Charlie loved beautiful mornings like this. He and Jack were up, up, and AWAY….
They had a lot to do this morning. First of all, they landed at a small settlement, and dropped off some medicine to the doctor there.
“Thank you, thank you! More really sick people arrived in the middle of the night. We didn’t know what we’d do if you didn’t get here. This will save some lives, that’s for sure!” Doctor Brown waved excitedly, and ran off toward the little hospital.
Next, they headed for a small village to pick up a school teacher and her little girl. They were going home to America for a whole year. Charlie would miss the little five year old girl with the red hair and big smile.
But he couldn’t think about that now. He had to concentrate. This runway was rather short—and at the end was a long drop. Jack took him around several times before going for it.
Down, down, down they went! They hit the runway—and sped along, stopping just in time!
The African pastor came out of the large round hut that served as their church, and shook his head.
“From the beginning we’ve never figured out how you pilots do that landing,” he told them in his own language. “People said it couldn’t be done.”
Jack answered back with a laugh, “all in a day’s work….Okay, not really—only with God’s help!”
Charlie was glad he could understand Swahili. He agreed with the pastor.
“Jack’s always so sure it can be done,” he thought. But some of the landings left Charlie a little bit scared. Sometimes he was pretty sure they’d end up over a cliff, or in a lake.
Oh, here was the teacher with her suitcases. The little girl ran out, too, with her backpack and teddy bear, chattering in Swahili. “Hi Charlie! I saw you coming!”
Charlie always wished he could talk back.
As the pastor helped get the luggage on board, he gave Jack news about some trouble deep in the bush country.
“Watch yourselves. The Christian village was attacked again.”
‘Be safe, yourself,” said Jack.
“They won’t come this far. But pray for three of my people. They went into that area to share the gospel. They may not be able to get back.”
“We will,” promised Jack.
Flying out was not as difficult as coming in, but at the next stop they had another problem. A big tree had come down in a storm.
The Bible translator and the men of the village were working hard to chop it up, and clear the runway. But they had a long way to go.
Dave, the translator, waved at them as Jack turned the plane around, and headed off. Dave knew they’d be back later.
“Something must be wrong with his radio or he would have called us. Maybe we’ll find a text message when we got back to base about radio parts we might need to bring.” Jack said. “He’s got another whole section of the Bible all ready to be printed in their language. But he’s having trouble with his laptop and can’t send it. He wanted to give me the disk and his notes today.”
“All of our equipment is old, too,” said the teacher. “I’ll be getting some new computers for all of us when I get to America. My church has collected money to buy them.”
They headed back to base, and sure enough there was a message. Toni, the dispatcher, had just received it.
Jack said good bye to the teacher and her daughter. Then he and Charlie headed back to Dave with parts to repair his radio. They took an old laptop, too. It might work well enough for now. Jack would drop the equipment down to them.
But they found that the villagers had worked fast, and the tree was moved. The airstrip was clear!
Just as Charlie was landing, they suddenly got a call from Toni.
“Trouble!” she said. “The fighting is getting worse. I got a call from the village. Some evangelists called us. There’s a lot of hurt people. We need to bring some of them out.”
“What about their enemies?”
“They’re gone for now.”
“I’ll go with you,” said Dave. “I’ve had some medical training. Let me get our nurse and some supplies.”
Dave and the nurse were soon on board with their bags of supplies, and Charlie headed off for the emergency rescue.
“Good thing we just got gas at the base,” said Jack, as we flew toward the ridge.
“Is there a runway?” asked the nurse.
“We’ll have to go some distance out of our way. There’s a big field near the river. I’ll radio for the villagers there to make sure it’s clear.”
Some time later, they passed over a high rocky ridge, then another, and another.
Finally the river come into view. Charlie circled over the field, where a dozen people were checking for rocks and large branches. They waved that all was well.
“I hope they didn’t miss anything!” said Jack. But they came down on good, flat, solid ground. The Africans had done a good job of getting rid of all debris.
“We’ve gone down by boat to get the injured people. They should be here soon. Then you must leave quickly. Those people that attacked us will be back!” they told Jack, excitedly.
“The days of spears and canoes are almost gone,” said Dave, who had been in Africa a long time. “Now it’s guns and—motorboats.”
Sure enough, the boats roared toward them, and soon the injured people were brought on board.
Dave and the nurse quickly got to work.
Before they left, Jack said to the three evangelists, “are you sure you don’t want us to take you home?”
“No. We’ve got lots of people to tell about Jesus. They’re all hiding in a big cave. Their enemies will never find them in those tunnels. But we’ll take some extra medical supplies.”
“All right. Be safe. God be with you.”
“Go! They’re coming. I hear them.”
Before the fighter’s bullets could reach the them, Charlie was high in the sky. Their friends were disappearing into the bush, and running for the cave.
Finally they were back at their base. The hurt people were taken to the big hospital in town.
Wow, what a day. Charlie was safe in his hangar finally, and Jack, and Dave, and the nurse went to get some dinner.
“We’ll take them back to their village in the morning,” thought Charlie. “And we’ll start another day…. It probably wouldn’t be as crazy as this one.”
Sometimes life could get boring, just routine flights here and there. And lots of paperwork, and fixing up the plane to get it in tip top shape for every flight.
But even then, both Jack and Charlie loved their work, helping missionaries do what they came here to do….sharing the love of Jesus.
Charlie’s eyes closed and he was off to sleep, dreaming about how great it was to be a missionary plane.
Watch for more adventures with Charlie….
Bush-short for the bush country of Africa. Other parts of Africa are jungle and desert.
Evangelists—people who travel from place to place to preach the gospel
Debris-branches and brush that might be in the way
Hangar-area at an airport where planes are kept
Airstrip/runway-long, flat area where planes can land and take off.