Friday, March 25, 2016

Numbers and Other Simple Things

She asked me if I would tell her the weight of her baby.  It took me a moment to realize that she needed me to SAY how many kilograms her baby weighed--not just point to the number I had written on the child’s clinic card. She then turned to the other mama’s and had me read every person’s card so she could tell them the weight of their little one’s, too.  

This is the world we live in, this world where people do not know how to read, do not know numbers, and yet live a life that is just as important and precious as mine.  How simple life can be, and yet how complicated we make it.  This world that is harsh and unforgiving,  where life has no meaning, and where evil seems to coexist more than good.  Why have we taken the simplicity of love, life, good, and grace out of the every day?  How did we let gender define who gets to learn how to read words and numbers?  When did we let the color of skin determine how much worth a person has?  

I think my heart aches for the simple. I cry for the ones that have been left to starve because they are the lesser and smaller of two.  For the people on earth that are seeking to be loved and valued.  For the babies that are not wanted, and for the babies that are...for the desire to have a purpose in life.  

We have lost the simple things.  We have left the opportunity to love more, care more, help more, do more--for someone else.  We have stopped treating our neighbors the way we want to be treated, and have stopped loving our enemies.  Who is defending the orphans and widows?  We have forgotten our purpose.  We have forgotten our identities.  

My heart has been broken in so many ways, but through the hurt and trials, God heals it.  He gives a renewed purpose, new desires, new goals, he makes our complications simple.  He gives us all new identities, and makes life clear.   

It is simple to love.  It is simple to show grace.  It is simple to become new.  

Our challenges stem from our wants, needs, desires, and fears, but it’s time to change.  It’s time for all of us to say the numbers out loud.  What do we have to lose?  Change the everyday, change who you are, and change the world.  

Beautiful simplicity.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Emboret Clinics

Beautiful moments of my bush flying in South Maasai Land.  Thankful for the opportunities to weigh and vaccinate babies, tell the mama's how much their little one's weigh, and provide health care and future's to people in remote areas.

Life is precious.  Enjoy it.  Love it.  And, share it with as many people as you possibly can.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Need of a Rainbow

Today, I needed a rainbow.  I needed to feel like the love and grace that's been showered on me has a bigger purpose and reason.  A couple of days ago, I was overwhelmed by how much love surrounds me.  How life, through it's challenges and hardships is beautiful.  How I've lived every day the way I desire it to be with adventure, joy, happiness, and security.  I think of all of this, and I know that the reason-- completely, thoroughly, absolutely-- is because of the beautiful mercy and forgiveness of Christ.  It is this beauty that I try to explain.  I try to express the amazing love of someone you know will never leave you or forsake you.  It is this life that I live, this joy that I know, that I want to share with the world.  It is the solution to everything.  Christ is the solution to everything.

Today, I received my rainbow.  I drove up to the airport to fly a thirteen-day old baby girl to Nairobi, Kenya.  This baby girl was suffering from renal failure, high glucose levels, and was on two and a half liters of oxygen.  I always ask if the patient is stable before I fly, but what do you do when you are the last option...when the patient is unstable, and you are the only hope they have left?  Well, you fly. You do everything in your power to help, and if you've been given wings...use them.

I landed in Nairobi, got out of the plane, and held that sweet baby while I watched the ambulance drive up to where I was standing under the wing.  This tiny person in between life and death- struggling to continue the fight to survive.  I wanted to do it for her.  I held my breath to make sure I heard her little lungs working--I wanted to will her to breathe deeper.  After the ambulance left I didn't have time to process or think about about what I was feeling.  I went through the motions of running around the airport, flight plan, payments...checking everything off of my list one by one.  Finally, after the chaos of Nairobi airport--I was able to fly home.

Back in Arusha, I refueled with jerry cans (and made the security guys help me out) got in the car and started my drive home.  It was while I was driving home that I was overcome by an enormous need to cry.  

All of a sudden, I was finished.  Emotionally drained, heart hurting, thinking of a baby girl who's little face seemed to be draining of life right before my eyes.  I can't explain the heartache to see such an innocent baby fight to live.  How the threat of death seemed to shadow and creep in all around as I stood under a wing of an airplane holding a beautiful child that was wrapped in a beautiful Tanzanian kanga.  This is my job...but it feels like so much more.

I will find out what happens to baby Gianna soon.  I will know if she lives or if she dies.  I will think of her like I think of so many I've flown, and I will trust that each baby and mama and papa I reach are all placed in my airplane for a reason.  I will look at rainbows while I'm flying and always think of how God's grace and mercy is enough to cover all of the worlds sorrows.  Though today may be always comes in the morning.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Fight for Life

What is the meaning of life to you?  When you feel hopeless, lost, insecure, what do you cling to? 

I see so many brand new lives start, and I see so many little lives fighting to survive. 

My heart is heavy, but my life is full.  My tears are many, but my joy always comes in the morning.  

My fight is for life, and I will always, always fight.  

A Maasai grandmother came to me at an airstrip with her grandchild, this beautiful baby, severely malnourished, fighting to live. This little one is three-years old, and looks like she is one and a half.  She cannot keep her head up on her own for very long, and does not cry.  

Why, why doesn't she cry?? I stood there looking at this little one and wanted to cry for her--I stood there thinking, she will die, we have to do something. We give her food and medicine and she starts to eat...why then does the grandmother say the child won't eat?  We give instructions on how to care for this baby girl, and say we will be back soon.

A few weeks later, I'm standing by the airplane when the doctor calls me over and says, "Elsa, look at the child, she is bad."  

I look at this baby, legs so swollen, stomach so extended, Lord, what do I do?  The doctor tells me to look closer at the legs--they have cut the baby.  The grandmother decided to use tribal medicine, twice on each knee and ankle, she cut the little one to, "let the water out".  This precious baby girl, starving and so weak stares at me with bleak eyes. 

I try to hold myself together...why have they not taken the baby to the hospital?  Why are they not feeding her?

I'm angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed by the responsibility of what to do next--I tell them that I need to take her to the hospital.  I will fly her to get help.   They say, "no, we don't have money."  That's ok, I tell them, I will take care of it.  They tell me, "no, she cannot go unless the father agrees, and the father is away."  The aunt says, "I am afraid of the airplane, and I will not go."  I stand there feeling completely hopeless, and confused as to why this baby girls life is of no value to them.  

Once more I say to them, the child will die if you do not go in the airplane.  

The Maasai women stand under the wing talking, finally, an elder woman from the tribe says to the aunt of the child, “if she dies, you die as well.  Go with the plane.”  

Just like that, the child has a chance at life.  

See, baby Mary, is a twin.  She was probably the weaker of the two, and the mother decided to keep one and give Mary to her grandmother. She has been holding on to life when they were all just waiting for her to die.  

Later that day we gave Mary lunch, a little bit of pasta salad and a carrot.  As I watched, she ate, and ate, and sitting there with a carrot in her tiny hand--I thought, she will be ok.  We will win this battle.

Mary is currently at the hospital, the doctor’s tell me that the swelling in her legs is down, and that she is doing well.   I get to visit her on Sunday morning, and continue to pray for her little life.  I don’t know her future, but I will do my best to give her one.

I cling to the fact that there is a future and hope.  There are so many “why’s” in life, and sometimes I think that by the time I die my heart will have been broken so many times God will have to patch it all back together again to make me new.  

We all fight..we fight for something, for someone, for ourselves. 

We fight for the future, and the next generations...

We fight for life.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


I arrived back from clinics yesterday evening, walked out to the car, and had a flat tire....again.  Usually, when that happens, I'm just thankful it's on the car and not on the plane.  Changing a C206 tire in the bush is one of those experiences I'm not looking forward to, but one I know I can handle if needed.

That's nice, right?  Knowing you can handle something, anything.   It's a confidence thing...or an epiphany of sorts!  Realizing that you can handle life, the world, your day to day living.  My day to day living just so happens to be me hoping I don't have to change a flat airplane tire, but your life is altogether different than mine.  That's amazing.  I love that we all have to handle something different, but that we can all still connect in some lovely, unique way.

The other day I was flying into some rough weather, and thought about my journey to get to that exact moment in my life (actually, I was thinking about how I wanted to get from 9000ft to 3000ft without freaking my doctors out...but anyways) and realized that the responsibilities in my life are enormous.  Whether it's flying an airplane full of doctors or taking a grandmother to the hospital...I've been given a responsibility to help, love, and go.  And, the ability to handle it all.

No matter how many times people ask me how many years I've been flying, how old I am, or that I don't look like a pilot (cause they expected a 50 year old man to fly) I know that the Lord's purpose for my life and your life is brilliant, bright, and that you WILL be able to handle it.

Just...go for it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thanksgiving (and oh, so much love)

I've been blessed my entire life by support, encouragement, affirmation, and so much love.  I am truly grateful for my amazing family and friends.  I cannot express how dear you all are to me.  

Almost two years ago, I was on my way to the airport about to head to Tanzania...I read this note written to me by one of my best friends...

Here are her beautiful words:

"So it seems that our God has called you away, 
To move from the “norm” into a new world today.  
For He has spoken out and called you by name; 
You have been lead by faith-for when he called, you came.

A new adventure is to be had, my dear.  
For a great and wonderful thing has appeared, 
A trip to take you all across the world; 
A map to be made for your new life, sweet girl.

A fire in your soul, from such a young age, 
This is your solo moment, so go take the stage.  
Oh young star, your heart shines so bright; 
Glow now and ever more, guiding others with your light.

Continue to listen with opened ears and a quiet mind, 
And may all of your efforts be gratefully returned in kind.  
May your steps be taken with confidence anew, 
As you follow what God told your heart you should do.

As you pack up your bags, and count each single item 
Deciding what to bring and just where to put them,
Carefully folding every piece you pack into your bag.
Writing your new address so clearly onto your tag.

This is a trip so full of great promise
I wish you safety and such wonderful success.
May you learn and grow in a million different ways 
And live in peace for all of your days.

For this is your calling, oh, beautiful child.
You have been raised and prepared for a life none-so-mild.
You have vigor and determination hidden deep within
So the game of life shall be conquered; and you with the win.

Your heart is a prize to be had by few
I only hope they will see what a treasure is found in you.
You’re a blessing, oh love.  A dream come true,
The window to your soul is a glorious view.

I wish you peace and freedom.  And victory in all.
That you may love and embrace this heavenly call.
With eyes so wide and a heart ready for adventure,
I pray your foothold will always be solid and sure.

May the Lord who called you to do this great trip
Hold you up and carry you and not let you slip.
I know He will be there, in all that you do
I pray that his love will complete and comfort you.

Oh little girl, you have grown so much.
You are a woman fully trusting in God’s guiding touch.
With a gentle nudge and a spark in your heart
That’s all you needed to take this new start.

I am so very proud of you, my friend,
For your gumption to step out and to jump right on in.
May your leap of faith take you up to new heights
And may you be found in awe at all of the stunning sights.

For God is great and so full of wonder,
His voice can be louder than the strike of thunder.
But He also knows just when to whisper,
His power can be withheld but never hindered.

You have a King that is right here on your side,
You have a warrior that will be there and never hide.
His love is a shield that will protect you always
His name is a sword, defending for all your days.

Oh, stay in the peace of knowing that He 
Is the ruler and King of everything.
Rest in the assurance of God’s great power
You have nothing to fear, so don’t ever cower.

You are strong in Him who guides your way
You are in His hands, every moment of every day.
So live the life you have been called to lead,
Stand firm in knowing that you have been freed.

Goodbye my dear, it will all be okay
Because God has taken the worry of your future away.
It is in His hands, and darling, so are you
He will guide your steps in all that you do.

I can’t wait to hear all about what is to be,
You will have such an adventure, and we all want to see.
Have fun sweetheart!  And enjoy the ride,
Here you go off with Him, side by side!"

Monday, November 10, 2014


From clinics to emergency flights to doctor and patient transfers...there aren't many dull moments here at Flying Medical Service.  However, today it's nice to sit at my desk, drink coffee, and wait for radio call. We do radio calls four times per day to check in with the pilot on the's the only way to communicate with the pilot while they are at our most remote airstrips.  One of the other pilot's is on clinic in Simanjiro until Wednesday, and I'm flying Loliondo clinics Thursday-Saturday.  My boss is in Nairobi with our second aircraft...should be in Arusha sometime this week!

It's been a busy few months, but the busier we are the more people we are helping.  There are times when I don't feel like going on clinics or living such a hectic lifestyle, but then at those few airstrips, when I get out of the plane and I'm greeted by fifteen little Maasai children saying, "Elsa, Elsa!"  it's worth it.  It's such a special life.  No matter how rough or unglamorous it may feel most days--the joy that's found in this work is pretty incredible.

Last Sunday, I had an emergency flight from Kilimanjaro to Nairobi for a two year old girl who fell off of a chair.  We were worried about possible bleeding on the brain, thankfully, all was cleared after she was examined at Aga Khan.  I'm so glad that a skill I learned as a teen (flying) is now something I can use in so many different situations to help!

"God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him." ~Jim Elliot