Four Lives Spared
Dear friends and family,
We are writing today to share with you some of the amazing blessings God has done for us. Although, our family and GAMAS have experienced some trials recently, God has shown us the miracles surrounding every challenge. We have been asked recently how our mission here works, and how do we reach those around us with the Gospel. Our direct mission is for Tony to fly the planes God has provided into GAMAS's remote interior mission outposts, Jackson and I serve as ground support, along with other missionaries here in Bethany Village. GAMAS has missions, schools and Bible training programs in Kaikan, Paruima, Kimbia, Siparuta, Paramakatoi, Lethem, among some other beginning projects within the country. Each mission's focus is to spread and share the Everlasting Gospel in their area, either through training young people and Bible workers, to supporting existing churches and establishing new churches. Due to these missions being located remotely in the interior of Guyana (which lacks good roads) they are greatly helped by the air support to bring in supplies and to take villagers, missionaries and pastors in and out as needed. The GAMAS planes also serve a life-saving function of carrying villagers from remote locations into medical care, when otherwise lives are being lost without this help. Many villagers in the interior live many days walk from their nearest health care facility, so the planes can cut the time it takes to receive help, and save lives. Unfortunately, for the last five months this much needed air service has been grounded while we waited for affordable insurance on the planes, so they could begin flying again. This was our first blessing this month, despite numerous insurance companies quoting extremely high rates for the planes here, we finally had one company come through at a manageable price. We believe God was opening a way to fly. Once the insurance cleared we and our fellow missionaries here began working hard to get the sandy spots in our Bethany runway repaired (another necessity to fly). The goal was to have things ready for our working Cessna 182 to begin resuming flights this past week.
Soon after this the President of GMI had plans to come in for a short trip. During this time he planned to do some training flights with Tony on several of the airstrips in the interior of Guyana. This would help complete a portion of the training Tony would need to be approved to fly in the country.
The GAMAS mission planes, missionaries, mechanics and ground support persons over the years have saved many lives. As a result, the indigenous people here and the missionaries in the interior are eager to have this service back in operation. However, despite the need and the eagerness the enemy has not wanted this plane to fly.
While working on repairing the runway we experienced everything from bursting hydraulic seals (repeatedly) on our older tractor which caused us to loose time and money on replacements and travel to the capital for small parts, to struggles getting workers lined up to help with the runway work, and a broken truck...some days have been long. During the last ten days we lost the use of our four wheeler after the back wheel flew off while our son (who learned to drive under our supervision mostly in case of an emergency) was driving it a very short distance up the runway to retrieve a part. We are praising God he jumped off and didn’t even get a scratch. We know God is bigger. And we know despite the trials, He is with us.
All of the above and more has kept our family on our toes this last two weeks. Finally, on October 1, we were able to see the runway in better condition and our plane ready to fly out of the airstrip in Bethany, Guyana. Around 10:00 am our Cessna 182 took off from the recently repaired grass runway for a short flight to the capital, Georgetown. All the missionaries and our family had a real sense of excitement to see the plane airborne despite the trials, God was moving on behalf of the work here.
As Christians we will “encounter giants only when we are serving God and following Him. It is when Israel was going forward that the giants appeared, for when they turned back into the wilderness, they found none.” (Streams in the Desert, Cowman)
This has been true in our lives for sure. Our family is not unfamiliar with trails. But through the challenges, we have seen God’s goodness, mercy and miracles.
October 1st we saw God's hand of protection over us. Despite a successful first flight in the morning, by evening things changed rapidly and unexpectedly. On its return flight and landing, the airplane nose wheel hit a pile of loam that had been put down that afternoon by local workers, unknown to the pilots or the missionaries on the ground (until it was too late). Once the plane's nose wheel hit the first mound, it broke off, causing the propeller to dig into the ground. The airplane tail came up over head as the airplane flipped forward, and quickly came to a stop upside down. Miraculously, all four people in the plane walked out alive with no serious injuries. We consider this a blessing beyond measure!
Despite the plane flipping over with a full tank of gas in the wings, there were no sparks, which could have been disastrous. God truly placed His angels around the plane and each person to preserve and spare life. In the plane were all three current GAMAS pilots; we know the devil would have been thrilled to stop this work. By God’s grace and mercy we believe Tony's life and those on the plane have been spared to move forward in this work and to give glory to God. We are very thankful that none of the families of those on board had to experience a tragedy.
After the crash all the missionaries who were in the plane along with each of us on the ground who witnessed the crash, gathered and prayed and thanked God for His protection! The next morning we gathered again to sing hymns and give praise God.
Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye”
We have seen God working on our behalf to spare life. We know Jesus is coming soon and there isn't time to sit in disappointment, but thoughtfully and prayerfully we know now is the time to move forward.
We currently have an older Cessna 182 which needs a few repairs and upgrades to become airworthy. Once these are completed Tony will be ready to continue mission flights. While we are waiting for the plane to get a few more modifications, we continue to pray for repairs to be made to the plane that was damaged in the crash and possibly for God to provide a slightly larger plane. We are also praying for another (larger) four wheeler (for heavier hauling, and for the multiple missionaries here who share it) and replacement parts for the one that broke. Life does not slow down here, this week our attention has shifted somewhat to our applications for Visas. We are currently in need of our two year work Visa application to be completed. The government has been slow to process our paperwork, causing extra expense as we are required to leave the country every three months until we obtain our work Visas. We believe God is at work though to open doors on our behalf. This week Tony visited the immigration department with local missionary, Harry Simboo and was told that the department is now looking into our case. It was explained to us that Jackson and I will have to leave the country and return, but the bigger question for our family is for how long and where we will cross the border. We are trusting God will supply the answers and funds to help us go where He needs us to go!
We know this and all things will work out according to God’s way and timing. We thank you for your prayers and support. We pray God will keep you faithful and pressing forward for Him in these last days, as we know the day of His soon coming is imminent! In His love, Tony, Darah and Jackson
Working on the tractor to get the rollers attached for rolling the loam earlier in the week before the accident. This day finally, the tractor held its seal for a full day of work.
Our mission director and Tony were able to make several flights in the director's Twin engine plane, before the flight and crash in the Cessna 182.
A happy young couple being flown in for the birth of their first child, by boat this would have taken them 6 hours, but by plane only 20 minutes. The couple below were flown in for medical care from a remote village into Georgetown.
In order to preserve the plane as much as possible when flipping back over for transport back to the hangar, a huge hole was dug for the nose to fit in before flipping it.
It was truly heart warming to see how many local men from the village came up as soon as they heard about the crash to help move the plane from the runway.
Additional Housing Update
The wood has been delivered for what will eventually become our home or another volunteer's home. As we shared last newsletter the previous mechanic and his family have now left Bethany, so we are currently praying for another mechanic and family to come soon. We need the additional housing for when this prayer is answered, as our family is currently staying in the one available home on the airstrip. We know God has a mighty work that He needs to do here, and we believe a mechanic will be a vital part of the team to help it happen. We have been praying daily for another family and the remaining funds for the additional home.
Church member, Kurt Marslow and local worker, Samuel who cut and transported the wood for the new home. They brought the first load in from the back dam (term they use for the deep jungle) in the morning, then drove the village tractor (which they have to share and rent), for the entire day to get the remaining wood, close to 8 hours drive away by tractor. They arrived back that same night at 2 AM in the morning and unloaded the remaining wood in the jungle behind where the new home will be built! This wood is called iron wood, we are told this is some of the hardest and heaviest wood in the world. We are amazed at the amount of hard work and dedication we see in our new friends that we are getting to know and love!
Recently, just before our four wheeler broke we made the ten mile round trip to our next closest village to Bethany; a village called Mashabo. The path to Mashabo or anywhere in the jungles around us can be thick and dense, and when the rains come very muddy!
Mashabo is just far enough away from the airbase and medical mission college to be more isolated and not receive as much mission support. Mashabo is an amazingly beautiful village surrounded by a large inland lake with coconut palms along the shoreline. In year's past there was a missionary couple from the states that lived in this village. They have since left and now there is a vacant home along the lakeshore available for (we hope and pray) another family to come and serve soon. Until then, we see the need to share our time on some Sabbaths to be at the Mashabo church to encourage the believers there.
While there we spent time with the elder and a young couple who help lead at the church. After talking with them we could see their desire to reach their people. They told us their most pressing need was to encourage the more than 300 people in their village that have identified themselves as Seventh Day Adventist Christians on the last official census the village took, but do not attend church. The day we attended church there were around 30-40 attending. We are praying for several items now for this village. The church would like to be able to give out small hymnals to families attending and those not attending so each family can have daily worship at home if they would like to. They would also like to be able to hold meetings sharing more about health and Christian living but need a projector and computer for this.
We are also praying for Bethany village. We have been asked for books to distribute to every home in the village and small solar powered audio devices called “God pods” loaded with the Bible, health messages and Christian living, for all village members in both villages. We know the logistics of this will involve more than just books and audio devices. We will need a way to transport and deliver these things. We still believe a boat will help with reaching the many villagers along the rivers and creeks that can not be reached by land, and we will need our land transport (the four wheeler or whatever God decides to provide) working again.
We have come to see that our time on the Navajo reservation prepared us for some of the challenges we see facing our new Amerindian friends. Diet and health are growing concerns here (especially in our village where the people mix more with the coastal people groups and town life), alcohol and drug use unfortunately are a rising issue among the Amerindians and the mixing of spirit worship with Christianity exists here as well. It is clear God has been preparing us for our mission here for many years unknown to us.
Will you help us pray as we seek God in opening doors for supplies and literature to encourage our Amerindian friends?
Local missionaries, Kevin and Areefa at the Mashabo church.
Tony and Jackson at the Mashabo church before church members began to arrive.
More of the path to Mashabo, there are numerous places where the road gets so bad local people have made side paths, but they are small, so a four wheeler is a huge blessing to navigate through these areas!
TO SUPPORT THE MISSION
General Support or Navajo Mission Support Can be Mailed to: Checks written to: Darah or Tony Varga PO Box 808 Hixson, TN, 37343
To Donate Online: www.ATGOministries.org
OR FOR TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS: As volunteer missionaries, all of the mission work in Guyana is funded entirely by donations. If you would like to support a part of our mission, we accept tax-deductible donations through Gospel Ministries International, Inc. Donations can be given through these two methods: 1. Write a Check to Gospel Ministries International and mail to: Gospel Ministries International, P.O. Box 506, Collegedale, TN 37315. Please include a note specifying: "Guyana Bethany Aviation-Varga" 2. Via PayPal (firstname.lastname@example.org): In the notes add: "Guyana Bethany Aviation-Varga" 3. Online at: www.gospelministry.org/donations/ Scroll down the list of donation options and choose: "Guyana Bethany Aviation-Varga" Contact us: email@example.com Darah: +592-678-4665 (Guyana) Tony: +592-680-3416 (Guyana)
Completion of Pilot’s housing
Outdoor Kitchen for Missionary Guest housing on airstrip
Storage Room for tools attached to hangar
Boat for Mission Visits and Water transports
Newer Four Wheeler with trailer
Repairs on the Cessna 182, and possibly a larger Cessna 206 plane for the mission to the interior.
**Physical items may also be donated for a tax deduction, contact us directly to discuss.
We also have many projects that could be done during a one to two week mission trip. Please contact us if your church would be interested in a possible mission trip or sponsoring some of the above items.
SHORT TERM MISSION PROJECTS
Building/painting kitchen on airstrip for guests/missionaries
Building/painting shed an organizing tools in shed
Mechanical help with various projects and equipment (four wheel drive mule needs much mechanical work to get working again: which would help with land transporting)
Helping to install electrical wiring in the current home on the airstrip
Putting in water and solar system
Health fair and local outreach
Depression recovery seminars
PRAISES & PRAYER REQUESTS:
Praises for spared life.
Praising God for the insurance on the plane that came through.
Praying for HF Radios for the airstrip.
Praises for our tractor being repaired and now running.
Prayers for our work Visas to be completed and God's guidance for leaving and returning into the country.
Prayers for missionaries in Bethany for strength and God’s spirit as we do His work.
Prayers for a better four-wheeler for land transports and a boat for water outreach ministry.
Philippians 4:6: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God...
Adventures in the Mission Field (#2) By: Jackson Varga
Hi again from Bethany Village! My family and I have been very busy this last month since we moved into another house on the airstrip. But, we have still found time to visit three very special friends that we want to tell you about.
Over a month ago a missionary family who has since moved, took us to see a very interesting sight. Located at the end of the airstrip we found a hummingbird nest with two small eggs inside, but the mother wasn’t there. On our first visit we took lots of pictures of the nest and eggs. When we came back two days later, I was able to get a very close-up picture of the mother bird on her nest. She was bold enough to stay there until I got about 3 inches away with the camera. Then she flew off revealing that the babies underneath had hatched!
From then on we visited the nest every couple of days. When the babies first hatched they were about the size of a pinto bean, and their eyes were not open yet. Nine days later we noticed that their eyes were open, and they were starting to grow feathers. About a month later when we visited the nest only one baby bird was left. The next day we came back and the other one was gone too. We miss visiting our friends, but we saw God’s care and protection for them during the last month. So, we know that He will take care of them as they have now left their nest!
About two years ago, an elder in our church where we lived on the reservation told me that he liked to hold the string of his hummingbird feeder while the hummingbirds came to feed. This way he could see them up close. So one day I went outside and tried that too. Finally, a hummingbird came and started to drink. The next day I went outside, but this time I held the feeder from underneath so the hummingbirds would land on my finger. The hummingbirds weren’t very sure about this arrangement, but eventually one came and landed on my finger.
This continued for several months until one by one they started to leave for the winter. The next spring, the hummingbirds started to return, but most of them were young hummingbirds. Many of them wouldn’t land on my hand. Finally, a hummingbird from the year before came back. He remembered that I wouldn’t hurt him and landed on my hand. This broke the ice! All the other hummingbirds started landing on my hand also. I don’t know what would have happened the next year, because we moved. We are now learning about hummingbirds, like our three friends we told you about here, in South America!
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