Friday, December 23, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Sweet Girl

Definitely a Character!
My lack of posts is more due to no photos than nothing going on!  Our good camera broke in Congo and we haven't had the money to get it fixed yet, and our "point and shoot" camera didn't have a battery charger...until yesterday.  I found it out in the garage, underneath a mountain of boxes.  So, it's better than nothing.  I don't know a soul out there who would rather read a bunch of words than look at fun pictures!

Grandma and Joy at dinner
My date
Yesterday we went to the Mission Inn in Riverside to see the beautiful Christmas lights (a California thing since there's no snow).  We had a great time, and it was wonderful weather!  They had concession stands, an ice rink, and even some reindeer.  Kaitlyn was fascinated with the antlers, and when I asked her if she thought it was a boy or a girl, she replied, "No silly, it's a deer!"  I guess she got me there!

Then Grandma took us all out for a Christmas dinner.  I sat next to Kaitlyn; we were on a date!

1 inch screw in the rear tire

This morning I tackled a few things on the car.  I noticed a clicking noise on the freeway about a week ago, and me being a perfectionist, I just had to fix it.  A quick inspection revealed quite a large screw in the rear tire.  Me and Kaitlyn jumped right into action, jacking, removing, repairing, and re-installing the tire.  She was a big help, holding lug nuts, turning on the compressor, and holding onto the tire so I could get the screw out.

After a quick road test, Kaitlyn came in, washed her hands, and jumped right into helping mommy with Christmas cookies!  I couldn't be prouder of my little girl, she's such a big help with everything! And soon, I'm sure she will be all too eager to change baby brother's diapers, give him bottles, and hold him close when he's crying.

Baking cookies, yeah!
Other than Christmas things, I've been keeping busy finishing paperwork (there always seems to be an excess of it), getting our car registered in California, insurance, switching over all of our licenses, and going through our shipment, trying to organize things in a sensible fashion.  After Christmas, it will be a mad dash to the baby boy finish line, starting work for me, and our anniversary on the 28th!

What are you up to?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Congolese Francs

This photo was taken in Kipaka.  There are some folks from the village along with myself and a few "officials" with 9Q-CMY in the background.  There's a story that goes along with the picture and it goes a little something like this....

     Flight days to Kipaka are long, no matter which way you split it.  Even in the caravan it would take the better part of your day, and with "Uniform India" leaving at 8am from Bunia will usually get you back right around 5pm.  With "Mike Yankee" that window is even tighter.  Even so, it's important to spend time on the ground with the people, especially the officials, that way there are no hassles next time.

     Well, it just so happened that the last time I was in town, they wanted to snap this photo with the pilot to make it all official.  I agreed--it was a nice break after I had just unloaded 1000 pounds, and put 600 more back in for the return trip.  I had some issues with the officials about paperwork that I was "supposed" to have with me, like passports and visas and all that.  They let me go, but said that next time, I'd have to have it with me or it would be a big fine.

     So, I obliged, and made a nice photocopy of my passport's info page and the visa I was issued.  When asked, I produced the documents, only to find that these were not good enough, they wanted the originals.  After a long and sometimes heated discussion ranging from taxes and fees of a Christian humanitarian organization to my residency in Congo, we finally came to an agreement.  See, I don't like to just hand out money and pay for bribes or illegitimate taxes, I like to get something out of it too.  To make a long story short, they didn't want to let me leave without paying some kind of fine, and I didn't want to pay it, so we met somewhere in the middle.  They get a fifty cent "fine" and I got a copy of a really cool picture!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Next Step

I've flown Congolese nationals, sick and injured, hundred pound sacks of money, chickens, geese, fish...but never flies.  But now it looks like I'll be adding them to my ever-growing list of passengers as well.  I've accepted a position with a company called Dynamic Aviation, flying the King Air in the L.A. basin.  Dynamic Aviation operates a fleet of King Air 90's, using the sterilized male fly in an effort to control the fruit fly population here in southern California.  These flies devastate fruits and crops, so it's important to control them.  I'll be flying as well as working on the airplanes, so I can keep both skills sharp.

The King Air 90
Other than that, we were able to take a quick trip out to Ohio to visit my family and Joy's brother and his family.  Our shipment finally arrived from Africa after way too many phone calls, customs forms, and emails.  We've got one week left until Christmas, and then hopefully things will slow down for a week or two before baby boy arrives!

     Merry Christmas!  and Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Changing...An Attitude

I'm reminded of a story in the Old Testament where a young man with 11 brothers couldn't have imagined the outcome of his life even if he had tried.  The story goes like this:

     "So there's this young guy with 11 brothers, 10 of which are older than him, so for all intents and purposes he's really a "youngest child."  Apparently, as the story goes, his father really liked him...even more than his other sons.  One day he comes in to his father with a bad report about them.  After that, his father makes a beautiful coat for his "favorite" son and Joseph's brothers had finally had enough of this favoritism.  They plot to kill him, but through a series of events, end up selling him to a traveling group of slave traders on their way to Egypt.

     As the story begins to unfold, Joseph is sold for 30 pieces of silver and finds himself at the mercy of the slave traders.  Eventually, he's sold to Potiphar's house and works there as a servant of the captain of the guard.  The story says that Potiphar noticed that the Lord blessed everything Joseph did so he made him his personal servant and put him in charge of everything he owned.  After a while, Potiphar's wife noticed how handsome Joseph is and asks to sleep with him, but on several accounts, Joseph says no.

     All it takes is a lie, and Joseph finds himself imprisoned, charged with "taking Potiphar's wife for himself."  At this point in the story, I'm thinking man, this guy's been mistreated his whole life.  First he's sold out by his family, then is accused of something he didn't do.  Now he's sitting in an Egyptian prison, through absolutely no fault of his own.  I know what I would be thinking...probably cursing God...and my brothers...and Potiphar...and the prison.  You get the hint.

     But again, Joseph comes to be responsible for everything that goes on in the jail, so that the real guy in charge didn't have to do anything at all.  Then, through more twists and turns, he interprets a few dreams and ends up coming before the Pharaoh to interpret a dream of his.  After a favorable interpretation, Joseph is put in charge of all of Egypt.  The Bible says, "only with respect to the throne will you be greater than the Pharaoh."

     Now comes the part that I really enjoy.  Joseph predicts 7 years of plenty followed by 7 years of horrible famine.  During the famine, Joseph's brothers come to him for food and provisions, not once, but twice.  The second time they come Joseph reveals himself and says, "God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance....So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God."

     By now, many of you know of our decision to part ways with MAF at this point in our lives.  There are no hard feelings from either us or the folks at MAF, we just felt DRC was not the right fit for our family, and before jumping right into another assignment, we felt it was prudent to take a little time off.  I love what I did in eastern Congo and I'm so thankful for that wonderful opportunity, but I also need to be sensitive to the needs of our family.  Right now I feel like Joseph must have in the back of a caravan, having just been sold out by his family.  I can only imagine he was thinking how this could happen to him, why God would allow such a thing, what He had in store for the future.  I'm sure many other things were rolling through his mind, but the Bible doesn't give us many clues and we're left to wonder.

     Maybe I will write a few blogs about how we got to this point and give a little more history behind our decision, but suffice for now to say that after a lot of prayer, counsel, and thinking, we've decided to take a little time off from MAF to get our bearings, re-adjust our focus, and see what the Lord has for the future.  I don't understand why I would spend 10 years preparing for service with MAF, only to serve one.  That's where I sense some parallels with Joseph's story and what he must have been feeling on the road to Egypt, and again when he found himself in prison.

     We thank the Lord for giving us such wonderful experiences, some that not many people get to experience.  We thank the Lord for the many, many folks that have stood with us in preparing, sending, and keeping us in Africa.  I may never know the impact of our presence in Bunia; that's not my place, but I do know that we have been blessed beyond belief, we've been sharpened by our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we have come to a deeper understanding of our Savior.

     So...what's next?!?  I'll leave that for next time!
Well, first of all, it's been quite a while.  I apologize for the silence and lack of posting.  Interestingly enough, I left off the last post saying we were pretty sure the new baby was a girl.  Well...I think you know what's coming.  We had decided to have the baby back in the States and our first visit to the doctor included an ultrasound.  Things in Africa are (do I really have to say this?)...a little different than things in America.  Not necessarily bad, just different.  When we had our ultrasound in Africa, it was done in a small room with a single lightbulb and no windows.  It was hard to see the screen, let alone what was on it.  The doctor had said he was pretty confident it was a girl, so we promptly searched the baby girl names and found a few good ones.  Then, we went for our ultrasound in the US, and as soon as the machine turned on and the doppler hit Joy's tummy, the nurse exclaims, "Oh...oh, it's DEFINITELY a boy!"  I looked at Joy, and she looked at me, and we both had the same expression on our faces.  Needless to say, we were surprised and it's back to the drawing board on the baby boy names.  So now I suppose we'll have one of each!

Also, stay tuned for photos and an update on our ministry as I'm sure many of you by now have received our most recent newsletter.