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.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Thanks for sharing your stories. It's stories like these when I'm reminded that God has a similar plan for my life in helping others needs.