An MAF Pilot Recounts God’s Providence
When asked about a medical evacuation flight he conducted several years ago for a young girl named Dorcas, MAF pilot Rod Hochstetler reflected on the events of that day—and God’s intervention. This is a follow-up to a May FlightWatch story, which you can read here.
“I actually remember quite a few details of that day, which I’m normally not that good at. Because goods and medicines can be purchased here in Kinshasa, most flights depart at maximum weight. Kinshasa is also were most visitors to the western part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo enter the country, and it is where headquarters for the various church denominations, mission groups, and NGO’s are located. Kinshasa is also the cheapest place to get aircraft fuel. All of these factors cause us to plan and calculate our loads to the nearest kilo.
The flight that day was no exception. It was one of our semi-regular weekly flights to the mission stations of Kikongo and Vanga, 112 nautical miles (nm) and 187nm, respectively, due east of Kinshasa. The flight had been booked full several days in advance. That morning was quite busy both for me as pilot prepping the airplane, and for Kamizelo as he checked in the passengers and baggage, weighing everything to make sure we stayed within limits. At the last minute two passengers canceled. I was a bit annoyed because at that point it was too late to add more fuel or make other arrangements to make up the load.
Because of Kikongo’s isolation and lack of communication options at that time, it wasn’t until after takeoff that I first heard via shortwave radio of the need to move Dorcas and her mom to Vanga for treatment at the mission hospital there. Dorcas was suffering from a severe case of malaria. It was going to be a challenge. Kikongo airstrip is short enough that we can’t take off with maximum weight. However, since the Lord ‘provided’ two cancelled-passengers, along with the fuel I burned getting to Kikongo, and a little non-urgent freight for Vanga that I could leave in Kikongo for a few days, I was able to make room for Dorcas and her mother.
Later, as I heard about Dorcas’s story and how her family had almost given up hope of her recovery, and how quickly the treatment at Vanga made a difference and saved her life, I thought about how the Lord managed the details of a ‘normal’ work day; it was easy to see His hand at work.
It was fun to be the pilot to bring Dorcas and her mom back to Kikongo to be rejoined with the rest of her family. Pure joy was manifest in each face. Even though our paths don’t cross, I count it a great privilege to have been involved in Dorcas’s life in this way.”