Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Suffering = ?

Last week on our "Under His Wings" Facebook page (which by the way is here:, I did an update in which I briefly mentioned Romans 5:3-5 where Paul says "we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." 

Since posting that update, I've really got to thinking about the truth of that passage and how much it nails what we've been dealing with in our lives.  If you've been following our story (or read further back in this blog), you'll know that we've recently gone through a pretty rough valley with my back pain & surgery.  I remember very clearly in the months leading up to the surgery (when I was the most miserable) asking God "why me?  what did I do to deserve this."  The answer that God kept giving me was "Trust me, I know what I'm doing."

Isn't it interesting how it's so easy to trust God when life is comfortable, and when things are going well.  The real test of character (and here I'm going back to the verse) is whether we are able to trust God when life is difficult and when things are not going well.  In my opinion, I didn't do anything to deserve what I went through, but God knew what I needed in order to prepare me to be able to serve as a missionary.  

For us, it is true that suffering leads to endurance.  For months I was surviving on 2 to 3 hours of sleep a night.  Anyone who has done that for even a couple nights know how exhausting that can be.  The only way that I could've endured that for months (and my family endured my misery) was that God gave us a supernatural endurance.  And having to go through that endurance training did produce character.

God knew we weren't ready yet to be missionaries.  He knew that we had some character development to undergo.  Looking back over that time, we were forced to look to Him for a source of strength when our own failed.  We learned that we can rely on Him to sustain us through the rough times.  We also saw Him provide in some amazing ways.  While I can't say that we "rejoiced in our suffering," we now see that God was more at work in our lives through that time than He ever has before.  He was molding and shaping us into the servants who would be ready to serve on the mission field.

And that endurance & character have produced a new hope in our lives.  Hope because He restored me to full health (which is an undeserved blessing).  Hope because He has called us to serve in this exciting way through missionary aviation.  Hope because we know we are walking in His will.  Hope because we know that He is all-powerful and knows all the details of our lives & future.

God, thank you for knowing so much better than we do what is best for us.  Mold us and use us for Your glory!  Amen!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Evaluation Week

So, quick recap here:
  • we knew that God was calling us into full-time missionary aviation
  • we knew that Jason needed training to accomplish that
  • we met the ministry of MMS Aviation and love what they're doing
  • we applied to their apprenticeship program
Which leads us to the evaluation week.  This was an opportunity for MMS to evaluate whether I was a good fit for their ministry, and for us to evaluate whether MMS was indeed the place where God was leading us.  We both took a week of vacation from our jobs because we'd be doing MMS things all day every day this week.

Jason spent several days in the hangars at MMS working alongside the instructors on some airplanes that are being restored for missionary service.  While I am mechanically minded and good with my hands, this was the first time I'd done work on an airplane engine or airframe (body of the airplane).  I loved the fact that even during evaluation I wasn't working on some "training" airplane, but instead was working on actual missionary airplanes that would soon be used in the mission field to transport Bible translators to remote villages, or be used as an air ambulance to fly people over the jungle to a Christian hospital, or to haul supplies and equipment to make it possible for a missionary to remain in the field.  This is what attracted us to MMS Aviation in the first place, and it was humbling for me to be a part of that - even if for only a week at this point.

Here's a few pics of my time in the hangar:

Installing new wing spar carry-through (the part that holds the wings onto the airplane)
on a Cessna 206 that is being restored for ministry in Suriname (South America)

Installing a hand brake under the instrument panel for a Piper PA-28 "Cherokee" airplane

Removing spark plugs on a Cessna 310 (used in Chinese ministry)
prior to checking the engine for proper compression

During this week, I also was evaluated on my flight training potential.  Keep in mind that at this point, I had no training in actually piloting an airplane, so they were evaluating me on my ability to follow an instructor's directions, on my ability to try & learn new things, and on my comfort level in the air.  This experience again was confirmation that this is the direction that God is leading us because I did really well, and loved every minute of our time in the air.  Here's a few pics of my flight evaluation:

Conducting pre-flight instruction of a Cessna 172 before my evaluation flight

 Taking off in the Cessna 172 from the runway beside MMS Aviation's hangar

Flying high in the sky (where I love to be) above MMS and the city of Coshocton

During the time Jason was in the hangar (and in the sky), Anita & the kids were spending time with some of the different MMS families.  This was an opportunity to meet and get to know the wives & kids of the men that Jason was working alongside for the week (and soon will be working alongside for 30 months).  Then in the evenings, Jason met up with the fam and we had supper with a different MMS family each evening.

According to Anita - "It was so enjoyable being around like-minded people.  These families have the same passion as us - serving God through the tool of airplanes.  We felt very welcome by each family, and instantly felt "at home" with the MMS family as a whole.  I was greatly encouraged in talking with some of the mothers who had served previously in a foreign country because one of my biggest concerns is how our kids would do with such a big life change.  While it's still too soon to say for sure where God will place us, our dream is to serve in the country of Cameroon, Africa.  We'd be living in a third-world culture, and we'd have to learn a foreign language.  Is it wise to ask this of our kids?  The unanimous feeling was that it was indeed wise; and that it was both beneficial and a privilege for our kids to experience another culture, to see how other people view things differently, to see how blessed we as Americans are, to see how the God we serve is the same God everywhere, and to see what it means to surrender to God's will.  For me, this was confirmation that this path was not only the right one for me & Jason, but also for our kids as well."

Then on Thursday of evaluation week, we were interviewed by the MMS administration.  Oddly enough, we weren't nervous at all before, or during, this interview; because by this point we were convinced that this was where God wanted us.  There is such peace and security that comes along with being fully in God's will.  After a pretty thorough interview, we were informed that we were accepted into their apprenticeship program if we were interested (and we were!) 

And that right there is one of the most defining moments of our journey into missions.  It was a year and a week from my back surgery to the point that we were accepted to MMS Aviation.  The journey that was first started during my post-op recovery was finally confirmed.  We were no longer searching God's will for our life, we are now living it!  While the journey has still only begun, we are taking each step as God shows us the path.

Where we are right now is in the process of raising financial support to begin serving at MMS Aviation.  If you are interested in partnering with us and "launching" us into ministry, here's a link to where you can give -  We know God has exciting things in store for us, and the sooner we reach 100% of our funding goal, the sooner we can start serving at MMS Aviation.  Would you prayerfully consider joining us?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Discovering the path - part 2

It's hard to believe that 2013 is over.  At the same time, a lot has happened since this time last year.  I remember then, feeling very strongly called into missionary aviation, but still unsure what path to take get there. 

Let me continue the story... At the same MATA event that we mentioned in our last post, we also met with Doug Deming - a missionary pilot who served with JAARS in Peru for many years.  I explained to him about my interest in missionary aviation, and also about my 10 years of French study in school.  He was particularly excited about the language experience, and mentioned about how JAARS has a base in Cameroon, Africa (where French is the national language).  That conversation planted a seed in my heart that has since grown into a strong desire to serve in Cameroon. 

Doug asked about my experience as a mechanic or pilot, and when I explained that I had none, he took me over to another display - for MMS Aviation (Missionary Maintenance Service).  Check out this website to see what MMS is all about:  We had the opportunity to speak with Dwight Jarboe about their ministry.  The one thing that really caught our interest with this organization is their apprenticeship opportunity.  The fact that I could learn how to be a missionary airplane mechanic while at the same time making a difference in the global mission effort really appealed to us.  I wouldn't have to go back to college for another 4 years just to learn how to be a missionary pilot / mechanic.  At MMS, I could start out Day 1 working on missionary airplanes and learning everything I need to know "on the job."

After looking into several other options for how to get the training, we kept coming back to MMS.  After spending a lot of time praying about this, and seeking counsel from friends & family, we finally felt at peace that this was the path that God was directing us to take.  So in February 2013, we filled out the application to their program, and in May our application was approved and a week of evaluation was scheduled for June.  This week was an opportunity for MMS to evaluate whether I was a good fit for their program, and for me to evaluate whether we felt that MMS was indeed the place for us to serve.

In our next post, we'll share about that evaluation week (hint, it was successful).