moose wander through our yard and we were able to get close up pictures. Then at the beginning of February we had a gorgeous snowfall that flocked all the trees and they stayed that way for a good two weeks. Then around the end of February we had a mama moose and her yearling spend several hours resting in our yard after browsing on the trees. I did not know that moose chewed their cud like cows.
November finally brought our first snow. On the 1st, 2nd & 3rd of November it snowed 4" every day. And it was very heavy snow because the temperatures were unseasonably warm, between 25 and 35 degrees. The snow stuck in all the trees and on the sides of trees because it was so wet. The impact of this snow was very evident in the deciduous trees that were bent over. Some of the trees along our road were bent over from one side of the road and almost touching the ground on the other side.
Don flew two trips in September, both to Port Alsworth taking Samaritan’s Purse volunteers to and from the project there. Port Alsworth is only 90 miles from Soldotna as the crow flies, is on the other side of the Alaska Mountain range and takes about 45 minutes to fly to. We have been having very unusual weather here these last 10 days. The sky over almost the whole state has been cloud free in the afternoons. However in the mornings we are greeted by fog. Most days it is really dense with visibilities less than a ¼ mile.
Don spent July and August in “the scheduling office”. This is not the heart of MARC, but it is certainly the heartbeat. Don and Tom spend 50% of their time receiving and responding to inquiries about possible flights. They then spend 50% of their time doing initial planning followed by detailed planning for the flights. They then spend 50% of their time preparing the flight sheets for the pilots that describe where they are going, when they are going, who/what they will be picking up/dropping off, fuel contacts and weight & balance calculations for each leg.
Don spent the month of May trying to get ahead of all the flying coming in June and July, MARC’s maximum flying months. Both previous schedulers have expounded the need for a person to be at MAR full time during the busy summer flying season so Don has decided to take himself off the flying schedule starting in May. He was just about there when son Join called about his motorcycle accident that had him in the hospital with a broken elbow, separated shoulder and five broken ribs. Don & Cat boarded and airplane and were in San Francisco for two weeks helping Jon & Jen as he recovered.
April’s flying started with a flight taking Alaska Christian College students and staff to Unalakleet for their annual Youth Rally at the bible camp for Unalakleet youth. The flight out on Friday was blessed with a clear day giving us a gorgeous view of the Alaskan Range with a blanket of new snow. We left the spring weather of Soldotna and arrived in winter Unalakleet. We landed on the newly paved runway in a hefty crosswind. On Saturday a snow storm blew through and Bob & I were grateful we were on the ground.
February’s flying involved Don & Brian taking people from Anchorage, Togiak and Manakotak to the annual Moravian Synod meeting. We picked four people up in Anchorage and then stopped in Togiak to pick up 5 more on our way to Bethel. After refueling we flew down to Manakotak where we picked up 9 people and brought them to Bethel. It was not a long day and the weather was pretty good so we were done by 4 PM.