so yes, mike’s company had many briefs during our stay in palau. the first morning’s brief was for the attorney general of FSM (federated states of micronesia), april skilling. we met her, along with her two body guards at the palau airport, about a 5 minute drive from our apartment. basically, everything we needed to get to was about a 5-10 minute drive away. can’t get very far on an island. i met PMA (pacific missionary aviation), the team that was contracted with TSC to pilot the sea dragon plane. PMA’s pilot was Slick,whom mike described as a hot shot pilot who liked being the alpha-male. Then there was Amos, a more soft-spoken pilot, who was currently living in Yap, a nearby island. Stephan was third PMA pilot, being trained to take Slick’s place, as he is planning to move to Japan. Slick likes to mess around. One of the first things he said to me was that Mike and Josh spent a whole lot of time lying together underneath the airplane, so Mike must be real happy that I’m here now. Amos is quiet, but one of those behind-the-scenes types of people who gets the job done and doesn’t need the spotlight. Stephan and Mike geeked out together over this microsoft password hack that Stephan showed Mike one day sitting in the PMA hangar. I only spent a few hours getting to know these guys, but what they do on behalf of the Lord is amazing. From what I understood, they fly out food and supplies to Palau and it’s surrounding islands to give to the local people living on these islands. The locals have no way of getting off the islands. They are very poor. PMA is their lifeline. PMA also transports people to neighboring islands for a fraction of the cost compared to what normal airfare would be. They do this all in the name of Christ. Mike and I had the opportunity to be a part of their emergency food/supply drops to a nearby island, Angaur. mike and i were driving around koror, looking at the shops, restaurants, and hotels, when he got a text from slick. mike excitedly said that he was asking us if we wanted to join them on a supply drop to Angaur. i had no idea what that meant at the time, but mike was real excited, so i said yes. we drove back to the airport where slick, amos, stephan, and ray (the airplane mechanic) were loading up the plane with rice. lots of rice. maybe 20 bags of it. they called the plane we were gonna fly on, the queen air. they pushed the queen air out on the runway and we all hopped on. there were 7 seats total on this plane. no first class or economy seating here. we buckled up. slick said life vests were under the seat. he made sure mike knew how to open the emergency exit. he showed me how to put in my earplugs and we took off. i was kind of freaking out, but trying to keep it under control. if this thing goes down, i perhaps could die. the plane was small, nothing i was used to. the weather was not ideal. amos was circling around the runway, looking at the sky. i heard slick tell him that we could wait,that we were not in a hurry. amos took off. no one was freaking out. my butt was shaking up and down on that chair, but no one was freaking out. so i mentally told myself, it’s going to be okay. everyone had a window view and it was beautiful. the beauty of the vast blue water, the clouds below, breathtaking. it made me all forget that i was predicting my soon death. the plane dropped a few times, i think due to wind, and i lost my stomach. but still, no one seemed worried so i guess everything was okay. in about 15 minutes, we landed on angaur. no airport, no paved runway, just a long stretch of dirt covered with worn tire markings from previous airplane landings. we landed, amos looked back at us all and smiled as if to say “we’re here,” and i breathed a bit easier.
slick opened up the door and locals arrived. out of the jungle. i kid you not. i have no idea where they came from. there was no town, no road, no store in sight. only jungle, as in bushes and trees. but from somewhere, locals came. some by foot, some on bike, some by cars. slick asked if someone had a truck. one of the locals backed up his truck so it was close to the airplane door. everyone, both locals and missionaries together, formed an assembly line and started unloading the rice and supplies from the plane and onto the truck. food went from the hands of amos, to ray, to a local, to another local, to slick, to more locals who were organizing it all on the truck. there was something beautiful about this. i wasn’t sure if i was to help. i felt weird being the only girl and did not want to get in the way of the guys. but i also wanted to help. instead i took a video. lol. after the unloading was done, slick waved his hand over to me and said “get out,” so i took that as my okay that it was fine for me to participate. i got off the plane and gravitated toward these two girls, sitting in a car. reminded me of my girls. i asked the first girl her name, it was anna (as in “ah–nuh”, as in the princess from frozen). i asked her who she came with. i don’t think she understood. so i asked if she came with her mom or her dad. to which she replied, “my dad is dead.” silence. i asked who the other children were, one was her sister, the other was her brother. she said came with another man, but i wasn’t sure his relation to her. anna asked me if i had kids. i told her about lana and mia. she grabbed my hand, gave me a round, flat, smooth, black stone and before her car drove off, she said, “to remember me.” then i met lakesha. i tried to converse, but i had a hard time understanding. she was 5. dirty black long hair that was tangled and matted. she did not seem to have good control over the movement in one of her eyes. we talked for a good 5 minutes, but to be honest, i don’t understand what the poor girl was trying to tell me. but i hope that at least she understood that i was trying to show that i cared. she told me another little girl playing in the dirt a few feet away was her friend. she tried to introduce us, but her friend was shy. lakesha came with her mom. lakesha also asked me if i had babies and i told her about lana and mia. as we were about to leave back for koror, i grabbed lakesha’s hand and wanted her to come inside of the plane with me. just so she could feel special. she was afraid and ran to her mom’s leg. slick picked her up and put her in my arms and we took a picture together in front of the queen air. as we were about to head back on the plane back to koror, i remember the locals thanking slick for bringing the food. i remember he pointed up to the sky and said, “don’t thank me, thank Him.”
[ later on during the trip, i had asked slick what had happened to anna’s father. he said that anna’s father was a respected business man on Angaur. anna’s mom is the nurse on Angaur. Her father was also slick’s very good friend. he said on new years eve 2013, her father died during a night fishing accident. the current was too strong. slick and his team flew the skies in search of him but could not find him. ]