Friday, September 15, 2006

Indonesia De-Briefing - Very successful mission in the shadow of Mount Merapi! - Part 2

September 15, 2006 - Friday - 5:25pm(EST) - Titusville, FL Report submitted by: Joe Hurston

This is a continuation of our overview of our recent mission to Indonesia. This portion of the report explains how Air Mobile identified, trained and equipped a dynamic "First-Responder Water Relief Team". Now, this team is actually working the region of Indonesia that was devastated by a powerful 7.7 earthquake and tsunami. The death-toll is rising (655 Confirmed dead and hundreds more missing). We are so thankful that we are able to dispatch a team so quickly. Your support and prayer help make this happen. Now, here's the rest of the report.

Our mission to Mount Merapi turned out to be one of our most rewarding deployments ever. The Air Mobile Team, Joe, Cindy and Barbara, headed straight to Mount Merapi (the world's most active volcano) on our first day in the region after departing Jakarta, the capitol of Indonesia. As we approached the mouth of the smoking volcano, we expected to be stopped by the officials and warned not to go any further. It never happened.

When we arrived in Solo Valley, just in the shadow of the volcano, we didn't know a soul. We stopped and soon we were speaking with Marcos, a tour guide for Mt. Merapi. His English was passable and next thing we knew, we were driving to the very last village on the southwest side of the volcano. In other words, you could get no closer to the mouth of Merapi. I must admit, we were all a bit apprehensive about getting so close to the world's most active volcano.

As we rolled into the village in a cloud of volcanic ash, it was the faces of the villagers that struck me. These people had recently returned to their village after a rather violent eruption that had killed two people just on the other side of the volcano. After spending several days in make-shift evacuation camps, these people opted to return to their homes. This is all they have ever known.

Many families had lived on this volcano mountain for mulitple generations. Besides, their animals and crops needed care. The volcanic ash had covered everything. We noted farmers in their fields attempting to save their crops by delicately brushing or gently washing the ash off their crops. In their minds, what else could they do?

The media had described these as the "defiant" ones who refused to leave the mountain. Could it blow at any moment? Yes, it certainly could. As we began to speak to the residents, we found interesting responses. Some believed the "holy man" that assured them that nothing would happen. Of course, the same "holy man" had told the residents on the other side of the mouth of the volcano that nothing would happen, yet, 2 people were burned alive by the hot gasses that blew out the side of Merapi. Of course, this volcano has only had 2 major eruptions in the last 75 years. Yet, the signs are pointing toward another major eruption.

We debated among ourselves about the plight of these precious people. One thing was for sure, they were not going to leave unless the lava was flowing right at them, or so it seems. What were we to do? After careful prayer and looking in their faces and watching the joyful antics of their children and the determination to live in the midst of great danger, the Air Mobile Team decided to develop a "First Responder" team capble of bringing clean water to them before the volcano blows and after, if the residents are fortunate enough to get out alive.

One scene that particularly touched our hearts was seeing a group of village girls preparing seedlings for the next crop. This just demonstrated the determination and the will to live and move forward in the face of adversity and danger.

Over the next week we journeyed to Mt. Merapi nearly every day on various missions. We met the head of the Merapi Guide Club, Sony. We met his wife, children, parents and numerous friends and co-workers. After careful review, we chose Sony to lead our "Air Mobile First Responder Team". We trained our newly formed teams on several different occasions.

In our training sessions, we used the actual river that was along the main evacuation route. This very river my soon be the life-saving water source for hundreds or thousands of evacuees fleeing the erupting volcano.

In addition to the Merapi Guide Club, we added another fine organization to cooperate with us on the First Responder Team, The Rebana Foundation. This Foundation is an extension of the Baptist Church in Indonesia. The Rebana Foundation is doing quality relief work all throughout Indonesia. Dr. Suroso, of the Rebana Foundation met with us on our final day. He and his associate were also trained on the operation of the Vortex Voyager TM and introduced to Sony and various members of the Merapi Guide Club. All seemed to hit it off quite well. Our team is coming together.

We are so pleased that now, we have in place a first class, highly capable first responder team in shadow of the world most active volcano. We truly thank the Lord for giving us the privilege to reach out to these vulnerable people.

This very mobile, capable team is able to bring life-saving water to help these precious people in the event of a catastrophy such as a major volcanic eruption. We also now have the ability to give clean water every day to those in need in various locations. We praise God for our team of "mountain climbers" (the Merapi Guide Club) who know the territory extremely well and are willing to serve and the Rebana Foundation standing firmly with us!

Should Mount Merapi have a major eruption, the U.S.Air Mobile Team will return to Indonesia immediately to assist our Indonesian Team in the disaster! We pray Merapi does not blow!!

Many of you who are reading this report have prayed for us and supported our efforts with your support and love. We truly thank the Lord for you!


Joe, Cindy and Barbara (The U.S. Air Mobile Team!)