Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Up's and the Down's of This Missionary Pilot

I have to say that it's been an interesting 10 months since we joined Mission Aviation Fellowship.  We began Ministry Partnership on December 1, 2010.  It was a great day, and felt like the beginning of the end of the beginning (good luck following that thought train).  We first felt God calling us to mission aviation in the fall of 1999 and in one way or another have been pursuing that calling since that time.  There have been up times and down times, but we have pressed on as we have prepared for serving as a missionary pilot.  Many times people have come to us and mentioned that it is great to see us persevering all these years to do this.  It has been a while, but to us this feels like it is still only the beginning.  We knew from the start that it would probably be at least 10 years until we were ready to go with a mission, and that perspective has made the years in between seem a lot shorter than they could have been otherwise.

That's me flying in the front seat.  A photo taking mission.
I mentioned that there has been both up times and down times over the last 12 years.  Up times have included getting married (July 1, 2000), the birth of our children, moving to Three Hills and my first flight (May 4, 2004, with Mike Fox), earning my private pilots license (Oct 2, 2004) and my commercial pilots license (May 9, 2005).  There was my first job in aviation, as a flight instructor.  The first time that I flew an airplane upside down.  Moving back to Three Hills to work at the flight school at Prairie was amazing.  The day that I flew my 1000th hour, in FXRN with my good friend Phil Henderson in the back seat as my passenger.  The day we sent in our initial application to MAF and the day that we were officially accepted as pre-fielders were both great days.  Since that time support has begun to come in and it has been encouraging to see that happen.  Since January we have watched our support levels increase approximately 10% per month, and we have been able to see and visit many people and reconnect with many who we have not seen or talked to for quite a while (in some cases years).  Times when we saw God provide for our family in ways that felt miraculous.  Then there was the day that we found out that we were assigned to Uganda.  The up times.

Then there has been the down times.  During that same time frame I lost a job, didn't get a job that we really were expecting and hoping to get, and we grieved over the loss of family and friends.  There was the time that I left my flight instructing job, not knowing how long it would be before I would fly again (1 1/2 years).  There were the "normal" tough times and challenges that come along in life, and there were some days when we weren't totally sure if there would be money to buy food for our family the next day.  The down times.  The down times are tough, but it has also been during those times that we have seen God work in our lives and felt His strength supporting us and drawing us close.

If I'm being honest, the last couple of months have felt a little bit more "down" than "up".  It hasn't been in a big way (we're not struggling through depression or anything so dramatic), but it has been there.  I mentioned that we have averaged about a 10% increase in monthly support per month.  That was true until July.  In July we moved from Three Hills back to Rycroft, AB so that we could be closer to the area where Karen and I have lived for much of our lives.  This would make it much easier to contact many of the people here and also give us a few months of living closer to both of our families before leaving to Africa.  It was at this time that it seems like the "support switch" turned off.  Since we have relocated, we have watched our monthly support increase 4% over 3 1/2 months.  Don't get me wrong, we are very thankful for every partner who comes on board.  Every time someone new joins us, it blows me away that God has called us to this ministry and is also calling others to join with us through support.  It's just been tough to watch this plateau happen, and after a while we begin to wonder if we are doing something wrong, or if there is something else that we should be doing in our support raising efforts.  There is only 25% of monthly support left, and then we can leave for Uganda!  We ask for your prayers as we continue to press on.  With our schedule very full after Christmas, it would be great to have support at or near 100% by that time.  If not, we may be looking at pushing our date of departure (March 31) back further.  We ask that you pray that we will press on and continue to meet with people and share with them about what God has called us to do.  Pray also that God would continue to call people to join our ministry team, and that those whom God has called to join with us in support would answer that call and partner with us.

There are also many things to give thanks for, and we have not lost sight of that.  We only have 25% to go!  That's a long way from where we were last December when we started and had 100% to go.  We are so very thankful for the group of people whom God has brought together to partner with us in mission.  We have traveled thousands of miles and have seen God's hand of protection over us.  Our vehicle has been amazingly reliable.  We have been healthy over this time and have seen God's provision for us over and over again.  In the last few months we have been able to spend quality time with our families, and that has been a real answer to prayer.  We know that we are headed to Uganda!  God has been with us and strengthened and encouraged us continually through this time, and we give Him thanks and praise for His work in our lives!

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