November - December 2011

“So I say that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot.” Ecc 3:22

Welcome to the New Newsletter from South of North. We are not sure what form this new newsletter will take. Probably the first thing you will notice is that there are a lot less pictures than you are used to seeing. I daresay that without the descriptions of the trips I used to take that this letter will be a mite shorter as well.

November found me getting used to working remotely. In the first picture, Operations Central, you can see I have my computer from work along with two monitors that I have mounted on the wall. The chair is very comfortable. Generally I run with the right screen on the local computer. In the second picture, From the Driver’s Seat, you can see I’m running the Flight Explorer flight following software. One the left screen I run the applications and files on the server at MARC in Soldotna. In the picture I have the Schedule 2011 up. Generally I run about three applications with 5 or 6 files on the MARC server and three applications running 3 files on my local computer. The camera is for Skype when I need face to face time. There have been some technical challenges – like not being able to get access to the server in Soldotna because the power went off during the night and no one was there to turn it back on. However all in all it is working quite well.

I would guess that fully half the people I talk to don’t know I’m not in Soldotna. November was spent mainly getting caught back up after being off for two months. A couple of things fell through the cracks and I’m still trying to encourage some of our early October passengers to donate for their flights. I also spend a considerable amount of time training the new Flight Follower, Jim Whohler. The ins & outs of the three different internet software packages that we use. Like most software nowadays, we probably use only about 10% of it’s capability. Hopefully Jim will have the time to really get to know the software and get the maximum out of it. He just got married in November and won’t be back until mid-January so I have the flight following job until then. November seemed to be National Airplane Maintenance month with all out airplanes but one down for at least part of the month. It worked out OK because we had only one big mission to fly. We used a King Air and Caravan to take 76 Moravian Youth and chaperones from Akiachak, Akiak, Bethel, Goodnews Bay, Togiak, Kongiganak, Napakiak, Tuntituliak, Tuluksak, and Kwethluk to Nunapichuk. We also took 3 youth from Alaska Christian College in Soldotna. All these villages are less than 60 miles from Nunapichuk except the bold ones above. Nunapichuk is about 360 from Soldotna. Weather was a bit of a problem on the second fly day which prevented us from getting people from three different villages in – that would have taken us over 100 youth. We have for several years flown youth to the April youth get together at Quinhagak in April. This was the first try at a fall get together. From all reports it was very successful so we can expect do fly for this activity in the future. The ACC youth said they made a lot of good contacts.
December, as is normal, was a fairly quiet month as well with only two missions. The first was to fly the Bindon family from Anchorage back home to Naknek after they had spent two months in the lower 48 trying to get a diagnosis for some health problems that Mark was having. Unfortunately the doctors were stymied and his condition resolved itself so they came back home. The second one was to take a group from Alaska Village Ministries in Homer to Port Alsworth to be staff for the Winter Youth Camp put on by Tanalian Bible Camp for 29 December to 2 January. This is an especially important camp as it takes place at that time of the year when the days are very short and people, especially youth, can tend toward depression.
It’s a good thing we are a bit slow as there are lots of year end things to finish off and then there is getting ready for next year. I have the 2012 schedule done (which you can see at www.marcalaska.org by clicking on the Operations tab then the 2012 Schedule link). I have also spend considerable hours simplifying our Flight Manifest. This is the file that we use to keep track of all the information that relates to the flights. It is also what we give to the pilots so they know where they are going, when, and with whom. I am also working on the front end of the process where I gather all the information needed to produce the Flight Manifest. I’m hoping that I can get it simplified so that it doesn’t take two full time people to manage it during the summer months. The online flight request and passenger info form are already helping to reduce our data collection time.
Around home we still have many boxes and the house is already full. Did I mention the storage unit?

Catz Corner:
I am back to many more awake hours now and feeling much better. Don’t know why. So, one day while I was outside trying to scrape the hard water deposits from the sprinklers on the front window, something I must say I have never done before or since, a couple of guys walking a dog went by. One of them said, “it’s nice to see someone taking care of that house.” Turns out he is a painter and has noticed the huge flakes of paint coming off the front porch and around the windows. I asked him if he had a card and he said no, started to walk off, then turned around and said he worked with Open Doors Ministry, a recovery and half-way house for men. I wrote his phone number on my hand and to make a long story short, two days later we had a deal to paint the outside of our house. The next day a crew showed up that completely cleaned out our overgrown flowerbeds, trimmed the roses and trees, and moved a ton of books from the patio to the garage out of the weather. It was amazing. All this before they started on the house. Today I am sitting inside a house that has been pressure washed, scraped, sanded, filled in, brushed, blown, sealed and repaired and they are still at it, making sure their work is good in the Lord’s sight. Is that a God thing or what? AND they washed the outside of the windows. If I hadn’t gone outside just then, If they had walked another way, If Mark hadn’t said something and If I had ignored it. . . their motto is “Let us bless you as you bless us” and we have been blessed. Open Doors Ministry . . . they do just about everything, and do it with love.

With Much Love

Cat ‘n Don