Monday, December 27, 2010

Bible Distribution at Princess Marina Hospital

Well today was Bible distribution day at Princess Marina Hospital. Every year Flying Mission staff and some volunteers meet at Princess Marina Hospital the day after Christmas to give Bibles to all of the patients. This year we had over 650 Bibles to give away! We feel honored to have had the opportunity to be a part of sharing the Word of God with so many people!

I probably spent the most of my time in the maternity wards since there were over a hundred women in there with their brand new babies! One of the women even asked me to hold her precious little girl who was just days old! She was the tiniest baby I have ever held…way tinier than Tristan was! What an honor it was to hold that new little girl and give her mommy a bible in her own language! It was definitely a bit of a shocker walking into the maternity ward…it is nothing like the maternity wards in the United States. Each room had about 14 or 15 beds squished together with barely any room to walk in between and then every spot on the floor that was big enough was another mattress. Every room looked full to the max! There wasn’t such a thing as private rooms…I have never seen anything like it. How spoiled I was to have had my own room for delivery and then my own room for recovery as well. I was pampered by the nurses and had constant help from them! Those women were pretty much on their own…plus had absolutely no privacy. It was a very humbling experience to say the least.

Jeff had the privilege of praying with one of the patients we gave a bible too. He was unable to use his legs but we were not told why. It was very sad. When he leaves the hospital how will he support himself? Does he have family to take care of him? Those questions have been weighing on my heart and mind but ultimately does he know our Savior? We can’t know these things but we can pray that the Lord will bless him and take care of him and bring him to an understanding of his Word! Please be praying with us that all of these patients we briefly met and gave Bibles to would come to know Christ as their personal Savior! So they can stop living in fear and live eternally with their loving God and Creator! Thank you so much! Your prayers are greatly appreciated!

Today while at the Bible distribution I became aware of a few projects that you guys could be a part of. As soon as I get a little more information I look forward to sharing these opportunities with all of you! I will be sharing about these projects in my next note =). Be looking for “Project Nappies”(their word for diapers here) and “Project Bible Distribution”.

Also a friend took a bunch of pictures today and as soon as possible I will post some for you all to see!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A note from Jeff

One of my on call days last week.

The day began nice and slow. It was about 10:30 AM on what was shaping up to be a very hot day in Botswana. I had been home for about 14 hours since my last flight had landed at around 8:30 the night before. Sarah and I had been able to enjoy a nice breakfast together and Tristan was playing with his new kitten friend. The call came in around 11:00 and within 10 minutes I was airport-bound. I arrived at our hangar about 10 minutes later and began the preflight. Jon, the Captain for this flight, arrived shortly after and began filing the flight plan and checking the weather for the flight. Once our medics, Patrick and Collin, arrived we closed the cabin door and started up for Maun. We were airborne from Sir Siretse Khama International Airport just over 50 minutes from the time of the call, our goal for every Mercy flight.

Jon took the 1st leg to Maun and within an hour and half, we were on the ground. Go figure, the ambulance was not there. African time is very different from US time and when they hear an hour and half, they expect it to take at least 2-3 hours. Oh, by the way, when I say ambulance don’t have in mind a nice United States ambulance with all the fancy life saving equipment inside. Think instead of a pickup truck with a covered back and AMBULANCE written across the side. Inside this ambulance was a lady and the tiniest baby I have ever seen in my life. Evidently she had needed an emergency c-section before the baby was ready to be born and only had the local clinic to do it. In the process she had lost lots of blood which can be very hard to come by in an AIDs stricken country, not to mention she was out in the middle of nowhere. Our medics started doing what they do best and got the patient stabilized and loaded into the airplane. We had brought a baby incubator as part of our equipment for this flight because we didn’t know the status of the baby, but it wasn’t needed. Despite being only 2.5 lbs, the baby was doing just fine and was sleeping soundly. But the mother needed a hospital so we fired up the King Air and departed for the closest hospital located in Francistown at about 290 miles per hour. It was my leg now and 55 minutes later I landed in Francistown where the ambulance was waiting to take mother and baby to get the help they need. I got to carry that precious 2.5 lb baby off the plane, hands down the best part of the flight!!! Thank the Lord for a safe flight!

After fueling we headed back to Gaborone and landed at around 7:00 PM. We fueled in Gabs just in case there was another flight that night. I walked in the door to our house at around 8:00 to the sight of a smiling baby boy! I’ll be honest, I don’t think that could ever get old. I kissed Sarah and was getting ready to give Tristan a bath when my phone rang. It was our Chief Pilot with another emergency flight to Maun. I laughed and said “Good one Tim”. “Sorry Jeff, no joke this time”. So 20 minutes after I had walked in the door, I was walking back out again for the exact same place we had been just 6 hours earlier! Sarah is an amazing girl and keeps a good attitude even though late night flights aren’t the most fun for her either.

It was my leg going to Maun this time, at least we got to change that part up a little bit. We were cruising at 26,000 feet that night and although it was clear, there were no lights below us as far as the eye could see. It’s an eerie blackness flying over the Kalahari at night and it still gives me an odd feeling when I experience it. But when I look up on those nights, the stars are brighter than any night sky I’ve ever seen. We dim the cockpit lights way down and experience God’s magnificence and glory in a way that few get to experience. I was filled with awe and a verse in Hebrews 11 was brought to mind, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed by God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible”. What an awesome God we serve who could create such beauty out of nothing! We arrived in Maun to a little boy not much older than Tristan. He had swallowed sulferic acid, commonly used in lead-acid car batteries. He had acid burns all over the outside and inside of his mouth and who knew what else internally. When I looked at him, I could see Tristan and my heart hurt for him. Again, we flew to Francistown and delivered the patient safely with his mom to the hospital there. By the time we got the airplane put to bed and got ourselves something to eat (as it had been since breakfast when we had all last eaten), it was around 2 AM. There was no way we were going to try and fly back to Gabs. We wandered into the FMS guest house in Francistown and passed out on the nice comfortable beds that were waiting for us. If only we would have known that at 10:30 the next morning we would be going BACK to Maun again for a lady who was in sepsis from blood poisoning.

We flew back to Gaborone after our final Maun-Francistown run late in the afternoon. After dodging some of the hugest thunderstorms I’ve ever seen, we made it back to Gaborone. I walked in the door around 7:45 PM after having been gone for the better part of 2 days, with people and experiences in my mind that I will never forget.

Thank you all for your support of Sarah and I! We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you!



This is my co-worker, Jon, holding the 2.5 lb baby. I managed to snap the picture right before we headed off to Francistown.
This is the mother receiving a blood transfusion in the airplane.
This wasn't from that particular flight but it gives you the idea.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My new word for the day...."Nnana"

Well Tristan is sitting nicely eating some banana puffs we brought from the States so here goes another note!

Yesterday Jeff had the day off work so we decided to do some fun shopping...or as we call it "Chinese shopping it". Chinese shops are little stores that sell a variety of things for very very cheap. They always have different things and we always enjoy finding awesome deals on things we need. So we spent the afternoon driving around to as many of these different shops as we could find. We found some great deals on a few things we needed as well as some fun little Christmas presents for Tristan. While we were in one of the shops a cute little girl walked in with her mom and as soon as she saw Tristan started pointing and yelling "Nnana! Nnana!". It was so cute and I figured she was about the age where little kids point and yell baby baby when they see a baby. So as we walked past I asked the Mother if that meant baby. Yes it did!! So my new word for the day was Nnana meaning baby! How fun to keep learning new words here and there!

We are really looking forward to officially starting our language study here! We just received an email saying the next beginners setswana class will be starting sometime in January. So starting January we will be going to a setswana class once a week. We are excited to get to learn more than just the greetings and few words that you pick up here and there. Please pray that we will be dedicated in our study of setswana!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tristan's New Best Friend!

Well I can't believe how long it has been since I have sent an update...I wish I could blame it all on the internet but even though the internet was down for over a month we have had working internet now for a few weeks. I am not a writer =) but hope to get better at keeping you all updated!
I wanted to introduce you to the new addition to our little family! A few weeks ago some good friends here found an abandoned kitten in their yard. It was stuck in their tree meowing one morning and they rescued it. He was very very tiny and probably to little to be away from his Mom yet. He was also starving which made him look even smaller. They called and asked if we would like him and we almost immediately said yes! I was a little nervous about doing the whole cat thing again...many of you know that we have had lots of not so good cat experiences. The idea of having a pigeon killer won out though! Plus kittens are just so cute... =)

He has proven to be a very helpful little guy! True he has had his fair share of the 3 accidents on our bed when we weren't paying attention and the constant meowing when we first left him outside all day. Oh and we can't forget the time he sprayed Jeff and the chair he was sitting in....still can't figure out why that happened...I didn't know such little kittens could do that. Thankfully the good definitely out weighs the bad! He has become an expert bug killer/eater! I dislike bugs very much so just that in itself is wonderful =). He has also started chasing and attacking pigeons but he is still much smaller than they are so has not become an accomplished pigeon killer yet. I hope he eventually scares them off! Best of all he has become Tristan's best friend! The first time Tristan saw the kitten he started giggling and quickly they became best friends. Wherever one is the other! I have been amazed at how gentle they both are with eachother. Of course Tristan is not super coordinated at 8 months so when he pets his friend it is more like hitting....but the kitten nibbles at his toes and play attacks Tristan like he is one of his sibling they stay about equal with any roughness. The kitten has never scratched Tristan even with all of the playing they do....we really feel lucky to have gotten such a sweet kitten!

We have not picked out a name for Tristan's little friend. Instead we plan on waiting to see if Tristan starts calling him something cute when he starts talking. We just call him kitty or kitten for now =). It will be fun to see what his name becomes =).

Here are a few pictures and there are lots more of Tristan and the kitten on my facebook if you want to see more pictures!

I plan to post/email more of our first experiences soon! Thanks for being patient with me =)!

Monday, October 11, 2010

First Experiences in Botswana

We finally have Internet in our house!! Hoooray! There was no way for us to get internet in our house until we received our residents permit. Just a few weeks ago we received our temporary waiver...still no residents permit =). The Lord has definitely been teaching us patience our first few months here! Praise the Lord one of the internet companies was willing to accept our temporary waiver since we still have no permit number. It has been such a blessing to be able to get online at home rather than pack up the baby and go to a friends house to use their internet! I didn't get to keep you all updated on our arrival adventures so here is one of my very first experiences during my first week here in Botswana...

"We've been invited to a Bush Braii", Jeff said. Great! What is a Bush Braii?? "You go out in the bush and have a cook-out. Its great fun." All of a sudden a bush braii didn't sound fun to me. I have a 4 month old baby. Do we sit on the ground out in the bush? Will I have to hold Tristan the whole time we are gone? Are their bathrooms out there? Can I stay home and YOU go? Turns out I ended up going by myself (with Tristan) because Jeff was on an emergency flight. And it was out in the middle of nowhere. And there were no bathrooms. And there was no place to put the baby so he had to be held the whole time BUT it was great fun. Jeff even found us out in the bush when he got finished with his flying. I definitely look forward to more Bush Braiis next year when it cools down again =).

We are having lots of new experiences here...some great others not so great haha. I still have not been brave enough to go in a public restroom =). I hear they are one of the not so great experiences. Anyway I look forward to keeping you all updated on our adventures here. Keep us updated on how you are all doing as well we love hearing news from home! Thanks for all your prayers as we adjust to a new home and a new country!

Love, Sarah (from all of us)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hello from Africa

Greetings from Botswana!

Yes, the greeting sentence above is correct, I am already here. It may come as a surprise to many of you as my original planned departure date was July 15th. However about 3 weeks ago, I received a call from Flying Mission and they told me that I would be needed earlier if I could make it. To make a long story short, we rebooked my plane tickets and I arrived in the country on June 30th! Needless to say, the last few days have been really interesting and exciting.

The traveling started early (I left Sarah’s parent’s house in Florida around 3:15 AM on June 29th). I flew from Orlando International to New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport. From there I flew to Johannesburg, South Africa and finally to Gabarone, Botswana. I arrived safely in Gabarone at 10:30 AM on June 30th.

Flying Mission Services rolled out the red carpet for me and had between 10-15 guys waiting for me at the airport. They had a company cell phone for me and took me to get my airport ID pass within minutes of my arrival. It was such an encouragement to have that incredible welcome into the country! After my pick up, they took me to see FMS hangar and facilities out at the airport. Since it was around noon on a Monday, I got to sit in on my first FMS Pilot Meeting. They really went out of their way to make me feel like part of the team even on my first day!

During the past few days, I’ve been getting accustomed to Gabarone. Probably the biggest thing I’ve had to get used to is the driving. A US driver’s license is good here for up to 90 days and FMS gave me a car to use during these first few weeks. So I’ve been able to explore the city and look around a bit. The only catch is; people here drive on the left side of the road. So everything is “backwards” to what I’m used to. I’m driving on the left side of the road, shifting gears with my left hand, all while trying to find my way around this new city. Not to mention every time I want to use my turn signal, I end up turning on my windshield wiper blades instead (because the turn signal is on the right side of the steering column here). There is a lot to get used to.

Prayer Update:
• I would certainly appreciate all your prayers as adapting to a new culture is very difficult, stressful, and can at many times be very overwhelming. Homesickness definitely has started creeping in even though I've only been here a few days. I had forgotten how easy we have it in the States.

• I’ve been looking for a house and car the past few days. Right now I’m living with some of the single FMS guys but it is only a temporary setup. Housing here in Gabarone can be hard to find so please pray that God would lead me to exactly what Sarah and I will need.

• It’s very hard to be away from Sarah and Tristan right now. She is still arriving as planned on August 11th. It is going to be a long 6 weeks apart so please keep us in your prayers.

Financial Update:
• Our travel expenses and my King Air training were all covered by gifts and we thank all of you who sacrificed for that. It was a huge blessing!

• As many of you know, we were able to raise about 50% of what we needed for setup costs ($4,500 total from our February newsletter). That money, combined with what we got from selling our car in the States, is covering a number of things (Immigration costs, utility hook up costs, appliances for our house, some furniture, etc). Because of the urgent need for us to join the Flying Mission team, we left without having the full amount needed trusting that God would provide the rest. He always has before.

• All cars in Botswana are imported so they are consistently about $1000.00 more than we had budgeted for.

The TOTAL additional funds still needed are about $3000.00.

Flying Mission pays us a salary of about $1800 dollars a month. It covers our essentials for living (housing, medical/health insurance, food, utilities, etc). In addition to a monthly salary, FMS accepts contributions that they will give to us above the monthly salary. If any of you are interested in sending us monthly support, it will help us save for unexpected things as well as saving for plane tickets back to the US when the time comes.

If you want to give to our ministry please email us at and I will send you the form. All gifts ARE tax deductable.

Thank you all for your prayers and support! It means so much to have you all behind us during this time!


Jeff (for all of us)

Friday, May 21, 2010


Hi this is Sarah =)...normally Jeff does all of the posting but I finally have a quiet moment and thought it would be fun to say hi! It is wonderful to be relaxing here in Kansas! Tristan had a bit of a rough day our first day here since he wasn't used to a new house and a new room and lots of new people but he has adjusted quickly and is doing great now. He started smiling at us on our roadtrip here every time we would take him out of his carseat =) but it has only been the past 2 days that he has really been focusing on us and smiling whenever we talk to him. It melts our hearts every single time!

When Tristan was 2 1/2 weeks old we had the opportunity to have a friend take proffesional pictures for us and I thought it would be fun to share a few of the photos with you guys. Here are some of our favorites!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Long Drive

Sarah and I recently completed the move from Virginia to Kansas, where we will be staying for the next few weeks. We are so glad to have that big thing obstacle behind us. I'll just recap the last week before we left for all you who are interested.

Sarah and I had both undergone surgery within the last month. Sarah had surgery on her arm to remove some titanium plates that had been installed when she broke her arm about 5 years ago. I got my wisdom teeth out a few weeks after that. So needless to say, we were fairly worn out just taking care of the baby after those procedures. Because of everything we had going on, some of our family took turns coming and helping us with the baby so that we could pack up our house. (I know, it doesn't sound like a great idea for both of us to have surgery right before a move, but we wanted to take care of those medical needs before we headed off to Africa AND while we still had Liberty's health insurance.) Anyway, thanks to help from our family, we were able to get our house all packed up and loaded on the moving truck in the time frame that we had planned.

Liberty University's graduation ceremony was May 15th and we had planned to go to that before starting our trip. One of my flight students was graduating and I really wanted to be there to shake his hand as he walked across the stage to get his diploma. I had trained him from zero hours and had been his instructor for all of his certificates (Private Pilot, Instrument Rating, and Commercial Pilot). It was a huge honor to see him graduate and see the product of 3 and half years of hard work. Those of you who are teachers know how proud it makes you to see your students succeed at something difficult to achieve. It was also a nice chance to say goodbye to all our friends at the reception following graduation.

After the graduation ceremony we left for Kansas. Normally, it isn't a bad trip for Sarah and I but we had never done it with a baby. About every 3 hours we had to stop to feed Tristan and give him a break from his car seat (which he is NOT very fond of by the way). So it was a lot longer and more tedious than we were used to. Never-the-less, we arrived in Kansas safely. As of right now, we are still waiting for the moving company to deliver our things to my mom's house. They should arrive today or tomorrow.

We have really been having a great time reconnecting with family and friends in Kansas and we are looking forward to the rest of the time we are going to have with them. We will be leaving the 18th of June. Thanks to everyone who is praying for us, we really appreciate it!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Our baby boy is finally here! He was born on April 6th at 11:45 PM weighing in at 7 lbs, 2 oz! The baby and Sarah are both healthy and doing very well. It has been amazing getting to see him and hold him after we've been waiting for 9 months. Sarah is such a good mom and every day I've been reminded of how lucky I am to have such an amazing wife to raise our child with. His name is Tristan Paul.

Everything has been coming together for my King Air training. My class date is May 3rd so be praying for me in that respect.

Sarah is having surgery on her arm on April 27th so there is some anticipation for that. She broke her arm really bad a few years back and had some metal plates installed while it healed. It's time for those to come out. It should be an out-patient surgery with only a few weeks of recovery time but with a new baby that could prove challenging. Be praying that everything would go well with that situation.

Thanks to everyone who has been praying for us over the past few months! We definitely need it as we keep making preparations for the move.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Another Blessing!

Hello again,

I need to make a journal of everything that God has been doing for us over the past few months. It really is remarkable. We just got a call last night that the money for our plane tickets to Africa (about $2000) has just been provided! WOW!!! It is so exciting to see the provision for everything, above and beyond what we need.



God just keeps continuing to bless us! This is a cool story that happened to me (Jeff) just a few days ago:

When we fly we use headsets so that we can communicate with Air Traffic Control as well as our students. Anyway, I had 2 headsets that I had inherited from my dad. Needless to say they were rather "seasoned" and both of them decided that they were going to stop working. I sent them in to get fixed to the manufacturing company but the quote to fix them was way higher than I was expecting. We weren't going to be able to afford to fix either of the 2 headsets. I was a little bummed, to say the least but decided that it was going to be ok and the situation would end up working itself out. Just on Tuesday night it did!

The head of the School of Aeronautics had sent a letter to a headset manufacturer that gives free headsets out to flight school graduates headed to the mission field. I had no idea this opportunity even existed until I was presented with an amazing new headset last Tuesday night at our annual Missions Banquet at the Liberty School of Aeronautics!!! How amazing is that? I couldn't even believe it. Myself and a fellow flight instructor (who is also going over to Africa) both received these headsets. It is by far the nicest headset I've ever had and way nicer than I would have been able to afford. God knew I would need a headset and set this in motion before I even sent mine in to be repaired. He continues to show His goodness to Sarah and I even with the little things in our lives.

I just thought I'd share this experience. Thanks for your continued prayers!


Friday, January 29, 2010

Hello all,

Well this is my first blog post ever. I know, that is probably weird but I honestly have never had a blog site before. Now that Sarah and I are moving to Africa, it does seem fitting though.

Now that we're on that subject, for those of you who didn't know, Sarah and I are moving to Africa with an organization called Flying Mission Services. FMS does air ambulance and med-evac flights in the country of Botswana (just above South Africa). It is an excellent opportunity for us and we are super excited about leaving. Our plan is to be gone by the first week of July, 2010.

We actually had a Skype conference with FMS in Botswana this morning. We got a lot of our questions answered and were able to figure out what more we need to get done before we leave. If any of you want, we can get you our Skype address. Just send an email with your interest.

Everything with the baby is going well. His name is Tristan Paul Burnham and he will be arriving hopefully March 30th, 2010. We are both really excited about getting to meet this little baby that we have already fallen in love with! He is going to be the first grandbaby on both sides of our family so he will probably get more attention than he needs from his grandparents, not to mention his aunts and uncles.

Please keep us in your prayers as we still have lots of things to get in order before we leave in a few months.