On Wednesday of last week we received our official SMAT work shirts. We all look super snazzy as we wear our dark blue shirts and learn about fixing airplanes. We had a full week at school as we learned how to wash airplanes, troubleshoot electrical systems, remove rivets from wings, practice using torque wrenches so that all the bolts share the load evenly, and learn how to tie safety wire around the heads of bolts so they don’t come off in flight. I enjoyed working with safety wire because it is useful and looks pretty, but be careful because it hurts when you prick your finger!
We invited a family from Spain over for dinner last week. Marcelino, Eliana, Francisco, and Martin (pronounced Mar-teen) moved to the U.S. just before school started. They are from Argentina but they moved to Spain in order to find work. Upon arriving in Spain, Marcelino learned that his Argentinian pilot’s licenses were not valid in Spain. He has not been able to fly for the last 10 years but he has felt that God wants him to be a missionary pilot. After getting in contact with a JAARS (Jungle Aviation and Radio Service) missionary, he learned that he would be able to fly with JAARS if he got his mechanic’s license. The only problem is that they will not accept initial applicants who are over 40 years of age. Marcelino will turn 40 next August but he will make the cut-off if he can graduate from SMAT and apply with JAARS.
He explained his story at our dinner table and then he began to tear up when he described all of the hardships they have met since moving to the U.S. Marcelino speaks English well enough to get by in conversation but he is still learning the language on top of learning advanced electrical and aviation terms. They do not have a car and they live on the airport next to the school. Their two boys are going to public school and barely speak English. Eliana, Marcelino’s wife, is learning English but she is very lonely during the day. When Eliana explained that she had to walk to get groceries, Jessica promptly said, “Not anymore you don’t!”
It was a moving time with this beautiful family. We had a great meal and time of fellowship. We are finding ways that we can help them out, both Marcelino with his studies and Eliana with shopping and learning English. We also hope we can get their boys in a soccer league!
God has been so faithful and good. He is showing us ways that we can minister in simple ways, and bringing people into our lives who simply need to be loved! We have been given so much and our desire is that we will be good stewards and generous with all that we have been given.
There are several parks throughout Ionia, but the easiest to access is directly across the street at a small church. Jessica, Adelina, and I had finished a bike ride and stopped at this park to allow Lina to play before her nap. While we were playing, a young woman came out of one of the church buildings (we later learned that the building was her house!) She approached us and asked if we lived close by. We told her that we lived across the street and shared how we came to live in Ionia. She told us that she and her husband had just moved to Ionia from Indianapolis and her husband was the new pastor of the small church with the playground. (I met her husband the next day when I returned to the park a day later) This is how we became friends with Scott and Tatiana McConnel.
After we left the playground, Jessica said, “I think that we were in their backyard!” I said, “Yeah, but she didn’t seem to mind.” Then, I told Jessica that I felt God may be calling us to support and befriend this young couple during this year in Ionia. Jessica was very excited! Please pray for us as we build our relationship with Scott and Tatiana, as well as see how God may be leading us to help and encourage them as they pastor this small congregation.
This last week was a wonderful and busy week. Jessica’s Mom came out to visit and she was a tremendous help and blessing. She got to spend plenty of time with her granddaughter and served us in a myriad of ways. In school, I continued to learn about electricity (Click here to see a circuit board that I helped to wire!) as well as some of the various tools that I will need as an airplane mechanic. One of the tools is a micrometer. It is so precise that it can measure things various things to ten-thousandths of an inch. That is 0.0001 of an inch! You may ask, “Why does it need to be SO exact?” I asked the same question and learned that it helps to determine if ball bearings are round or if a crank shaft has experienced some uneven wear. You would be surprised at how many problems a few ten-thousandths of an inch can cause when your crankshaft is spinning a couple thousand times a minute!!!
At the end of the week I flew to Reno in order to visit my home church, Summit, and take part in a weekend highlighting the various missionary work that Summit is involved with around the world. I was so blessed to be “home”, to see all of the wonderful people at Summit, to hear an amazing and challenging message by John Thomas, and to worship my Lord and Savior. The trip was a whirlwind and included several meals/visits with friends, a 13-mile race called the Tough Mudder, 4 weekend services, 8 hours of driving to Chicago and back to Michigan, and 10 hours of flying to and from Reno…and it was worth every second!!!
We all laugh. Adelina, like any child, enjoys the attention and decides to up the ante.
“Oh-Bye-Bus. Oh-Byyyyyye-Bus! OH-BYYYYYYE-BUS!!!” she says the name one last time at the top of her lungs. She says it so loud that she has to stand on her tip-toes and falls forward. By this time, we are all laughing so hard that it is hard to catch our breath.
Tobias Meyer is a fellow student at SMAT. He is the middle child of five, the older of twin brothers, born in South Africa to German ex-patriots, and an extremely sweet man. I met him on the first day of class and it was clear that he was kind, polite, and genuine. He grew up in South Africa, went to college in Germany to become a social worker, and he is now pursuing a career in aviation thanks to some money left to him by an aunt.
Jessica and I invited him to dinner and had a wonderful time getting to know him. He is a precious young man who loves the Lord. It was a joy to hear his story. He opened up to us and shared about his life growing up and some of the struggles he had being a twin.
One of the greatest blessings that we have found here at SMAT are the men and women who are in my class. So many of them are away from home and searching for fellowship; someone to listen and care about what they have to say and what they have been through. It is amazing how simple and yet powerful it can be when you share a meal with someone!
In other news, I learned how to solder this past week. I hope you enjoy the pictures of the multimeter I assembled! A multimeter is used to check the voltage, current, or resistance across a circuit. I made a few mistakes but I was able to correct them and make something that actually works!!!
What you see here is an airplane that has been reduced to a dangerous, non-airworthy, unstable tricycle named Stubby. This week, I had the pleasure of learning how to hand-prop an airplane. “Isn’t that dangerous,” you might ask. Yes. Yes it is. But, there are times when a mechanic or a pilot, especially one who is working in a 3rd world country, will need to hand prop an airplane because of a dead battery or a broken starter. Here’s a link to a video of my practicing! http://www.vimeo.com/28641018 (It didn’t start because the spark plugs were disconnected!)
We have made a few friends here in Ionia and we are excited about spending time with them. We had a couple from school over for dinner on Thursday and we ate my favorite dish, Chicken Paprikash (A traditional Czechoslovakian soup that was passed down from my Dad’s side of the family). Their names are Morten and Autumn Johansen and they live in the same apartment complex. He is from Norway and is trying to get his pilot’s license. They have two children, Emma and Christian, and Adelina is completely enamored with Emma. She wakes almost every morning and says, “Emma? Emma?” They are an amazing couple and we enjoy them immensely.
There is a young man in my mechanic’s class named Tim. He grew up as a missionary kid in Panama and now he wants to serve as a missionary pilot. He invited me to go running on Wednesday night and we had a great time talking and running. I feel like God is calling me to pour into his life and I am excited to spend more time with him.
There is also a young couple who lives downstairs from Morten and Autumn. Their names are Devin and Miranda and they have a 2 year old named Mirra. They do not currently attend church and it seems like God has put them in our lives so we can tell them about Christ. We are hoping that we can tag team with Morten and Autumn, as all of our kids play together, and invite them to church!
We had a great Labor Day weekend and we were able to see my folks as my Dad celebrated his 40th high school reunion. Adelina also experienced a few firsts as she swam in Lake Michigan, took a ride on a paddle boat, and rode a pony!!!
Please continue to pray for Jessica and the morning sickness. She has also had a cough for almost two weeks now and it is not helping the nausea. Also, please pray that we would continue to allow God to mold us, shape us, and strip away everything in our lives that hinders us as we run the race marked out by His mercy and grace!