The Witmers fly regularly with MAF to Arua near the border of EDRC for their work at Shalom University

Story and photos Jill Vine

Flying part of the EDRC shuttle from Kajjansi to Arua I was able to have a brief chat with Dana Witmer while in transit in Arua. Dana and Ted regularly take the complex journey across the border into EDRC involving two separate 30 minute car journeys and seven exhausting check points which have been created since COVID made travelling even more complicated. The Witmers are then greeted by our Congo team the other side where they fly onto Bunia. Dana didn't hesitate to describe what MAF has meant to her over the years, 'As soon as we're on a MAF flight, it brings a lot of calm. The entire MAF staff make us feel like we're part of a family. We see pilots dealing calmly with corrupt officials and they usher their passengers through a system that's not always well understood... sometimes it can be highly volatile when an official will power play which for the uninitiated can be very stressful.' Dana and Ted have been making this journey once, or more recently since their grown children are back in the US, twice a year for the last 35 years! Ted is a highly experienced mechanical engineer accompanied by a seminary background and training qualifications. Dana has degrees in English Literature and Medicine. Together they make a dynamic duo as they work for Shalom University in Bunia offering training but also working in whatever community projects they envision. Ted uses engineering for all sorts of issues like setting up internet cables, selecting optic microscopes, both of which I noticed he was carefully unloading from their flight. He's also a member for the University's Development Committee, leads theological classes and teaches Hebrew. Shalom University have a very large Bible Translation Department with a large majority of their students studying bible theology. Dana is an evangelist and a medical clinician teacher but also works in the local community with whatever solutions she can create, her motto being 'Prevention is better than cure'. 'I'm a visionary.. I’ve helped start three hospitals in Bunis. I'm going back now to launch a radio program in four mother tongues translating a discipleship document that addresses justice and ethnic groups. I went in search for some ex-rebels to help us and now two of those ex-rebels are now Bible translators' 'I've flown with MAF a gazillion times. I was personally medevacked by MAF to reach Kenya for very bad sciatic pain. Without the normal medical care in Congo it was necessary. I've also helped others be medevacked. It's been very comforting to know that we're in good hands when we fly with MAF I've seen MAF bring food supplies to IDP camps and I've appreciated their compassion for the vulnerable. I also appreciate their commitment to the Lord which is obvious in the way they live sacrificially by living in hard places. I don't know if I could have survived long haul as a missionary without MAF. I also want to say a big thank you to all of MAF's supporters. Its helping us provide a good university that is helping to stop a brain drain from Congo where students would otherwise leave. We also need prayer because we're under attack.'