Record Numbers Receive “Help and Hope” from February Brigade

People wait in line outside the hospital to receive medical and dental care after having walked for up to two days to get there. This means carrying food, bedding, and children with them. Large extended family groups and even entire villages often travel together for safety.

February 2017 marked the sixth consecutive year that Missionary Air Group and its Rus Rus Hospital has partnered with International Health Service of Minnesota (IHS) to host a major medical outreach to the Miskito people group.  Rus Rus was one of five clinical sites in the Mosquitia region to receive IHS teams simultaneously over the two week period from February 10-23, 2017. Missionary Air Group  not only hosted IHS in Rus Rus , but provided air support (supply line logistics, team insertion and extraction, and patient evacuation) for all the IHS sites in the region.

A sea of people crowds the patient registration desk.

This year was the biggest year to date for this event with the largest MAG staff participation, more total patient encounters, more critical patient evacuations, and greater regional impact than in any previous year!  MAG had a combined missionary and national staff of 15 in addition to an IHS compliment of 10 – for a joint team of 25. The rest of the record breaking numbers looked like this:  over the course of 14 days (8 clinic days), MAG pilot Sean Donnelly flew 71 total flights (nearly 40 hours of flight time operating from 6 different strips) conducting 12 medical flights transporting 30 emergency and surgical patients.  The Rus Rus Hospital crew had 736 medical consults, 387 dental consults, 1253 pharmacy consults, and 144 vision consults, plus 2 minor surgeries (on-site) for a TOTAL of 2522 patient encounters in 8 days – nearly a thousand more than any previous year!

Las Dentistas – three chairs at full speed, each dentist saw an average of twenty patients per day, for extractions and now, fillings and cleanings too!

This year was special for other reasons too. There was unprecedented participation by MAG National (Honduran) team members, numbering 10 of the 15, with the remaining 5 being MAG missionary staff.  Three Honduran dentists, Doctoras Gabriella Melendez, Maria Galo, and Sayda Napky, joined our team from San Pedro and Roatan. Everyone worked together tirelessly to provide patient care by day and spiritual care by night, with Bible studies and worship services almost every night for those who had traveled great distances in search of “help and hope”.

Dr. Gerard Rudy and MAG head nurse, Geraldina Coleman, working in our small Rus Rus operating room.

MAG Pastoral team members, Pastors Carlos Paz and Roman Chow conducted services, Bible studies, and prayed with patients. One evening, when Dr. Gerard Rudy finished a surgery at one end of the hospital, the patient, a Nicaraguan lady who had walked more than a day with an abscess on her achilles tendon, asked to be wheeled down to the worship service that was happening simultaneously at the other end of the hospital. She wanted to hear the preaching of God’s word and to worship Jesus. Several who were present at that service made decisions to receive Christ and asked to be baptized. So, a baptism was planned for Sunday afternoon in the Rus Rus River. What a joyous way to finish a week that had started so sadly.

It was only the previous Sunday when a baby from Rus Rus was brought into the hospital in respiratory distress – the same hospital he had been born in just 18 months earlier. Unable to stabilize his breathing or vitals, the MAG aircraft, with pilot Sean Donnelly, was dispatched for an emergency evacuation. Sadly, baby Mark Anthony passed away during the flight. Upon returning to Rus Rus, Sean was then asked to preach at the family’s home during a prayer vigil that night – which he did – with the entire village gathered. It was a sad but precious time and, the start of a week that saw thousands helped, treated, encouraged, and saved – physically and spiritually – as they were ministered to by the people of a small, faithful, grieving village. That next Sunday, six were baptized!

MAG president Sean Donnelly along with MAG missionary, Pastor Carlos Paz, preaching to a crowd at a spontaneous baptismal service.

MAG missionary Pastor Carlos Paz baptizing in the Rus Rus River.

Villagers, visitors, patients, and team members gathered together for an evening worship and preaching service, while surgery was going on at the other end of the hospital.

All these children walked with their families from villages in Nicaragua to come receive medical care – and a little love – from the team in Rus Rus.

Precious cargo – MAG pilot Sean Donnelly flies a 4-year-old surgical patient and her mother back to their village after the IHS surgical team successfully removed a tumor from the girl’s neck. The lollipop helped too!

MAG’s Cessna 206 “One Nine Zulu” in the village of Ahuas just after landing. The mission was to pick up more dental anesthetic from the Moravian hospital there to keep the dental team going in Rus Rus. Thanks for the help guys!

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New Base for MAG Guatemala

Nearly a year of preparation, government paperwork, and construction has finally culminated with the official opening of MAG’s new “home base” airstrip in the Peten region of Guatemala. MAG Guatemala Program Director, Paul Jones, has worked tirelessly to build a beautiful 2800 foot airstrip, complete with drainage system and aircraft ramp and hangar area, This facility is located on property provided by our new primary ministry partner in Peten, the Kekchi Bible Institute (KBI), and will be the launching point for MAG Air Ambulance service to reach the entire region. Hangar construction is scheduled for 2017.  Click on the link below to read the entire story in Paul Jones recent Field Report from Guatemala.

Click here! Guatemala Field Report (PDF)

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MAG Headquarters Completed as Home Team Arrives

Missionary Air Group has a new Headquarters facility at the Burlington-Alamance Regional Airport. This facility is the new home for our US-based  administrative, development, flight training, and aircraft maintenance departments, which will strengthen our ability to deliver “Help and Hope by Air” through our international field programs.

It was built by 56 individual volunteers from 18 churches from 8 different states over the course of 8 months. Click on the PDF link below to read the exciting photo documentary about what God did!

Click here! MAG Headquarters Story (PDF)

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Pastoral Training on the Nicaraguan Frontier

In July 2016, MAG Director of Pastoral Ministries, Pastor Carlos Paz, was joined by Honduran Pastors Pastor Esaú Nuñez Sosa and Roman Lopez Chow on a mission to provide biblical training to 60 pastors from the Miskito people group – 40 pastors in Waspan, Nicaragua and 20 pastors in Suhi,  Honduras.  This is part of the ongoing effort of Missionary Air Group to strengthen the local church by bringing needed pastoral training to this remote part of the Nicaraguan frontier.

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Some of these pastors and church leaders walked for days to participate in the 4-day workshop in Waspan, Nicaragua along the Coco River. The MAG Team (Pastors Carlos, Esau, and Roman) are wearing the light blue golf shirts.

The objective of this particular mission was to deliver a complete survey of the Old Testament using a presentation called “CASKET EMPTY”created and written by Dr. Carol Kaminsky of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  Carlos and his MAG Pastoral team will be some of the first missionaries to make such a presentation in Latin America using her “Casket Empty Study Guide” that has recently been translated to Spanish.  The acronym CASKET  stands for:  Creation, Abraham, Sinai, Kings, Exile, and Temple – the six major periods . It delivers an effective overview of the Old Testament through 12 hours of lessons that the team delivered over four days.

Dr. Kaminsky recently decided to partner with Missionary Air Group and our Pastoral Team by generously making most of the Spanish resources available to us free of charge. Every pastor received a complete outline for the training sessions, plus an OT timeline.

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A typical batu – this one is meeting the team to take them accross to the Nicaraguan side of the Coco.

Travel was difficult as the team made its way to from Puerto Lempira,  to the Miskito village of Leimus, across the Rio Coco, then finally to Waspan, Nicaragua in a series of pick-up trucks and by dugout canoe (called a “Batu” – see photo).  They were joined on the Nicaraguan side of the border by Baptist Leader Rev. Orlando Marquez Mendez.  It was all worth the effort as Pastor Carlos reports, “The training of the pastors in Waspan turned out to be a greater blessing than last year. There were more pastors, we were better prepared and the lessons we shared  were enthusiastically received”.

As the mission wrapped up, plans to expand the training to a total of 3 countries in the region were developing. “This is just the beginning. We are getting to know and trust each other as we develop and nurture these relationships,” shared Pastor Carlos.  While Pastor Carlos and his team were in the Honduran village of Suhi, a key village on the Coco River, the teaching time ended with great rejoicing by all those gathered as two older girls were baptized in response to the team’s visit.

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One of the girls being baptized in the village of Suhi

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MAG – Africa Impact!

img_2557In February 2016, Sean Donelly (MAG CEO), Alace Straw (MAG Member Care Specialist), and Steve Straw (MAG Chief Pilot) met with the national leadership of the C&MA (Christian & Missionary Alliance) churches in Libreville, Gabon.  The Straw’s established the mission aviation program in Gabon, known locally as “Aviation Médicale de Bongolo”, in 2008.  The service provides critical transport needs to national church efforts, especially the Bongolo Hospital, a 160-bed full-service hospital in the remote south of Gabon. The Cessna 207 aircraft (N207FD) is owned by MAG, who has become the sole “aviation partner” of the Bongolo Hospital and the C&MA National Church of Gabon.img_2561

Pastor Victor Ndoukou, President of the Gabon C&MA, affirmed the role of aviation in serving the growing vision that they sense the Lord revealing to them.  The church is putting greater emphasis on community health education and care as a practical way to demonstrate the Gospel message in every corner of their country and beyond.  As we looked at the map of Gabon (photo right), they pointed out the regions where there still is no local faith community and where they are called to go.

MAG already has a curriculum of health care training, primarily focused on first responder and flight nurse care.  This training will allow more Gabonese to become equipped in skills to work with our aviation program and express the gospel in word and deed.

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They also have renewed effort behind the social work campus being developed on the outskirts of the capital city of Libreville, known as PK-27.  They have appointed Pastor Jacob Mouele, a friend of the Straw’s, to head this work.  He is currently visiting the church congregations in Gabon to update them on the progress of PK-27 as well as raising up resources- material, machines, and money.  PK-27 features medical and educational facilities as well as homes for other social ministries of the church.  To the rear of the property, the engineering plan features a runway, hangar, and classroom space.  See more at www.wings4Africa.org.

Pastor Jacob joined the MAG contingent for a visit to the Hope House– a home for orphaned and at-risk children, based in Libreville.  More than 50 children, ranging in age from 2 to 19, live there under the caring oversight by Pastor Israel and Natalie.  They have a vision to see these children trained up to be the spiritual leaders of the nation!  Steve and img_2579Alace have been friends of the Hope House since arriving in ’08 and have seen them struggle to find and keep proper housing and food.  Thanks to a sponsorship program run by our friends at E4 Project, more resources are now available to them.  However, they still seek a permanent home at PK-27.

The MAG team also traveled to the remote south, some 550 kilometers, to Bongolo Hospital.  Depending on the season, it can be anywhere from a 9 to 12 hour drive.  With the MAG aircraft, a Cessna 207 aircraft, it’s only about 1.6 hours!

Bongolo Hospital continues to grow!  One of the largest projects currently underway is an expanded eye clinic, in partnership with US Aid. When complete, this will be a full equipped opthalmic hospital, the only one of its kind in Central Africa.img_2551

On average, 40,000 patients are seen at Bongolo per year.  Each person not only sees the gospel lived out in front of them in the actions of the caring staff, but they also will hear of the gospel message.  On average, 1,000 will make decisions to follow Christ every month!  Since the C&MA has a network of churches throughout the region, the hospital chaplains can direct each one back to their local communities for growth in their walk with Jesus.  The hospital campus, founded in 1977, is basically a small city- there are wide array of jobs once done by foreigners, now with Africans at the helm. There are about 12 international workers there, most from the US, serving as doctors, nurses, and facility management- all of them training others; a core ethos of Bongolo.img_2682

The MAG aircraft is piloted by Rob Peterson, on loan from SIL (JAARS) since 2013.  The MAG team took a tour of the Bongolo Hospital and met with the Administrative and Financial Director, Pastor Serge Batoubokou. Pastor Serge affirmed that aviation is a key part of the services at Bongolo for the future as well as how happy he is with Rob’s teamwork.

With the desire of the national church to have community based health education and care along with MAG’s curriculum and overall goals, we’re seeing steps on how to see more Gabonese involved with the work.  With your strong support, we are certain that the efforts to demonstrate the love of God, in work and deed, through the tools of aviation and health care, will strengthen and expand.

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2015 Year-End Ministry Summary

(Click on the link below to view PDF)

MAG Year-End Ministry Summary 2015

In This Issue:

  • Claudia’s Story – A Double Miracle
  • Eduardo’s Story – A Life Twice Saved
  • In Africa: Spreading the Gospel By Air
  • Urgent Needs and Project Updates
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Dr. Tom Gelhaus, part of this year’s IHS (International Health Service) Team performs the first restorative dentistry in our upgraded dental clinic at the Rus Rus Hospital. This smile tells the whole story!

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An Atypical Inspection

An annual inspection for an airplane, like a car, can either be fairly quick and easy, or it can come with the need for significant investment of time and money. This year, the latter was the case for MAG’s N9719Z, or “One Nine Zulu” as it is commonly called. One Nine Zulu is the plane currently in use in Rus Rus, Honduras. Given its location, the inspection and repairs would normally take place in Rus Rus. But this was no normal annual inspection.

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The new horizontal stabilizer being constructed at MMS Aviation, in Coshocton, OH

There were several complicating factors that presented challenges. First, the plane had a failed avionics system that could not be repaired on the field. A complete replacement and upgrade would be needed and the technical aspects of this type of upgrade required an avionics shop. Second, the 14 foot long horizontal tail piece needed to be replaced. This piece could not be loaded on the Cessna 206s operated by MAG and shipping would have been costly and lack the assurance of safe transport. Third, timing issues were a factor based on the mix of FAA requirements, Honduran paperwork and the fact that One Nine Zulu is the only mission aircraft available in the area. The decision was made do do the repairs in the U.S. and that the plane would need to be returned within 3 weeks. The clock was ticking.

Even with no money in hand and an estimated cost of around $25,000, plans began to take shape. Missionary Flights International [MFI] in Florida graciously offered space for the men to work. MAG Director of Maintenance Scott Grote would pick up MAG Guatemala Program Director Paul Jones, who would together travel to Rus Rus to fly One Nine Zulu to Florida. Mike Dunkley and Jim Newman from MMS would fly from Coschocton, Ohio to the MFI base in Florida where Brian Lites had coordinated the details of completing the multifaceted project. In God’s perfect timing he provided the needed funds through a generous donor.

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In the hangar at MFI in Ft.Pierce, FL, next to one of their turbine DC-3 aircraft.

 

 

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Scott Grote at the controls of 19Z northbound over the Gulf of Mexico.

Work on the plane commenced August 6th. Grote comments, “At one point I counted 8 MFI mechanics working on various things on our airplane. It was a HUGE blessing to be at MFI with such an amazing facility and such servant-hearted mechanics plowing through the work so quickly.” God’s hand was again visible when Paul Jones and Westley Wiles (MAG’s Honduras Program Director) got into the avionics shop on short notice (because of a hurricane headed towards the area). An additional surprise: the avionics shop was located immediately next door to another ministry, Agape Flights, who provided hanger space and housing for the guys. The morning of September 3rd, they began their journey back to Honduras with the completed plane.

God receives all of the credit for providing all of the needed space, parts, financing and housing for the complex repair. He brought together 4 different organizations and many individuals to get the repairs and annual inspection completed within a limited time frame.

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MAG Extends Service to Africa

Missionary Air Group has recently expanded its medical aviation services to Africa by forging a strategic partnership with “Aviation Médicale de Bongolo” (AMB).  Operating since 2008 under the stewardship of Air Calvary, another US-based non-profit, the AMB program and Cessna aircraft will now move forward as part MAG.

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Rev. Steve Straw, AMB Founder

Founder and project manager Steve Straw has operated AMB for 7 years in the west-African country of Gabon. AMB’s mission is to support medical and humanitarian aid through the use of aircraft, with the program also implementing the country’s first air ambulance service for its partner Bongolo Hospital. This remote jungle hospital is the project of the Christian Missionary Alliance (CMA) of Gabon and treats over 40,000 patients annually. Without the use of a plane, they would be unable to obtain needed medical supplies or quickly transport staff and patients.

AMB operates one Cessna 207 aircraft (photos below), which is flown and maintained by chief pilot Rob Peterson, who is on loan from SIL-Cameroon (JAARS). The aircraft is most frequently used to transport equipment, personnel and medicines critical to the care of patients. It has also been used to support bible translation, mobile medical clinics, community health and evangelistic endeavors.

Averaging approximately 200 flight hours a year over the past 3 years, AMB LogoAMB’s work in Gabon is making a significant difference. Last year, AMB completed 156 staff transports, 10 medical patient flights, and delivered 26,950 pounds of cargo and 3,091 pounds of medications.  As the only dedicated medical air transport operation in the region, AMB well positioned to serve the entire country of Gabon with a population of 1.8 million people. It will become MAG’s first African base.

 

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IAMA Conference Promotes Collaboration

On May 11, 2015, several of MAG’s staff members joined together in Coshocton, Ohio to attend the 4-day International Association of Missionary Aviation (IAMA) annual conference. This year the conference was hosted by Missionary Maintenance Services (MMS), a partner organization which provides maintenance services for MAG aircraft.

IAMA team

The conference was attended by over 70 participants with presentations by MMS CEO Dwight Jarboe, Liberty University Associate Dean Sean John Marselus, Director of Flight Operations at Moody Aviation Jim Conrad and our own MAG CEO Sean Donnelly, among others.

Sean presented a new model for missionary pilot-mechanic training  as he outlined the training partnership that has been implemented by MAG and MMS Aviation.  “A  key tenet of the program is “transferability”, Sean shared.  “The fact that MAG is not a flight school, but rather a front-line mission organization building capacity into its own training department to accommodate pilot training for the broader mission aviation community,  means this:  If MAG can do it, other organization can too!”

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Collaboration became a topic of spontaneous discussion throughout the week. Says Steve Straw, Founder and Program Manager of Aviation Médicale de Bongolo, “It’s encouraging to be around so many that sense the critical need for creative logistical solutions to express the love and kindness of Creator God. There was a great vibe in the conference and a ton of networking going on.”

IAMA conference

The conference itself was held in a hangar, encouraging cooperative and creative solutions to challenges faced by many missionary aviation organizations. Straw affirms, “Discussion from the floor all focused on spurring each other on to effective work for the Kingdom worldwide.”

Session titles included “Top 10 Safety Concerns in Mission Aviation,” “Alternative Means of Funding,” and “The Need for Leaders.”

Straw sums up, “The bond that brings over 70 organizations together as members of IAMA is this: there is a Loving God who wants to use His Children to creatively express His Love to every Tribe, Tongue, and Nation.  This is true relief work.  This is true community development.  This is true compassion.”

 

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Extreme Makeover – Rus Rus Edition

In early May, MAG’s Director of Pastoral Ministries Carlos Paz led a team of five to Rus Rus, Honduras to complete some much-needed work on both the hospital and Guest House. The Guest House improvements will pave the way for current Rus Rus resident missionaries, Wes and Denise Wiles, to move in, making room for 2 new missionary construction teamcouples to join the field. Both the Moras (David and Hannah) and the Braxtons (Joel and Abrielle) are in preparation for field deployment and will be taking up residence in the Main House/Duplex currently occupied by the Wiles’.

Work on the Guest House consisted of tearing out an old suspended ceiling and tightly framing a new wooden ceiling which would keep out the most unwanted visitors: snakes, tarantulas and other jungle regulars. New plumbing was also installed, and a new porch was begun.

Future construction trips are planned to continue the work on the Guest House, with a team traveling down July 2015 to completely rewire the house. A further construction trip is tentatively planned for January 2016.

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Both the team and the residents of Rus Rus were blessed through the project. Team members attended the local church service, and contributed a special music presentation of “How Great Is Our God.” Paz was able to visit many of the soldiers, delivering Bibles and photo albums he had promised them on previous trips. The team also assisted with preparations for the annual mother’s day celebration and connected with the locals, children and adults alike, through games of baseball, soccer and volleyball throughout the week.

 

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