I'm sorry it's been so long since we last sent out an update. Life has been very busy for us over the last few months and we've been hanging on trying to keep up. It's hard to believe, but we've been in Botswana just over a year now! Sarah and I want to thank everyone who has kept us in their prayers over the past year, as we know a lot of you did.
Our 1st year in Botswana has been one of the most challenging of our lives, and definitely the most challenging of our 5 years of marriage. But after sitting down together and an honest assessment of the time past, we can see how much we've grown and how much God has taught us. In our case, the culture shock of coming here didn't hit us all of a sudden. It was a slow gradual onset that manifested itself in ways I would never have anticipated. The stress and frustration that can come living in a foreign country and culture added to the stress of my schedule was a lot to handle. Sarah and I really had to work at uplifting each other instead of taking our stress out on each other. God is good and saw us through a difficult year and we know that our relationship is stronger for having endured it! We praise God for that and we want to thank each one of you who specifically prayed for our relationship while we were over here! We know the struggle isn't over but we are excited to tackle this next year as a team with a united mindset of what we are trying to accomplish and the goal of uplifting each other through it.
In the time we've been here, we have seen some huge developments with Flying Mission Services. As you know, one of FMS's primary goals is to generate revenue that can be used to fund the Flying Mission Care ministries. So along with the medical flying and various charter flights that we do, FMS has begun to undertake some scheduled flight operations as well. It is a huge undertaking but it should open up some huge doors for us all over southern Africa, not to mention increase the amount of money we are able to give back to the ministry. As I'm trying to keep this update concise, I won't go into all the details. However if anyone is interested to hear more about the new things that FMS is undertaking, let me know and I'll send a more detailed picture of the new developments. We are very excited to see what God has in store for FMS in the future!
As for me, I am still flying the medical "mercy" flights in the King Air. Last year alone we flew 365 patients over 250,000 miles. That’s an average of 1 person every day that was able to receive healthcare from a place where there is none! We also saw 1 baby born on board our aircraft last year as well, which is always an excitement for the flight crew! As you can see, we stay busy and the schedule can be very hectic (as we make ourselves available to fly 24/7). Botswana requires that we use 2 pilots in the King Air 200s, so we always have a crew "on call" for any mercy flights that come up. For the past year I've been sitting in the right seat, gaining time and experience from the guys who have been here much longer than I have. Recently, however, I was upgraded to Captain and now I'll be flying left seat and acting as Pilot in Command! I'm very excited about this new responsibility! With the responsibility comes a higher workload and with a few of the pilots leaving for the states during the next few months we are going to be very busy.
Tristan will be 18 months old on October 6th. He keeps Sarah very busy at home. He babbles away all day and has started saying Mama, Dadoo (for daddy), and Cat. Sarah taught him to say “All done” and “Please” in sign language so he is always using those signs to communicate as well. He is very active and prefers to spend his entire day outside digging in the dirt, pulling Sarah’s flowers, and covering himself in mud. He has a plastic motorcycle he loves to ride around the yard and a yellow dump truck he pushes around while making car noises. He loves dogs and will sometimes say “doggie”. He has no fear of them no matter how big they are! He giggles and screams whenever he gets the chance to play with our friend’s dogs. Just the other day, he was running around a friend’s yard with their many dogs and managed to run into his first thorn tree. He cried for a few seconds but seemed more upset that the doggies were gone than the fact that he had thorns in his forehead and ear. On the rare occasion that he is inside you will normally find him sitting with all of his books around him reading them over and over. Tristan fills our lives with so much joy and we love watching him learn and grow! Sarah is also still working on “Project Nappies” and if any of you are interested in more information regarding that project please let us know. She spends a few hours a week helping with office projects at Flying Mission Care. As of right now they have her typing up a manual. She has been offered the opportunity to help out a few days a week at Flying Mission Services as a secretary for Mark Spicer. She is very excited about this new venture but would really appreciate your prayers as she figures out the details and steps into this new role.
We want to thank all of you who have faithfully supported us financially throughout the past year! We could not have done it without you! Currently, the monthly support we receive is meeting our basic needs. However, we only have 1 car, and it has had some major mechanical issues over the past year. Firstly, we are praying for a 2nd vehicle. With the 24/7 "on call" schedule I fly, it has been very very difficult only having 1 car. Secondly, we would like to replace the car we have now, as it has been a money pit for us over the past year. We want to sell it, but we won't get as much for it as we would need to buy another vehicle. There is an FMS family leaving Botswana soon who will be selling both of their cars, and we would like to buy both of them (because we know both have been maintained very well). Their little car would be for me to drive back and forth to work and it will cost about 2000 dollars. Their family car is a 4 wheel drive and if we sell our current car, we would need an additional 1500 to 2000 dollars to buy that one. We are praying that the Lord will provide the money for these vehicles, as good reliable cars are hard to come by in Botswana.
Thank you for being involved with our ministry in Botswana! We couldn’t do this without you!
Jeff, Sarah & Tristan
That we would continue to serve with good attitudes when the days are hard
That we would continue to grow in the Lord and closer as a family
That we would all stay healthy during these hectic months ahead