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Jay & Katrina – Many Thanks

June 8, 2012 in News, People

It never ceases to amaze us that at a time like we have experienced this past week, the great generosity, kindness and compassion of people who are willing to help out and do whatever they can. There are so many people we need to thank and probably a few that we will forget. So many were behind the scenes and were never seen, but we acknowledge that it took a large effort from a lot of people to get through and the tremendous support you gave us. If we do not mention you by name below please forgive us and know how much both Chitokoloki Mission, the missionaries at Chitokoloki and the families appreciate all that everyone has done.

We would like to first thank His Excellency the President of Zambia, Mr Michael Sata,  the Minister of North Western Province, Ms Josephin Limate and all the government officials of Zambia who expressed condolences and showed such compassion and kindness. We are greatly indebted and appreciate the tremendous support that we have received through the recovery efforts, the funeral and assistance for the family of the Ericksons. Thank-you

A big thank-you to the local government and everyone in Zambezi. Firstly, thank-you to the District Commissioner of Zambezi, Lawrence Kayumba for all of his help, along with all of his staff. Without your aid we would not have been able to accomplish what we did in the timelines that were required. Thank-you to the Zambezi Police for their professionalism and expediency in all matters. To all of the Pontoon Operators and many citizens for their willingness to help out and spend the time on the river that they did. Thank-You.

To the ZAF divers and DCA along with their support and command staff, thank-you for timely arrival and immediate support and wisdom in recovering the bodies and the parts of the aircraft. A tremendous job was done and we count it a privilege to have had your support.

A special thanks to the guys at Stefanutti Stocks, for being on the scene so fast and being willing to help out throughout the day. Craig Bowles, Trevor Greyling, Tony Stephenson, Steven Myburgh and Benny Summers, thank you for your time and the use of your boat as part of the search for the bodies.

 To Mrs Karen Sichinga and all staff at CHAZ for their extreme kindness, contributions and for travelling to Chitokoloki, we greatly appreciate all that you have done including the assistance rendered to the family on their arrival in Lusaka.

Jay & Katrina – Update on the Girls

June 7, 2012 in News, People

A lot of people have been asking about the girls. In order to protect their privacy and shelter them from what is going on we have not said a lot.

The girls are just great, happy as normal kids and have all these wonderful “aunties”  that they know so well and are so comfortable with. They get rides on the ATV bikes and are well cared for and playing happily and have not reacted bad in any way whatsoever. They are too young to understand and no need for them to know the details at this time, they just know that daddy and mummy are in a “happy place” and Marina wanted to know if there were nice sunsets there.

Krista Besselman wrote an email to us and included a poem that she wrote especially for Marina, copied below.

Where the Sun Never Sets

Darling, no, there are not any sunsets

Where your Mommy and Daddy have gone.

You’ve been told that they’ve gone to a good place;

You don’t know yet that they have passed on.


Dear, your Mommy and Daddy have left us

For the place of their unending rest,

Where the Lamb is the light of the city—

With no sun there, the sun never sets.


Here the sun sets and gives way to darkness.

We can mourn at the loss of its light

Or rejoice in the bright hope of heaven—

No more death, no more curse, no more night.


Dear, your Mommy and Daddy have left us

For their place of eternal reward.

By the light of the gospel they lived by

Someday you, too, can be with the Lord.


O the treasure and joy found in heaven!

On that day you will have no regrets

That the Lamb is the light of that city

And His glorious light never sets.

Condolences and reminders of praying Christians are still coming in from far and wide, every continent, and we are praying that the Lord would use this incident to Glorify His Name and perhaps He will use this, what we call a tragedy, as He did many years ago, the “tragedy” of Jim Elliot and the others in Ecuador whose lives were given for the Lord and yet that incident has touched many for so long after it occurred and motivated many to go to foreign lands to serve the Lord. We are amazed at the comments from non-believers who have written.

We know that the Lord knew long before the plane took off from Chit on Saturday what was to occur and He does have a purpose, we don’t know what it is but we must be content to accept His will and cling to His promises for strength to press on, just one day at a time.

Jay Erickson – Doing What He Loved

June 6, 2012 in News, People

Last night this picture was found of Jay in the hangar at Chitokoloki in front of the plane that he flew. You can tell by his smile that he was at home here and loved what he did. Thought that I would post this as we remember them both.

Jay & Katrina – Thoughts

June 5, 2012 in News, People

Today was the funeral for Jay and Katrina Erickson here at Chitokoloki. It was a hard day in a lot of ways, yet sitting here at the end of the day and reflecting on it, everything still seems surreal. I personally knew Jay less than others here. I worked along side him a number of times on projects and I am struck by some very specific memories that I think define the type of person he was.

Once when working on the internet here at Chitokoloki, Jay and I were trying to work through some problems and not having a lot of success. In the middle of the morning Jay disappeared and was nowhere to be found. When I asked where he was I was told that he went for “Tea” with his wife. Turns out every morning at 10am, he would stop what he was doing, go back to the house and make sure that his wife, left with their two young kids, was ok and to show intrest in her day. She was left alone at home in a foreign land with their two young kids. At the time I did not think much of it, but now that they have both passed, it makes one think. The internet at chitokoloki now works, the issues were sorted, that is of no consequence, however the time we spend with our families, we never know how much of that we will have. God only is in control of how long we have. What should be important, each and every day, what do I value, a few minutes with my wife, or just getting the next job done. The work and things we fill our days with will always be there, but the people in our lives may  not.

Today as we went through some of the computers on the mission we found these two pictures. They show and bring out the personality of the couple and what they brought to the lives of every life they touched. Jay full of energy and ready for anything, and the two of them happy to be  serving God and doing something with their lives.

This picture shows Jay (on Plane) with a team of doctors and hospital staff on a medical trip to Chavuma.

The second picture is the last picture taken of the couple. They had just finished lunch and where on the way to the airstrip and the car was full. Jay jumped on top, and Katrina on back.


Jay & Katrina – Update June 4

June 4, 2012 in News, People

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.

Jay & Katrina – Update 2

June 3, 2012 in News, People

Zambezi River3 June, 2012 9:00:57

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.

Jay & Katrinia – Update June 2nd

June 3, 2012 in News, People

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.

Jay & Katrina Erickson

June 3, 2012 in News, People

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.

On their blog recently Jay had this to write about death. Profound thoughts for a man who finds himself in the presence of his creator.
Pondering Death

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.