The Fog of Cameroon
Have you ever had a time in life that was foggy? When struggling through circumstances that clouded your vision made it hard to focus on where you were headed? For JAARS pilots Dan and Rachael their first year in Cameroon was like that—foggy.
Have you ever had a time in life that was just foggy? Maybe you’re in one right now! Sometimes it’s the pace of life, a newborn baby, a challenging work situation, or a health issue that just causes the rest of life to become fuzzy as you struggle to see where you’re headed. In Africa, harmattan, a dry season characterized by thick dust in the air, makes flying more challenging. Establishing a steady course by aiming at a specific point on the horizon is simply not an option. The ground below and a few miles ahead are visible, but not the horizon. Flight becomes an exercise in following instruments and watching checkpoints quickly appear and disappear. The path to our goal of service through mission aviation and specifically in Cameroon has been shrouded in thick fog.
18 Years in the Making
We took a long, complicated path to get here. I, Dan, started training at Moody Bible Institute 19 years ago, and Rachael transferred to Moody a year later. We took a year off to get married after finishing our AMT licenses and then found we would have to switch to a different aviation school to complete our training. We graduated together, had four children, paid off our student loans, joined a mission and raised support, attended language school in France—and then I was diagnosed with cancer. After a twelve-month medical leave, we were back on track with the cancer in full remission, prepared for mission service in Togo. Five months after our arrival, we shipped the airplane back to the States for repairs, not having flown at all. While I worked on rebuilding the airplane at JAARS, we changed course again when we joined Wycliffe Bible Translators. Completing another set of mission requirements and shipping all of our stuff from Togo to Cameroon kept the fog thick during our last seven months before moving to Cameroon.
Now in Cameroon
The beginning of our time here in Cameroon was unexpectedly foggy as well—like the challenge of flying through harmattan weather. We have been under attack in ways that have made it hard to see progress toward the vision that brought us here. Rachael had significant health challenges for six months with chikungunya, a debilitating mosquito-borne disease, and then another stubborn abdominal infection. Our laptops and tablets were stolen from our house while we were sleeping. The engine in the airplane we fly required an overhaul earlier than planned, resulting in a four-month delay before Dan could finish his in-country check-out. Plus, unstable conditions are preventing us from serving in three regions where we would normally be very active.
On the other hand, we have many incredible checkpoints to share with you—brief glimpses that remind us of the course that we are on. They reassure us that, one day, God’s eternal purposes will be accomplished. Every tongue and every nation will worship around his throne. What a day to look forward to!
Our Ministry is Now ‘On Track’
Rachael’s health has been restored, and she is nearly finished with her Cameroon flight checkout. I have completed my checkout and have been flying solo for five months! Watch a video of Dan and Rachel flying in Cameroon here.
Three Bibles have been dedicated since our arrival in Cameroon, and a fourth one is nearing the printing stage. God’s Word is now speaking to many more people in a way that it never has before!
We are thankful for a great team here in Cameroon! God’s work is evident as varying personalities and talents come together on this team. We work hard and have a lot of fun! It was apparent when visiting mechanics from JAARS came and worked with our team to put the new R-66 together. The new helicopter cleared port and was flying six days later. This helicopter serves Bible translation, medical missions, a seminary, and all those working to share God’s word in the mountains of Cameroon. Watch videos of the arrival, assembly and first flight of the R-66 here.
Standing in a government office and talking about the importance of translating God’s Word is cool. Handing them a JESUS film in their heart language is even better. As pilots we have some unique ministry opportunities.
Our family continues to pass many milestones. All the kids are settled into their new routines and have been doing well in school. All four of them are learning French and enjoying close relationships with friends in their classes. Playing with our dogs is a favorite pastime.
A Special Friend
Rebecca helps around the house so Rachael can spend more time at the airport. Rebecca is a believer, loves our kids, and has already been a valuable cultural guide. She is a blessing to our home and is a forever friend!