Monthly Archives: June 2012


Filing our a nick in a prop

What is the purpose of the propeller on the nose of an airplane?

To keep the pilot cool when it gets hot!

Or so the joke goes! Actually, the propeller is a spinning airfoil that converts the engine power into thrust! We are in the thick of propeller class and it has been fun. I have filed a nick out of a propeller, inspected a wood propeller, removed and installed different types of propellers, and learned about the ways to keep ice off of the propeller. The interesting thing is that the FAA doesn’t allow mechanics to do much with propellers. We can install new ones and file out nicks, but most of the repairs must be done by a repair station or the manufacturer.

Reassembly of the engine!!!

We have finished inspecting, measuring, and cleaning our engine and are now putting everything back together. The valves are back in the cylinders and we are hoping to get most of the major assemblies together by week’s end. If we work well this week, and don’t have too many set-backs, then we may get to start it up next week! Wahoo!!!

We had one of our neighbors over for dinner last week and had a wonderful time. They mentioned they didn’t have a lot of friends in the area since they both work 40 minutes from Ionia in the opposite direction from one another. Kevin is finishing up his Ph. D. in Toxicology at Michigan State in Lansing and Carolyn works in the marketing division of our favorite hospital in Grand Rapids. They spend so much time on the road that they usually get home and just hang out together. It was fun to get to know them and share a meal together. I was struck by how easy it is to invite someone over for a meal. I know that there are extreme cases and certain neighbors who might be scary, but the overwhelming majority of people are just like us! Go on, invite a neighbor over for a meal and get to know them. How can we share the love of God with others if we do not spend time with them?

Jessica’s first Triathlon
The Vana tongue means she is serious!!! (See the first picture above!)
School Picnic

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free…


A few weeks ago the pastor of our church asked us to think of someone we know who is really good; like just plain wholesome goodness. He told us to think of someone who has the kind of uprightness of character that others can’t help but straighten up and notice; the kind of person who makes you feel so good because they are just plain so good.  Then he reminded us that Jesus is looking for servants who are good and faithful, not great and successful.  He exhorted us that too many Christians are striving to be great (think “ta-da!”) and successful (reputation, prestige, fill-in-the-blank)  instead of quietly, with purity of character, being truly good and truly faithful. It was a helpful reminder of what is valuable to our Lord.  

Something you should know about the Vana’s is that we desperately desire to be fruitful in ministry.  We don’t want to spin our wheels, waste time or resources, or leave any place we live unchanged for the Kingdom.  We pray to this end.  We ache and pine to make God really proud.   

Wade, Kirsten, and Tricia moved in next door a few weeks ago.  The three just graduated high school and have proven to be friendly and courteous neighbors. We share treats and conversation and have come to enjoy them immensely. Last week Wade and Kirsten (dating) gave Adelina a stuffed animal and we chatted in the hallway while they played with her.  Somehow Kirsten noticed my wedding ring and I pointed out the two filigree butterflies which set the diamond.  She gushed and admired and even Wade took a second glance. I explained that the butterflies are the greatest symbol of my identity. I had a propensity for making bad choices before I gave my heart to Christ. When He came in, He set me free. I told them the verse which is the title of this blog (Galatians 5:1) and mentioned how that verse was printed on small boxes which held Monarch butterflies that were released at my wedding.  Butterflies, I told them, symbolize what Christ has done for me and what He continues to do each day

I couldn’t believe it.  I got to share the gospel! I got to share my testimony and it was natural, unaffected, and unpretentious.  It was the truth and I could feel the power of the Spirit working in me as I shared. I then got to tell them about how awesome our church is and how much we enjoy going.  Will they make it to church one day?  Will they find new life in Christ?  All I know is that the Hound of Heaven is pursuing them so they’d better buckle up!

These are the moments that we pray and yearn for. May they grow more frequent and more common.  Oh God, let us be found good (like Campbell’s mmm mmm good) and let us be found faithful.  I’d trade an ounce of that guild for a mountain of “great and successful”.  Wouldn’t you?

Grinding Valves and Seats…

Grinding away…

Most cylinders have 2 valves: the Intake valve and the Exhaust valve. The Intake valve allows the “clean” air/fuel mixture to come in from the induction system during the first down stroke of the piston. The valve is closed and the “clean” air/fuel is compressed by the piston. The spark plug fires just before the piston reaches its peak and then the air/fuel mixture burns and pushes the piston down. Then, the piston rises and the Exhaust valve opens to expel the waste from combustion. The Intake valves are made of hard materials and are larger than the Exhaust valves to allow for the maximum intake of air. The Exhaust valves are smaller because the exhaust gas is under pressure and ready to move to a low pressure area. The Exhaust valve has to be tougher than the Intake valve because it faces abuse from the corrosive exhaust gases.

Cylinder Head with valves

It is important that the valves close and seal at the right time so that the cylinder doesn’t lose any air (termed “compression” by mechanics) during the compression stage. It is also important because you don’t want exhaust gas going out of the Intake valve and causing corrosion or ignition of the air/fuel outside of the cylinder (termed a “back-fire”).

No pressure. Let the machine do its job! (Make sure the tongue is out! It aids in concentration!)

My partners and I spent a considerable amount of time grinding the valve face and the valve seat so they will match and create a tight seal. The Intake valve is ground at a 30 degree angle and the Exhaust valve is ground at a 45 degree angle. The valves and seats are ground with an Arkansas stone. (Not sure but our teacher says that they are called Arkansas stones because they are mined in Arkansas!) It was a time consuming process, especially since we had to make sure that the valve was held straight to make a uniform surface. We measured the rotation to 0.001 of an inch!!! Then, we ground the seats to a uniform surface with an electric drill spinning at roughly 10,000 RPM. Voila!!!

Eating…er…Picking Strawberries

We had a fun weekend. We did a number of things but the highlight was when we picked strawberries at a local farm. We ended up with 5 pounds and I bet that Adelina ate an extra pound all by herself. The young girl who gave us our containers told us to sample at our leisure and Adelina took full allowance! I can’t blame her because they are GOOD strawberries.

As you may know, Jessica is training to do a Triathalon Sprint: 300 yard swim, 9 mile bike ride, and a 2 mile run. She is taking a swim class with two other women in preparation for the race. One of the women, Kathy, is a single mom who hasn’t been following Jesus. Jessica spoke with her this last weekend and mentioned that we attend Impact Church. Kathy lit up and said that she had been attending Impact in Saranac (a church plant of the church we attend in an adjoining community) because one of her three daughters has been bugging her to go to church. Kathy is enjoying the church and said that she feels comfortable because the messages are easy to understand and not over her head. We have been praying that God would provide Jessica for opportunities with the women she swims with and God continues to move in our midst! Hallelujah!

Happy Boy
Every toy outside becomes “Her Toy.” It starts out as “That’s not ours.” Then, she hops on and starts riding it!!

Lil’ Worshiper…

Just hanging out

This last weekend I had one of my favorite moments with Adelina. You see, Adelina loves to sing and dance to worship songs. We have a kids worship DVD and Adelina will sing along and do the movements that accompany the song. (The first time we played the DVD I cried because I thought about how awesome it will be when she understands everything that she is singing about!) There are times when Jessica or I will scoop Adelina up into our arms and dance to various worship songs. We have also started to teach Adelina Bible memory verses. Jessica suggested that we memorize Scripture during the week and recite it on Saturday morning. So, Adelina has her verses complete with hand motions and she knows them quite well. Every Sunday, as we drive to church, we will play worship songs and Adelina will say, “Yay Jesus!”

So, yesterday at church I was walking Adelina down to her kid’s classroom but she didn’t want to go in. She said, “Worship Jesus. Sing songs.” She was telling me that she wanted to join us in the main service and sing worship songs. I happily told her that she could join us and then we would go play with the kids after we sang to Jesus. We walked into the sanctuary and up to the second row. (Adelina likes it loud!) I held her the entire time and we sang worship songs. She doesn’t know the songs but she loves to worship Jesus. This weekend was special because, when I raised my hand during one of the songs, Adelina raised both of her hands. She was praising God in my arms and it was beautiful. My heart was so full it could’ve burst. There are only a few things that I want out of life and one of those things is for my children to experience God and spend their entire lives following Jesus.

Dye Penetrant

There are just over 2 months of school left! I can’t believe how much I have already learned, and I can’t believe that there is so much more that I have yet to learn. It is true what our teachers have said about our mechanic’s license. “It is a license to learn.” As we continue to work on our engine overhaul projects, I have found that there are a number of things that aren’t working out as well as we had hoped. The primary example of this is when we had to inspect the crankcase. The crankcase is made of cast aluminum and is subject to a lot of stress, heat, and vibration every time it operates. It is necessary to inspect the crankcase for cracks because these can lead to failure of the engine. One of the primary ways to inspect the crankcase is a Dye Penetrant Test. The part is thoroughly cleaned with a prescribed cleaner and then sprayed with a florescent dye. The dye is allowed to sit on the part and will soak into any cracks or other surface defects. After 10-15 minutes, the part is then cleaned to remove any excess dye. This is the tricky part. You can’t spray directly onto the part because it could clean out the cracks. And a crankcase isn’t like cleaning a window or the top of a table. There are all sorts of nooks and crannies. Our teacher said, “When you think you have cleaned it all up, clean it some more.” Well, we didn’t exactly clean up all of the dye. So, we sprayed the “developer” on the crankcase and put it under a blacklight. Almost the entire crankcase was green! WHAT!?! I thought we cleaned it! We didn’t end up finding any cracks but we learned a valuable lesson. (And we learned to appreciate the shops who specialize in the Dye Penetrant Test)

Still learning and having a blast here in Michigan! Have a great week!