Our family

Our family

Thursday, November 1, 2012

MAF Technical Evaluation

This post has been two years in the making and we are thrilled to announce that we passed our Technical Evaluation with Mission Aviation Fellowship!! It was an extremely difficult and trying two weeks but the Lord was faithful as He always is and got us through it. We began our trip by leaving Hannah and Caitlyn with Jenn's mom. This was the one part of the trip I was dreading the most, since I've never been apart from my girls for that long, even with my airline schedule. We took Caleb with us and he enjoyed his first ride on an airplane (even if he was quite squirmy)! We arrived in Nampa without issue on Saturday afternoon to give us a full day to rest and gear up for the next two weeks on Sunday. We were also able to finally connect with some friends of ours that we had never met. Sounds confusing, but they were a couple who has been supporting us the lsat two years and we were able to plan to meet during our TE, since they are also applying to be a pilot/mechanic family. It was awesome getting to know them better and for Jesse and I to study and help one another as we both went through the TE. My first week was the maintenance evaluation and I was pretty nervous about it. As I've said before, I'm not the most mechanically inclined person so some things don't come quite as easy, but I do feel like I'm a quick learner. My maintenance instructor for the week was absolutely fantastic, as is everyone at MAF. Even though during the evaluation times they don't give much feedback, he was very encouraging and I really enjoyed getting to know him. After a week of tests, projects, and tasks he told me that I had passed! I was so excited and relieved! However, my relief was short lived because I had the weekend to prepare for my flight evaluation the next week! Jennifer was able to stay with Caleb most days as she was still having to assume the full time mom job. She was also able to connect with other women that were there and have play dates and go on walks with the kids. She also had the opportunity to help out in the offices with the MAF staff and get to know them. Jennifer was such an encouragement to me throughout our time there and when I was feeling stressed or discouraged, she was always there to pick me up. She also went through many emotions while we were there as she also had to interview with candidate committee and psychologist. I felt more confident going into the flight evaluation because that's where most of my experience has been. I feel I can self evaluate my flight performance more than maintenance. I got the privilege of flying with the Director of Training for the week. He was also such a pleasure to work with and see his heart for missions and aviation. There were 3 flights and also a simulator session for instrument work. I had never flown a Cessna 206 before so I was excited and anxious to get in the air. We did many different kinds of flying and finished the week by doing a flight to several different airports that were an hour or so away from Boise. I had never done mountain flying before. WOW!! I was shocked at how close we were flying to the terrain, but with my instructor beside me I knew it was safe. Now for the big big day! (In my best Effie Trinket voice) On Friday, our last day in Nampa, I was meeting my instructor pilot and Jenn and I also had to meet with the candidate committee to see if they were going to invite us back for candidacy training in January where we would become official missionary partners. In the debrief I was informed that I had passed my flight portion and later that afternoon the candidate committee asked us to return!! For the first time in 2 weeks Jenn and I could take a deep breath. We were so thankful to God that he allowed us to do well and gain favor with MAF. As each day passed Jenn and I became more and more aware of what an amazing organization MAF is. I will include more in a future post, but we were so impressed with their heart for missions and their way of glorifying God through aviation. They are definitely good stewards of what they've been given. The airplanes are all in pristine condition, the facility is top notch, and the people are amazing. We are thrilled and humbled to be part of such an incredible organization! We would like to thank everyone for the prayers over the last two years, and the two weeks we were in Idaho. They were felt and needed! Our journey is not yet complete but this was the biggest step we have completed yet. Like I said before, our whole family goes back in January for a month for more training and also find out where the Lord will have us serve!! We will FINALLY be able to give an answer when people ask where we are going! We look forward to updating again soon and can't wait to see what God has in store for us as we become official partners with MAF!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Catch up and Technical Evaluation

I feel obligated to start this post in a similar manner that I have in the past and apologize for the tardiness of this post. I have much to catch up on, but will do it expeditiously. I finished my aircraft mechanic school at the end of March and God providentially provided an A&P (Airframe and Powerplant for those that don't know) job at the Olive Branch airport (5 minutes away) to get the necessary experience I need to join MAF. Words cannot describe how happy I was, and still am, to finish school! Those 18 months were by far the toughest time Jenn and I ever had. We have been able to glean a lot from that time and looking back see where God was at work. Jenn and I have had to adjust to life with me being home more than an hour or two a day. Though we are still super busy, it pales in comparison to the 14-15 hour days that we had while I was in school. I have really enjoyed working as a mechanic and have realized how little I knew coming out of school. School pretty much gives you the minimum requirements to get your license with limited hands on experience. I'm not naturally mechanically inclined, so some things have been a challenge. God has used different circumstances to humble me and show me that it's ok to not be the best at everything. But having said that, I have learned a whole lot and feel this job is preparing me for service with MAF. Jenn has been busy being a mom, as usual. Her days look a little different now because our oldest, Hannah, began kindergarten about 5 weeks ago. She is LOVING it and is doing extremely well. Her teacher has sent notes home saying how well she behaves (WHAT??) and how quick she learns. Having only two kids at home has been a welcomed relief and she is loving it. Caitlyn is still enjoying her dance classes (she's a natural) and is growing up way too fast. Our little boy Caleb isn't so little anymore. He is almost 16 months old now and is completely destroying everything in our house! Child locks - check! The girls got into things when they were young but nothing like Caleb! He loves to throw balls, play basketball, and be active. I finally have another sports fan in the family! We are so blessed to have one another and though some days are a huge challenge, we know that God has given us so much. Other than being insanely hot, our summer was a lot of fun. We were able to have a nice family beach vacation in June where we made lots of memories. We also were able to get plugged into a new small group at church which has been a huge blessing. We definitely need as many people walking alongside and praying with us as we get ready to join MAF. So about that... It seems like its been ages since I quit my airline pilot job. It was almost exactly 2 years ago. Wow! God has been so faithful despite our screw ups and lack of faith at times. As I mentioned in previous posts, the first thing we must do in the process of getting accepted with MAF is our Technical Evaluation - one week of flight and one week of maintenance evaluations, along with interviews for Jenn and me. Well, we leave two weeks from this Saturday for our evaluation! A lot has gone into getting ready for this, including physicals for all of us, mounds of paperwork, and questionnaires. Jennifer, Caleb, and I (Jenn's mom is staying with the girls since Hannah is in school) will travel to Nampa, Idaho (just outside of Boise) for two weeks. Our official dates are October 6-20. We can't believe it is just around the corner! We have been preparing hard for this evaluation and are a little nervous about it. We are huge believers that God equips those whom He calls, but on the flip side we feel there is a lot riding on this. The last two years all lead up to these two weeks. A few weeks ago we were beginning to feel extremely nervous and even a little scared. However, God has begun to calm our nerves and fears. We know that all of this is in God's hands and that no matter what happens, He is in control. How awesome is it that we serve such an awesome God who promises that He will never leave us?! The words that keep resounding in our minds is are the words of Jesus, "I will be with you". Nothing is more encouraging than that. So, as we finish preparing to go and as we are out there doing the evaluation, would you please pray for us? Specifically pray that I (Andrew) will be able to recall all of the things I have studied and perform my best. Also, pray for Jenn as she must go through multiple interviews and meet with the staff. Finally, please also pray for Hannah, Caitlyn, and Jenn's mother who will be watching them. It will be difficult being away from the girls for two full weeks. Pray their time at home will go smoothly. We will update as soon as we can once we get back. We cannot thank you enough for your prayers. We could not do this without your faithful support. Thanks again and we look forward to reporting back the results of our Technical Evaluation!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Progress and Brokenness

I know, I know, it's been six months since we last blogged. Ok, guilty as charged! Since June a lot has gone on, so I will try to hit on that briefly, but I mainly wanted to talk about what God has been doing in me personally.

It's hard to believe that it has been almost 18 months since I quit my job at Pinnacle Airlines to pursue missionary aviation with Jennifer and our kids. God has been extremely faithful throughout this whole process, though it has been pretty tough for most of it. When we started out, I had 18 months of mechanic school and Jenn had two Bible classes she had to take. Well, now I am down to my last 2 months of school and Jenn has one more class to finish, as she just finished her first class where she studies Ephesians and Colossians. Which, of course, she made all A's! My last day of class is March 26th, which at that time I will be a fully certified A&P aircraft mechanic.

THe kids continue to bring us more joy (and sometimes headaches) than ever. Hannah will turn 5 on February 10, Cate turned 3 back in November, and can you believe that our son Caleb is already almost 8 months!? It really is amazing how time flies. Hannah played her first soccer season in the fall and played great! Cate has also just begun her first dance lessons and is absolutely loving it. Meanwhile, we can't keep enough food in Caleb's belly! That boy could eat all day.

Jenn and I are excited about the next phase in our journey to overseas missions. Our timetable has changed slightly, however. We have to go through a Technical Evaluation with MAF, which is a two week event where they evaluate my flight and maintenance skills, and have extensive interviews. We were hoping to accomplish this in late spring or early summer, but MAF's schedule was not matching ours. So, we have elected to do the evaluation in October. Looking forward this may be a blessing because this will give me an opportunity to hone my maintenance skills, since I have no experience fixing airplanes. We know that God is sovereign through all of this, so we are confident that what we at first saw as a scheduling conflict will turn out to be the way God wanted it to be.

Now you might be curious as to why I included brokenness in this blog title. What follows is nothing more than a conglomeration of my thoughts and feelings on what the last 16 months has been like. Just wanted to give a disclaimer!

One thing I never imagined was how hard the process and journey would be. I had heard from other missionaries from MAF that the prep and training before leaving home was the hardest time for them. I'm not sure what the future holds for us, but I can definitely agree that this has been the toughest season of life for Jenn and I. Even tonight, as I was driving home God broke me in a way I haven't been broken for a long time. Lately I have really been feeling inadequate and useless when it comes to God's plan for my life. These feelings have stunted my growth spiritually at times and affected me in many other ways. With trying to balance school, work, a wife, kids, family, church, small group community, and my walk with the Lord I have had to tell myself to just suck it up and push on. Well, after months of pushing myself to the brink and trying to do it myself, I broke. I told God that I couldn't do this anymore. I told Him that I wanted things to be the way they used to be. I missed my old job. I missed the comfort of knowing I was doing something I was good at. The challenge I have been faced with since I began school is learning a trade, aircraft maintenance, that I'm not passionate about not do I feel that I am any good at it. I am not mechanically inclined, so it's hard to force myself to think in ways that don't come naturally. I have had to face the fact that I'm not good at everything! God has used this to show me how prideful I am. I like to be able to do something right the first time, and if it doesn't work out that way, I get really frustrated. Right or wrong, that's just me. I'm learning to become more patient, albeit very slowly! (Slow according to me, who wants patience now!) So, being surrounded my a bunch of guys in class that think, work, and operated very well mechanically is very hard for me because I'm just not like that. Of course I've learned a lot and hopefully will continue to, but every time I'm working on a project in class, all I can think about is how I'd much rather be flying! Again, just being honest here. However, I've learned that God is much less concerned about my personal comfort level than He is about molding me and shaping me according to His will that will ultimately bring Him glory, not me! Because let's be honest, we all want to be worshiped. I want everyone to see how good I am and compliment me on what a good pilot I am. This attitude reeks like a cesspool!! I hate it, I hate it, I hate it! But, my flesh is constantly rearing its ugly head. Tonight, God really showed me how prideful and self centered I am. There are tons of guys in my class who do not know the Lord, and here I am thinking about all the things I can do to help people notice me so I can feel good about myself. God allowed me to see myself for who i really am. A broken, selfish, prideful, and ruined sinner. It was hard to look at myself honestly because I knew I wouldn't like what I saw. After God showed me what my sin looked like and how much He hated it, He allowed me to reflect on Jesus. I could barely speak as I thought about how God allowed His son to take my sin, filth, and crap (for lack of a better word) on himself so I could be clean. The gospel never gets old! I need a daily reminder of the sacrifice that was paid for my sin. As painful as it was to have God reveal my sin to my face. But, for someone who has tried to hold it all together by himself for months, i could not have been more grateful! I feel as if a huge weight has been lifted. I know the future holds more challenges and trials, but I pray that God will give me the grace to face these trials with joy.

I hope that the Lord can use what i've said in this post to encourage you. Let there be no misunderstanding that I've got it together or have things figured out. Quite the opposite actually. But, I have the confidence that God will use my weaknesses and my depravity for His glory to the ends of the earth. Be encouraged that no matter what baggage you may carry, Jesus is standing there ready to ease your burden.

Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30