June 4, 2012 in News
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9:30 PM Monday June 4th update
We have just retuned half an hour ago from a long day on the Zambezi River at the site where the plane crashed. Our son Doug was with me along with Justin who was also a tremendous help.
We took a lot of equipment from here and two vehicles and after some prolonged discussion and preparation we headed out on a barge to the site which was almost a kilometre from where we launched.
We were very thankful that the 8 divers from Lusaka were still there and had their equipment and were with us on the barge and a tremendous help. It took us some time to again identify the location and find the plane but once we did we anchored and then were able to secure ropes to the chassis. This took several hours.
After many different plans and attempts we were able to drag the plane down the river, we did realize that one wing was off and we were not sure of the engine, which eventually was discovered was missing and not sure if it dropped out today or was already separated from the rest of the plane.
Once we arrived back at the launch site and with the help of the hundreds on shore we pulled the plane out of the river, sadly it was in many parts by now and quite mangled. We were able to hire a truck and after 1 1/2 hours we loaded it along with all the pieces we had recovered and slowly headed to Chitokoloki. The truck in front and we following behind and it was dark for most of the way. The plane is now on the ramp here at the Mission and we are grateful that the diving team have agreed to remain
for another day to look for the engine and wing. As the funeral will be tomorrow here at Chitokoloki at 12:00 noon, we will not return to Zambezi but trust that they will be able to recover the missing parts.
We will value your prayers for tomorrow, it will not be an easy day but will trust the Lord for help.
Katrina’s parents and Jay’s mother will be travelling to Zambia later in the week.
For many of you who have been upholding us in prayer we will try and give you an update from today and thank you so much for helping us through today which has been very very hard. We could not have made it without the Lord’s help and your prayers. It has been tough.
This morning early we travelled to Zambezi, 43 kilometres, and met first with the police and after went down to the Zambezi River at the point where the plane went into the water. There was nothing to be seen but a flowing river as the plane was completely submersed.
We found three South African fellows from Stefanutti Stocks, a road construction company, out in the river in a speedboat and they came over and picked me up and we spent the next 2+ hours trolling up and down the river trying to find the plane. There were numerous dugouts loaded with men looking and one group were especially astute and they spotted the wheels as the plane was flipped upside down. The river was flowing so swift it was hard to stay over it and we would repeatedly be carried down stream.
After several attempts we were able to dive down and tie 2 ropes onto each wheel, it was between 3 and 5 metres deep and that at least gave us an anchor point to which we could tie the boat and stop being carried down the river. We managed to tie on two more ropes and then added several lengths of chain but we could still not reach the shore to try and pull the plane. At this point we had to wait for help which soon arrived, a team of Zambia Airforce Divers, several army personnel, the DCA Inspectorate and other officials from Lusaka.
After some time they came and saw the site, went and got their gear on and began diving down, they broke into the plane and were able to recover Jays body first and later Katrina’s. We took them to shore and after some time, late afternoon, we brought them to Chitokoloki.
The plans are to have a funeral service here at Chitokoloki at 12:00 noon on Tuesday followed by burial on the Mission. This arrangement has been done with the complete approval of both Jay and Katrina’s parents who have been remarkably strong in their commitment to the Lord’s will and having committed their children to the Lord and know that God has allowed it and we must accept His will. Please pray for them as it must be very hard being so far away.
Tomorrow we plan on returning to Zambezi to try and recover the plane.
Your prayers will still be very much appreciated as we still face a few very tough days but know that God is able. We still can hardly believe what has happened but must press on.
June 2nd 10:30 PM
It is with profound sadness, shock still, a tremendous sense of loss and with very heavy hearts that we are letting you know that we have lost two of our dear missionary colleagues this afternoon. Lost to us and their families but with the Lord.
Jay and Katrina went to be with the Lord this afternoon at about 4:30 PM after the plane that Jay was flying crashed into the Zambezi River right at Zambezi town which is approximately half way between Chitokoloki and Chavuma.
Jay had flown earlier in the day three passengers from Lusaka to Chitokoloki arriving at 12:15.
We had another flight booked later in the day to take one nurse from Chitokoloki to Chavuma and they left Chitokoloki at 3:00 PM. Jay’s wife Katrina went with him for the first time off the station since they arrived some months ago and she was so excited to just be off the station for a short period, we kept their two girls here, Marina and Corral, The plane landed at Chavuma 30 minutes after take off. At about 4:00 PM they left Chavuma to return to Chitokoloki. At about 4:30 that afternoon the plane went into the water just outside the town of Zambezi.
We were soon notified and rushed to Zambezi which took almost 45 minutes and by this time hundreds were on the banks but the plane was completely submerged in the river, Frantic efforts were made to secure a boat with an engine but all efforts failed and just after 6:30 PM we had to give up as darkness had descended.
We feel absolutely distraught and completely overwhelmed with sadness, agony and grief over this and so helpless that we could not do something more.
We drove back to Chitokoloki and found the Christians all gathered at the church building with fires lit, singing quietly and expressing their sympathy in the traditional way.
The two girls are asleep in their own beds and two of the single gals are with them tonight.
Tomorrow at daybreak we will head back to Zambezi and with the Lord;s help we will attempt to recover the bodies and pull the plane to the bank.
On the afternoon of June 2nd, Chitokoloki lost two of its missionaries in a plane accident. Since then many many people have called, written or texted to express their support and to look for updates. To ensure that the same message and details are given to all, we will try and updated the website with all of the details of exactly what happened. When we have more news or details we will post them here.
Oddly enough, I (Jay) have been pondering the concept of death since arriving at Chitokoloki. Living next door to a bush hospital, we hear quite clearly the wails of mourning with each death. And these occur frequently, being about every other day. In addition, I have been reading through Israel’s wanderings through the wilderness and all the times God’s wrath was poured out such that each time thousands were consumed, bitten, swallowed, or otherwise perished. Still again, I have been reading Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis, which though a fictional work, deals philosophically with death. Even in eating meat here when I saw the creature alive that morning reminds me of the topic.
I did not plan the correlation, but it caused me to think along these lines and realize again in a new way that there is nothing sad about the death of a Christian. The only sadness (and I do not intend to belittle this aspect) is in the loss of companionship by those left behind. And yet, to contrast this, the level of tragedy is so vast for the passing of an unbeliever. To borrow from physics, it seems the “equal and opposite reaction.”
It warms my heart to hear the frequent and fervent preaching of the Gospel here. Perhaps it is the real presence of death here that we seem so surgically removed from in the USA which is the motivation. At any rate, I hope it will inspire me to get over those inhibitions which so easily hinder me from speaking.
I will close with a quote from C.S. Lewis which is at the foundation of my thinking: “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” And I know that when this body dies, my soul will get a new one.