Greetings to everyone from Bribri, Talamanca. Once again it has been several months since I have written an update on how things are going with the ministry. I understand the importance of keeping you all informed, as it is you who fund not only the work we are attempting, but also our very livelihood. At the same time, I do not want my correspondence with you to become frivolous in nature simply because the calendar says it is time to report. My prayer is that these letters might be informative, as well as an encouragement to continue your investment in the work among the Bribri, Cabecar and Guaymi Indians. We know however, letters or no letters; it is the Spirit of God that directs His people in the role they should embrace in the rescuing of the lost.
We are at a critical juncture in our ministry and it is important that you are aware of the situation. As you may recall, the answer to twenty years of prayers seemed right around the corner at the beginning of this year when a couple from Wyoming made a significant donation towards the purchase of a helicopter. Of course, owning a helicopter means nothing if you are unable to operate it. I have long known, if we had a helicopter the work would not be lessened but would increase in an exponential manner. The number of people we would be able to affect would increase dramatically, bringing with it an increase in all sorts of challenges. The level of funding needed would not decrease but increase. Makes you wonder why one would pray for such a thing. I can only say I do not know, however I am compelled to not allow the vision to evaporate.
For the past two months I have been investigating every possible Alouette for sale. The reasons for an Alouette are numerous and too involved to explain here. However, if you’d like a detailed explanation, please don’t hesitate to call me. The aircraft I have found have ranged from $100,000 to $180,000 depending mainly on the conditions and hours remaining on the various components. The Alouette is French made and has been out of production since 1983. That means having an aircraft with lots of component time remaining is paramount. In May, I went to see one for sale in Texas. I paid for a pre-buy inspection by a mechanic/pilot from Tampa who is an expert in Alouettes. Though the owner was asking $115,000, the ship was in very bad condition and in reality not airworthy. Noticing my disappointment on the way back to the airport, the mechanic told me of a man in California that might be willing to sell his Alouette.
My friend Moises, who is also a pilot/ mechanic, contacted Roger, the owner, and arranged a visit for us to inspect his aircraft. I flew from Costa Rica to Lemoore, California and Moises met me there from Canal Point, Florida. Roger owns an agricultural fumigation company. He had purchased two Alouettes and a friend of his had purchased a third, in conjunction with a very large number of parts and specialty tools. We inspected all three aircraft and flew one of them on two separate days. We also inventoried the parts as well as we could; which included two spare engines, a spare transmission, a spare airframe, main rotor blades, tail rotor blades, drive shafts, cabling, pumps, filters, lights, gauges and any number of small connectors, etc.
When it was time to talk money and make a deal, the price Roger was asking for each ship was lower by far than any price I had previously seen. In fact, we could have purchased two ships, flying one and using one as a spare. The problem for us is that Roger wants to sell everything as a package deal, all three aircraft, all the spare parts and all the tools. The price he is asking is very low and would be a tremendous deal for us. It would allow us to operate for the next twenty years without having to look for any expensive replacement parts as the parts on the flying ship time out. There are so many parts, that we could sell some of them and generate some funds for operating the aircraft.
Here is where we stand. With the price Roger is asking and the cost of moving the ships and parts to North Carolina, we are about $30,000 short of having sufficient funds. I asked Roger if he could give me a little time to raise the shortfall. He agreed. Of course, the only means I have of generating any funds is to pray and to make known the need to you who have supported the effort in Talamanca in the past. I work reasonably hard for a fellow getting long in the tooth, yet it generates no disposable income. No one actually pays for the work I do or the service I provide, other than God that is. We are completely dependent on God and the generosity of His children. That fact pretty well removes me from the equation. The possibility of me doing this alone is as likely as me saving myself from sin. If I could have done it alone, there would already be a helicopter flying in the mountains of Talamanca with the living Word’s name on it. If you have a passion for the effort in reaching the lost of Talamanca, now would be a good time to ask God what you should do. Is it a time for sacrificial action or to say “we don’t have the money readily available, so God must not want it to happen”? I can’t answer the question but whether your response is fervent prayer or cash or spreading the news of the need, we are grateful. And may God reward His faithful servants.
Roger has never advertised these aircraft for sale. He was surprised that I learned about them. It was simply the tip from a nonbelieving mechanic who noticed my disappointment that brought them to my attention. Is it a good deal? Is it coincidence? This I am sure of, were Roger to advertise the deal he has offered us, it would not last 24 hours. Blessings and Peace in the name of our Lord and Savior.