Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Transition

It is August.

The last couple of months have been busy.  As I look at the last post that I made, I wrote it while I was sitting in Nepal working with the disaster relief team there.  Now as I write this I am sitting back at my parents place in Canada, waiting for our visas to come through so that we can complete our move to Mongolia.  Mongolia!

I returned from Nepal on the 25th of June with big news for Karen and I to share with our kids.  While I was away in Nepal, God had been doing His work in our hearts.  For quite a while MAF was looking for a pilot to go for one year to Mongolia to fill a need there as the current pilot was on his way out of the country.  There was no pilot who was currently available to fill in the gap until a permanent replacement was found.  For quite a while we had watched emails coming through our inbox requesting a pilot, and we had never felt that this was something that we needed to reply to.  We were very comfortable in Kampala.  We enjoyed our life there and we were surrounded by a great team of people there who we really enjoyed working with.  I knew our airplanes, the routes we were flying, and many of the people who we regularly fly.  Life was good, and Karen and I both felt at home there.  Before I left for Nepal, there was an email that came through again, and as I read it I called Karen over and we briefly talked about it.  Both of us felt that switching over to the Mongolia program wasn't something that we were supposed to be doing, and that if God wanted us to go there He would have to show us clearly that it was what He wanted us to do.  Off I went to Nepal.

Shortly after arriving in Nepal, another email came through.  I could tell that things were getting a little desperate in the search for a pilot, and as I talked to Karen that night I told her that I didn't feel as though we could disregard the need in Mongolia anymore simply because "It's really cold there", or because "It wouldn't be an easy thing to do".  We agreed that we would both pray about it and consider it seriously and see what God would do.  It didn't take long.  Both Karen and I felt that God was asking us to be willing to go to Mongolia.  I sat down and hit the "reply" button on the latest email and informed the folks at MAF that we would be willing to complete the remainder of our first term in Mongolia.  And we waited for a reply.  We knew that many emails had been sent out and that ours may not be the only reply that they had received, so we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Finally, three days later I heard my inbox "bing" at me, and I saw that there was a response from my email.  The first line in it said, "Sorry for the delay in responding, I have been off of work ill :-(".  Ahh, so that's why there had been no reply!  The email went on to tell us that they would have a look at the responses that they had received to their latest requests, and plan a course of action from that.  We would be told "yea" or "nae" in a few more days.

A few more days went by.

"Bing!" went my email.

"We would like very much to accept your offer to work in the Mongolia program until August 2016."

Woah.  Reading that email was intense.  Karen and I were confident that we were following God's leading in this instance and we had great peace about it, but sitting there in Nepal reading that line of text and all of the weight of what it meant to our family was a significant moment.  Whew!  I sat there for a moment taking it all in, and then checked facebook to see if Karen was online.  She wasn't.  I sent her a message anyway.  We decided that we did not want to inform our kids about this while I was on skype, so we kept our news quiet and waited until I returned home.  

Just over six weeks ago I returned to Kampala, early Thursday morning on the 25th of June.  When our kids were all up and fed, we broke the news to them that we were going to be leaving Uganda.  Both Karen and I were surprised at how well the kids took the news.  There were a few tears, but on the whole they were very composed.  We answered the questions that they had and then turned our thoughts and focus to the immense task that lay ahead of us as we would have to pack up all of our household in the next 4 weeks.  

Those 4 weeks were very busy, as I still had flights to carry out and whenever I wasn't flying we were at home putting things in order and preparing to leave.  The other program pilots were great, offering to take flights from me to give me the time that I needed, and volunteering to take over various office responsibilities that I had been looking after.  My last two flights in Uganda were check flights, one being a "base check", which is required every 6 months and tests my flying skills with only myself and a check pilot in the plane, and then a "route check", which is a normal operational flight where a check pilot rides along with me and observes to see if I am following SOP's (Standard Operating Procedures) and how I interact with passengers and other things that arise over the course of a normal flight.  The flights went well, and then I was finished flying in Uganda. 

We left Uganda early in the morning (1:00am) on Sunday the 26th of July, one month after I had returned from Nepal.  We had a 8.5 hour flight up to London, a 10 hour layover which we spent in terminal 5 at London/Heathrow, then a 9.5 hour flight from London to Calgary.  Because of time zones, we landed almost 30 hours later on the same day at 9:20 pm in Calgary.  

The next day we headed into Calgary, stopping at a Wal-Mart to have passport photos done and then going to the Canadian passport office down town to submit our applications for new passports.  We all needed to have new passports done before going to Mongolia, and the process for application for visas for Mongolia couldn't begin until we had our new passport numbers in hand.  Tuesday morning I headed out to Three Hills to begin my instrument rating renewal, and then on Wednesday morning I was out in Three Hills again, flying the simulator in the morning before going back to Didsbury to pick up my family and heading into Calgary for my yearly aviation medical.  After the medical it was over to the passport office again to pick up our new passports, and then the drive back out to Didsbury.  Thursday saw me back out in Three Hills, doing two simulator sessions in preparation for my flight test the next day.  Friday morning I was back in Three Hills, successfully completing my test before hitting the road for the 8 hour drive up to Grande Prairie.  All this happened as we were jet-laggy and forcing our bodies into this time zone.

It was a crazy week.

Now that all of those things are done, life has slowed down a bit.  Emails still fly back and forth from ourselves, MAF Canada, and Blue Sky Aviation (MAF in Mongolia) on a daily basis as we work through the details of immigration, licensing, and life in Mongolia after we arrive there, but the pace of things has slowed down a lot.  We are beginning to feel normal again as our level of rest increases.  We have been blessed with good health throughout this entire experience, and we are so thankful for the prayers for us during all of this transition.  We are expecting to leave Canada for Mongolia at some point during the first week of September, depending on when our visas come through.  After arrival in Mongolia there will be a short time of overlap between myself and the other pilot as he transitions out of Mongolia, and then I will be the only pilot there, flying a grand Caravan within Mongolia wherever the need exists.  

Thank you so much for your prayers.  God has been good to us throughout this whole time, and we give Him the glory and praise.  Please continue to pray for us as we make final preparations for leaving Canada and entering Mongolia.  We don't know a whole lot about Mongolia, but google has begun to provide a small, incomplete picture of what our life there may look like.  The only thing that we are sure of at this time is that the next year is going to be an adventure!  Thank you so much for your prayers and support.

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