Monthly Archives: June 2013

What Every Missionary Needs…

As you know, we are preparing to be first-time missionaries.  I mean, we’ve always tried to live a with a missional mentality and we’ve tried see every place we’ve lived as a mission field.  But, fairly soon, for the first time in our lives we will be sent as missionaries to a specific field with a specific purpose.  While we’ve done our fair share of traveling, this will be the first time we’ve lived overseas and we know there will be a tremendous learning curve.  
Part of what we are learning now is what we need and value as a missionary family.  Some of what we need (or will need) we learn from reading books.  Some things we are told from people who are currently missionaries or were in the past.  And some things we are learning through experience.  
Here are a few specific examples:
1.  We know we need enthusiasm and excitement (not to mention love and covering) from a sending church.   
2.  We know we need specific point-people to champion the work we are doing and help us communicate effectively with the broader body.
3.  We know we need tons of prayer as we seek to be as useful as possible in the hands of God. 
4.  We know we need a great team of excellent, trustworthy people to work alongside.  
Enter: Summit Christian Church and our outstanding Global Outreach Team
Right now, as we speak, a team of people are praying for us, helping us prepare for the field, and growing increasingly enthusiastic about the cause laid out before us.  Even now, the Lord is preparing a team of people for us to work with and He does so with a thorough knowledge of our hearts, passions, strengths and weaknesses.  
Promises such as Matthew 28:20b “…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” become richer and fuller as we stake more and more of our lives on Christ.  The more we stand to lose for Him, the more dearly we cling to His Words and His character.  Even in this, He becomes all-in-all and we realize our true and utter dependence.   
If you are one of the dear ones praying, thank you.  If you do not have a system in place to pray for us, or other missionaries in your life, perhaps consider how you can make your prayer-life more intentional, thoughtful, or organized.  Please pray even now for the Lord’s guidance.  A prayer for us could sound very much like these precious lyrics from a song I love, “Jesus, take away every darkness. Steady my simple footsteps. That I might in your goodness – live as a child of God.”
Phil and I love to pray for our friends and if you are presently in need of prayer, please inform us so we might approach our Good King on your behalf. Have a week rich in His love and presence.  Your Friends, the Vanas.


Running Through The Fountains

What is your breaking point? When will you fold under pressure? Do you have a buying price?

I was faced with these very questions today.

I had two flights scheduled after my shift at Trader Joe’s. An instrument training flight and an introductory flight with a young man, his mom, and his brother. I don’t usually have two flights back to back and I was excited to make my trip to Stead a little more worth my while.

My flight student and I completed our pre-flight and we talked about the maneuvers we were going to perform. We pulled the Cherokee 160 out of the hangar and started the engine. The first thing I checked was the Oil Temperature Gauge. You see, I had flown with this student last week and noticed the Oil Temp Gauge was reading 75 degrees, the bottom of the green arc and hardly the temperature I would expect, even when flying at night in summer. I checked the gauge on the ground and noted that the gauge went to zero when the power was turned off and thought maybe it was ok, but I would check it before the next flight. 

Sure enough, we fire up the engine and start to taxi. It was over 80 degrees at 1:00 pm today and the engine should’ve warmed up quickly. Instead, the Oil Temperature Gauge simply hung out at 75, the same reading as when the engine was off but the electrical power was on. Decision time. Do I pretend that everything I ok? I don’t want to waste a trip out to Stead! Even if I know it is illegal to fly with an inoperative Oil Temperature Gauge, can I fly and then write it up? I am sure that nothing bad will happen!

Well, we started to taxi and my brain was twisting in knots, trying to figure out a way that I could still fly yet keep a clear conscience. I kept glancing at the Oil Temp, hoping that it would climb just a little so I could justify my actions. Finally, after we had gone a couple hudred feet, I told the student that I had the controls and I pulled us over. I stopped the engine and told the student that we couldn’t fly today. I called the owner and told him to get the gauge checked out. I texted the young man’s family and told them I had to cancel the flight for safety reasons. 

I wanted to fly. I wanted to make some money. But, it wasn’t worth it. In all likelihood, nothing would’ve happened. We could’ve flown just fine and the FAA would’ve been none the wiser. But, what am I getting myself into?!?! Will I cut corners on the mission field when the margin for error is much slimmer? Will I push the envelope until I break something or injure someone? Will I compromise my integrity and break the law for a couple of bucks? An even tougher questions is, will I fly illegally to save a life? Whew! Tough questions!!!

I know that I don’t do everything perfectly. I know that I make mistakes. But, I want to live a life above reproach with full integrity, not a life of compromise and cutting corners! If we are going to move halfway around the world and fly in a foreign country with dirt strips and marginal weather, I need to be a safe pilot who sets appropriate standards and allows for a safe margin. I don’t want to have a buying price, for I have already been bought with the blood of Christ. There is no reason for me to compromise. None.

Sweet Boy

On the home front, we only have 21 days until Solomon is due!!! Yahoo. The nursery, which also happens to be our bedroom, is almost all set up and ready to go! We are still making the most of our time here in Reno. We visited the Sparks farmer’s market last Thursday and the kids had a great time in the fountains by the movie theater. On Friday, we celebrated Father’s Day and hung out at the river downtown. The water was cold but we still road a tube down some small rapids. Jessica and her Mom made a great steak salad dinner and Jessica made a delicious Panna Cotta dessert! Thank you once again for all of your prayers. It is our desire to make you proud and to represent Christ and bring glory to God in all we do! Have a great week and God bless!!!

Walking at the Fountains
I love the river!!!

You Never Know…

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

– Galatians 6:9 –

You never know how much you will impact a person before it happens. There are many people that YOU have impacted but you may not ever know the impact until you get to heaven. However, there are other times when you get to hear about a life that you impacted, even though you had no idea that your actions would do much of anything.

Case in point, I was talking to a friend from San Diego and he mentioned that he met a friend of mine from Embry-Riddle. My friend from Embry-Riddle talked about how I had been an encouragement during our time together and how he would love to serve together some day. I remember hanging out with the young man but I can’t think of anything special that I did or said. It came as a complete surprise but it was very encouraging. Isn’t it amazing how God can use the ordinary to impact a life?

It seems that this post is a bit of a follow up to last week! I was encouraged to see a bit of the harvest in the life of my friend. I am stoked that he is doing well, serving as a youth pastor, and just recently got married! It is a blessing to know that our lives and our actions matter. I think of the speech that Russell Crowe gave in the beginning of the movie Gladiator when he said, “What we do in life echoes in eternity.” He was speaking about glory in battle, but it applies to our lives in Christ. Our actions, our speech, our attitude, and our thoughts have an eternal impact! So, let us not grow weary in doing good!!! Let’s do all the good we can by the power of the Holy Spirit, even when it seems like every day is ordinary in and ordinary out, and we can rest in the fact that we will reap a harvest for the glory of the Lord!

Only 26 more days until Solomon is due!!! Wahoo! We are SO excited and getting the house ready for the new arrival. What a blessing!

Adelina is getting sweeter by the minute. We don’t know what happened, but she woke up about two days ago and it looked like she grew up an entire year overnight. I can’t explain it but we both noticed it. She is such a sweet sister and helpful child. She is learning to read and recognized the words orange, green, yellow, and blue! She plays very well by herself, especially when she is down for her nap!

Jeremiah is growing up and expanding his vocabulary. He just learned to say bubble, phone, pepper, and Daddy. (He used to say Da-Da but Daddy is so much sweeter! I like it when he sees me and dives out of the arms of whomever is holding him to come see me!) He is a daring young lad as well. He loves to go down slides head first. He will crawl up to any slide and go right over the edge! He also likes to climb up on our camping chairs and stand on them. It is not the safest maneuver but he already wants to conquer any obstacle!

We are blessed beyond belief. Thank you for your prayers and for reading up on us. We are looking with great expectation toward the future, but the present moments are filling us to the brim! God Bless!

Active In Sharing…

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.

– Philemon 1:6

There is something that happens when we share things with other people. If we share about a negative experience or gossip about another person, our feelings about the negative experience or person grow inside of us. The more we share, the deeper the downward spiral goes. We may even remember, or fabricate, worse things that have happened or been done to us! Conversely, when we share about good things, our positive feelings about that thing or person expand and we are reminded about more good things that have come as a blessing.

When we share our faith, even if it is with other believers, it stirs up something inside of us. It reminds us of the good things that God has done and gives us hope that God will continue to be good to us. Jessica and I were talking about the blessings that God has given to us and she said, “It is only His goodness and grace that have given us these things.” As I thought about what she said, my first thought was, “Oh no. When is it going to end?” Then, I stopped myself and thought, “If He has been this good so far, and I already don’t deserve any of it, why would He not continue to be good?” That was an uplifting moment for me!

As we are on the topic of sharing good things, I wanted to share about a two times in the past few weeks when I was blessed to share the wonder of flight!

Nathan is the son of my neighbor’s good friends. My neighbor’s friends talked to me about taking their son for an airplane ride because he is interested in becoming a pilot. Things finally worked out for us to fly on a Sunday afternoon, so we met at the Stead airport and I gave him a quick overview of the airplane and a pre-flight inspection. I let him sit in the left seat, the captain’s seat, and we started the engine! He had a blast!!! He pretty much flew the plane the entire time. He took off (though I controlled the throttle and the nose direction) and he flew us all the way to Tahoe, Spanish Springs, and back to Stead. We did a few maneuvers and he couldn’t stop smiling!

One of my favorite things to do is take up first-timers and let them experience flight in a small airplane. It is special because they can do whatever they want and discover how to maneuver a small plane. I know the limitations and most beginners won’t even go near the edge of envelope when trying to see what the plane can do! Nathan had a great time and it made for a memorable 14th birthday present. He gave me a thank-you card and told me that it was the best birthday present he had ever received.

The next weekend, I took up another 14 year old who is interested in becoming a pilot. Dylan’s parents told me that he has never shown any interest in anything, so when he said he wanted to become a pilot his parents jumped at the chance to help him experience flying and to learn as much as he could to become a pilot! I met Dylan and his father out at the Stead airport and we did a pre-flight before hopping in the plane. We started the engine and away we went! He flew us over the lake and tried some steep turns. He was less reserved than most beginners and had us at a 60 degree bank during one turn! After we landed, his first question was, “When can we go again?” That is what I like to hear!

It is so much fun to share with others and to bring them into an experience that you have had. It is like so many things in life. Going to the movies or an amusement park is not as much fun when we are alone. Can you imagine riding a roller coaster all by yourself? You get off and you want to be able to say, “Did you see that? Wasn’t that awesome?” That is why it is so much fun to share flying with others! That is also why it is so much fun to share Christ with others! It is my prayer that we can follow Paul’s prayer and be active in sharing our faith! For it is by sharing the good news that we can deepen our understanding of all the good things that we have in Christ!


For those who like to pray, here are some ways you can pray for us!!!

  1. Pray for Jessica as we have 5 weeks until baby #3, Solomon John, is born. Pray for a safe delivery and comfort as the last few weeks are the most uncomfortable and tiresome for mommy.
  2. Pray that I can continue to work hard and not grow weary as I wake up at 3:10 am to work at Trader Joe’s.
  3. Pray that we will be active in sharing our faith and making the most of every opportunity!

Thanks so much!!!

Sharing a sucker!!!