An MAF flight made it possible for a Bible translation consultant to complete her training
Sarah Casson, a Bible translator with SIL in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), shares this account of an MAF flight that made a big difference both for her and some important translation checking on the book of Genesis.
MAF flights are an indispensable part of our work in DRC! I have been working as a (part time) translation consultant with SIL Eastern Congo Group (ECG) since 2008, helping Bible translators in Congolese languages check and refine translation drafts. MAF has made it possible for me and others to complete our training as translation consultants in Congo and work with translation teams in remote locations. I have worked especially with the Omi team in the very north east, near the border with Uganda. Sometimes the road journey from Bunia, where I live, to Mado, where the team is based, has been simply too long and exhausting to attempt (mud and gaping potholes), or too dangerous (the LRA and other militia have sometimes been operational in the region). Without MAF, our checking sessions would not have gone ahead.
There are so many colourful flights vivid in my memory. They blur into one another. But one of the flights that meant the most to me was in October 2007. MAF flew me from Entebbe in Uganda to Ibambi in the heart of the Congolese rain forest. At the time I was a trainee consultant living in Uganda. I was due to take part in a translation checking session of the book of Genesis with three translation teams plus our consultant mentor, Jim Fultz. This was one of the final hoops I needed to jump through to complete my consultant training. Jim had made an arduous journey from neighbouring Central African Republic to work with us. Two days before the start of the session, I came down with a sharp bout of malaria. While colleagues made their way to Ibambi, I found myself confined to bed in Entebbe, listening to the cackling of black and white casqued hornbills! Thankfully the malaria medicine started to do its work but as I began to feel better and it sank in that I would miss this golden opportunity to finish my training, I was pretty down.
Halfway through the workshop week I was feeling stronger. I had given up hope of joining my colleagues and contented myself with the beauties of the Entebbe birdlife. But my colleagues were in regular contact with MAF and I received a call to say that MAF had unexpectedly scheduled an extra flight that could take me into Ibambi the next day. The exhilaration of that flight is still with me: the shining blue of Lake Victoria, the dramatic climb of les Monts Bleus rising out of Lake Albert, a stop in Bunia, and then onwards towards Ibambi, the edge of the rainforest engulfing the savannah, till the deep green canopy of the forest lay like a broccoli blanket over the landscape. I still remember the hymn running through my head and lifting my heart throughout the flight: “I must have Jesus, I must have Jesus, I cannot carry these burdens alone.”
MAF was able to take me all the way to the tiny airstrip at Nebobongo, which appeared like a light green gash in the blanket of the forest. As I stepped down from the plane and the intense sunlight hit me, I was struck too by the miracle that God had made a way for me to be there, via MAF. I thank God for the very practical way in which MAF is tangible evidence that we do not carry our burdens or the burden of our ministry alone, in ECG, and in DRC. Jesus is with us: he shows us this through his people in MAF, and those who support MAF’s ministry. We were able to finish our checking of a large chunk of Genesis in three languages at that workshop. And we completed our training with Jim.