Although we have been back in Africa for almost three weeks already, it still feels like we arrived yesterday. In fact, it took until yesterday for Lynn and I to get our suitcases unpacked here in Mozambique.
Our trip back was interrupted in South Africa due to the aircraft not being ready. A number one radio/gps/vor/glideslope was installed in the form of a Garmin 430, and an Stec Auto-pilot was also installed to make single pilot IFR flying safer. Although there have been some glitches, part of the system is already working wonderfully and our flight back was certainly a lot less effort than ever before!
I was glad for the ease of the flight back, because I had to recover from the engine start earlier that morning! Due to the battery being low, John, an aircraft mechanic helped hand start the engine. I knew the battery was low, so I primed the engine to make sure it had the earliest chance of starting. The combination of the priming which caused extra fuel in the carb area, along with a back-fire, resulted in an engine fire. Smoke started billowing out from the engine cowling. I desperately tried to get the fuel turned off and the mixture set to idle-cut –off while still cranking the engine to suck the fire out. Only problem was the battery was almost dead and I had John at the front that I did not want to kill if the battery should suddenly come to life. Well, we got coordinated and pulled the engine through a few strokes and that must have put out the fire…but not the smoke. We scrambled for fire extinguishers and it must have looked rather funny with me trying to get out of the plane with my seat-belt still holding me down. I can only imagine what my face must have looked like.
Fire out, cowling off and thank the Lord everything was still okay…no damage at all. So like I mentioned, the peaceful, uneventful flight to Mozambique was sure appreciated helped along by an autopilot that tracked the GPS and held the 9000 ft altitude perfectly.
We landed in Vilanculos to clear customs and promptly found out there was no Avgas. This is a problem that has grown each year and the reason we have been researching the possibility of purchasing an SMA (Jet A or diesel -powered) 182. We had enough fuel to get back to Chimoio, so we left immediately and arrived safely “home”. I found out that there has not been Avgas in Vilanculos or Beira, our central part of Mozambique anyway, for almost a month and it has shut down many operations.
After a restful sleep, I woke at around 5 AM last Sunday morning (the impact of jetlag). I wandered around the dark house, since it is winter here and even the sun is smart enough to not get up when it is so cold, and could not figure out what to do with myself other than make coffee and pray. So wrapped up in a blanket I enjoyed coffee and the presence of the Lord until the doorbell rang at 7AM. It was Celestino with the news that Enia, an elderly lady who we have been caring for with leprosy, passed away in the night. She has been suffering for some time and failing badly, so we were grateful for her. Only challenge is that this now means there is a funeral to arrange and a coffin to make or buy and I hardly feel like my feet have touched the ground.
After a visit to the home with the nursing team, Francois (bless his heart) accompanied me to town where he had found a coffin on another Sunday. Bodies here have to be buried pretty much the same day due to a lack of cold storage, so this is a huge challenge. We found a beautiful coffin and as we prayed with the family, our confidence was that God was working to make his grace and truth known through the many here at the mission who have shown so much love. Keren Massey spent hours with Mae Enia just caring for her and ministering to her, as have others in the past. We are so grateful for the team of people here who live out Christ’s life.
Much more has transpired this past week and I am slowly recovering the energy to face so much important work ahead. We miss our family terribly as always and always feel it more when we have just returned. But as I looked up at the night sky with Lynn last night from our varanda, the almost full moon came out from behind a cloud and I remembered my father, Arthur’s words. As he (Arthur) was leaving for Africa, his father, Peter Lagore, had told him to remember that when he looked at the moon it was the same one his dad would stand under each night, and home would not seem so far away. He also said to him, “Son and don’t forget we can meet each day at the throne of grace.” And so we do, and we daily thank God for so many friends and family who also meet with us there as well.