"Moment's of Impact" - Fort Pierce Hangar Banquet

President Joe & Wendy Karabensh greet guests as they find their seats at the Fort Pierce Banquet.

President Joe & Wendy Karabensh greet guests as they find their seats at the Fort Pierce Banquet.

On Friday, November 9, Missionary Flights International (MFI) hosted the Hangar Banquet at it’s headquarters in Fort Pierce, Florida. With an anticipated 630 people attending, it is estimated that there were just over 600 who came out for an evening titled, “Moments of Impact.” This banquet highlighted various areas that Missionary Flights has influenced over the last year.

Catered by TooJay’s in Vero Beach, the cuisine for the evening included baked Alaskan salmon, stuffed chicken breast, pot roast, green beans, roasted potatoes, carrots, and chocolate cake. Guests had the pleasure of finishing the evening with a cup of coffee as they were encouraged to consider MFI in their end of the year contributions.

As with every MFI event, special care is given to praise the Lord for his great work. Worship was led by Ray, Amy, and Ashley Lloyd. Familiar songs such as “How Great is Our God,” “How Great Thou Art,” and, MFI theme song, “I’ll Fly Away,” were some of the titles of choice.

“Standing in the Gap” continues to be the motto of MFI. Videos throughout the evening included “Goats to Haiti,” “Christmas Bags for Haiti,” and “Propel DR and Missionary Flights Partnership.” Each of these videos can be found, downloaded, and easily shared at vimeo.com/missionaryflights.

Interview with Karen Davis

Kevin Stratton is joined by Karen Davis on stage for a missionary interview during the Fort Pierce Banquet.

Kevin Stratton is joined by Karen Davis on stage for a missionary interview during the Fort Pierce Banquet.

Karen & Don Davis were invited as special missionary guests to the banquet. They have served in Haiti for the last 35 years in a ministry best described as a ministry of helps. Among many of their acts of service within the country, they also serve ministries that travel with MFI through the Cap-Haitian airport. They have hosted mission teams in their guest house, provided building supplies, assisted local schools and orphanages, and they have been foster parents to 12 Haitian children. Those children are now in forever homes in the United States, Canada, Argentina, and Haiti. During the evening, Karen was asked to join Pilot Kevin Stratton on the stage for an eyewitness interview of the work going on in Haiti. The following is the script from that interview:

Stratton: “Karen, tell me about your connection with Missionary Flights.”

Davis: “That started about 6 months after we moved to Haiti. We were at the airport one day, and I ended up helping MFI with their paperwork for the government. Then I began to help with the passengers. Then, the cargo. Finally, my husband and I looked up and realized that we were the volunteers for MFI in Haiti.

Stratton: “I’ve been a Pilot at MFI for 8 years. When Karen says volunteers for MFI in Haiti, she means that every time we land in Cap-Haitian she is there to meet the flight. She is there to handle passengers and cargo. It is really hard to explain all of the various things Karen does and what she means to MFI. Karen interacts with the 120+ affiliated mission organizations that are connected to Cap-Haitian. I would like for her to share a story of how she has seen an impact in relation to some of those other missions.

Davis: “I think that the first story that I want to share with you happened quite a few years ago. Brooke, a young missionary girl was on a bicycle and was hit by a big truck. After hearing from a doctor, Don called me and said, ‘Karen, we have to get this child out of Haiti, or she is going to die.’ All I could think to do was contact MFI. After getting ahold of Dick Snook, he arrived the next morning as the Cap-Haitian airport was opening. We brought Brooke out to the airplane on a backboard and loaded her into the little plane that had been flown in. We realized that she did not have the necessary straps on the board to hold her secure, and Don ran out to the truck to get ratchet straps to fasten her onto the board. Dick then flew Brooke, her mom, and her sister back to America. Because of that, Brooke is alive today. If it were not for MFI and the grace of God, that child would have been dead.”

Stratton: “What an awesome story. Many times we pilots, mechanics, staff, and volunteers do not know the impact that we have at MFI. Many of you are familiar with the earthquake that occurred in 2010, and the impact that MFI had in respect to that event. While Karen was in Cap-Haitian, a good distance from the epicenter, I would still like for her to share her experience, and how she saw MFI working during that time.”

Davis: “Well, we did feel the earthquake up along the North coast, but nothing like what was felt in Port-au-Prince. However, because of what happened in Port-au-Prince, people came by the thousands into Cap-Haitian to find a place to stay and sleep. The churches in Cap-Haitian were filled with refugees. There was nothing to feed them. Some stayed with family members, but even those families had little to nothing. MFI contacted me and they were able to send box after box of food. We distributed the food, but we were also able to distribute tents and tarps. People were sleeping throughout the area on the ground in the rain, but because of the tents and tarps provided by MFI, we were able to provide more comfortable living conditions. Many of the people did end up traveling back to Port-au-Prince to rebuild their lives, but because of the response from MFI, they were able to transition in much better conditions.”

Stratton: “Karen flew out yesterday from Haiti and came to me requesting just another minute to share a personal note how MFI has affected her.”

Davis: “Kevin has no idea what I’m sharing. You know, you come and you see things that they have taken pictures of, but you don’t understand that the volunteers and staff that work here at MFI are just as important to us as the pilots who fly. I don’t think that many people realize that the pilots do more than just sit in an airplane and fly down to Haiti. Pilots have to help maintain the planes. They have to load and unload the planes. They do a whole lot of work that most people don’t see, but I get to see from both ends. I just want to share with you, that from the numerous people that I know in Haiti, we are so thankful for the whole group of people that work at MFI. Whether it is here in the hangar or the pilots that fly, I have had so many people, including the Haitians, share with me that they are praying for MFI because they are truly standing in the gap for us.”

2018 Volunteer of the Year shows how to clean the sewage compartment on the plane.

2018 Volunteer of the Year shows how to clean the sewage compartment on the plane.

Volunteer of the Year

Since 2014, Missionary Flights has been recognizing volunteers for their service in memory of George Knoop. Knoop served as a volunteer in Haiti for a few years before he was killed in May 2014. While the award recognizes a single person or couples commitment to serving the Lord, all volunteers are celebrated in their collective effort to help MFI stand in the gap.

The 2018 George Knoop Volunteer of the Year was Pitt Gallup. He is known at MFI as the man who cleans out the sewage compartments on the planes. Gallup shared that his secret to success in this area of service is that he has no sense of smell. He reminded those in attendance at the banquet that physical limitations are small in the eyes of the Lord, and that he can use any who are willing.

300MF Update

If you have not heard by now, MFI flew its newest airplane home from South Africa in May of 2017. That airplane is still under heavy renovations and will be for the foreseeable future. A significant amount of the aluminum skin needs to be replaced. The interior needs replacing. A galley and restroom need to be fabricated. The list is long and the availability of labor is light. The website shows some of the latest news and progress at missionaryflights.org/N300MF. If you are a willing and capable aircraft mechanic, please send us an email and we will put you to work.

Caleb Lucien unloads tents from a pickup truck in Haiti.

Caleb Lucien unloads tents from a pickup truck in Haiti.

Port-de-Paix Earthquake

A report was given on the 5.9 earthquake that struck just northwest of Port-de-Paix, Haiti, on October 8, 2018. According to Associated Press and the U.N. Office, the disaster resulted in a death toll of 18 people and those injured at 548.

Caleb Lucien, founder of Hosean International Ministries, sent MFI a picture of tents being used to meet immediate needs. MFI purchased one-hundred family canopy tents to assist those whose homes were destroyed. According to the U.N. Office, there were 2,102 homes destroyed and 15,932 homes damaged. On October 20, those tents were flown to Haiti and made their way to trusted partners in the quake area. Additionally, MFI donated $10,000 to assist with medical needs.

Bruce Robinson with Crossworld was not surprised by the lack of news coverage. While most of the buildings along the road looked fine, there was a house near him where a 300 pound concrete beam landed on the bed where someone was resting when the earthquake hit. That person was sent to the hospital. This story, along with other stories of injury and panic, filled an update sent out by Robinson. This event truly was a reminder to many of the chaos and destruction seen in the Port-au-Prince earthquake of 2010. Robinson emailed MFI requesting 40 tarps. While acquiring tents for Lucien, MFI contacted Robinson and it was determined he needed 12 family canopy tents also.

Due to the generous support of MFI donors over the year, the cost and shipping of these items was completely covered for both Lucien and Robinson. “One of the men who works with us was here last night,” stated Robinson. “His son’s foot was badly damaged in the second earthquake when he went off the side of a set of stairs. He has two pins in his foot at our mission hospital and is recovering in traction. His father showed me the receipts where he had been buying medicines and supplies for the last week and I was surprised how much it came to. He was completely out of money and besides medical costs has to provide food for himself and his son (and the family). Because you covered [the expense of] the tarps and tents, we can help him and others.”

Drainage pipes lay on the Hospitality Park property, waiting to be placed.

Drainage pipes lay on the Hospitality Park property, waiting to be placed.

Hospitality Park Update

MFI President, Joe Karabensh, shared that Phase 1 of the Hospitality Park is a $1 million portion of the estimated $4 million project. Phase 1 was fully funded at the close of 2017 and began to see paperwork approved and progress made in 2018.

At the Fort Pierce Banquet the following update was given:

Contractors conducted a tree, soil, drainage, and gopher tortoise survey. The property needed to be rezoned from light industrial to RV park. Problems with a sewage connection were soon found. On the west side of Hammond road, all units are required to connect to Fort Pierce Utilities with the closest connection on St. Lucie Blvd, a cost of about $100,000 to run the pipes. However, the Lord was faithful to provide, MFI was given approval to cross the street and connect to the county system at the airport. All other Phase 1 plans have been approved.

Gopher Tortoises were safely relocated from the Hospitality Park location. Throughout the property it was determined that there were 8 tortoise burrows and only 3 of them were occupied. Silt screen placed around the property further ensured that no new tortoise residents would “move in.”

A groundbreaking ceremony for the Hospitality Park was held on August 15, 2018. Since then, about half of the trees on the property have been removed. Many of the beautiful oak trees have been preserved throughout the property. The trees removed were converted to mulch and then removed from the property. The mulching of the trees helped to stretch and save funds within Phase 1 of the project.

Digging on the property began in October 2018, and underground water was pumped to the far west detention pond. After digging a trench, the sewer pipes were laid. As of November 2018, storm drain pipes, waiting to be laid, line the property. Once placed, drinking water pipes and electrical conduit for the RV lot and the buildings will be run.

An artistic rendering of the Hospitality Park at Missionary Flights.

An artistic rendering of the Hospitality Park at Missionary Flights.

Investing in MFI

This year Missionary Flights is nearing the goal of a $1 million match. The fundraiser for Phase 2 of the Hospitality Park stands just over $815,000. MFI is just $185,000 shy of achieving its goal. If they can meet this year’s match before the end of the year, the generous donors agreed to offer another $500,000 match for 2019, which will be for the 3rd and final phase of the project.

Please consider how the Lord may direct you to give toward the Phase 2 fundraising efforts. Many who have already given were encouraged by friends and family to do so. Others who heard of the matching opportunity decided to double their initial gift. MFI knows that, for the Lord, the final amount is very little, and so they are asking all MFI supporters to pray earnestly for the final goal.

For more information on Missionary Flights International or how to become an affiliated mission, volunteer, or donor, please call 772-462-2395.

Missionary Flights International (MFI) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization located in Ft. Pierce, FL, at the Treasure Coast International Airport. We transport affiliated missionaries, supplies, and hope to the people of Haiti, Dominican Republic and the Bahamas. We serve as a loving and dependable link between those who serve on the front line and those who support them with prayers and donations.

Banquet Donors

Platinum Sponsors

Gold Sponsors

Silver Sponsors

Bronze Sponsors

Tables were decorated with flowers by Something Special in Vero Beach, FL.