One of the best ministry opportunities that we have at SMAT is to minister to the single, college students. Almost all of them are miles away from home, trying to juggle school, work, and sleep. Many of them are on their own for the first time and their diet consists of Ramen noodles, Hot Pockets, and Easy Mac N Cheese. Both Jess and I remember these days from our time in college and it gives us great joy to invite a few of them over for a home cooked breakfast and a time of fellowship on a Saturday morning.
This particular Saturday we shared a meal of pancake balls (properly known as Ebelskivers), venison sausage, and OJ with Tobias (a.k.a. Oh-Bye-Bus), Marlin Lantz, Miriam Obara (a young woman from Kenya), and Mandi Muha. Everyone enjoyed the breakfast and it was a great time of ministry, especially between Jessica and the two young women. The reason for this is that Jessica fully understands how difficult it is for women in aviation. One of Jessica’s first flight instructors told her, “Women shouldn’t even drive let alone fly airplanes,” right before she was about to take-off on her first flight. The two girls told Jessica how hard it is to understand some of the systems and lab activities that we have done here in class. The students work on projects in groups and the guys, especially the ones who actually know what they are doing, will usually take over and the girls are left watching. They want to ask questions but they are afraid that they will sound stupid.
It was great for Jessica to be a safe place where the girls can share their fears and feelings. It is a challenge for me because I realized that I can “take over” at times instead of helping those around me. I am hoping to pull aside a few of the more experienced students in my class and seeing how we can support and encourage the women in our class.
Last week in class we were busy learning how to weigh airplanes. The weight of the aircraft and the C.G. (center of gravity, which is the point at which a plane would balance if suspended in the air) are extremely important variables in aviation. If the aircraft weighs too much, the plane won’t be able to fly. If the C.G. is too far forward the aircraft nose will be too heavy to overcome with the controls and you will be a very fast car. If the C.G. is too far aft the nose will pitch up and not the controls will not be able to pitch the nose down and this will cause the wings to stall. All of these are dangerous situations that I fully intend to avoid!
We can never thank you enough for all of your love and faithful support. May God bless you as you invest your life for the sake of others.
Have you ever thought that you weren’t any good at something, only to find that you actually really enjoyed doing it? I discovered something that I enjoy immensely, but I never thought that I was any good. Until I was given the right tools and a framework within which to work! I like drawing! Drafting, technically speaking, is what I was learning to do last week, and it is not a paint by the numbers guide. I learned about aircraft drawings and then had to measure a few different objects. After finding all of the dimensions of the object, I had to transfer these measurements to paper and make a replica, just in case anyone would want to make this piece to put in their aircraft. All in all, I am very proud of my work. I would put it on the fridge but Adelina would just rip it off and say, “Off.”
The rest of the week was spent recovering and nursing our sick child. She has a cold and loves to snuggle with her Mom. We did take Adelina bowling for the first time in her life. She had trouble picking up the 6 lb ball but, boy, could she roll it!
God continues to be our Rock here in Michigan. We are making friends and growing our relationships with people, but one of our top priorities is diving into our relationship with God. There are a number of missionaries who work at or visit SMAT and it is a constant reminder of the adventures that lie ahead. I am excited about the ministry and work at hand, but I am also cognizant that this is a stepping stone to international missions and life abroad. It can be easy for me to think that I can get through school by my strength and will alone. And then I may think that I can be a missionary by my strength as well. But this is foolishness. It is only by the grace of God that I will be able to complete this year of school. It is only by the grace of God that I have been given this opportunity to train to be a missionary with the support of so many loving people. And it is only by the grace of God that any ministry that we are a part of will bear fruit. The only way to bear fruit is to be connected to the vine, Jesus Christ. Please continue to pray for us as we root ourselves into Christ and place our trust in Him each and every day.
Paul Dye is a Missionary Pilot-Mechanic with New Tribes Mission Aviation. In 1985, he and three other missionaries were kidnapped by Columbian guerrillas and held for ransom. Most of the missions organizations, including New Tribes, have agreed not to pay any ransoms because it would only encourage the guerrillas to keep kidnapping people to make money. Paul Dye was separated from the others and held for three days in a remote camp in the jungles of Columbia. By the grace of God, Paul had his Bible and was able to talk to the guerrillas about Christ. He also spent a lot of time reading his Bible and praying. It turned out to be a spiritually rich time and it grew his faith in tremendous ways. After a few days, he came up with a plan to escape and God worked in miraculous ways to allow him to do so unhindered. His escape included walking in the pitch black jungle and finding his plane all covered with vines, taxiing the airplane 200 yards without waking the guerrillas, taking off in the pitch black of the morning, only having gas for an hour of flight, finding a safe landing spot and bringing the plane down in the jungle while it was still dark. He said that with each step he took away from the guerrilla’s camp he said, “Thank you Lord. Thank you Lord.” And the Lord brought him home!
It was amazing to hear his story and his passion for the Lord. The entire class was riveted as he spoke. I was moved and it stirred me up to see how God is going to continue to move as we respond to His call!
We had another busy week. I learned about non-destructive testing methods (that is, being able to test for defects in airplane parts without having to break them). The pictures below shows a Dye-Penetrant test that reveals defects when using a black light. My friend Miriam got the dye on the airplane part, her arms, and her head!!! We also began learning about all of the rules and regulations governing mechanics. The rules and regs are not super fun, but it is important to know so that I don’t make a mistake and get fined by the FAA.
Jessica was blessed to attend a Christian Writers Conference called Breathe. She was encouraged, moved, and motivated by the tallent and humility of the presenters and speakers. Meanwhile Adelina and I made the most of our time together. At the end of the weekend we helped our friends who pastor the church across the street get their building cleaned up and ready for ministry. It was a wonderful week in the Lord. We thank each of you for taking an interest in our journey and count you as precious blessings.
There are four stages that usually occur during a “healthy” transition. There is the Romance Stage where everything new is excited and fun. You’re trying everything out and exploring your new surroundings. After the Romance, Reality sets in and you realize just what you’ve done. You’ve moved 2,000 miles away from family and everything that you are accustomed to and starting something new. The next phase is the Rejection Stage. Everything that was fun and exciting in the Romance Stage is weird and not quite as good as it once was. You miss “home” and everything familiar. You miss your friends and the things that served as a security blanket.
Well, I am excited to tell you that we are completing our “healthy” transition to Michigan and have begun the fourth and final stage, Readjustment. God has been fulfilling our desires, hopes, and dreams as we are settling in and finding our sweet spot; we are finding “home”. Here are just a few of our answered prayers…
We have found a great church in Lowell. It has the feel of our home church, Summit Christian Church in Sparks, and we are challenged and encouraged. Also, Adelina loves the children’s area!
School continues to be a huge blessing and a lot of work. This last week was a busy week so I have included several pictures at the end of this post. We heat-treated some metal (basically heating up so hot that it became soft and malleable, then heating it up and quenching it in water to make the metal hard again, and finally heating it just a little to work out the stresses of the metal during the second stage), we played with fire and fire extinguishers, removed corrosion from different airplane parts, repainted some the airplane parts, and finished up our electricity class (I got an A!!!).
I started working at a flight school in order to gain some more flight experience and stay current as we plan to try out with MAF soon after graduating from the mechanic’s school. Boy does it feel good to fly again!
In addition to all of this, God has provided some friends for Jessica. Last week one of the wives of a teacher at SMAT had all of the wives of students over to her house. Jessica got to meet all of the wives and they had fun playing some games and eating finger foods. She came home laughing so hard and beaming because she had so much fun! We are excited because we knew that we needed a support system here in Michigan and God has provided!
Thank you so much for all of your prayers. God is answering them and moving in mighty ways. It is blessing to see how God is directing us and building us up. Here are a few things you can continue to pray with us about…
Balance in our schedule. Pray that we manage our time well and make a viable schedule to go to school, spend time with friends, work at the flight school, and spend time as family.
Pray for the health of Jessica and the new baby! (She had her first appointment today and we found a great doctor. The baby is healthy and Jessica was able to hear the heartbeat!)
Pray that we would faithfully spend time with the Lord everyday. Knowing Him is what matters most!
Of course, the work the Lord is doing here in Ionia is much deeper in us than through us. His hand of healing, transformational power, direction, and shepherding has been the most profound work we’ve seen in our weeks in Michigan. We pray that God will use us to be a blessing to others and we strive to be faithful, accountable, and active. Yet, it is clear that the biggest changes we are seeing are right within the confines of our own hearts.
For me, Ionia has been an honest glance in the mirror. All of the yucky stuff in my heart and soul have been brought to light and I find that I am ever more thankful for a God who redeems. I have been meditating on the word Redeemer this week and allowing the vast wealth we have (I have) as redeemed persons to sink in. It’s funny too because somewhere along the journey I have found ways to assure myself that I am okay; ways to convince myself that my crutches aren’t really crutches. But, out here in this beautiful green farmland surrounded by some profoundly authentic believers I find myself confronted by the tremendous disparity between who I am today and who I desire to be.
I see women (wives, mothers, students, friends) who are resilient servants, faithful durable workers, and kept content by the joy of the Lord. What I have observed about these women (most of whom are the wives of Philip’s classmates and all of whom are living in very modest and sometimes quite uncomfortable situations) is that they have learned to delight themselves in the Lord. They rejoice in Kingdom work and in Kingdom advancements. I have rejoiced in those things too on some level for many years, but the Lord is calling me deeper still. The Lord is calling me closer to His heart and along the way, He is asking to change me – more, and again. The whisper of the hope of the woman who stands on the other side of that change is the very thing I cling to. I long for transformation with such desperateness that I am hopeful my Redeemer will meet me there and change me from the inside out.
Last week I wrote a note to Phil confessing my heart’s desire to really change. I told him that the very foundations of my character were shifting and that I am eager to walk more conformed to the image of Christ. I am asking God to give me one woman who will faithfully pray for me as a wife and mom, for it is within these roles that I have the greatest opportunity for change. And I know that if the me who serves my husband and daughter can live a more redeemed story then that same woman will naturally be more of a blessing in all other relationships as well. I know that our redemption as believers is not just a one-time event, but a daily occurrence for His mercies are new every morning and we are ever in need of them.
The transaction God makes with us as we seek transformation is described most beautifully in Isaiah 61 where the people of God trade their old identity for a new identity in Christ. Beauty for Ashes – Once again I am giving Father God the ashes of my life and once again He is offering me His beauty. If our lives are hallmarked by the character of Christ then in time we shall find ourselves more beautiful than we ever could have imagined.