Walking back from church to my apartment in Ulaanbaatar, snow started to fall. In the next few hours we are due for heavy snow. The temperature outside is – 8 °C and by the end of this week it is due to be – 24 °C. I am about to experience the coldest temperature of my life so far. A year ago I had no expectation of being here but our Lord has a distinct plan for us and me being here to experience some of winter must be part of that.
Davina and I arrived in April expecting to leave end of September but the leaving of our pilot Ryan Van Geest and the arrival of Dallas and Karen Derksen to replace him for a one year period has meant a need for management continuity, so here I am. We travelled to the UK at the end of September for me to attend the Regional Managers’ Conference at Waverley Abbey House and have a couple of weeks to see our family and then I returned on my own until mid-December.
The intention, unless the Lord knows otherwise, is for me to manage the programme from the UK mid December to end of March and then for Davina and I to return until the end of September. I should be able to fulfil the management duties from home as during the deep winter we only fly ten or so hours.
2015 has again been exceptionally busy over the summer period with a combination of project flying for Antioch Church and Reaching the Light, commercial flying, mostly for tourist groups and medical evacuations for quite a few foreign travellers and local Mongolians. Many of the medical evacuations we fulfil are through our connections with local churches but others are often generated by countryside hospitals as they have no way of dealing with complicated injuries or severe medical problems. Patients therefore, must travel vast distances to Ulaanbaatar and we are the most comfortable and lifesaving way of doing so. The size of this country never ceases to amaze me. To give you one of the practical problems faced, medical evacuations from the far west of Mongolia cannot be flown in a day. During the summer the ten hour round trip exceeds the eight hour flight day our pilot is allowed and in winter we do not have ten hours of daylight.
As I said earlier, our flying is starting to slow down but even yesterday Dallas picked up two patients on stretchers and a further five who could be seated from a town two hours away. They were involved in a single multiple car accident. The roads, particularly at this time of year, can be very dangerous.
I would like to wish you all God’s peace as we approach the season when we celebrate the birth of our Saviour and at the same time I ask you to thank the Lord for calling the Derksen family to Mongolia for a year enabling His work in this country to be continued. Please join us in praying He will provide a permanent pilot and programme manager in 2016.
Summer in Mongolia was beautiful, productive and enjoyable. Join me in thanking our Lord for blue, blue skies, Jill and Tony joining the team, 50 English lessons taught and a holiday adventure in the countryside with our daughter and her friend.
Getting to know our Mongolian staff and the culture even more has been a pleasure. Maybe next year my Mongolian will increase from a few words to a few sentences! Last month the team held an overnight mini conference in the countryside around the theme of Joy.
MAF Mongolia Team
Thank you for your faithful prayers, support and news which bring us joy and encouragement.