EJ Flies a Plane!

On March 1 – before Covid-19 took over headlines – I accompanied Pilot Lindsey on an AIM AIR flight to western Kenya to pick up a short term missions group. Beautiful valleys and villages soared beneath us as we skirted storm clouds. After getting our 5 passengers situated, I settled in the co-pilot seat, ready for the one hour jaunt back to Nairobi (which would have taken 8 plus hours by road). Once we gained altitude, Lindsey offered me the steering wheel (yoke in aviation lingo) and said, “Want to fly?” I thought she was joking! Hesitating only a moment, I grabbed the yoke, trying to make sense out of all the gadgets and gauges. She just stretched, totally relaxed, pointed to the horizon and said, “Just keep it level. You got this.” Heart pounding, my control tendencies severely challenged as I know NOTHING about flying a plane, I just tried to keep it level. Five minutes later (it felt like way longer), Lindsey took over again and the passengers applauded.

Lindsey’s words have rung over and over in my ears these days. As if God knew exactly what was going to happen with Covid-19 and was prepping my heart and mind for the uncertainty of today. I keep hearing His still small voice whisper, “Keep it level, you got this.” That’s because He’s the one really flying and He’s relaxed, not worried or anxious. He’s got this!

 “EJ, do you still have that pair of crutches?  A missionary family in north Kenya needs them and a flight is headed there in two days!”  Yes!  We inherited a pair of crutches, which have been passed around our neighborhood.  After a few phone calls to figure logistics, these crutches, along with food and supplies, made the journey to Korr, Kenya. 

AIM AIR UPDATE: AIM AIR is continuing to fly, though it’s not easy since Kenya is in lockdown mode. Each flight request has to receive specific governmental permissions and follow strict protocols. Our director of flight operations stated that each potential flight has now become its own research project.

On May 1, permissions were granted not only for the crutches flight to Korr, but also for our Uganda base to resupply 3 of our South Sudan AIM mission stations with much needed supplies. Praise the Lord! Photo: The plane was sprayed down twice both entering and exiting South Sudan.

AIM AIR has had to develop risk mitigation procedures for our maintenance staff to be Covid compliant.  To keep the flights going, a skeleton maintenance crew is working at the hangar doing inspections, repairs, and other needed projects. Online meetings have become the norm to keep everyone in the loop.

In January, Phil was asked to take on the Quality Manager’s position within AIM AIR. A steep learning curve, he’s been able to work from home the last month as he delves into this role. His responsibilities include overseeing & performing 16 yearly internal audits, various supplier audits, and two yearly audits that the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) performs on AIM AIR’s flight and maintenance departments. This job assignment has yet to be finalized by the KCAA, and will involve an interview with KCAA officials, Covid permitting.

Easter 2020 was quiet, yet meaningful for our little family of three.  Our oldest 3 are all living with Phil’s parents in Wisconsin for the time being and are doing well. 

Laughter of children can still be heard in our neighborhood, but no one comes to the house for cookies these days. The photo shows a troop of precious neighbor kids from B.C. (before Covid). We look forward to hearing knocks on the gate and “Can I have a cookie?” again.

Even though Kenya has closed its borders to international flights for now, we are confident that we are supposed to be here. Even with social distancing, we’ve been intentional to reach out to others, helping those we can with food, face masks (required by law), encouragement and even rent. Kenya has a money system through the phone network, which makes it easy to send assistance.

When “C” texted “Momma Andrew, am a bit hungry and can’t find work, can you help?” we could respond immediately. There are SO MANY like C that at times it’s overwhelming. Thank you for your continued giving to our ministry – we can be generous because you are!

Ways to pray:

  1. Pray for God’s sustaining grace, peace and wisdom over our hearts and minds.
  2. Pray for Kenya leadership. Pray for AIM leadership.
  3. Pray for Phil and the AIM AIR crew.
  4. Pray for EJ serving on the newly formed Crisis Management Team in the Member Care role for our region of AIM, which involves over 25 families plus Kenyan employees.

Ways to Give:

Give online: usgiving.aimint.org/missionary/1017520

Give by check: Africa Inland Mission, PO Box 3611, Peachtree City, GA 30269 (write note that is for Phil Blohm)  

Click to here to go to our Giving Page for more information about donations.                                                       

Before the Borders Close is a short video featuring a couple we know who needed AIM AIR during the recent Covid-19 crisis.

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