Can you believe it's already been three months since I set foot in the Philippines? It sure doesn't seem that long to me, however, each day, I wake up and find myself excited to serve. I regularly see the results of my service and I'm thrilled to be helping people in very tangible ways.
When I arrived in the Philippines, I set to work converting my FAA pilot's license to a Philippine license. Each step has taken a considerable amount of time.
During the time of waiting, I have been serving in the mainland of Luzon flying a US-registered Cessna 182. I have become familiar with the list of airports that the PAMAS North Luzon airbase currently serves and just in the past 13 weeks, I have flown 200 hours including over 350 individual flights. In total, I have safely transported 715 people including several dozen medical patients.
God has truly given me a wonderful and fulfilling opportunity to serve. Let me start by sharing some of the destinations I have been serving and also a handful of stories from my missions.
Up to this point, the majority of my flights have been to and from a small coastal community called Palanan. Palanan is surrounded on the west side by mountains and on the east is the ocean. The nearest road is a three-day hike and resides on the other side of the rugged Sierra Madre mountain range. On a normal day, I flew three round trips from Cauayan to Palanan, and since it was not a long flight, it was busy. I would load passengers, pray, start the engine, taxi out, take off, and not long after establishing the airplane in a cruise configuration, it would be time to descend for landing. Each flight was about a half hour.
On one of my first solo missions to Palanan, I was called for a motorcycle accident in Palanan. When I arrived, I saw that the situation was serious. The ambulance rolled up beside the wing and the patient was on a spinal backboard. After assessing the situation, I removed the passenger door and we slid the patient in over the wing strut, as the board was too long to fit any other way. Once secure, I prayed with him and his companions before taking off for Cauayan.
Most of my medical flights have been without a nurse for two reasons. First, our seating arrangement limits the number of people that can accompany the patient and there's at least one family member that flies as well to help care for the patient. Second, the flights are usually under a half hour and with medical professionals on both ends, there isn't as big a need for in-flight care. In other locations for some of the longer flights as mentioned later, some of the local nurses do fly with the patients depending on how serious the case is.
Another community that I have served is Maconocon. It's located just north of Palanan, and it is also very difficult to travel to. The only land access is a muddy dirt path which translates to a minimum of a two-day journey on foot. Most of my flights here were medical cases and I wish you could see how thankful these people were to have the help I was offering.
One of my favorite routes that I have flown to this point is to Basco, Batanes. The Batanes islands are to the extreme north of the Philippines and some of the islands are closer to Taiwan than the Philippine mainland. So far, I have made five medical flights and one passenger trip to Basco. The island scenery is very beautiful and I have heard that scuba diving is amazing in the surrounding waters. Despite being remote, I can understand why people enjoy living on islands like the Batanes.
One afternoon, I got an urgent message saying that there was an accident on Basco, and a patient needed a medivac flight to the mainland. It was late in the day so I got the airplane ready for an early departure the next morning. I loaded the life jackets and raft into the airplane. I fueled the airplane and checked the weather. The forecast was indicating scattered thunderstorms but I had learned that the forecast usually wasn't super accurate the day before. I got up early and prepared for the flight, packing a small lunch of rice and stir-fry. when I headed to the hangar the next morning, the weather and forecast had improved significantly from what it had shown in the forecast. Just after it was light enough to see, I taxied out, did the routine engine checks and took off just as the sun rose. Two and a half hours later, I landed in Basco. I loaded the patient and prayed before starting toward the mainland. The patient was in stable condition and I had ambulance service on both ends of the flight which was a blessing. The flight returning to the mainland was smooth and uneventful, and I successfully delivered the patient to the care of the receiving ambulance crew.
One of the most touching missions I've flown was from Plaridel to Basco. My patient was an older gentleman that had stage-4 cancer. He had finished his chemo in Manila and was flying home because he had completed all the available treatments. As I finished my paperwork before leaving Plaridel, my patient's brother came to me and with tears in his eyes thanked me for all I was doing. He was so grateful for his brother getting the priority service that PAMAS can offer. I made the flight smooth and comfortable for him. He and his daughter were very touched by my service that day.
These are just a few of the countless stories and memories I've had while flying in the Philippines.
I pray that the compassion I have for others would have an eternal impact on their lives. Jesus set the example and though I'm far from perfect, I hope that my life would reflect christ to these hurting and suffering people.
Well... I'm in manila, working on getting my license converted. I just finished the process to get a Philippine medical and also get a radio operator's permit. I have just finished the requirements for my license verification card and then next week I can schedule a Cessna 206 check-ride for the type rating and it won't be long before my licensing process will be complete. After the check-ride, I am moving to serve in Brooks Point, Palawan to serve with the PAMAS team there. The Palawan airbase is larger and the flights are longer medical emergency flights, where I will often be joined by a PAMAS flight nurse for the majority of my missions.
The future looks very exciting and I'm learning all I can before the transition to flying in Palawan in a few weeks. I have started a video series showing some of the missions I have flown. I would love for you to join in the flights virtually and see what a blessing your support has allowed me to do. As of today, I have two episodes uploaded and I have linked the playlist below. Please subscribe and watch each new video!
PAMAS receives donations from the passenger and medical flights to help cover the costs of aviation. If we learn that a patient isn't able to contribute financially, we find other ways to cover the cost of their flight. Each of the PAMAS missionaries is required to raise their support. Your generosity allows me to stay in the mission field and work for serving others and representing Christ to them. If you want to be a part of sharing hope with the hopeless, consider partnering financially to make that happen. Before coming to the Philippines, I raised enough support to stay through the new year. However, I am just starting service in Palawan and am needing to stay longer before returning to raise more support.
If you feel impressed to donate, click the link below: