PCM News

News and updates from Paul and Cathy Middleton, serving in southern Africa.

28 May 2022

Welcome to Paul and Cathy's blog . . . . . please scroll down for new posts

Let us introduce ourselves.

Our names are Paul and Cathy Middleton.

That's us clinging to the top of an engine on one of the planes we used to fly.
You can find out about how we got to be where we are in the 'A short history of us' on the right (quite an interesting story if we say so ourselves).

This blog is basically a collection of the e-mail updates we have sent out since we joined Mercy Air in 2003, as well as some of the personal family activities we have got up to. Click on a year and read from bottom to top and it should give you a good idea of what we do.

27 March 2022

Disaster Response Training

At roughly the same time as the food relief, Mercy Air hosted a course aimed at providing a more streamlined response to the natural disasters southern Africa frequently endures. Mission Aviation Fellowship and Rescue SA joined us for a few days where we talked through and practiced various scenarios that would help us be more efficient during future disasters.

This mainly revolved around the helicopter and its sling loading capability, but also involved an exercise to develop the best way to transport a semi-rigid rescue boat, even cross border from RSA to an affected neighbouring country.

About to play Rescue Boat Tetris!

Turns out this shape doesn't fit into this hole

Plan B involved further deflation and folding in half

Using this method two boats and two engines can be accommodated

Thank you

Paul and Cathy

25 March 2022

Relief Food Aid

One of our next tasks came as a result of some local protest action regarding land claims.

Because the protesters has barred access roads a number of local communities had become cut off and their supplies of food were running low.

We were contacted and arrangements were made to deliver the supplies to Mercy Air for us to fly into nearby airstrips.

Truck delivery to Mercy Air

About a tonne loaded

On arrival, a human chain was formed to offload the supplies

It was then distributed to the various locations by vehicle

Thank you

Paul and Cathy

20 March 2022

Biblica, Chimoio, Mozambique

In case you think we've been a bit quiet recently, the next few posts provide an update on what we've been doing the last few weeks/months.

OK, we must admit that we had a quiet January but that wasn't totally a bad thing. January is typically cyclone season in Mozambique and there were a number of storms that threatened the area.

Despite numerous alerts, most of the cyclones either didn't make it across Madagascar or dissipated in the Mozambique Chanel before reaching Mozambique. Although we feel for the population of Madagascar, we are grateful that no further damage was done and that our services weren't required.

Our first foray to Mozambique was to fly a team from an organisation named Biblica (https://www.biblica.com/). They print bibles for distribution around the globe.

Through local pastors they had given bibles to an area in Mozambique where they estimated that 400 churches would be planted as a result. Reports came back that 1600 churches had been planted, and our group went to verify the story and to interview people that had been affected by their donation.

It was a short but intense visit and we hit the ground running. Two South African missionaries drove us deep into the bush to visit churches that had received the bibles.

The reception was always joyous and animated with enthusiastic singing and dancing with congregations waiting many hours to welcome us.


Many were keen to show the bibles that had received

Despite their poverty, people gave gifts as a response for their appreciation. As they had little or no money, this often amounted to staple food. It can not be underestimated how much of a sacrifice this was.

Even as we left each location, people were keen to display their feelings.

Due to some delays with customs at Beira, our port of entry in Mozambique, and the weather being generally quite grim, we were late at most churches and some we only got to after dark.

We visited countless villages and conducted numerous interviews to verify the reports they had received.

As previously mentioned, the weather was awful and out of the 14 hours I spent flying the team, I spent 7 of them in a cloud or rain. What a bonus then that one of the team was a captain who flies Boeing 757/767s for Delta Airways out of Atlanta. It was a privilege to share the front seats with him and tap into each others knowledge base.

Paul and Alex Oakland - the unlikely First Officer!

Thank you

Paul and Cathy

13 March 2022

Four Day Limpopo Medical Outreach

Paul and Cathy both took part in a four day medical trip to Limpopo.

Paul set off early to collect specialists from Johannesburg...

..whilst Cathy flew up in the helicopter.

We based out of a bush strip just outside the Kruger Park in the north of South Africa.

One night we saw footprints in the sand of elephants that had walked right past the aircraft.

The team was 12 strong and included a dentist, optometrist, GP, two midwifes, evangelists and a team from Tin Soldiers (www.tinsoldiers.org) who specialise in Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva which attacks the body's muscular skeletal system.

Each day the helicopter flew the various teams to different clinics.

Cathy with one of the ladies she helped

In all we did close on 60 flights and the teams saw about 330 people.

The Tin Soldiers guys were keen to publicise what they did and had bought a film crew with them. Paul got interviewed on the last day. Apparently the cameramen had previously worked on Survivor and The Amazing Race!

Lights, camera, action!

Whilst there we stayed in bush tents...

..and were a few kilometers away from some cove paintings.

Thank you

Paul and Cathy

15 February 2022


Mercy Air recently flew a team from Shook Construction in Ohio, USA to ASAM in Mozambique where they spent 10 days building teachers houses.

Our involvement on this occasion was to drop them off and collect them at the end of their stay, as we had other flights that we needed to do. Due to the distance Paul actually ended up flying three times to Mozambique in this particular week, but each time required an overnight and return the following day.
The scenery on the way up was stunning...

At the risk of being cheeky, it is probably best to include Shook's own report of the trip found at:

A little awkwardly it does chronologically read from bottom to top as it was written as a daily diary.
The only thing that didn't make it across were the videos so please go to the link above to view those.
Thank you
Paul and Cathy


APRIL 21 - MAY 6

Mozambique, East Africa


Our team has been home for just over a week. As we hear their stories and reflect on the trip, we would be remiss not to acknowledge our partners for their involvement and the ultimate success of our Mission in Mozambique. On behalf of our entire crew and all of us at Shook, thank you to SAM Ministries (Dwight & Lynn Lagore and our Missionary friends), In His Name Ministries (Dr. Roger & Katy Pacholka), and Mercy Air for introducing us to this community, being phenomenal hosts, loving the Mozambican people, and dedicating your lives to making a difference. You are true inspirations, and it was a pleasure to serve together.

Additionally, we want to thank ManaVision, our video production team, for their dedication to capturing as much content as possible. They journeyed with our crew and experienced the reality of life in Mucombeze with them. Stay tuned for a documentary on the trip coming this fall!

Lastly, we want to thank the families of our team for allowing them to go on this trip and spend extensive time away from home. We appreciate your great sacrifice!

Thank you, partners!


After a long journey, our team is officially stateside and reconnecting with their families. We know they come home changed people; the experiences they had and bonds formed with the community of Mozambique will stick with them forever. We cannot wait to welcome them back on Monday, learn from their experiences, and hear their stories. Welcome home!

Welcome Home
Back on U.S. Soil


On Sunday, our crew began saying their goodbyes to the missionaries and others in the community. They visited a new church where they made their debut as a choir, singing a bit of Amazing Grace. That evening, the team came together for a braai (similar to a barbeque) in celebration of a successful mission! It was a wonderful way to end the trip, celebrating all they accomplished and the relationships they built throughout the week. We cannot wait to celebrate with them again once they arrive back home!

On Monday, our team departed Mucombeze. Though it was a bittersweet goodbye, they are ready to be back stateside and see their families. After sharing in a farewell dance and send-off from the mission staff, the team boarded their respective 8-seater and 4-seater planes and began their journey back home. The team made it to Kruger safely where they will spend a few days exploring South Africa and reflecting on the mission trip as a group before their long journey home and arrival on U.S. soil on Friday, May 6.

Leaving Mucombeze
John Speaking at Church


After many hours in the heat and sprinting toward the finish line, our team successfully moved both buildings to structural completion on Friday. They poured an outstanding level of effort into the dormitories over the past week and completed so much more than what was originally planned when they left – an entire second project! Their teamwork, heart and passion for the community of Mucombeze is truly special and we commend their great efforts. Moving forward, the ASAM workers will finish the painting and get the dorms prepped for the teachers. At the end of the final day of work, the Shook and ASAM crews thanked each other and celebrated their great feat. Starting as two separate crews from different areas of the world, they shared their talents and trades with one another, quickly became partners, and were one crew by the end of the week. MISSION COMPLETE!

With the work complete, the team enjoyed a well-deserved day off on Saturday. After finding some goodies to take home, the team hiked up to Hyena Rock to catch the views and the sunset. That evening, they went back to the airstrip to stargaze from the Southern Hemisphere, catching the Big Dipper, Ursa Major and Southern Cross.

“It is truly breathtaking and to see it with such amazing new friends is even better. Thank you all at home for supporting us on an adventure and service opportunity of a lifetime. I am blessed to be able to work for a company that affords the ability to help those who need it the most.” – Nathan Luby
Completed building with entire crew and community
John hugging ASAM crew

Mission Complete: Shook and ASAM crew

Hyena Rock
Top of Hyena Rock
Buying Souvenirs


Our crew has made incredible construction progress on the teacher dormitories, with both buildings nearing completion! After finishing the first building’s roof, our team moved on to the second building while the ASAM crew finished parge coating the walls. All the blockwork was completed at the second building addition, and they tied-in / toothed-in the new block into the existing structure. Additionally, ASAM carpenters were able to get all the windows, door and door frames installed. Together, the two teams came up with a plan for the roof wood framing. Different brick/block sizes and wood framing sizes were needed than the original/existing structure as a result of the Mozambican market. In Mucombeze, you cannot simply buy the same product from the store as we are accustomed to in America; you must build with the materials available. One more day of work and our crew will likely be complete with their mission!

While our team has spent the majority of their days building the dormitories, no day has been complete without playing with the kids. They have enjoyed exchanging words in English, Portuguese and Shona (one of the most popular local languages); playing homemade games with rocks and toys; sharing a game of hockey with the Mucombeze hockey team; dancing and singing; gifting the children balloons, which were a big hit; teaching them to play American football; and of course, competing in a few more games of soccer.

Parge Coating the Walls
Lance at Work
Building 1
Building 2
Cutting Wood

Hockey Team
Jay throwing football
Matt gifting soccer ball
Rachel playing games


Over the past few days, our team members paired off in twos and were able to experience the local culture through a tour from SAM Ministries. While they had comparable experiences, each pair had a slightly unique journey. Highlights included:

  • Seeing the SAM Ministries training center. SAM trains pastors from all over the country and provides a place to stay, study and collaborate with other leaders from Mozambique.
  • Touring the women’s program where they teach literacy and life skills, including sewing.
  • Learning about the crops and livestock. ASAM is a fully functioning farm producing for itself as well as for the surrounding communities. Many programs are set up with livestock where families can sign up to receive resources to help their own personal farms, allowing them to make money.
  • Visiting the woodshop, which many of our carpentry-oriented team members greatly enjoyed. Mozambique has a plethora of beautiful wood available for the ASAM workers and community members to learn how to make goods.
  • Seeing the local high school in Vanduzi and the dormitories that SAM built for the students. Because many families live far from the school, the students stay at the dorms during the week, as it is easier to get to school and allows the students to socialize with one another. Close by, SAM is building another student dorm and will be able to take in many more students. Our team thoroughly enjoyed checking out the construction site.
  • Seeing the new suspension bridge that SAM Ministries engineered and built so that the children could cross over the river, instead of through it, since at least two kids have passed away from Nile crocodile attacks on their way to school.
  • Milling the unhusked corn and shaking out the chaff via traditional Mozambican food prep methods. The community still uses the big sticks and baskets, but those with money have the option of paying the mill to do it for them. The Mucombeze-Interior Primary School has an electric mill to assist with food prep for the students.
Visiting the Woodshop


Palo's house with the kids
Bridge over the River


Between all their hard work, the team has thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the school children. There is an incredible number of students, and they are all so excited that our team is there to visit and build the dorms. They gifted them soccer balls and goal gloves, shared a few intense soccer games, and unveiled some gymnastics tricks to the crowd of students. Our team shared that they feel a bit like celebrities in the village with the children flocking around them. We know they’ll be celebrities back home too, as we all seek to hear their stories and share in their experience. 

Dan and Jay with the Kids
New Soccer Gloves
Handstands with the children
Waving to the Drone
Children Playing
Matt playing soccer


While two members from our team shadowed SAM Ministries, the rest of the team returned to the site to continue block masonry work and set door frames. They were far enough ahead of their original schedule that the ASAM masonry crew was able to start building the room extension on another teacher dormitory! Our team was not expecting to touch the other dorm, much less assist in getting four rows of CMU block installed on their second day of work. To wrap up the day, the ASAM carpenters helped our team install the roof framing. Ultimately, it was a solid second day of work and the dorm is taking shape!

Starting Day 2 of Work
Drone Footage of Project Site
Lance and Matt on site
Nathan on site
Overhead of Roof
ASAM building second dorm
Lance at work
End of Day 2


While the majority of our crew continued construction on the dormitories, Jeff and John spent the day seeing the full range of work that SAM Ministries extends. They began the day in prayer and exchanged personal stories with the 40+ staff that work at SAM Ministries. A guide toured them around the SAM property where they saw the vastness of their agricultural work. SAM grows numerous types of produce, including pineapple, mangos, eucalyptus, tangerines, oranges, litchi, etc. Jeff and John were also able to see the livestock operations where they raise cows and sheep as well as the mechanic shop and woodshop.

Moving on to the clinic, they witnessed our partners care for a young girl who nearly lost her leg due to a bone infection. Shortly after, they visited an orphan home that SAM built in the community and had the pleasure to meet some of the orphans who lived there.

The day continued with traveling five minutes to the village of Mucombeze to visit the local clinic and meet the doctor. Outside the clinic, men were trying to fix a water well but were not successful. Mucombeze has three wells; unfortunately, this was the last well that was operational. People are now getting their water out of the river. Note: SAM still has a functional well within its gates. 

Jeff and John then traveled about a half-hour away to a bigger city where SAM has a dormitory for the high school kids. Mucombeze has no high school, so the kids need a place to stay in that town if they choose to attend. Many new friends were made at the school, as the kids extended a warm welcome to our team members.

To wrap up the afternoon, they spent a few hours with Palo, a SAM staff member, and his family to see how the average person in Mucombeze lives. Together, they shelled peas and peanuts and taught our team how to crush corn. They even sent back a stick of sugar cane for dessert. Of course, our crew had something for them as well – balloons for the kids, which were a huge hit.

“I have been completely stunned with how warm, friendly, generous, and hospitable all of the Mozambique people have been. They are happy and are quick to smile and laugh. They have nothing, but have an increasing joy inside of them.” – John Cleveland

Moving forward, Jeff and John will get back to construction and two more from our team will join SAM Ministries for a cultural lesson they will never forget.

Medical Clinic
Medical Clinic
Kitchen at the Orphanage
Jeff with the High School Kids

Crushing Corn


While our team is excited to build the teacher dormitory, there are two things that everyone seemed to be looking forward to the most on this trip: playing with the kids and being exposed to the culture. It has been incredible to watch this become a reality for our team and we know it has been a rewarding experience for both our employees and the Mozambican community. The team has shared meals, played soccer, visited the school, and watched the kids prepare a dance for the governor’s visit next week.

Jay with the Kids
Dan playing soccer
Rachel with the kids
Meeting the Kids
Children in School
Preparing the meal

APRIL 25, 2022: DAY 1 OF WORK

On Monday, our crew completed their first day of work building the teacher apartments. They moved quickly and accomplished more than expected, nearly topping out. With the help of our Shook team and a crew from ASAM: Sam Ministries, they anticipate that they will get to parge coat-finish the walls, paint, and possibly even extend another dorm by one room (or at least help the ASAM crew get started) before they leave. What an incredible feat for their first day! We are so proud of them, and yet not surprised by the amount of work they accomplished – this is a rock-solid crew.

The team shared that it has been a very rewarding experience to come together from two different worlds, work together to accomplish the same task, and learn from each other’s methods. This experience and perspective are key to our mission trips and broadening our employees’ worldviews, as we know those could not be replicated back home. We cannot wait for them to share their learnings when they return. 

After a full day of work in the blazing heat, only one word came to mind for the crew: exhausted. We send well wishes on their continued progress in the upcoming days and that they can find some much-deserved rest! 

Day 1 of Work
Matt at Work
Jeff at Work
Day 1 on Site
Nathan at Work
ASAM and Shook team


On Sunday, our crew had the opportunity to begin meeting the Mozambican community and immersing themselves in their culture by attending the local church. While the building was modest on the outside, it was incredibly powerful on the inside. Filled with dancing and singing, the community was alive and greatly impacted our team.

After church, the crew met John, Roger and Katy at the airstrip to welcome them to SAM Ministries. With the whole team back together, they gathered at the site of the future teacher dormitories. A pre-construction site visit and in-depth pre-construction meeting were held to prepare for the upcoming day’s work.

Team after Church
Exterior of Church

Precon Site Visit
Precon Site Visit


After an intense few days of travel, our crew made it safely to SAM Ministries Mucombeze! Highlights from the past few days included:

  • Staying at the SunRock Guesthouse in Johannesburg: After arriving in South Africa, the team enjoyed a fire and dinner with our partners, Dr. Roger and Katy Pacholka, to welcome them to the continent.
  • Departing for Mozambique via small aircraft: The majority of our crew made it to SAM Ministries on Saturday via the Kodiak Quest, an eight-seater plane. However, the four-seater plane that was to carry the rest of our team and our partners had some trouble starting and needed repairs. They embraced the change and spent the night at our partners’ home that evening to allow the plane to be fixed, ultimately arriving at SAM Ministries on Sunday.
  • Getting settled at SAM Ministries: After arriving on Saturday, our team unloaded their bags into the houses/rooms/tents that awaited them, shared a dinner with our SAM Ministries partners and missionaries, and received a short briefing on the work they came to complete. SAM Ministries is powered by generators on a strict schedule. During the week, power is on from 8am-12pm, 2pm-5pm and 6pm-9pm. On the weekends, the generators only run from 5pm-9pm. While this made communication a little difficult upon arrival, our team welcomed the encouragement to disconnect and prepare for their Mission.

Stay tuned for our next update about meeting the local community and starting work on the teacher apartments!

The Crew Before Boarding
Kodiak Crew Ready for Takeoff


After nearly two full days of travel, our crew has touched down in Johannesburg, South Africa, where they will be staying for the evening. Tomorrow morning, they will depart for Kruger and begin the most awaited part of their travel: flying on 6-seat or 10-seat aircraft from Kruger to Beira and then directly to the landing strip on-site at SAM Ministries. Our partners, Dr. Roger and Katy Pacholka, met our team at the airport. Having folks who have “been there and done that” for decades serving as our guide is invaluable. In addition, Dr. Pacholka will serve as Shook’s official medical expert on the trip. We are truly grateful for our wonderful partners!

APRIL 21, 2022: THEY'RE OFF!

Today’s the day! Our crew of eight brave associates are currently en route to Mozambique, East Africa, to serve on our second Shook Mission Trip! A few members of the team shared insights on what they are most looking forward to and what they hope to experience throughout the next two weeks. We couldn’t be more excited for their journey and are so proud of each of them for their commitment to serve. From all of us at Shook, we are sending them well wishes as they follow their hearts to help others and to complete this mission. NEXT STOP: MOZAMBIQUE!

Insight - Jay Powelson
Insight - Jeff DeRamus
Insight - Rachel Mulholland
Insight - Nathan Luby
Insight - Lance Harris
Insight - Dan Wolking


It’s hard to believe that we are just one week out from the start of our second Shook Mission Trip! Our Global Mission Trip program is the truest reflection of our Mission, Vision and Core Values. We define community broadly, and by extending our service to those in developing nations we create the mutual benefit of better appreciating the impact of the work that we do here at home, while dramatically improving the lives of our fellow citizens in our global community.

We are so thankful to our crew and their families for their sacrifice and dedication to making a difference in our world. They have spent months preparing for this journey and are incredibly excited to embark on this adventure. One week until departure!

One Week Until Takeoff
Mission Trip Crew