Thursday, November 30, 2017

Looking Forward to 2018

As we approach the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, we have a lot to be excited about! In April we will welcome a new child into our family. I have the opportunity to travel to Honduras in February to support a medical outreach to the remote Mosquitia region. We hope to take a vision trip to Bolivia, and—Lord willing—we will know which organization and field program we will be serving with by the end of the year. In 2018, I plan to finish my flight training and be qualified to begin serving as a missionary field pilot. Next year I will have the opportunity to do my first bit of flying on the field!

The unfortunate reality is that all of these opportunities come with a price tag. If you go back through our blog, you won't find many posts that draw attention to our need for financial support. In fact I even wrote a post in March, in which I shared that I felt compelled not to send out appeal letters at that time. But as we approach the end of the year, facing many extra expenses and dwindling savings, the time has come to present our needs and ask that you consider partnering with us.

Our most pressing expense is for a larger vehicle to replace one of our cars, hopefully before the baby arrives in April. After that, we will have the expense of travel to Bolivia and/or Honduras. In addition to those one-time expenses, we have been experiencing a shortfall of several hundred dollars every month due to an increase in living expenses and the loss of several ministry partners over the past few years.

We are thankful that God has provided for us in the past, and we know He will continue to do so. But His provision always comes through people who are willing to sacrifice some material comforts to invest in the ministry that God has placed before us. We don't take that for granted, and we understand our responsibility to steward the resources He's entrusted to us. But, then again, aren't all of us—at least those of us who follow Christ—called to be faithful stewards of the resources that God has entrusted to us?

As we approach the end of the year, would you prayerfully consider investing in our family's ministry with MMS Aviation and Missionary Air Group? We are nearing the culmination of five years of preparation and training, and it's now—as we are on the cusp of transitioning into the role we've been preparing for all this time—that we are facing our greatest needs. If we're to keep moving forward, the Lord will have to meet our needs in some incredible ways; we surely don't have the means to do it on our own!

For more information on how to invest in our ministry, visit our giving page!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Exciting Family News

We recently finished our October newsletter, and though we had lots to share, one bit of news stood out above the rest: we're expecting another child to be added to our family next April! This was an unexpected twist in our journey, but we thank the Lord for this blessing to our family.

If we're honest, the news of Tara's pregnancy brought about mixed emotions. Tara realized she was pregnant just as we were approaching the one-year anniversary of losing our son Ezra to a miscarriage at 17 weeks. In some ways, the joy of new life was overshadowed by the sadness of having lost Ezra, as well as the reality of how our plans for the next several months have suddenly changed.

But as I sit here writing this post (having just posted our newsletter—and the news of the baby—on Facebook), many congratulations are coming our way. We also shared the news publicly in church this morning, to the excitement of our friends there. I'm thankful for the reminder that this new life is truly reason to celebrate. A lot of things will change for us, but every life is a gift from God, and we thank the Lord for this new addition to our family!

That's the big news, but if you want to know what else has been going on, please check out our latest newsletter!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Betty Greene Missionary Aviation Scholarship

Earlier this month, I was blessed to be selected as a recipient of the Betty Greene Missionary Aviation Scholarship. The purpose of the scholarship is: to encourage aspiring missionary aviators (pilot/mechanics or maintenance specialists) in their journey; to provide a financial blessing; and to make others more aware of the various missionary aviation organizations, Betty Greene, and the role of missionary aviation. Betty Greene was an accomplished pilot, and Missionary Aviation Fellowship's first pilot. You can read more about Betty Greene here.

I was surprised, humbled, and encouraged to be a recipient of this scholarship. A number of representatives from several mission organizations came to the MAG headquarters in Burlington, North Carolina to present a check and some small gifts, and to encourage and pray for our family. This was a huge blessing and encouragement to us! The photo below shows the group that gathered for the presentation. The organizations represented included JAARS, Missionary Air Group, MMS Aviation, Mission Aviation Fellowship, and New Tribes.

Our journey into the world of missionary aviation has taken various twists and turns, and we can't know for sure where the path will take us. But one thing is certain: the Lord has been faithful through the entire process, and He continues to bring people into our path to bless and encourage us. He's also provided all the resources we need to keep moving forward. We're thankful first to Him, but also to everyone who has supported us as we serve through missionary aviation!

Monday, July 31, 2017

July 2017 Newsletter

We recently sent out our latest quarterly newsletter! If you are not on our mailing list, you can view the newsletter by clicking here.

Here are some highlights from the newsletter:

  • Repairs are underway on MAG's Cessna 172 training aircraft. Please pray for the timely and cost-effective completion of the repairs.
  • The kids finished school in May, then Ian and Ella played baseball and softball for a few weeks. We will be taking a family vacation and ministry trip before they return to school in August.
  • Aaron has been working toward his instrument rating. The book work is mostly complete (he passed his knowledge test last week), and now he is focusing on the flight experience necessary for the instrument rating.
  • We plan to do some Spanish language study over the next few months—at least enough to help us get around when we visit Spanish-speaking countries over the next year. Please pray that we will figure out the best way to fit this into our schedules, and that our study will be effective.

You may also sign up to receive future newsletters.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

One Step Closer to Being Instrument Rated!

Yesterday afternoon, after several months of study, I passed the FAA instrument rating knowledge test! Now that this is out of the way, I can focus mainly on accruing the flight experience required to take my check ride and oral test. For those unfamiliar with what an instrument rating is: it allows a pilot to fly solely by reference to the flight instruments when the weather is not suitable for flying under visual flight rules (VFR). With an instrument rating, a pilot can legally fly through clouds and in conditions where low visibility could cause a VFR-only pilot to become lost and disoriented, as well as conduct certain other operations where an instrument rating is required.

There are several important aspects to becoming a safe and proficient (not just legal) instrument pilot. An instrument-rated pilot must manage a higher workload than a VFR pilot: maintaining aircraft control and situational awareness while following complex procedures, tuning radios and avionics, communicating with air traffic control, navigating, and managing distractions. But perhaps the most basic skill is learning to interpret and trust the flight instruments. Because an airplane maneuvers in a three-dimensional environment (unlike a car, which is stuck in two dimensions), the forces induced can play all kinds of tricks on our bodies when we can't see the ground or other visual references. For example, a steady coordinated turn is indistinguishable from level flight, as far as our vestibular system is concerned. The only way to know the true attitude of the airplane is to ignore what your body is telling you and completely trust the flight instruments. This takes practice and does not come naturally!

Of course there are some spiritual parallels here. As we navigate life, there are countless voices influencing us, from within and from without. If we start listening to every voice that comes our way, we can easily become disoriented—much like the pilot who finds himself in a "graveyard spiral" through the clouds, sensing that something is wrong, but unable to escape because he can't interpret the instruments in front of him. In that situation, the only hope is to draw on his training, ignore everything he is feeling, and focus on the six instruments in front of him. He must then take decisive action, trusting completely that these instruments are telling the truth despite every sensation telling him otherwise.

We live in a culture of subjective, feelings-driven truth. The problem is that feelings are unpredictable and can change at any time. And what happens when my subjective opinions and beliefs conflict with those of another person? Many words have been penned on these topics, and I don't intend to elaborate here. But as I train for my instrument rating, I can't help but think about the parallels to life, particularly as a disciple of Christ. I need to ask myself: am I training myself to know the voice of Jesus by reading and meditating on His words revealed through Scripture? Do I consistently meet with Him in prayer? My only hope if I find myself becoming disoriented and distracted is to focus on the Author of Truth. This is only possible if I have trained myself to hear and listen to His voice, lay aside the countless distractions, and trust completely in Him.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

What Legacy Will I Leave?

Several weeks ago, this Facebook ad caught my attention. What really impacted me was the last line of the video: "I can't think of anything that'll make me happier". If you can spare a minute, take a look at the video below.

As a father, I cherish the special moments and the shared interests that I have with my children, and on some level I can appreciate the sentiment expressed by this advertisement. I hope that my children will continue to take on some of the hobbies and interests that I enjoy, so that we can share them together. Some of my favorite memories involve spending time outdoors and playing music with my children. But to say that nothing could make me happier? If, when all is said and done, the best thing I've done for my children is to impart a love of music or camping or airplanes, then I will have done them a great disservice. Those things will pass away, but there are others that will last for eternity.

But even as I am tempted to watch this video with contempt, having spiritual things in mind, I have to face the reality of my own life. Am I doing all that I can to instill in my family a love for God and a selfless, sacrificial love for others? Am I even living my own life in a way that is consistent with my stated priorities? Am I doing any better than the guy who lives his life for trains, sports, music, or anything else that will pass away? 

I'm thankful that God has given us many things to enjoy here on this planet. And I don't believe that we should live under the weight of guilt for all the things that we could or should have done; God has extended grace to us and we ought to live in that. On the other hand, He has prepared good works for us to do as an outflow of that grace-filled life. We are stewards of this life and everything with which He has entrusted us, including our families. Yet I am so easily distracted by the things of the world!

Lord, help me—and those readers who desire to follow you—to live our lives not for what will perish, but for those things that are eternal. Let us leave a legacy to our children that is so much greater than trains or airplanes or sports: a legacy that will bear fruit for generations to come, and even into eternity.

This eternal legacy is not something I can create and accomplish on my own; rather it's wrapped up in what Christ has done. There are many passages from Scripture that come to mind when I think about living with eternity it mind. Interestingly many of them are also in the context of the hope we have through times of suffering, but that's a post for another day! I will end this post by simply sharing two passages. I encourage you to consider the legacy that you will leave with these things in mind!

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

I Peter 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017