Every flight to Haiti is planned at max gross weight on our airplanes. However, if there is a last minute cancelation or a team comes in light on their reserved baggage, weight is therefore open and needs to be filled. Often, that weight is filled with Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) meals MFI keeps on hand. These meals are put on board to fill the extra weight and is sent down to three different organizations MFI serves.
On January 12, 2013, the third anniversary of the Haitian earthquake, MFI hosted a FMSC event in our hangar to prepare 100,000 meals. Every bag prepared contains rice, soy protein, and veggies. Each bag consists of six meals and actually tastes pretty good. Haiti is the largest beneficiary of these meals from FMSC because the need is so great in this country.
(14 pallets and 108,864 meals)
All of the 108,864 meals prepared will remain at MFI. We will fly them down at our convenience and at our cost. It was an excellent opportunity to be a part of the preparation of these that serve so many.
Ten years ago, MFI was called upon to rescue eight year old Brooke. She was a missionary kid in Haiti and had been hit by a truck while riding her bicycle. She had life threatening internal injuries and he pelvis was broken in four places. MFI dispatched an aircraft to Haiti and returned Brooke to the United States for treatment. It is exciting to report that Brooke recovered completely and recently graduated from high school. MFI is glad to have been a vital part in Brooke's life.
Dealing with the DOT
Since MFI began its service to the mission community in the West Indies in 1964, many rules and government regulations have been added to aviation and to the MFI operation. It seems that every year more rules are created that we must comply with. It takes many hours each week for our office staff to accomplish all of the government requirements for our international flights. Recently the Department of Transportation (DOT) has contacted MFI about how we conform to certain transportation regulations. We have followed the same FAA guidelines over the past 48 years but now we must re-evaluate our procedures. Please pray that MFI will be able to meet the standards that are set before us.
The DOT has asked us to suspend our website until the issue is settled. Any recurring credit card donations will continue to be processed normally. If a new donor would like to donate online, please call the MFI office at 772-462-2395 and they will assist you.
It was a normal flight day. Leave Ft. Pierce around 7am. Make a fuel stop in Exuma around 9am. Then to Cap Haitien to unload cargo and passengers. After that it was on to Port au Prince to drop off a little more cargo and to pick up passengers. The passengers were on the airplane and I was doing the flight safety briefing while the captain took care of captain business.
When out of the corner of my eye I saw a vehicle pull up to the plane. At the door was a Haitian woman and a teenage Haitian boy with a huge bandage around his right eye. I knew nothing about these passengers but led them aboard and figured if there was a problem the captain could deal with it.
Come to find out, Davidson was a 15 year old Haitian boy with a large cancerous brain tumor - about the size of a softball under his right eye. Unbelievably, the tumor first presented just a few months earlier. The documentation accompanying him said that unless he receives urgent medical treatment, he will die an excruciating death.
The Bicol Clinic Foundation was sponsoring his trip and treatment and we were able to provide the transportation. Again, MFI was able to go beyond our normal operations to help someone in dire need.
So do Haitians wrestle? Not that I've ever seen. So it's a good thing we didn't take this humongous wrestling mat to Haiti - but to the Bahamas.
Jake Stortenbecker runs a camp in Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco for kids and part of the camp involves teaching wrestling. Since big huge wrestling mats aren't so easy to ship, Jake asked us to fly it over for him. This is quite possibly the largest item MFI has ever flown. It was, however, quite easy to unload with the help of some Bahamians.
Something that doesn't happen often is that we got a follow-up. Jake sent a thank you and a picture of him using the wrestling mat with his boys in the Agape Christian wrestling class. It's always pleasing to see the results of one of our flights.
The live animal freight that MFI transports is often interesting and amusing. We have flown dogs, cats, horses and prairie dogs. The most recent interesting cargo was a load of goats. Occasionally the mission community tries to upgrade the goat population in Haiti by bringing in fresh stock. After a few years the local goat population is pretty much run down and they look like skinny little dogs rather than goats. Our passenger goats seemed to enjoy their DC-3 ride to Port-au-Prince. The USDA approved each goat to go on this international flight even though they did not have passports.
Standing in the Gap for Youth Groups
Groups looking for a short term mission project in an area without a language barrier can minister in the Bahamas. By “Standing in the Gap” MFI provides air transportation for youth groups to participate in evangelistic outreach including Vacation Bible Schools, sports camps and construction or maintenance for the ministries on these small islands. Young people are given the opportunity to participate in mission outreach in Haiti as well.