according to Ephesians 5:16, “ Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” MAF found such a field in southeast Mexico, and went to work on the problem at the invitation of the Wycliffe Bible* Translators. First step was a survey of the area—a procedure which the group holds to even yet. In fact, they emphasize that this is essential to establishing a safe and sound mission ary aviation program. The survey was just completed when the Lord provided funds for an airplane. A four-place cabin Waco was chosen. MAF leaders are frank to admit now that this was not the best plane for the job, but they gained valuable experience through its operation. It was just a few months after V-J Day, and no qualified men were available. So, true to the tradition of modern mis sions, a girl stepped in to do the job. Miss Betty Greene, a former WASP (Women’s Army Service Pilots), established the Mexico work in the early part of 1946. A short time later, when another pilot came down to relieve her, the plane met with a ground accident on an isolated strip. Then followed eight months of discouragements and disappointments as MAF wrestled with the task of repairing the plane in this isolated area. But now MAF pilots will tell you they learned more during those eight months than during the rest of the time the or ganization has existed. They learned the importance of using simple planes; the necessity of a sound financial policy; and the advantage of using specialists fully trained both in flying and mechanical work. Equipped with this information, they purchased the Cruiser early in 1947, and sent it to the field in March with Jim Truxton, president of the organization, at the controls. He operated the program until mid-summer of that year, when Lomheim was ready to take over the work. This freed Trux ton once more for his regular work of survey and develop ment, which he is now carrying on in South America. When this program began, the plane served only the Wy cliffe Bible Translators in Chiapas. Later, services were ex tended to include the Presbyterian Mexican Mission in Ta basco. More recently other smaller groups have been served as well. While steady service has been rendered to the missionaries for two years, there have also been many problems. MAF feels that, humanly speaking, these problems have been over come, and steady service maintained, for two main reasons— operating with the right type of equipment, and using per sonnel who are properly qualified. They also lay stress on the fact that as a specialist, Lomheim has been able to give the necessary amount of time to the work. Lomheim reports that he has had little leisure time. He jokingly claims that he should have taken training in one more field—bookkeeping. He keeps accurate records, and makes complete monthly reports, in order that future programs in other countries can benefit by his experience.
In some ways the most important function of the plane on the field is connected with medical work — especially when emergencies arise. Recently a nurse in that area was asked to help a dying Indian baby in a village on the other side of a high ridge. The nurse wanted to go, but she didn’t see how she could leave her work at her own station. Lomheim over heard the conversation and volunteered that he had seen a landing strip very near the village. They were at the baby’s side a few minutes later. It would have taken half a day by trail. The plane became even more valuable when they found the baby’s mother more ill than her child. The nurse hadn’t ex pected this, and didn’t have all the medications she needed. Lomheim returned to the station with a list of the needed
The former ambulance plane being used is well equipped to handle emergency situations as they arise at isolated sta tions. items, and had them there in a very short time. She was able to reduce the mother’s temperature five degrees before return ing to her station that evening. This emergency service is also important to the mission aries. A girl doing translation work in the state of Oaxaca became too ill to be removed from her village on horseback. They managed to help her to the beach about five miles away. Here Lomheim landed the Cruiser and took her to an airline terminal. From there a commercial plane took her to Mexico City for medical care. This Cruiser also has a stretcher car rying arrangement so that any emergency can be met. Missionary Aviation Fellowship leaders point out that the steady services enjoyed by the missionaries in southeast Mex ico during the past year were preceded by a period of educa tion that lasted twice that long. The men who organized the work in 1945 had previously done commercial and military flying, but recognized their limited knowledge of special mis sion field problems. To correct this, they set out to interview as many mission leaders and returned missionaries as they could find. They soon became convinced that missionary avia tion was mainly for areas of scattered population, and areas with poor transportation facilities. That experience is already being put to work in MAF’s Ecuador (South America) program, established last fall. This new step was made after nine months of preparation, includ ing survey, selection and indoctrination of personnel, and modification of the plane. Nate Saint is the pilot-mechanic in charge of the Stinson Voyager serving this jungle area. MAF has been invited to survey other countries in South America, and areas adjoining the present program in Mexico. Plans call for undertaking these surveys one at a time, estab lishing a program in the wake of each survey as the need re quires. Each program will be well established before another survey is undertaken—because MAF feels that the job can be done more quickly if it is done thoroughly to start with. And MAF is concerned about doing the job quickly. They want to enable all jungle missionaries in need of such service to benefit from it. They want to help these missionaries work A P R I L , 1 9 4 9
Jim Lomheim, former BIOLA student, refuels the Mission ary Aviation Fellowship’s Cruiser which he flies for the benefit of all evangelical missionaries in southeast Mexico. Page Nine
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