Typically I enjoy Christmas music—it’s cheerful and fun, but at this moment it was boring a hole in my brain after blaring for hours in the airport terminal. We had found a comfortable place to get a few hours rest during an overnight layover in the Houston airport. However, management clearly had no intention of facilitating sleep. By five a.m., Dean Elmore and I surrendered to the “sleigh bells jingle” and joined the masses to find our way to our departure gate for Managua.
Dean and I had escaped a Canadian early winter cold snap and were making our way to Nicaragua to spend a few days helping with some maintenance at the La Tronquera AWA Airbase in the isolated northeast corner of the country. Dean, his wife, Vera, and their family will be serving for a few months there in 2016, so this was a good opportunity for him to get a taste of the environment they needed to prepare for.
This region of Nicaragua is unique in that the primary and trade language is Miskito rather than Spanish. The Miskito people are a small but distinct indigenous group with an unusual history of being fiercely independent of the wider Spanish influence in the region. The area is also geographically isolated from the rest of the country, making services limited and of course, leading to the need for mission aviation support.
The AWA-Wings Over Nicaragua project has been developing rapidly over the past few months! Wings of Hope (WOH) in St. Louis, Missouri, has been a strategic partner for many years and we have recently renewed that relationship in a very significant way. Wings of Hope is providing AWA with a Cessna 182 for a very moderate cost and will also be preparing the airplane for deployment to Nicaragua. In Puerto Cabezas dedicated WOH pilot T.J. Stewart is maintaining the medical emergency flights to the rural villages and transporting mission teams to conduct medical and dental clinics. We are looking forward to working with WOH for maintenance and deployment assistance with other AWA aircraft as well.
T.J. flew us to the airbase, where we spent a couple of days with the local staff and visiting with people in the community. Sometimes mission work takes an odd twist. Wooden buildings provide a perfect roosting environment for “little mice with wings.” I know we used to hear them every night in Guyana as they scrambled around in the enclosed ceiling spaces, but there seemed to be nothing we could do about it. Dean had an idea though; a bat roost. A quick search revealed a number of designs that incorporated vertical slats in a lightproof box that is intended to create a perfect roosting space, ideally more attractive than the mission house itself! We left a welcome mat out at the new bat-house!
As with other projects, AWA accepted the challenge of this mission without knowing how God would provide. You will be hearing more about the missionary families that have committed to the project in Nicaragua. Each family has a unique story of how they have been called and are now being equipped for missionary service and how God has provided in amazing ways.
Norman and Nancy Hansen: Nancy has an astonishing story of reluctantly coming full circle back to the country of her birth and Norman whose dream of flying seemed to have amounted to nothing more than youthful folly.
Dennis and Dayana Kaboos: Dennis and Dayana’s deep desire to minister to others combined with a gift for language has already endeared them to the Miskito people in the short time they have spent visiting.
Artur and Margarita Karst: Artur also thought his dream of mission flying was over before he was called back from flying game patrols in Africa to serve the Lord. Margarita, who fell in love with missions in Honduras, found herself teaching in a tiny elementary school in Germany.
These families are now moving into deployment phase and by God’s providence, we hope to have them all situated in Nicaragua in 2016! Please remember the Miskito people and these missionaries as they prepare to serve in this life-saving ministry.