Airborne Encouragement

The game is very simple: fly over Merrill’s house undetected. Practically, that means before she can get to the radio saying she’s spotted me. If I’m spotted before I can pass her house, she wins; get past her house before the familiar “Nice try,” then I win.

It’s quite difficult to win, however—Merrill lives deep in the mountains of Lesotho, away from all our normal flight routes. Airplane noise carries for miles out here. She’s dedicated her life to living among the Basotho people as a missionary. For me, overflying her house is a way of encouraging her, making sure she knows there are folks out there that love her and support her.

Justin and his wife Amanda (center) with Merrill on a recent encouragement trip to Merrill's village.

Justin and his wife Amanda (center) with Merrill on a recent encouragement trip to Merrill’s village.

There is one approach from the north that is shielded, providing the best noise concealment to maximize my chances. She can’t see me from that direction either. I’m only exposed the last two miles; then I’m easily heard and spotted. But it’s my best shot.

Altitude, airspeed, power … all set. I’m configured perfectly to make the least amount of noise and be visible for the shortest time possible. I’m over the ridge now; I can see her village—which means she can see me too. I’m a sitting duck for nearly the next minute! Closer now, the radio is silent. Halfway there—still nothing! Did I finally catch her off guard?

“You got me!” My HF radio crackles to life as I zoom over her house. Glancing out the side window I see her waving 1000 feet below. It’s kind of a silly game, but sometimes words just don’t quite say it like a flyby does. For missionaries serving in remote areas around the world, it means, “We love you, support you, and look forward to the Glory of God with you.”

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