From October 22-28th the JAARS training staff and orientees camped out at the Avery County Airport, in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. The purpose was to gain as much experience as possible in the areas of terrain flying, canyon turns, ridge crossings, watershed navigation, and landing at short, sloped runways with obstacles, as well as a bit of practice doing aerial drops. The Lord blessed us with beautiful weather and we were able to accomplish all that we needed in a shorter time period then was planned. This was great because we were able to leave early and avoid a snow storm that moved into the mountains the day after we left! I learned a ton, and gained valuable experience! And we got some great pictures and videos!! Enjoy! I will be posting the videos from my Facebook page, so if you want to see more click here to check that out as well!!
Many have asked what exactly I am learning during my three and a half months here in Waxhaw, NC at JAARS. Well there is almost too much to list. But I’ll at least give a brief overview. First on the maintenance side, I am learning the detailed systems of the Cessna 206, the aircraft I will be operating in Zambia. JAARS has been operating the Cessna 206 in missions work around the world for longer then I have been alive, so they have a pretty good handle on how to maintain them and what areas to pay special attention to during inspections etc. In addition to classroom learning, I will be doing “projects” on a maintenance 206 that is no longer flying. This will give me hands on experience working with, fixing, and rigging the different systems. Further the two 206’s that we are flying for orientation are also our responsibility to maintain while we are flying them. So we perform post flight inspections, and if any discrepancies are found it is our responsibility to fix them (under the supervision of the maintenance trainers). At orientation with me is one maintenance specialist who is headed to Indonesia, one other pilot/mechanic who is headed to Kenya, and a helicopter pilot headed to Papua New Guinea.
On the flight side of things, I am learning many things as well. Basically we are learning to operate the Cessna 206 safely at the edge of its operational limitations. JAARS has a well thought out philosophy of flying, and a very good safety record, while operating in some of the most challenging flying environments in the world. They have been able to do this because they are won’t just accept any pilot, and then the ones they do accept they train well. That is the training I am receiving. Most of the flying will focus on STOL (Short Takeoff and Land) procedures, and emergency procedures. But perhaps even more than that, they are teaching me a philosophy of flying and STOL is the platform for teaching it. The JAARS philosophy of flying focus’s on 3 fundamentals: positive aircraft control, consistency by reference to standard models, and the discipline to adhere to close tolerances. A pilot is in positive aircraft control while flying a STOL approach when he understands what control movements need to be used to get the results desired, and carries them out with precision while also reacting to constantly changing environmental factors (wind) at speeds barely above stall. We have to fly the airplane and not let the airplane fly us. 🙂 They have set up a standard model of aircraft pitch, power settings, rate of decent, and altitudes at key points, that help us confirm we are on the right track for a stable and safe approach and landing with positive aircraft control. Finally they have set a strict set of tolerances for us to adhere to (4 degree approach with a landing in a 100-200ft touchdown zone). When we combine these three things and discipline ourselves to always follow them, the margin for error goes down and safety goes up! Well that got a little technical… but somebody that reads this will think it was interesting. 🙂 All that to say, I probably won’t fly many STOL approaches where I am headed in Zambia, but I can apply these fundamentals to any aspect of flying (and perhaps other areas of life) and it will help me to have many safe years of flying in a harsh and unforgiving environment.
Speaking of safety, that is the other huge focus. Safety is paramount, JAARS procedures take into consideration the risk verses the payoff, and they will not do things that do not have a acceptable amount of safety margin built into them. A safe pilot is a pilot who stays alert, he knows exactly how his aircraft should perform in any given situation, and if it isn’t performing correctly he takes appropriate action if possible before it becomes an emergency. These are the things the JAARS instructors are drilling into my head over and over, day after day. And I think it’s a good thing. 🙂 I am being stretched, and pushed to learn new skills and pick things up at a pace that is faster than I am used to, but I know in the end I will be as prepared as I can be for what I will face as I serve with Flying Mission in Zambia.
All of my instructors on both the mechanic and pilot side, have spent years overseas doing the very things they are now teaching me. It is truly a blessing to learn from them. Real world examples take on an even greater significance when the person telling the story was actually there and experienced it. If you want to pray for my remaining time here, pray that I will learn and soak in as much as I can, and not grow weary, but finish strong!
As many of you know I will be spending the next 3 1/2 months in Waxhaw, NC doing aviation flight and maintenance orientation with JAARS to prepare me for the missionary service I will be doing in Zambia, Africa with Flying Mission. I arrived earlier this week and will begin my training next Tuesday, September 4th. Waxhaw is located near the South Carolina border just south of Charlotte.
Here’s a brief look at who JAARS is and what life will look like for me here in Waxhaw, NC!!!!!
Who JAARS is (this info was taken from their website, follow the links to their website to find out more):
“We’re a nonprofit that provides technical support services—such as aviation, information technology, and media—to advance Bible translation and literacy programs worldwide. Our work impacts teams with SIL International, the Wycliffe Global Alliance, and many related organizations.”
“For more than 60 years, JAARS aviation has provided safe, dependable flight services to translators and support personnel, enabling Bible translation to flourish in locations that would otherwise remain inaccessible.”
JAARS used to stand for “Jungle Aviation and Radio Service” but at this point they do a lot more than aviation and radio service so the acronym was dropped and it’s just JAARS.
Because Flying Mission doesn’t have any training facilities in the United States, JAARS handles most of the evaluation and pre-field training for FM pilot/mechanics.
JAARS owns and operates out of JAARS-Townsend Field, and does much or their training on the field, as well as at other strips in the area. While their main runway is long and paved, they have short grass strips set up on the side that can progressively train pilots to land within precise limitations.
For my training this fall I will be flying this Cessna U206G. The Cessna 206 is a 6 seat single engine aircraft with a rugged design and powerful engine. It is a popular bush plane, and is used all over the world by many different mission agencies. The first airplane that I will be operating with Flying Mission in Zambia will be the 206, so my experience this fall will be invaluable when I begin flying in Africa.
I have a small (it’s smaller inside then it looks :-)) apartment that I will be living in during my training. It is about a 5 minute walk from the airport, so it’s the perfect spot for me to be!
I was having a conversation a while ago with one of my friends and they were telling me about a verse they had come across, and how it was strikingly powerful in The Message version. The verse keeps coming back to my mind, I think it’s one of the lessons that God has been teaching me over and over for the past year and a half. The line that is so powerful is this: “Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.” 1 Corinthians 10:12.
I have learned so many lessons in the past year and a half. But I think that underneath pretty much every lesson has been the need for one thing in my life: God Confidence.
For me this has been so very difficult. I know the truth. I have memorized the verses:
Jeremiah 29:11-13 “11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose.”
James 1:2-3 “2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Romans 5:3-5 ” 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
And yet I still feel anxious. I still feel unsettled. I can repeat these verses over and over, but how do I get them to go deep down? How do I get them from my head to my heart? If we are honest I think that most of us will admit that in one area or another of our lives we all are struggling to find peace (at least I hope I’m not the only one). And it is available, the Bible promises it. It comes down to where our confidence is. Self-confidence is most certainly useless. But if we have God confidence we can have peace. As 1 Corinthians 10 continues “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”
I am sitting on the precipice of the beginning of the rest of my life. In 2 weeks I leave for flight and maintenance training that will begin to prepare me to serve God as a missionary pilot in Zambia, Africa. God has made it so very clear that this is where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing. And yet I still find myself lacking God Confidence. So what do I do?
- I get up every morning and spend time with God. How can I be confident in someone that I don’t know?
- I remind myself everyday of the promises that He gives. I attempt to put more scripture and truth into my mind everyday than anything else.
- I try my very best to not do anything that I know is wrong.
Beyond that I wait… BUT
I was looking through old pictures today and I came upon pictures from the very first “overseas” missions trip that I took, all the way back in 2001. In retrospect I see that my call towards cross cultural missions was in many ways begun and solidified during this trip. It was just a week and a half trip to Ouanaminthe, a village in Haiti, right on the border of the Dominican Republic, but my eyes were opened to the reality that much of the world lives in a very different way than I had ever known, and I was intrigued by that. We worked with a school there run by a Haitian, Hugues Bastien, who had the advantage of an education in the United States, but felt called to go back to his home town in Haiti to start a school. His school, Institution Univers, has grown immensely since I was there, and it is cool to see what God is doing there. We did vacation bible school camps with the kids and carried cement blocks to help with the building of a gymnasium/auditorium for the school.
While I do not remember all that many details from the trip, I did keep my first ever journal while I was there, and re-reading those entries brings back some of the thoughts that started swirling through my young mind. Here are a couple tidbits of what I wrote 11 years ago. 🙂
My thoughts on the Haitian church service we attended: “They get into their worship. We need more of this in America. They are having fun worshiping, they don’t care about things, they are just having fun.” “God is alive and well in churches all over the world. More alive than in America as far as worship goes.” I remember being surprised by the building the church was held in because it didn’t look like what I thought a church should look like, but after experiencing the enthusiasm and life that was inside, it was obvious that the building didn’t matter. The picture below shows the church, I’m not sure if it was still in construction, or perhaps the scaffolding was just a permanent fixture.
On the missions experience as a whole I wrote: “I could easily see myself doing this for my life. It isn’t the selfish life I have dreamed about, but I think it would certainly be fulfilling. I think God can use me. I want to wait and see exactly where he is calling me.” Then a few days later, “I feel called to missions, but I don’t think to [working with] kids. I really have problems handling them for any long period of time. I’m tired it has been a long week and I have done work.” Haha so I guess that summed the trip up pretty well. I remember that the only Haitian Creole word that I remembered after the trip was “be quiet” because I had to tell the kids that so many times during the bible lessons.
My heartstrings were certainly tugged on by the poverty I saw, and I wanted to be able to help in tangible ways. I still do. And I think that it is awesome that God has now given me the skills to do that. The Bible is clear on its position on the poor and needy. “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” Proverbs 14:31. I am so excited that after all this time I am finally close to being able to head overseas long term to help the poor and take the Gospel to the needy. If you ever have the chance to go on a short term overseas missions trip, DO IT! It’s amazing how God works as much, if not more, in our lives on these trips as he does in the lives of those we have gone to serve.
Hello Friends! Just wanted to send out a quick update to let you know what is going on with my support raising for service with Flying Mission in Zambia. There is good news and there is challenging news! Let’s go with the challenging news first. Flying Mission reevaluated my budget for living expenses in Lusaka, Zambia, and recommended that I raise about 30% more monthly support than I had been originally planning on. Housing and fuel costs have driven the cost of living up considerably in the past few years and my original budget was not including that. That is definitely a new challenge as I am still hoping to begin my pre-field training in September!!! The good news is that I reached my original budget goal, and even with the new higher budget I am at 75% of my needed monthly funds!!! God is continuing to work! I am getting very close to being able to resign from my position at Kent State but before I do that I would like to be above 80% and closer to 90%. THANK YOU SO MUCH to those that are already partnering with me for monthly support, but for those of you who haven’t taken that step yet now is the time!!! Even if you can only do $25 or $50 a month, every little bit helps! If you click on the “Pledge” link you will be forwarded to my new website where you can print and send in the donation from. Also feel free to email or call me with any questions.
For those of you who have been praying. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I continue to need prayers for the support raising, that I will honor God in how I ask for support and that the needed funds will come in. Also that God will continue to prepare my heart for such a big life change, and that I will have the strength to keep following him wherever He leads! The support that I have felt over the past months from everyone on my team has been amazing. Thank you!
Many of you have asked how soon until I leave, and if things continue to progress as they have and I can reach close to 90% of my fundraising needs by August it looks like this will be how my next 6 months will look.
August 27th-December 19th 2012–Prefield flight training with JAARS in Waxhaw, NC.
December 20th 2012-January 2013— Back in Ohio saying my goodbyes and tying up loose ends.
January 21st 2013-February 8th 2013— Cross Cultural Ministry Training with MTI in Colorado.
February 9th or after— Leave for Zambia!!!!