Even when the weeks get tough, and sleep doesn’t come for long enough, we continue on, on the path we are on, knowing this is where we should be. Even though the valley can be so very dark my friends, we step on foot in front of the other in HOPE.
This week at MAF was a busy one. Two of our pilots went up to Johannesburg to drop off a plane and pick up another one that got a new paint job. One of the pilots was on vacation. And so that left Matthew as the only pilot until Friday of this week. Our VP of Mission Aviation Fellowship was here visiting our program while also conducting personal and team meetings. It was SO great to have Dave Fyock here staying with our family and visiting our program. His encouragement and perspective was a breath of fresh air, filling us with HOPE as we look towards to future. As I write this Matthew is out on a Code One on this Saturday because it is his turn to be the “on- call” pilot this weekend incase anyone needs help. He was able to take one of the boys who came to our house for bible study today on the boy’s first flight! It was a 2 day old baby who wouldn’t stop throwing up, so Matthew brought the mother and baby here to Maseru to get transferred to the hospital for specialized care.
As we find ourselves in the midst of a challenging season, we continue to rely daily on the Lord for our strength. I, Carolyn am physically recovered but still emotionally healing from another miscarriage. Our second one in 11 months. Our precious baby’s heart stopped beating. My heart hurts and my soul aches and in the middle of this messy life of Faith I wrestle and press on, knowing the One who calls me Beloved has some plan to work this out for His glory and my good. A treasure hunt if you will.
Matthew assisted in 8 code-ones this week, and I think there were 10 total. A “code-one” is an emergency medical evacuation from a smaller clinic to a larger mountain hospital, and rarely to Maseru, the country’s capital where we live. They can be anything from car accident victims, to an asthmatic patient who can sit up and take pictures of his experience, to a scared mother gripping her baby as it struggles to find it’s next breath, to a woman with a stroke who is unconscious and on a stretcher accompanied by a husband and daughter to abuse victims. The pilots never know what they are going to find. 95% of the flights we do are medical flights here in Lesotho, Southern Africa. Many times people look to our pilots to be trained medically, which they are not. And most of our pilots have had patients die in their plane.
Here is one of the stories of a code-one this week. It was called the night before but Matthew waited until the next morning to go because dusk was coming quickly and they do not fly at night. Dave Fyock got to go along.
They circled overhead to clear the run way, and went for a second go around after buzzing some horses on the run way as a warning.
When they landed they waited for about 1.5 hours for the patient. There is no cell service and the villages are very far from the clinic. Sometimes we have waited 2 days for a person to arrive to be ready to be transported. Matthew could see some people wayyyy out on the hill top. So they yelled to him, then those people yelled down the other side of the mountain to the approaching travelers on horse back. Watching them finally appear on the hill top and start to descend down the mountain, nothing to be done, but wait and watch the dots getting bigger as the villagers approached.
They arrived at the airstrip. The woman had possibly had a stroke? She went to sleep and didn’t wake up. The Chief tied her to him and brought her on horse back. Matthew ran to get the stretcher from his plane.
They discussed who could come with the patient and Matt in the plane. Two wanted to come but Matt thought they would only have room for one. The husband was insistent and after weighing everything, they were just under weight so the husband and the daughter were able to come. Matthew gives them instructions to help carry the woman and load her into the plane.
I really like this guys blanket. It looks like he sewed a reflective vest onto his wool blanket. One of a kind. The men help Matthew prepare the woman for transport.
She is loaded into the plane by her village.
Her husband and her daughter accompany her with Dave Fyock and Matthew as they fly her a a short trip to another bigger town with a hospital. She is on a stretcher and strapped down to the bottom of the plane to be secured.
They wait for 45 min on the ground for the ambulance! This is a huge problem. We are always waiting for the ambulance, and often forced to flag down a passerby, give money for personal transport, put an unconscious patient into a small car, or stress about whether this patient or baby is going to die right in front of our husbands while they wait for someone to show up! Sometimes they show up drunk…
After 45 minutes, the “Health” departments truck came and they loaded her into the back of it. Off they went, and this is where our job is done. Because of the lack of funding, often times this is the last of the patients that we see. Where before we would fly them to Maseru and then fly them back home. Often these days we are left wondering what the end of the story is…but we do the part that is set out for us to do, that’s all we can do.
On the flight back home to Maseru, the capital of Lesotho, Matthew got a call for another code-one, so they turned back to collect this man having multiple asthmatic attacks. No one had been to the clinic to restock the medicine for weeks if not months and finally the nurse in charge of him had decided to call for MAF to help. Matt lent him his inhaler and it helped a great deal as they flew him to a bigger town to go to the hospital for the proper medicine. Our pilots never know what they are going to find.
Matt finally got Dave back to the MAF Hangar so he could get to his afternoon meetings with different families on our team. Matthew then was able to start his scheduled flight who had been waiting for him all morning and past lunch. It was a nurse going back out to her post, and another lady and an old lady in a wheelchair. I’m not sure exactly what they were doing, but something for the Lesotho Flying Doctor Service (LFDS), the main people we fly for.
This was just one day on the five he flew this week. I made sure to give him lots of meat for dinner this week and tried to encourage and support him as best as I know how. We are thankful that when we are weak He is strong, and that God is our comfort and our support as we walk in obedience.