Friday, February 10, 2017

Photos of the Week

It's Friday afternoon, and I thought I'd post a few photos from this past week. My work at the hangar has been a mix of flying (brushing up on maneuvers, navigation, etc), ground school (studying toward my instrument rating), and helping to organize the shop toolbox. The latter is not a glamorous job, but is one of those necessary mundane tasks that will reap benefits in the future. MAG purchased a rolling tool cabinet with lots of good tools, but they need to be sorted and organized so they can be used effectively by MAG mechanics and those who come to volunteer their time to help in the hangar.

Now, as promised, here are some photos!

It's been a beautiful week to fly! This photo was taken at Blue Ridge airport in Virginia, where I landed as part of a cross-country flight.

On the same trip I landed in South Boston, Virginia where I got out to stretch my legs and chat with a gentleman at the FBO.

My primary trainer (N381MG) sitting on the ramp in Burlington. I'll be spending many more hours in this airplane!
This airplane at Blue Ridge reminded me of being a kid! My dad had an airplane like it in his office. It's a music box that's wound by turning the propeller. This could have been a nice photo if I would have thought to turn the coaster to face me!
Organizing tools is not the most exciting thing, but when I'm finished it will enable maintenance to take place in MAG's hangar more effectively.

In the center of the photo is Burlington Christian Academy, where the kids attend school. I flew over during Ella's break, at her request, on my way to the practice area.

Well, that's a sample of my week! I'm excited to be making progress toward my advanced flight ratings, and toward overseas mission service, as well as supporting MAG's mission through the maintenance work I perform. There is a medical brigade currently taking place in Honduras, and I hope to share more information about it in the next few weeks. Even though I'm not personally on the field yet, I'm glad that I can help support MAG's field programs through my service at MAG.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Two Significant Signatures

This week, I celebrated two significant events, each one involving a pen put to paper. Earlier this week I exercised the privileges of my airframe and powerplant mechanic certificate and signed my name in an aircraft maintenance logbook for the first time. What's more, after putting the airplane back together I was the first person to fly it with the new modification. There's a sense of satisfaction in being able to maintain an airplane and then go out and fly it.

My first maintenance job as an A&P mechanic.
Signing off on my first logbook entry.

The second significant signature was the one authorizing me to begin making solo flights in Missionary Air Group's Cessna 172. I already have my private pilot certificate and can legally fly alone, but before piloting MAG's airplanes solo I had to go through a checkout process. Since I haven't flown much over the last 18 months, I also needed a few flight hours to brush up on some of my skills and get accustomed to a slightly different airplane. Today, I took N381MG out for my first solo flight in that airplane.

N381MG in front of the Missionary Air Group hangar.
Today I made my first solo flight in this airplane.
It's a privilege to be working with MMS Aviation at Missionary Air Group. I've got a lot of hard work ahead of me as I prepare for our international field assignment, but I'm thankful to be here and looking forward to the journey! Speaking of field assignments, we appreciate your prayers as we consider which organization and location to pursue. We have begun conversations with a few different missions, and are asking God for wisdom to discern the best place for our family to serve.

Thank you, and we look forward to sharing more updates in the near future!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Friday, January 6, 2017

Moving Forward!

We've been in Burlington, North Carolina for a month already! We are mostly unpacked and settled in the house we are renting, and the kids have begun attending Burlington Christian Academy. We've started making some connections in our neighborhood, and have already found a church that we are really enjoying. Our cars even have North Carolina plates, and we are licensed North Carolina drivers. I think we can say that Burlington is starting to feel like home!

Next Monday, January 9, I will begin going daily to the hangar at Missionary Air Group. The first few days will be spent in orientation, then we will move into ground school and flight training. My weeks will consist of both maintenance and flight days. The flight days will focus on training and experience-building to prepare me for overseas service as a missionary pilot/mechanic. The maintenance days will help me keep my skills sharp, and give me the opportunity to contribute to MAG's mission by keeping their airplanes flying safely. Eventually, I will travel to Guatemala and Honduras to experience MAG's field programs first-hand.

If you've been following our journey, you know that we are moving toward serving overseas in a missionary aviation field program. My experience at MMS Aviation the past three years has allowed me to participate in "frontline" missions by maintaining aircraft for more than a dozen organizations, but we are looking forward to the day when we will personally be serving in an overseas field program. Today, we had conversations with two different organizations—one in South America and one in Africa—about the possibility of joining their ministries when we complete our 18–24 months at Missionary Air Group. It's exciting to start exploring these opportunities, after several years of waiting and praying for God's direction. We were very encouraged by the conversations we had today, and are praying about the possibility of a trip to South America to see one of the ministries first-hand.

Would you pray with us that God would clearly guide us to a mission where we can use the gifts and passions He's given us, and where our family can thrive? We are also praying that God will use the next couple years to prepare us well to serve in the ministry to which He calls us, and that our family will continue to grow closer together and to the Lord.

To all who have encouraged, supported and prayed for us over the years: Thank You! We couldn't walk this path without you, and we thank God often for the many ways in which He has blessed us through the people He's placed in our lives. We can't wait to share more with you as we continue to move forward!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Burlington, Here We Come!

It's been a long ten weeks since I earned my A&P mechanic certificate at MMS Aviation. During that time, we took a much-needed family vacation, got stranded in Kansas for eight days, visited churches and ministry partners, sorted and purged our belongings, started packing our house, and went to North Carolina to find a rental home. This transitional period has been a bit trying for our family, so we are happy to report that we finally have a move date! On December 5th, we will begin loading the moving truck, and we plan to be moved into our house in Burlington on December 8th.

We are excited about what's happening at Missionary Air Group, and are looking forward to being the first apprentice to go through the flight training program at their headquarters in Burlington, North Carolina. Not only is this a big step for us, but we are also paving the way for future missionary pilots who will be trained through MAG. You may recall from our previous posts that we are helping to pioneer a new method for training missionary pilots, which overcomes some financial hurdles and lack of experience that keep many prospective missionary pilots from reaching the field.

We appreciate your prayers for our family as we make the transition to North Carolina. During our house hunt we faced a large discrepancy between our expectations and the reality of the rental market in Burlington. We've mostly worked through this shift in expectations, but appreciate your prayers as we adjust to a smaller living space and the lack of outdoor space that we are accustomed to. We've already been thinking of ways to embrace the change, but I'm sure it will continue to be a challenge at times. That said, we are thankful that the owners of the house in Burlington have already begun to help in this regard.

The kids will also be making the transition from home schooling to a Christian school in Burlington. Although we love the flexibility of home schooling, we believe that the Christian school is the right place for them to be for this season of our lives. Ian is very excited about going back to school outside the home, while Ella is a bit hesitant. We've had a very irregular schedule these past several weeks, so it will be good to get back into a routine, but it may be a challenge for them as well.

Finally, we are praying for a few additional ministry partners to join us as we begin serving and training with MAG. The cost of living in North Carolina will be higher than living in Coshocton, so we are looking to increase our support level by a few hundred dollars per month. If you're not currently partnering with us and would be willing to prayerfully consider it, please read more about how you can be involved.

We are grateful for all of you who have come alongside us on this journey, whether through your friendship, prayers or giving to our ministry. We look forward to sharing the ways that God continues to lead and work in and through our lives over the next couple years in North Carolina.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Mission Trip to Clendenin, West Virginia

Last week, Ian and I had the opportunity to travel to Clendenin, West Virginia with a work team from Burt Avenue Wesleyan Church in Coshocton. Although the timing of the trip was not convenient (we are preparing to move to North Carolina), Ian expressed interest in participating and I wanted to be supportive of his desire to serve. I'm glad we decided to go!

We spent four days installing new drywall for a woman named Barbara, whose mobile home was destroyed by the recent flooding in Clendenin. She came into possession of another home, but that house had been damaged by the flood as well. Previous volunteers had cleaned up debris from the flood and cut off about four feet of drywall that had been damaged. Our job was to splice in new drywall, and to tape, mud and sand as much as possible.

Among other skills, Ian learned to cut openings for switches and outlets.

Before too long, he could measure and cut all by himself.

It was almost unbelievable that the relatively mild river flowing through Clendenin could rise to high enough levels to cause such damage. The normal level of the river is more than twenty feet below street level, but during the flood the water level rose about seven feet above the street, as shown in the photo below.

The water level can still be seen on this storefront window.
Many houses had been cleaned up, but some were still in very rough shape.

It was a privilege to spend a few days serving Barb, helping her establish her new home in Clendenin. I also enjoyed working alongside Ian, serving together. I was extremely proud of Ian: how hard he worked, how much he learned (by the second or third day he could measure, cut and hang sections of drywall on his own), and how he stepped outside his comfort zone to connect with the rest of the team.

Ian and I spent much of our time working on drywall in the bathroom.

We enjoyed spending time together, as well as working with the Burt Avenue team, some of whom are pictured below. Even though our family is in "full-time" mission service, it was nice to do something different, meeting a tangible need for someone who desperately needed our help.

Spank is cutting a sheet of drywall.
Austin was the resident "mudder", covering the screws used to hang the drywall.

Mike Garrett (who also serves with MMS Aviation) was our primary "mudder".

Austin, Tammy and Spank enjoy a donut break.

The multi-talented Pastor Rod Uhlig, cutting a sheet of drywall.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Home at Last!

After eight days stranded in Kansas and two days of driving, we finally arrived home early Sunday morning! We attempted to leave Kansas last Wednesday evening, but the new engine in our Vibe stopped running before we got on the interstate. By early Thursday afternoon, the mechanic had the problem figured out and we were on the road again. 

Everything was going smoothly until we heard a "pop" from the trailer. Fortunately we were very close to the hotel in Salina, Kansas where we were going to sleep that evening. When we got out of the car and looked at the trailer, Tara and I started laughing hysterically. What else could we do?

This is what we saw when we got out and looked at the trailer. The leaf spring had broken, allowing the wheel to rub through the fender. At this point, all we could do was laugh—otherwise we might cry!

The last thing we needed was another delay. But we were safe and had a functional vehicle this time! In the morning I located a Tractor Supply and a Lowe's, and got to work replacing the broken leaf spring on the trailer. It took longer than I hoped, as I ran into some unexpected snags, but by mid-afternoon Friday the trailer was rolling again and we were on our way.

Out with the old, in with the new!
After one more hotel stop, dinner with friends in Indianapolis, and a final push through midnight, we arrived home! It never felt to good to drive into Coshocton!

This has been a long trip, and one that we won't soon forget. We are thankful that even through trials and hardships the Lord has been with us, providing our needs every step of the way. Friends and family have responded with incredible love and generosity over the past couple weeks, supporting us spiritually, emotionally and financially.

At some point, I will share some photos of the time we spent out west. Until now, the first three weeks of our trip have been overshadowed by the events of the last two weeks, but we don't want to forget about the incredible beauty of God's creation that we experienced on this trip. Until next time, goodbye!