King's Business - 1949-04

flftatfon $¡ 4 * Jungle ttt/MicHJ By Charles Mellis, Jr. Many mission stations in this area lie anywhere from sev­ eral days’ to more than a week’s trek from the nearest road. For example, one of the largest stations in the area, which also serves as a base for the plane, is a two-day trip by mule from the nearest supply town, and five to eight days by animal from the nearest road or airline terminal. Bringing supplies into this station was quite a problem before the plane service was inaugurated. It meant taking a missionary away from his work for four or five days, to say nothing of another day or two to recover from the strenuous trip over muddy trails. Lomheim makes this same trip with the Cruiser in twenty minutes. Usually the plane makes two trips in succession, and brings in enough supplies to last several weeks. The whole operation takes just a few fours, including loading and un­ loading. Comparative costs of this supply trip are interesting. All the expenses connected with bringing in supplies on four pack mules come to eighteen dollars. In two trips the plane carries an equivalent load at a total cost of twelve dollars. This cost by plane is figured at a rate of eleven cents per mile, which covers all the expenses (gas, oil, maintenance, insurance, and depreciation) incurred in the plane’s operation. Supply trips also include delivery of mail. At the more iso­ lated stations, where landing strips have not yet been pre­ pared, mail and light packages of supplies are dropped from the plane. Experiments are being made with small cargo para­ chutes for dropping somewhat heavier packages. Other experi­ ments are being conducted with a pick-up system for collect­ ing mail and light packages from these same stations. In the state of Tabasco (another section of the same field) personnel transportation is the chief problem. This is particu­ larly true two or three times a year when the missionaries hold three-day institutes in many of the indigenous churches. For these periods of concentrated Bible study, both the mis­ sionaries and national church leaders go from church to church, taking a number of visual aids with them. The plane is kept constantly busy shuttling missionaries, workers, and equipment from one such Bible conference to another. During one such project lasting five weeks, 69 meetings were held in fifteen different locations. Seven thousand people were reached by these meetings, and 55 to 60 conversions were re­ ported, even though the chief purpose of the work was to build up the local churches. To enable the missionaries to accom­ plish this, the plane flew 4,300 miles in 65 flying hours, carry­ ing 131 passengers and 3,300 pounds of equipment. It would have taken many months to do this by slow river launch. A missionary translator working among Lacandone Indians in the state of Chiapas heard of a newly contacted group of Lacandones. The location of this village was about 25 miles away, but there was no direct trail. Estimates for travel time to this tribe varied from one week on up. In 30 minutes the MAF pilot took the missionary to a landing strip that was just two hours’ walk from this village. The plane also is serving to make missionary vacations more meaningful. While missionaries found that vacations in­ creased their efficiency, many of them wondered whether they were worth the effort when they had to ride to civilization on mules. As one missionary put it, “We spent six days getting there, and six days getting back. We arrived back as tired as when we started out, and it seemed that all we accomplished was to get our dental work done.” But now the plane takes them from their isolated outstations to the nearest road, rail­ road, or airline terminal where they can get other satisfac­ tory transportation to their destination. T H E K I N G ' S B U S I N E S S

Where landing strips have not yet been built, missionaries receive mail and small packages suspended by small cargo parachutes. T HE missionary translator looked up from his language work and strode to the door. As he cupped his ear to listen, he caught a glimpse of his wife emerging from the kitchen lean-to. He smiled, “ ’Twas mail call in the jungle, not a postman was in sight.” “Who says so?” she retorted, pointing to a speck in the sky just above the ridge. Now they were standing hand in hand near the center of their small jungle clearing. They were almost as excited as their two-year-old son who was running around in circles, waving his arms, and shouting, “Airplane! airplane!” As the. plane reached the edge of the clearing, flying just above the tree tops, the door opened and a white package dropped out. The missionaries didn’t even see the pilot wave as the plane passed overhead—they were already running toward the place where the sugar saek full of mail was falling. A half hour later the translator was back at his crude desk, his wife back in the kitchen. Both were whistling as they went about their work with renewed vigor, thankful for a bit of news from home, and looking forward to reading more that evening. This is only one way in which this missionary couple in southeast Mexico has been benefited by missionary air service. And they are only one of many missionary families in this area who have been receiving such service for the past two years. These services have been rendered by the Missionary Avia­ tion Fellowship, which operates a Piper Cruiser for the bene­ fit of all evangelical missionaries working in that area. This three-place plane, which can be quickly converted to an aerial ambulance, flew more than 25,000 miles during its first year, serving thirty-five to forty missionaries, plus some national workers. The man directly charged with the responsibility of this program is Jim Lomheim, who does all the mechanical work on the plane as well as the flying. A graduate of Parks Air College in East St. Louis, 111., Lomheim also attended the Bible Institute of Los Angeles before taking over this work in July, 1947. Purpose of this air program is to help the missionaries make their work more efficient, and to speed up the advance into new areas. Missionary trips that took days and weeks by muleback, dugout canoe, or river launch are now made in minutes and hours by plane. The redeemed time is spent in •missionary work. Supplies are brought in more regularly, and with no loss of time on the part of the missionary. The plane has also been used to reach unevangelized areas. On other occasions it has provided needed ambulance service. Page. Eight

Made with FlippingBook HTML5