For those of you that have been following the blog for a number of years you may remember that my brother is a missionary in the Philippines. He and his wife and kids have been living in the Philippines for several years. Zach and I grew up in Alaska and have shared a love of aviation together our whole life. We both went to school to be missionary pilot/mechanics. I am still here in Alaska, but Zach ended up overseas. If you have a TV or a computer you are probably aware that earlier this month the Philippine islands were hit with the worst tropical storm to ever make landfall in recorded history. My brother and his family were on the outskirts of the storm and only experience moderate winds and rain. My brother Zach is a helicopter pilot. His day to day job is supporting missionary families and native Filipinos in remote villages in the Northern Philippines with an R44 helicopter. After the hurricane devastated central and southern Philippines my brother flew 600 miles south to aid in relief efforts with the R44. To fly a helicopter across a country with very little avgas or aviation infrastructure is an adventure in itself, not to mention his destination was a total disaster area. The trip went mostly flawless with one unplanned overnight due to weather. Eventually he met up with a few of my college buddies from Moody Aviation who are also currently flying for the same mission in Cessna 185’s in the Philippines. They are using two Cessna 185s and one R44 to aid the islands.
I normally talk to my brother 2-3 times per week, but I have pretty much lost any contact with him since he headed South on the 12th of November. I know he is safe, and happy, and he is flying a lot. I did manage to get a 2 minute phone call with him last week and he said, “it is pretty amazing to be the last link in the chain of relief efforts”. He said, “I’m the guy that actually gets to unload the helicopter full of rice to hundreds of people that did not know I was coming, and are very hungry”. Hearing him say that made me so happy, I know he is in element, he loves helping people, and he is one gifted individual. As I am typing this my computer is bleeping at me letting me know that Zach has just lifted off on another flight, to another island, my screen looks something like this …
They have put more than 160 hours on their aircraft and have moved more than 44,000 lbs of supplies to the surrounding islands. I am sitting at my computer right now watching him on flight tracker as he flies from island to island. The islands are so remote and un-land-able that they read tide charts to determine when they can land on beaches to deliver supplies. I am headed over to see him at the end of December, and I can hardly wait, I wish I could leave right now. Zach was also in Haiti shortly after the earthquake in 2010. He does not go looking for these disasters, but twice he has been in the right place at the right time with a helicopter and a unique skill set.
My wonderful sister-in-law Jane spends her days keeping an eye on Zach with this flight tracker program. Without her support I know my brother could never be there helping like he is. Jane is an amazing support, and is still in the Northern Philippines at their home base taking care of the home front with the kiddos.
So as you enjoy Thanksgiving this season, it may not hurt to remember how blessed we are. Dave Forney, another Moody graduate that is there helping with my brother said it so well on his blog post here.
Phew … he made it!
We love you guys and are praying for you all daily. You make us proud.