Joel and LaReina King, together with our children Renee (15, turning 16 on September 8th)and Ian (14 as of January 11th), have finished our second term serving with AIM AIR in Kenya. Our first year was spent in Nairobi, Kenya, and the next 4 were in Lokichoggio, Kenya. For the past 2 years, Joel has filled the role of Pilot/Mechanic and Base Manager at the Lokichoggio base; serving with 2 other pilot/mechanic families. We are scheduled to return for another 2.5 year term in January, 2019, and are planning to relocate and serve as Pilot/Mechanic and Base Manager in Arua, Uganda.
Lokichoggio and Arua
Lokichoggio (Loki) and Arua are AIM AIR’s two, extremely busy, out-of-Nairobi bases. At 2000’ altitude in the desert of northern Kenya, Loki has been a strategic base to serve missionaries in South Sudan for the past 10 years. Arua, at a more moderate 4000’ altitude, is in northwest Uganda. Arua traditionally has serviced the missionaries in CAR (Central Africa Republic), Congo and western South Sudan. However, over the past 2 years, Arua has become a more advantageous location for serving the missionaries of Central and East Africa combined.
Why the Move?
As a family, we have always sought God in terms of where He is directing us. Loki has been our home for 4 years and, despite hot (90F to 115F), dusty, and remote living conditions, we have thrived well there. We always said that we would stay in Loki until God moved us, and we assumed that meant staying there for the remainder of our time in Africa. In the past few months, a similar unrest (good unsettling) that God utilized to move this family of four to Africa resurfaced in our hearts. Desiring to remain in God’s Will, not forging forward in our own strength, Arua came more into focus as the next step for us.
Arua is desperately in need of a Base Manager. A single pilot family has been struggling to cover all the flight needs, and the current non-flying Base Manager is stepping down in December. Strategically, our move makes sense. More so than just meeting a work need, we are looking at the needs of each member of our family. Teacher-led online school (Northstar Academy – NSA) has worked well for Renee’s high school freshman year, and Ian is excited about entering NSA for his freshman year in August, 2018. Scholastically, they are thriving. However, Loki has extremely limited age appropriate social options. All kids their age are in boarding school.
Arua is a larger city with various NGO (non-government organizations), other mission organizations, and at least for this season, multiple families with teens.
A Typical day for Joel
That’s hard to say, because every day is different depending upon the needs of the mission community and flight schedule. We fly for Africa Inland Mission (AIM) primarily, and about 70 other partner organizations serving in ministry across East and Central Africa. Email requests come in and need to be evaluated, cost quotes provided, coordinated, and implemented. We fly pastors, missionaries, and work teams to the remote areas, along with delivering supplies, and are the contingency plan if civil unrest gets too close to where missionaries are. There’s also routine maintenance that needs to be done on the airplanes, which the pilots (who are also mechanics) need to do. Base Manager responsibilities include overseeing all the flights, families, and staff associated with the base. This also entails filing monthly reports, finances, and attending weekly manager video meetings (when not flying) to cohesively bind together all departments of AIM AIR. Joel has been the only Caravan pilot in Loki these past 2 years, this has been his main responsibility, keeping him extremely busy. Schedules and plans can change very quickly, so flexibility and being ready for anything is the key to thriving in mission aviation.
A Typical day for LaReina
With flight schedules constantly changing, LaReina’s main job is to keep the home grounded. Missionaries and pilots passing through our little town appreciate a good meal, conversation, and a clean room, which we love to arrange and provide. This will continue as we move to Arua. With Renee and Ian now registered in a teacher-led online school, her role is shifting to parental guidance – helping them stay on schedule and monitoring exams. This will be a new season of looking to the Lord for ministry opportunities in Arua. For the past 4 years in Loki, LaReina has loved teaching Bible Studies (with a translator) to a group of Turkana ladies. This ministry is the hardest for her to leave. Throughout the years of absorbing and implementing God’s truth, these ladies have grown in their spiritual maturity and are making new disciples. Strongholds have been broken as God’s Word breaks down generational and cultural barriers. Just as the disciples of Jesus taught for a period and moved on, so it feels God is encouraging her to trust that He will continue to develop and grow them in their faith.
A Typical day for the kids
Parts are very normal, some are not. Their education options are home-school (which they did for our years in Loki), boarding school (where they would live in the Kenya Rift Valley for 9 months of the year), or online school. Northstar Academy is an accredited online Christian school that records their academic transcripts and encourages social interaction between students through discussions and chat rooms. This is the option Renee and Ian have chosen. The move to Arua will open up after-school opportunities, as currently reading, playing with our team-mate’s kids who are significantly younger and video games are their only options. Reading on her Kindle (no libraries are available in Africa!) and Zumba have been Renee’s retreat; while reasonable internet has been a lifesaver in providing contact to the outside world for Ian. Social media is a great way to stay in touch with friends in the US and Canada. Over the past year, Ian has been involved with two local basketball teams – both the middle school and high school teams invited him to join them in games. For most of the year, the local kids are at boarding schools, but school breaks provide opportunity for practice and organized games.
We can’t thank you enough
We would like to thank all of you who have been faithfully praying and financially supporting us for the past 5 years. We are truly grateful! We serve an awesome, creative God who is pulling out the stops to reach the unreached of East and Central Africa. We are honored to be a part of His work.
In His Service,