On September 11, 2019 I read the following in an email from Mike Snodgrass:
Anyone want to jump on a plane? If you’re interested, please let me know. Thanks.
The trip was to Tarakan, North Kalimantan, Indonesia to deliver parts for two Kodiaks. I answered Mike’s email with, “Hey Mike, depending on when, I would go!” I thought that there would be a bunch of people jumping at the chance. So, imagine my surprise when a few days later I received an email telling me I was leaving that Saturday, September 14! I left a day later to ensure I received the parts in time.
HQ forwarded the parts to my home, arriving in plenty of time. To my chagrin, our giant red/pink suitcase I often tease my wife about proved to be exactly the right size to fit the Kodiak parts. So Big Red and I headed out off to Tarakan.
This was a long a flight…I a very long flight. As I tried to get comfortable in the too-small seats on the various legs, I thought of the MAF missionary families traveling around the globe who not only fly the miles but do so with small children… Wow!
I arrived at Juwata Airport in Tarakan on Tuesday morning (Monday night back home). It was overcast, smoky, and quite warm. Isaac Rogers (I think) picked me up from the airport, but honestly, I was so jet-lagged, it could have been President Joko Widodo! I grabbed the big red suitcase, which had made the trip unnoticed and unharmed, and brought it to the waiting A & P team where they unpacked the box of parts and went right to work repairing the Kodiaks.
My time in Tarakan, although brief, was such a blessing. I toured the town and school with Isaac, had dinners with the missionary pilots/mechanics and their families and one day flew with Ian Rojas to a remote village… where he left me! But the villagers accepted this tall Dutchman, fed me, gave me a cool vest made from plants, and invited me to a wedding. Ian did return after his runs, picked me up and we flew back to base.
Would you like to take a trip like this sometime? If so, let your RM know and next time an email comes asking for a volunteer to go someplace amazing, maybe you can be the one to go!
By Craig Talsma, Regional Manager Northeast US