Sunday, May 20, 2012

Of Airplanes, Squirrels and Windows

Hello folks, Steve here writing. Well another month has flown by and here are a few pictures of our life in Bolivia.
Inspection of the powerplant of the turbocharged 182
 in the hangar of South  American Missions.

I now have a great helper with small hands that can reach
 into small places where my hands do not fit as well.

Inspecting the nose gear.

A Delayed Flight

A few weeks ago Herman proposed that I go on a flight with him to become familiar with the Twin Comanche again. The proposed flight was a 440 nuatical mile round trip carrying two missionaries and cargo north and medical patient south.
The Twin Comanche on the ramp at Aeropuerto El Trompillo.

The plane, crew, passengers, and cargo being inspected
 by drug police on the ramp. This happens before all flights.
              It was a Friday morning and everything went normally at first. We fuelled the plane, filed flight plans, had the drug police do their inspection, loaded the cargo and baggage, and then we all got in the plane. Ground control cleared us to taxi and we taxied to the runway.
              El Trompillo is one of the busiest airports in the country and it has only one runway. So the one runway is used by jet airliners, turbo prop airlines, the Bolivian Airforce College, flight schools, air taxis, cargo lines, and private flights. To make matters more interesting there is no taxiway to the take off end of the runway when the wind is out of the north, as it usually is. And them to make it even more interesting, the control tower can't even see that half of the runway where all the planes need to back taxi to take off.
            We had to wait a while for landing traffic before the control tower cleared us number one to back taxi with a few planes in line behind us. As we were taxing to the take off end of the runway we were doing the before take off checks because the run up pad has a lot of gravel on it that would be sucked up in to the props.
          We had just finished the engine run up when plane started to roll roughly on one when and pull to the left side of the runway. I pulled the throttles closed and applied right brake, as the plane veered towards the edge of the runway. Just before the plane came to the runway edge the left tire went completely flat and the plane spun 90 degrees to the left like a tail wheel plane ground looping.
         A flight school Cessna 152 following us veered around us and we looked around to see if everything was ok. I told the control tower that we had a flat tire and we were on the runway. They told us that they were sending a fire truck out to help us and to keep listening on the radio.
        Herman called the hangar where the plane is being kept and they sent out a truck, and we unloaded the plane. Then the fire fighters helped us push the plane far enough off the runway onto a dirt road leading off the runway so that the jet airlines could land and take off. Then I got in the truck with the passengers and we were taken back to the hangar. The passengers went to find a place to stay for the weekend. We unloaded the truck and put jacks in it and found a used inner tube to put in the tire and get it back to the hangar.
        We got the tire re inflated and reinstalled. We then taxied the plane back to the hangar. Sunday we took our spare tire and tube to the airport, and Monday Herman made the flight uneventfully. We were grateful that the tire went flat on a wide runway instead of a narrow runway with ditches along it, that nothing other than a tire and tube were lost, that the tire went flat in a place where we had the tools an parts available, and Herman was glad that I was along.
The cause of the delayed flight.

Pumping up the tire with a hand pump because
 everything is closed on Sundays.
 Now I hand the blog over to Helen the Huntress.
Steven eating breakfast and toasting bread. We were talking one day
about how much we missed toast, and then he had the idea of using his camping stove.
It even fits on the table as we eat! 
 This is Helen with some of the more domestic side of things. Life is getting more and more comfortable with every little improvement. One can appreciate each new improvement so much more when they come one at a time!

Making Bread Pans
    A few weeks ago we were running low on funds, so we were trying to think of ways which we could earn some money here. Steven is very busy already with all his work... it is resembling farming (if we work day and night until fall we might get the spring work finished)... so I decided to see what I could do. I was praying and the idea of making whole wheat bread came to mind. I went forward with the idea, seeing if God would open doors and bless, and He has. I have been selling bread to some of the missionaries here on campus, and there has been interest outside too.
    However, the biggest blessing, besides being able to help our food bill, has been the contact I have been able to gain with some of our neighbours. Three ladies are now interested in the Cooking Course we are going to be holding once a month at our local church. One of these ladies has diabetes and her doctor told her that if she doesn't cut out the sugar and stop eating meat, she will stay very sick. Another of the ladies is also often sick. They realize that their diet is part of the cause, but they told me "If we don't cook with meat, we don't know how to cook. Please come and teach us". The cooking course at the church is not just going to be about food, but also about family life. It will be about how to be a Godly wife, mother, woman, and about basic health principles for themselves, children and families. We hope that God becomes closer to all who come.
    Even the man who I buy the whole wheat flour from has been asking questions. He has been asking Kerry Ann, a missionary Mom who introduced me to him, questions. He asked if it was really true that I was baking whole wheat bread. She said yes, and that the bread is good and healthy and without lard. Most of the bread sold in the market is with lard. He asked why, and she told him that it says we shouldn't eat it in the Bible. It tells us in Leviticus 11. Later when she went back he told her "It is true". He had pulled out his Bible and read it for himself. He then asked if it was true that we didn't eat meat, and she said it was true. He said their family hasn't been eating meat more than twice a week because they didn't really like it. She told him to keep it that way, only to be sure to only eat the Biblically clean meats. 
     I will continue to make and sell bread, not only because it helps us, but because it has been a great tool to break down boundaries and to reach people with a message of a saviour and a great God.
Steven cleaning the juicer which we make peanut butter to sell.
Its his favourite part of the job! He is always quick to volunteer!
Fresh Bread ready for delivery.

My delivery man. Granola and Bread ready to go... he takes me where I need to go on
Daniel's bike... we are keeping the battery charged by using it to go around on the property.

   After spending a few days working on planes while a rainy, cold south wind was blowing, we decided that it was just miserable to work on planes, getting wet and dirty, only to go home to a damp and cold house which didn't block the wind at all, complete with a cold shower. So we decided that airplane repair would be put on hold for a bit, unless there were emergencies, while we get our house sealed up and a little more comfortable. It was time for windows. 

Cutting the wood
Assembling all the pieces
Putting on the glass
Herman giving us a helping hand
Both men hard at work. Steven???
The kitchen windows almost finished! And my, what a difference only the
two kitchen windows made! I could cook without the gas of the stove being
blown away, and even our bedroom didn't have the wind going through it like before.
Such a blessing!!!
Fire fighter Steve
   Working in Bolivia means interruptions or distractions all the time. If it isn't a broken machine, then it is a flat tire, or something else. Last week it was a wild fire that got out of hand in the grass and brush on a neighbouring property north of the mission houses at the other end of the property. It had been very dry for quite awhile. Somehow a fire got started and got out of control, burning towards houses. All hands were called to help the fire department stop the fire. The next day the wind picked up fiercely and some trees that were still smouldering started burning. Once again hands were called to stop fires. Steve grabbed the chainsaw to cut down burning trees so they wouldn't fling burning embers into the wind and start brush fires again. It all ended well, and the fire was put out. The guardian angels were with them though. Steven was running with a shovel in one hand and the chainsaw on his back, when he tripped on barb wire that our neighbours had thrown away a long time ago. It was all over half buried in the dirt, looping up and hard to see. Down Steven went with the chainsaw behind his head, his other hand full of shovel, and the ground full of charred sticks. Eyes could have been poked on sticks, or his head cut open on the bar, but the plastic part of the chainsaw hit his head, and a thick stalk of grass poked his lip. Once again Steven was saved from harm so he can still be able to fly.    
Cleaning the construction water tank (Steve's space ship)
The Story of Mr Squirrel Continued...
The airplane's flare gun with expired flares. 
  Mr Squirrel continued to be a pest, and was getting downright fat and his fur was getting very glossy at the expense of my kitchen. He showed a decided preference for whole wheat bread, and like avocado with it. He learned to open all the lock'n'lock containers we had, and chewed through several containers. He would go into the kitchen even when we were just outside taking a shower, or in our bedroom changing. Steven had shot at him/her with the flare gun and it worked at scaring it away for a few days, but soon it learned that the flare gun made a loud noise, but didn't do anything more. 
    Steven had 7 shots, and once got close enough to actually hit him, but he just fell to the ground and then ran up on a stick to continue to chew him out. There were three others with him to join the scolding. Steven said he felt surrounded by squirrels! But it was his last shot and he was now out of amo.
Last shot and no dead squirrel.
Beware Squirrels! A bigger weapon.
Squirrel Tank (rebuilt windsock pole
being transported to the runway)
  And so it was my turn. I had no fancy amo, nor guns, so I used what I had... a clothes line, a block of wood, a metal box, and squirrel bate... and not the Sutton kind.
The Huntress
And what do you know! It worked! Here I am happily listening to Mr Squirrel in the box.
We took the squirrel with us on our way to church in the trunk of the car.

Everyone gathered around to see the squirrel be released into his new home
And so ends the story of Mr Squirrel. He is in a new home about 5 km from here. We hope that it was far enough because if he comes back it will be harder to trap him again. He is a very smart squirrel. I hope smart enough not to bother his new neighbours, since they will not hesitate eating him if they catch him!

The AD Venir Runway
(You can see the smoke from the wild fire they were fighting)
    As another huge answer to prayer, our runway has been approved by the local inspector, and now awaits permission from La Paz. Very soon we will be able to bring our planes into our own airstrip! The inspector was very impressed by the beauty of the area, and said he wants to visit again because it was so nice. It helped that the pasture right beside the airstrip had just been mowed, and the whole area looks like a park. 

Putting up the old and improved windsock... also been called the squirrel catapult
The runway's windsock up and being blown in the wind.

Well folks that is some of the past month of our life in Bolivia in pictures and story. God bless, and we will keep up dating as the slow Bolivian internet permits.