Monthly Archives: April 2012

Satisfaction In Excellence…


Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings

Proverbs 22:29

God is always teaching, shaping me as the potter shapes the clay. The lesson that I am learning is that working with excellence brings great satisfaction. You may be thinking, “Yeah, what’s your point?” The point is that I can get so consumed with churning out the finished project that I forget to enjoy the process. There is a difference between getting something done and doing something well. The crazy thing is that doing something well, doing something that you are proud of, brings such satisfaction! I work hard and go to bed satisfied. Working with excellence, whether as a student, a husband, a father, an employee, or a friend, satisfies because it pleases the heart of God. AND, it is what we are meant to do! I am beginning to understand Paul’s command in Ephesians 6:7, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men…” The trick to finding satisfaction is to work for the glory of God, not to get a raise, to get “noticed”, or to get a better grade. We work with excellence and God gives us satisfaction.

A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God

Ecclesiastes 2:24

Some tools I have made!

As promised, here are some of the tools that I have made! The black and gold tray will hold spark plugs when I am working on an engine. Each cylinder of an engine has two spark plugs. This adds redundancy (for safety) as well as provides a cleaner, more efficient burn of the fuel that also adds a little bit of power. The circular device will help me to find “top dead center” (when the piston reaches the top of its compression and exhaust stroke) of the first cylinder. The other two tools help with timing of a magneto, which I discussed last week. The two big projects that I finished last week were to take apart a carburetor and a magneto, inspect them, and then do an OPS check (operational check). Click Here to see a video of my “overhauled” carburetor and magneto in action!

The Engine!

Here is an Continental IO-520 engine. “I” stands for fuel injected, “O” stand for horizontally opposed cylinders (so the pistons work in opposing directions and cancel out some of the vibrations), and “520” stands for the cubic inches of displacement of all the cylinders combined. My job is to tear it down, fix what needs to be fixed, and put it back together! SWEET!

Thanks so much for all of your prayers! Have a blessed week and do all things with excellence! God Bless!!!


FAA Approved Mechanic…

It is Official!!! I am a mechanic!!!

WAHOO!!! The last step to becoming a FAA Approved Airframe Mechanic is complete. I passed my written test last Friday. I am now certified to work on the airframe of any US registered aircraft, from a Cessna 152 to a Boeing 777! Can you believe that?!?! Of course, my license is more of a license to learn, but we are on our way and following the path that God has laid out before us!

The attention at school has now shifted to the Powerplant. Our first big assignment will be to overhaul an engine. We will take an engine apart, inspect EVERYTHING, replace anything that needs to be replaced, put it back together, and then run it up on a test stand and see how well it works! This project will go on for a few months and I am excited to start working on it.

The three classes that we are taking are Engines, Ignition Systems, and Fuel Metering. We are learning about carburetors and we have a project to take one apart, put it back together, and then install it on an engine and fire it up. Once we see how well the engine runs with the “new” carburetor, we will adjust it to make sure that the engine idles smoothly and can reach its maximum RPM. I have also spent a good portion of last week fabricating various tools that I will use on different Ignition Systems. I will post some pictures next week when they are complete.

Papaw and Jeremiah

On the home front, Jessica’s Dad and Step-Mother visited us from Mississippi. We had a wonderful visit and they had a lot of fun meeting Jeremiah and playing with Adelina. We are blessed to have such a loving family!

Just in case you were wondering, here are a few ways that you can be praying for us!

  • Pray for Jeremiah. He has been pretty uncomfortable, especially at night, and we think that he might have some acid reflux issues. We are taking him to the doctor this Thursday for his 4 week appointment and simply want to figure out why he has such discomfort.
  • Pray for the continued adjustment as we get used to having 2 children.
  • Pray for our preparation as we get ready to try out with JAARS in October. I know that it is a little less than 6 months away but the things that I am learning now will play a big part of my Technical Evaluation. I want to continue to lay a solid foundation, not only for the evaluation, but for the years to come!
Thank you so much for joining us on this journey! We thank God for you and all of your encouragement, support, love, and prayers. God has been so gracious to us!
Leigh Ann
Books of the Week: "Green Eggs and Ham (or, I am Sam)" and "Go, Dog, Go"
My Girls

More To Learn…

Fun with Grandma

As I reflect on the Oral/Practical Exam that I took last week, I realize how much I have learned in a little less than 8 months. It is pretty amazing! Then, after having that thought, I realize that I can’t stop learning now. There is so much more. There are a multitude of areas where I must continue to grow and improve. Then, I see that this is exactly like the Christian walk. It can be easy to stop and coast once we learn something or reach a plateau. But God is always calling and beckoning to us, “Further in! I am not done with you yet!” So I echo Paul’s declaration in Philippians 3:14, “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (NLT)

The Airframe foundation has been laid and now it is time to build on it. That is why I have spoken with my instructors and I will stay after school on certain days to work with the mechanic’s at the SMAT flight line. I will be able to get some “real-world” experience and learn about how the basics skill I have learned find their application on working airplanes.

Mag Timer

One of the projects that I have been working on is a Magneto Timing box. I soldered the pieces of the circuit board together and then assembled the box. (I even added a switch to deactivate the tone because it gets annoying in approximately 0.85 seconds) The Magneto (commonly referred to as Mag) is a combination of a distributor and an ignition coil that you have in a car. It sends a burst of electricity to the appropriate spark plug so that the spark plug “sparks” and the fuel ignites in the cylinder, which pushes the piston down, which helps turn the crankshaft, which spins the propeller! It has to start somewhere!!! The Mag Timer helps make sure that the spark plug fires at the correct moment, otherwise the engine may try to turn the opposite direction if it fires too early (which is bad) or you may lose efficiency if it fires late. Click here to see a video of my Mag Timer!

Composite Clip Board

Another project that I have recently completed is a clip board made of composite material. A composite is any material that is made of two or more different parts and each retains its strengths and weaknesses. Composites are great for construction of airplanes because of the high strength to weight ratio (and saving weight on an airplane is of paramount importance). The only problem is that composites are difficult to make, time consuming, and expensive. To make my clip board, I created a mold (because I wanted a container to hold stuff), waxed the mold, and then I laid fiberglass layers down and covered them with a polyester resin. The clip board cured over the weekend and then I attached some pictures by gluing them to the surface and covering it with the resin. I am planning on having this clip board for a LONG time!!!

On the home front, we had a wonderful week. Jessica’s Mom hung out with us and helped us immensely. I cannot even count that ways that she blessed us and helped give us time to figure out how to manage two children. God has been so gracious during this time. Jeremiah is doing well and getting over a head cold. Adelina continues to amaze us all every day. And, if you watched the video above and were wondering why I have a mohawk, it is because I was able to participate in a Tough Mudder with a few of my classmates. It is simply a 12-mile run/obstacle course with mud EVERYWHERE!!! They donate money to the Wounded Warrior Fund (a non-profit organization that supports wounded armed service veterans) for every mohawk/shaved head that they do. That was a good enough reason for me. Even though Jessica said she kinda likes it, it’ll be coming off soon.

Have a great week and may God be with you all!

A lot of mud, a lot of fun!!!

One Great Week…


In addition to the wonderful celebration of Easter, there are three other reasons why this last week was simply unforgettable. The first is that I passed my Airframe test with the FAA. The Airframe test involves a practical and oral test that covers everything I have learned since starting school back in August. The test took 8 hours but I completed it and I passed with “flying” colors. There were, however, one or two times where I made a small mistake. One of these was when I had to torque a bolt to a specified torque in inch-pounds. I didn’t realize how my torque wrench worked and I continued to torque the bolt after my wrench had indicated that the specified torque had been reached. I just kept turning the bolt and, “snap,” the bolt broke in half. WOOPS! I walked up to my examiner laughing and he told me to replace the nut plate and move on. I did. Another problem was when I couldn’t keep my welding torch lit. Every time I added oxygen there was a loud “pop” and the flame would go out. I tried to clean the torch tip and adjust the pressure of the oxygen but it was all in vain. My examiner rescued me and said, “Well, it looks like you know what you’re doing. It must be a bad tip.” Thanks for the grace!

I am 2/3’s of the way through the program!!! I will get me official FAA Airframe certificate once I passed the written test, but the hard part is over and done! Another student and I are the first ones to complete the test! Praise the Lord!!!

The second reason that this last week was so wonderful is that we received an official invitation from JAARS (Jungle Aviation And Radio Service) to perform a Technical Evaluation in October of this year. JAARS is the aviation branch of the Wycliffe Bible Translators. A Technical Evaluation is a chance for me to “try-out” with the mission organization and show them my flying and fixing skills. I will spend a week in the shop doing all sorts of maintenance. Then, I will spend a week flying one of their planes (one I have never flown before) and showing them all sorts of maneuvers. It will be an intense two weeks but this is what we are working toward! Please be in prayer as we have a firm date and continue to prepare for the adventure of a lifetime in Missionary Aviation!!!

Grandpa Dirk and Jeremiah

The third reason was the surprise I found waiting for me at the lunch table on Thursday. I opened the door and found Grandpa Dirk sitting at the table, ready to eat lunch with us! He completely surprised us! He flew into Detroit, drove to our apartment, and then showed up at the front door. We were all thoroughly surprised and excited to see him. Adelina had such a great time with Grandpa. He was always playing with her, whether it was on the swings or on the floor.

We are so blessed! From the support of our family, the prayers of you (the saints), and the families of my fellow students who have been providing meals for us this week, God continues to shower us with His love and mercy. He continues to move and lead us forward! We are speechless! Then, throw in one of the greatest weekends and celebrations of the year in Easter and you have One Great Week here in the Vana household! Hallelujah!

Adelina & Grandpa
Can life get any better?

The Goodness of God…

Jeremiah comes home!!!

The fingerprints of God are evident everywhere we look. The birth of Jeremiah and the circumstances surrounding last Thursday were miraculous. Indulge us as we share about God’s grace in our lives.

Throughout the pregnancy we planned to have Jeremiah at a Metro hospital. We saw a certain doctor and, after the complications with the pregnancy, we were planning on scheduling the c-section and just having Jeremiah at Metro. Jessica had met with another doctor 5 days before the c-section was scheduled and he said that there was a 75% chance of having a successful birth. So, we cancelled the c-section and planned on the induction last Thursday. God was moving upstream!

Jessica gave birth to Jeremiah but there was a small problem with his breathing so he was taken to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). There are not any lasting effects from the breathing problem. It simply took Jeremiah a little while to clear his lungs. Jessica and Jeremiah are both home and doing great! But, the main reason that we are praising God is…

All Done

IF we would have had the scheduled c-section at Metro and Jeremiah had a problem breathing, then Jeremiah would’ve been transported to the hospital we ended up at since the first hospital doesn’t have a NICU. Since Jessica would’ve just had major surgery, she wouldn’t have been able to go with Jeremiah! Can you imagine being separated from your newborn child and worrying about his health? We are also praising God because we had an incredible experience in the hospital. It was everything we wanted! And, since we had Jeremiah early, my sister was able to be here to take care of Adelina and my sister was amazing!!! And, on top of that, almost every doctor and nurse who served us was a Christian. I could go on and on but it will suffice to say that God is so good! He has answered all of your prayers concerning us and we are grateful!

God is good!!!

Adelina ADORES her brother!

Thank you one and all for praying for everything!!! God is with us! He is going before us! We will rest in Him! He is our hope and our salvation!!!


In other news, my friend and I were able to remove a rubber fuel bladder, inspect it, and then put it back in the plane. Let me just say that if I never do this again you will not hear me complain. Goodness gracious, me-oh-my!!! The bottom line is that there are clips that hold the bladder in place so it retains its shape as well as stays in the same place in the wing. The clips hold the bladder taut and it is difficult to put the clips back in their proper place because, like almost everything on a plane, they are hard to reach and awkward to gain access to. But, it is done!!! Hallelujah!