March 2022
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The Story Continues...

Written by DJ
Day One was a 14 hour drive in with four vehicles. Our friends from International Tribal Ministries and Mano a Mano Foundation loaned two 4x4s and 5 mechanics. The recovery of the Super Cub would have been almost impossible without their help. A trailer was not an option due to road conditions. I had a doctor and a dentist along to give medical and dental care to the community members while the mechanics were working and two other capable volunteers to help with the recovery. The last couple hours going in we used the 4-wheel drive, but no one got stuck and no landslides blocked the road (very common this time of year). We were blessed with good weather three of the four days.
Day Two we hiked in three hours to the plane. The mechanics had the Cub apart in 5-6 hours. A contingent of about 25 locals waited patiently while we worked, fed us a meal of roast lamb and potatoes and did most of the hauling. We packed cylinders, instruments and all the small parts in 5-gal buckets with lids for transport on mules. One mechanic had 100 yards of bubble wrap and a roll of stretch wrap. He was busy packing as the others disassembled. That night we split up and several of us stayed with the nearest neighbors in their thatched huts. 
Day Three the mechanics hiked out with the tools while the locals shuttled parts to the cars. Their help was indispensable. The wings went out on people's backs, the engine on some poles. We turned a gear leg inside out, braced it with the upside-down cabane and lashed it in place. That allowed the fuselage to go rolling on one tire. By the end of the day, all the salvageable pieces were strapped on or packed in to the vehicles.
Day Four we got an early start and 4-wheeled the three hours back to dry roads. About halfway home we rounded a narrow bend on the mountainside and saw a group of vehicles blocking the next intersection. As we approached, ten police in fatigues with weapons drawn, dismounted and ran up the road towards us. There was a lot of shouting and chaos. They demanded all cell phones and radios and warned us not to make a call. A couple of our team got handcuffed, the rest were made to sit on the ground. I thought it was pretty extreme for a routine road checkpoint and I was right. It wasn't routine; they were looking for ME!
The major who started interviewing me almost fell over when I told him I was the pilot and in charge of the team. He thought he was talking to a ghost because a social media post turned into a venue for growing and untrue rumors. Supposedly I was dead and buried hastily by the wreckage of a plane transporting illegal substances. Turns out some local youth had visited the plane, taken a number of photos and posted them and the comments ran pretty wild. The police had been "looking" for us for 3 days.
We were able to quickly and effectively prove our innocence. The day of the accident I had passed the routine narcotics check with K-9 presence, before takeoff, and had evidence of this. We had notified the Civil Aviation authority the same day of the incident and I submitted a full report the following week with all the details of our plans to recover the airplane, including dates and locations. I had also invited Civil Aviation inspectors to accompany our expedition. They ended up declining to investigate, determining that it didn't quality as an air accident.
With this info, our doctor’s credentials, and the fact we were recovering the plane and not trying to hide anything, the officers relaxed. Our name was clear. But, they still had a problem. If they let us go, it would be admitting a pretty costly mistake on their part. A one-minute phone call to Civil Aviation or their own officers at the airport who had signed my flight plan would have saved launching 3 squads and 2 helicopters on a 3+ day goose chase. Needless to say, we got a police escort the rest of the way home. Then they detained and questioned the whole team till 3 am at the police headquarters.
I got pretty tired of them trumping things up and saying we had been "denounced" so I risked more trouble and challenged the Colonel on that. Was a social media post an accusation? Did it have more weight than the documents and evidence I had already shared with him? What right did they have to detain us, especially the doctors? He admitted they had no evidence against us and that we were voluntarily being taken for questioning. I requested to least send the docs home, to which he countered with a threat to arrest us if we tried....sigh. He also informed me that the fuselage would be subject to a microscopic vacuum inspection in the morning and then released if the test was negative.
Bottom line, we survived the night. I crashed for 30 mins before I had to be up chasing documents for our 8am inspection back at headquarters. Thankfully I got in touch with a lawyer that I trust and he agreed to drop everything and come. 

The fuselage passed the test. You might think "of course." But it wasn't that simple. The plane had been on the mountain for 10 days with no guard. People had been there touching it and taking pictures. Someone could have easily planted something on it in that time, or during the night at headquarters. There was a real chance I would go straight to jail.
That was February 17, and even though the judge said we could collect our goods after 5pm if the test was negative, we still don't have the fuselage. I've been back trying to get permission to inspect for damage but that was not allowed.
I believe God turns all these things for good, so that is the way I’m choosing to look at the situation. Will we get our parts back? Yeah, I’m pretty sure we will, but it may take a while. Meanwhile, since our paths have crossed, we will be praying for the officer’s salvation. Please join us. The value of one soul is infinitely beyond estimation.
Facebook: GMA Bolivia Highlands
Facebook: GMA Bolivia Highlands
DJ has been busy lining things up to rebuild the Super Cub. Many parts are backordered a long time (some 1 yr+), yet we have watched God provide just what we need in His good and perfect ways. More to come!

Our team is growing!

In the next update we'll introduce you to the new members of our Bible worker / lifestyle center teams.

A big congrats to our PT, Paola, who had a little girl last week, adding the 3rd Elizabeth to the B3 Team :D.
Current Need:

Used, simple laptop donation for the new lifestyle center.

Prayer Requests:

Our Bible worker leader's family is in crisis. Please pray for a solution that honors God.

Release of the plane parts.

A good beginning to the new year with the Bible worker team.
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Gospel Mission Aviation, Inc. · P.O. Box 2358 · Collegedale, TN 37315 · USA

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