A lot has happened here on the base since I arrived. I've only been gone for a week and a half but it seems like so much longer because there is so much going on here and so many people to spend time with. I haven't been teaching welding yet but I've been helping with the diesel mechanics course with my buddy Ciaran and there are two expeditions leaving this week that I've been helping prep for.
On Tuesday, the Angola expedition will be leaving. The team is about 20 people including staff and they will be heading off to do evangelism and service wherever possible as they drive through Angola. This expedition has been greatly anticipated since the country has only recently been open to missionaries after their civil war and Overland's only presence there so far has been a 3-man recon team that went in last year. There is another 2-week expedition leaving on Wednesday that I am also doing work for. This expedition isn't as long or intense as the Angolan trip but it still requires a lot of prep work. All the vehicles need to be checked over and some fabrication and maintenance has been required. So far I've been doing a variety of shop duties and getting the team members involved in the prep work as well. It's been really cool to be able to take a leadership role as well as work alongside my shop buddies from my time on the base last year.
The coolest story I have so far happened last weekend. Pastor Jeff had taken a Land Rover to a village for a conference with about 50 local pastors and blew a tire on the way. He put the spare on and made it to the conference fine but then blew the spare on the way back. We get word of the situation sometime Sunday afternoon and had to figure out how to go get him because it was about a 4 hour drive to where he was. After weighing the options, Joe, Jack and I ended up heading out from the base at 9pm in a brand new rented vehicle that had just been driven up from South Africa. The route to get there was partly on a heaving potholed paved road and then on a narrow dirt road that had been severely potholed and rutted. We got to Jeff in just about 3 hours, swapped the tire out in 5 minutes, and turned around to head back because it was past midnight at that point. We made it back in record time since Joe is a really good driver and the vehicle was well suited to the terrain so we got to bed about 3:30.
I got to sit in on morning staff meetings all this week and I learned a lot more about how Overland works and what the plans are for the work in Africa for the next few years. It was really cool to see all the different branches of ministry and how they work together and I got to spend some time thinking about what I might do if I was to stay long term in the future.
I've had a great time here so far and it's been a productive week. There's a lot to do this week and it's going to quiet down a lot when the expeditions leave so we'll see how it goes.