“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair…”
2 Corinthians 4:8
There are times in life and moments in ministry when Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:8 are a fitting description. This week, Phil and I found ourselves in just this tension. I tested positive for gestational diabetes which poses some legitimate potential challenges for the baby and myself. The good news is, we’ve been following the doctor’s orders long before the diagnoses: healthy diet and plenty of exercise. None the less, it is a sobering responsibility as the mother of an unborn baby to more closely monitor the way my small choices may affect his little life. For love’s sake, it is not a burden. Four times a day I have to stick my finger with a needle to monitor and record my blood sugar level. I must count my carbohydrate intake and eat more protein throughout the day. And, I must be diligent in my daily workouts. Moreover, I must trust my God with the “worst case scenarios” and the statistics that would give any parent an unsettled feeling. It is the spiritual breathing pattern of exhaling the fears and unknowns and inhaling the peace that surpasses understanding. In and out, in and out, all day long.
At the same time, we are taking great strides to prepare for our next steps as missionary aviators. We have applied to take a technical evaluation and hope to land a slot in September. In his technical evaluation Phil will need to demonstrate his abilities as a pilot and a mechanic. In addition to his schooling, Phil is preparing for this evaluation by building his flight hours. Phil is currently instructing an instrument pilot and flies with him twice a week. Additionally, Phil will instruct a young man working to obtain his Certified Flight Instructor rating. Once these two students are “signed off” Phil will continue logging hours in a tailwheel aircraft and work to obtain his tailwheel endorsement. During our technical evaluation in September (Lord willing) Phil will need to demonstrate proficiency in a large tailwheel aircraft which is why we are choosing to invest time, energy, and finances into this endeavor. The technical evaluation is rigorous but more so, we train hard because God deserves our best. We take this responsibility seriously.
At the end of 2 Corinthians 4 Paul concludes his thought by saying, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Phil and I have asked the Lord to allow us the privilege of knowing Him and serving Him. We know that every hurdle and challenge we face has first been filtered through the loving hands of Christ. It is a solid rock upon which we, and each of you, may choose to stand. Let us pray diligently for one another and truly spur one another on toward love (His love) and good deeds. You are our family and we love you.
The dreams we dreamed as college students are coming true! Life is coming full circle and we are seeing the fulfillment of things that were barely on the radar! Have you ever had a moment where you stopped what you were doing and thought, “I always hoped it would be this good, but I never thought it was possible. But now I see that it is possible, and all I can do is smile and thank my God?” Jessica and I are going to use our aviation skills and ministry gifts to serve as missionaries for the glory of God…and we get to bring our kids with us!!! It brings to mind Ephesians 3:20 when God is described as being “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” It makes me laugh because I realize that I need to buckle up and start dreaming bigger because God loves to blow our hopes and dreams out of the water and say, “I’m just getting started!!!”
If you want to see Lina flying a Piper Apache, click here.
We have had three snow days in the past two weeks and I can’t say that I am sorry about it. It has allowed me to log some make-up time (the FAA requires that we receive 1900 hours of instruction/class time, so any time that I miss must be made up) by coming in to the school when they were “closed” due to snow. I continue to work diligently on my riveting project. I have finished making the final 10 pieces out of various sizes of aluminum and I hope to lay out the pieces (mark where I need to drill holes for the rivets) and then drill the holes.
We are doing well as a family. Jessica can use your prayers as most of her energy is going to baby Jeremiah and helping him grow. Adelina is recovering from her cold, which lasted over a week and a half. I was spared but I know that my time is coming! Please pray that we stay healthy here in Michigan.
I also wanted to thank all of you who have supported us financially. We literally would NOT be here if you didn’t respond to the Lord and give to support us. Thank you so much! We are deeply grateful for your sacrifice. Below are some pictures of the tools that I have been able to purchase that will help me do my job as a mechanic. (I can tell you that they are already getting a lot of use here at school)
Now, riveting is one of those things that I was nervous about trying because I thought that it would be extremely difficult. It also didn’t help that my rivet gun wasn’t hooked up to a regulator when I first started to use it. The basic premise is that the gun has a piece of metal on the end that is shaped for the type and size of rivet being driven. High pressure air flows through the gun when the trigger is pulled and it tries to shoot the piece of metal out of the gun. The spring catches the metal and pulls it back, allowing the process to start all over again! The teacher didn’t demonstrate how fast the gun should hit, but told us to place the gun against a piece of wood and pull the trigger to test it.
I didn’t know what I was looking for when I tested it, so I pulled the trigger and my piece of metal shot out so fast it bent the spring and almost flew into the next booth!!! Is that supposed to happen? Nope! I showed the teacher and he said, “Wow, now that’s a rivet gun!” Unfortunately, I had already tried to rivet a whole row of rivets with a gun that was trying to blow a hole through the sheet metal! On the first attempt, the rivet gun came off the rivet and put some large dents across my piece of metal. I showed my gun to another instructor and we found my regulator and slowed the gun down. Now, I think I’ve got the hang of it. See for yourself on this video!!!
We had a full week over the last seven days. I attended a men’s “Steak Night” at our church, attended a leader’s vision meeting the next night, Jessica started her new swim class at the YMCA, and then it snowed 6 inches. We had a late start for school on Friday and I got to spend a few more hours with the family!!! Wahoo! Adelina doesn’t really know what to think about snow (Which she enthusiastically pronounces “no”, but imagine that she blows air out of her nose before saying “no”. Priceless!!!)
Jess and I are participating in a church-wide effort to read the New Testamant by Easter. We are using a Bible called “The Books of the Bible” by Biblica. In this book, the New Testament is arranged chronologically without chapters, verses, section headings, or notes. The idea is to read the New Testament in a way that is similar to how it was written in the 1st century. The hope is that there will be new things that jump off the page, and that the story can be seen with fresh eyes! It is an exciting challenge and a great way for us to read the Word together!
Thank you once again for all of your prayers. God has been so gracious to us and we continue to praise Him for the great things He has done, is doing, and will do in the days, months, and years to come! Hallelujah!!!
We have had a great start to this new year. After returning from Mississippi we have found a groove for our family and we feel like we are in a sweet spot. School is going well and I continue to learn a great deal each day. An interesting thing about being an airplane mechanic is that all of the systems and components are fairly basic. There are different variables and components that can change the system, but it doesn’t change the way the system works. When I first came to school I was worried because everything seems so complicated, but God has been gracious and the “complex” systems are making sense. For example, electricity is making sure that there is a closed circuit through which current can flow. The hydraulic system is simply a pump, usually engine-driven, that either moves fluid to one side a piston or the other.
In addition to school going well, we are getting great time as a family. Jessica continues to bless and encourage me as she is teaching Adelina her ABC’s and 123’s, keeping our house spick and span, and preparing breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I do not know how Jessica, let alone the many other moms I know, can balance all of this and do it so well. My hat is off to you! And, because Jessica is working so hard, it allows our family to spend time together when I come home from school. We have gone on hikes in the Ionia State Park (the weather has been very mild which I don’t mind a bit!), we have spent more time at the Grand Rapids Children’s museum (Adelina has started to sing and she often sings about the museum, Elmo, and her high chai!), and we have visited the indoor pool.
At the time of writing this post I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude; grateful for the grace and provision of God; grateful for all of you who are praying and keeping up with us here in Michigan; grateful for the opportunity to attend this amazing school and work as a missionary pilot/mechanic; grateful for my wonderful family. God is SO good!
I want to leave you with a verse that has challenged me this last week…
“…those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
Welcome to 2012!!! 2011 was an exciting year for the VanaFam as we have left our former life and are following where God is leading! We have been so blessed by our families, by our home church, by the numerous supporters who believe in what God is doing in and through us. We were able to finish 2011 by spending some time with Jessica’s Dad and his family in Mississippi. We had a wonderful time relaxing, eating all of the wonderful food that the South has to offer (including some fried catfish and cheese grits), hanging out with family, and having a ton of fun! (I even got to go hunting, though I went 0 for 3 and didn’t even see any deer while sitting in my shooting house)
We are back in Michigan and school is in full swing. As we start this new year, we wanted to share some of the things that you can be in prayer for our family!
– Please pray about our decision for where to serve as missionaries. There are plenty of opportunities and needs all around the world and we want to go where God is leading.
– Please pray for Jessica’s pregnancy with baby Jeremiah. (Yes, that is what we plan to name him) We are hoping to have him naturally after having a c-section with Adelina. Please pray as Jessica is exercising, eating healthy, and we are working to make this a great pregnancy/delivery.
– Please continue to pray for school and the relationships that I have formed the other students. Pray that I will continue to work with excellence as well as make the most of every opportunity.
Thank you so very much for keeping up with us, for supporting us, for praying for us, and for believing in us. You are all a part of this adventure and we are blessed to have you walking with us. May you come to know our Savior more and more throughout this year!