Category Archives: Stonebridge

Flight To Langda, Papua, Indonesia

The worst cruelty that can be inflicted on a human being is isolation.  – Sukarno
Isolation is a self-defeating dream. – Carlos Salinas de Gortari

While serving on a project in Sentani, Indonesia I was given the opportunity to fly into the interior of Papua where people have lived for a longer than recorded history.  These folks have lived, for various reasons, in remote and isolated locations.  One of the villages I visited was Langda.

Langda, represented by the green airplane on the map,  is located at 6,100 ft in the mountains,  approximately 160 NM south of Sentani.  It is 41 NM west of Oskibil, the nearest town.   A 15 minute flight but several days by foot.  There are no roads.    The 16-34 airstrip is unpaved measuring 1,463 x 79 ft (446 x 24 m) on the crest of a mountain.  It opened in 1974 and serves the community as their main street.  Their only street.

During the dedication of a new airplane for Mission Aviation Fellowship, a primary service provider to these communities, it was said:

Langda“I know the excitement the sound of these planes will generate in places with names like Kiwi, Bomela, Langda, and Koropun,” said Dave Rask, MAF’s director of Aviation Resources. “These are places that have never seen a car. Places so remote that the only way to reach them is a long trek through the jungle, or by plane. In these areas, the missionaries, the medicines, books, Bibles … even the nails for the buildings and the aluminum for the roofs are delivered by MAF.”

Yajasi Avation

Although I was in Sentani working with MAF, this flight was with Yajasi Aviation, the flying arm of a language translation group.  There are several flying missions on the tarmac at Sentani and although they each have their specific mission domain, there is a great deal of cooperation among the organizations.

MAF was not scheduled for a flight to any small villages which allowed passengers, during my stay.  So they arranged this trip.  I was glad for the opportunity, not just to go to the village, but to chat with the pilot, Brad,  and get a perspective and history from another missions group…..and for a bit of stick time in a PC-6! Continue reading Flight To Langda, Papua, Indonesia

Choice: How Far Is Far Enough?

“Fear is something I don’t think you experience unless you have a choice. If you have a choice, then you’re liable to be afraid. But without a choice, what is there to be afraid of? You just go along doing what has to be done.” ― Mitchell Zuckoff

During a trip to Indonesia,  I was  loaned a book, Lost in Shangri-La. The book centers on a tragic accident that occurred May 13, 1946.  A would-be pleasure flight departed choicefrom Hollandia, now Sentani, Papua Indonesia. Twenty-one U.S. Army servicemen and WACs died in the crash.  The three survivors, two men and a woman, emerged from the wreckage emotionally devastated and badly injured.  The plane had crashed in the mysterious New Guinean valley known as “Shangri-La”, now the Baliem Valley.

 It outlines how the three survived by hiking through the mountains to a clearing where they would more likely be spotted by rescue operations.  This journey also brought them face to face with a primitive tribe of superstitious natives, now known as the Dani, who had never before seen a white man – or woman.
Drawing upon interviews, diaries, declassified documents, and his own treks to the remote villages of Papua, the author reveals how the determined trio traversed the dense jungle to find help a brave band of  paratroopers risked their lives to rescue them  contemporary natives remember that long-ago day when strange creatures fell from  the sky.
A great read.  As I read it on site with two flights to the interior on my schedule, it was mesmerizing.  The story itself is interesting, but the back stories the author provided added a depth that is hard to put into words.  Get the book.
Isolation, Fear And Choice
However, the purpose of this post is not a book review, but endeavor to share some insights the book and my time in Sentani provided about:
  • the impact of isolation on human beings
  • choicethe fear that resides at the root of that isolation
  • what having one’s verbal communication put into a written language does for an individual, a family, a tribe and a culture.
 The aftermath of the discovery of this valley and very publicized rescue of our servicemen and woman, was that missionaries, anthropologists and all manner of folks from the “outside” began to visit and move into this previously unknown valley.  Tribe after tribe of people who lived in isolation were discovered and continue to be discovered even today.  Most had different spoken languages and no written language.  They lived in community in their own way, yet in isolation from even neighboring tribes.  Except the times they went to war.
The Gift Of Choice
So why bother with these people?  Why not just let them be?  Some groups have been critical of the “loss” of an interesting link in man’s anthropological chain.  I find that puzzling.  If you google “isolation“, it is rarely considered a positive thing and never so for extended periods of time.  It is linked to all manner of physical, emotional and mental dysfunction.  Which leads to the root cause of the isolation these people lived in for,choice
 perhaps, thousands of years.  Fear.
On my flights over the valleys and peaks of several mountain ranges, I could see clusters of houses and huts. There were very few, if any, roads and none that went very far.  The jungle overtakes foot paths quickly thus. geography contributes to this isolation.
Fear Blocks Choice
Yet, other parts of the world  inhabited for similar amounts of time have moved far past geography.  The real barrier in most cases here is fear.  Fear of the unknown, of spirits, many believe, that will harm or kill if they wander too far.  Rivalry remains between tribes even though most do not go to war any longer, at least in the ancient manner.  Suspicion and even superstition can be, well, comfortable, unless you have a choice.

Continue reading Choice: How Far Is Far Enough?

Happy Birthday Mom – A Love Letter

love letter

With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation. – Psalms 91:16

 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.  Genesis 6:3
I write a bit about my paternal DNA, the connection I have with my dad through:
  • aviation
  • my mechanical bent
  • and writing
I am aware I do not write about my mother, unless it it is in reference to her family ancestors, the Rightmeiers.  This has nothing to do with a preference for my dad over my mom but purely out of respect for her privacy.  Mom is still alive and well.  Dad passed on in March 2000.  I endeavor to be respectful of all of my family, living or not, but also know that privacy for those still living is another facet of respect.
Birthday’s Are For A  Love Letter
I am making an exception with this post.  My mother’s birthday is in the month of February and I want to honor her.  She is in her 80s and just as beautiful as ever.  She is alert, strong and active.  I am grateful to have her DNA woven into mine.   If I got my sense of adventure from Dad, Mom taught me how to prepare and plan.  Mom imparted to me great organization skills which have served me well from housekeeping to organizing air traffic. She instilled in me not just the sense of beauty but how to bring it into reality – on a budget. If Daddy was a visionary, mom made it happen.
A Trip To Remember And A Daily Love Letter
A trip we took to Seattle for a family wedding comes to mind.  My father was to walk his youngest sister down the aisle.  I was five or six, my next sister around two and my youngest at the time a baby.  We were driving.  Two days up, two days back and a few days on site for the wedding.  I was the ring bearer or flower girl and I think my younger sister was the other.  Details escape me, but I do remember this:

Continue reading Happy Birthday Mom – A Love Letter

Through The Looking Glass Using Familiar Stones

“When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes, I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”  ― Lewis CarrollThrough the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There
“I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?  Then said I, Here am I, send me.”  Isaiah 8:8
I recently found myself in Papua Indonesia assisting on a project at a Base for Mission Aviation Fellowship.  I felt a lot like Alice in Wonderland when she stepped through the looking glass.  It was exciting, strange and yet vaguely familiar.  The aviation aspect was like an old friend, and the excitement of adapting to working in a foreign land was also not new to me.  Yet, I knew nothing about Indonesia, so I dusted off my skills of observing, listening, smiling, nodding my head and endeavoring to avoid being the ugly American abroad as much as possible.
The Project In The Looking Glass
looking glass The project was both simple and complex.  It was one of those tasks where the actual work was simple data entry into spreadsheets, but the knowledge needed to ensure the data being input was correct, was rather technical.  Even more important:  when to ask for direction .
Basically the task was to assign new addresses to each aircraft part in the base inventory. Nothing, or very little, actually moved physically.  In fact, the inventory is in amazing order.  However,  the aircraft part designations were in a data base used only in this region and the organization is moving to a centralized web based maintenance system for all aircraft in seventeen or so countries.

Continue reading Through The Looking Glass Using Familiar Stones

The Kodiak – See You On The Other Side

“See you on the other side”.   A closing salutation in an e-mail  from a missionary anticipating my arrival in Indonesia.

In the post My Journey Into Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) I mentioned touring

Kodiak
Our First Meeting in Nampa June 2016

their headquarters in Nampa, ID and attending an MAF event at the airport in Wichita.  During both of these occasions I was introduced to the Quest Kodiak airplane being incorporated into their fleet.  Little did I know this particular Kodiak would precede me on an unexpected journey.

The Kodiak by Quest Aviation can take off in 800 ft. with 7,500 lbs gross weight was developed specifically for the unique needs of mission aviation. 

Kodiak First Flight
The MAF event in Wichita was a “cold call” for me.  I knew none of the other local  supporters. At the event,  I had a warm conversation with the President and CEO, John Boyd who  queried me about my relationship with aviation in general and MAF specifically.  I gave the short version of my bio to which he responded, in a lovely accent “Nancy you would so enjoy volunteering in the hangar at MAF”.

I knew that would be the case, but in all honesty, Nampa, just outside Boise, ID is not on the way to anywhere and was not, at the time, on my list of places to go this year.  Yet, the desire got stuck in my soul and I got to take a flight in the Kodiak.  I suppose it watered the seed that had been planted many years before.

 At Wichita Eisenhower Airport
The Kodiak Calls
A short time later, I discovered that My mother, her brother and their spouses were going to attend an annual Idaho Rightmeier family picnic in August.  i was invited as well.  I realized I might be able to bundle these two worthy events into one trip. I applied to be an MAF volunteer, was approved to work in the fabrication shop, booked my tickets and headed northwest.
The week at the fabrication shop hit a chord in my soul I was unaware existed.  It hearkened back to the days I spent at the family auto parts, machine shop, salvage yard – except with airplane parts.  Of course Daddy had his EAA Bi-plane project setting in the shop as well, which he worked on as he could, so even that felt familiar.
Being a new kid on the fabrication block, I was eased into various odd projects:
  • putting boxes of shipping records into order
  • sorting airplane parts into their bins and updating their locations on spreadsheets
  • parkerizing and oiling parts for the Kodiak Oleo strut repair kit
  • sanding and oiling boxes for those parts to go in
  • bead blasting parts
  • powder coating custom prop hub tools. (I want one of these machines!)
  • and cutting vinyl to be made into pitot tube covers.
It was energizing!  I also got a second flight in the Kodiak.  This time, we headed for the hills of Idaho and I got to see just how remarkable this airplane is on 12% plus grades and really short take offs and landings.
MAF Advocacy
During the week, one of the shop overseers set me up to visit with the Advocate Wing Coordinator.  It had been suggested to me before to consider being an advocate, but the timing was not right.  Now it was.  Becoming an advocate is a process.  There is training, an interview and even a test in the form of a practice presentation that is recorded and sent in.

On the other hand, the support and materials provided an advocate is  just as professional as every other part of this organization.  I began setting up opportunities to speak right away along with my fellow local wing members.  This was going to be an awesome year.

But wait there is more!
I had just scheduled my first presentation at my local church and had a second one scheduled a week later at a school.  I had begun to make contact for other possible opportunities to speak, but life goes on, so I turned my attention to another need – grocery shopping.  As I was grabbing things off the bread shelf at Walmart, my phone rang.  It was MAF with a request so out of the blue, it took my breath away.
Gasp!
“Hi this is Tim.  We met in Nampa in the break room.  Your name came up in a conversation today.  We need someone to help with the aircraft parts inventory conversion at our base in Indonesia and wonder if you could help”.  (long pause while I process the questions racing through my brain).  Tim goes on to explain what is needed and why my name came up.  I am thinking:
  • passport – check
  • immunizations – check
  • calendar – flexible
After answering a few preliminary questions, I said, “I can’t think of a reason to say no”!  Details needed to be sorted out as to timing, visa and a consultation with  my spouse, but I left Walmart  headed to Sentani, Papua Indonesia.  Gasp! What will husband think? I sent him text.  No Response.  Hummm.  Head spinning, I drove home.  My husband came out of the house grinning from ear to ear.  I knew he was on-board.  So preparations began. I had asked for two things in the timing:
  • First. that the trip not interfere with Thanksgiving.  My family had planned a large gathering this year. and my mother was adamant that David and I BOTH be there.
  • Second, that I be home in time for our 40th Wedding Anniversary December 17.
The Kodiak Leads
kodiak
The Kodiak as she undergoes her transition to Indonesian citizenship at the Sentani MAF Base

I left the day after Thanksgiving and returned at 10 PM the night before our special day.  Three weeks and two days with a lifetime of experiences, including my 64th birthday  (what a neat gift).

During my orientation, as we toured the hangar I was greeted by an old friend: the Kodiak I had first seen during my tour of headquarters in June of 2016 and first flew in Wichita.  The same one I flew in a year later during my volunteer week.  There she was with her new Indonesian name:  PK-MEK, undergoing certification for her mission in her new home.
kodiakThere are several posts centering on this trip.  They fall under the “Flight” category of my Stonebridge.
My time and work in Indonesia pulled from multiple aspects of my life skills. God infused skills.  It is stunning how God does this, if we allow Him access.  Oh the adventures!

A Journey Into Mission Aviation Fellowship

journey

In June of 2016 on a return trip to Kansas from a family gathering in Moscow, ID, we took time to stop at the headquarters of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) in Nampa, ID. We have been supporters of MAF for over 25 years, but my journey with this organization goes back much further.

The Paternal Connection

After our visit, I began to reflect exactly how far back this journey goes. In fact, it reaches back to my father. In the process of writing a book about my father’s interaction with short term mission trips in Costa Rica, I recalled that when daddy became a pilot, he looked into becoming a missionary pilot. He loved flying and wanted to serve using this passion and new skills. Daddy was also a really good mechanic. He had an instinct for getting things to work.

It seemed a perfect fit, but was not to be. Before finding out what all was involved, he thought that there might be a way to do short term flying missions, but aviation mission does not have a provision for short term pilots. In addition, he was not:

  • a certified air frame and power-plant aircraft mechanic,
  • nor a certified flight instructor
  • or did he possess a license for instrument flying,

all requirements to serve on the MAF aviation team. Daddy found another way to serve in short term missions but, as a result of our conversations, the seed of aviation as a mission tool was planted.

Even Earlier

I had heard of the story of Nate Saint, Jim Elliott, Peter Fleming, Roger Youderian, and Ed McCully who were martyred in Ecuador in 1956.  I was just three years old. Their stories are told in many different publications, books and even films. There are links to a few in this BLOG, but a google search will bring up many more. No matter your world view, it is worth your while to become acquainted with both the event that resulted in the death of these fine men, as well as the redemptive aspects of the after stories that continue to unfold, even today. It is remarkable.

A Woman Gets It Going…..

Another aspect of mission avaition’s beginnings is the fact that it was a woman, Betty Greene, who flew the first MAF mission. She had served during WWII in as a Women Air Force Service Pilot (WASP) and opened up regions for MAF to serve particularity in Peru and Indonesia. As a woman pilot, I cannot help but gasp in wonder at her courage, skill and dedication.

The Personal Connect Begins

My personal interaction with MAF took on a more direct line in 1993. It was that August I was privileged to be one of four United State Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) technical technical experts selected to journey to the country of Madagascar. We were to conduct an assessment of their civil aviation system. I went as the air traffic expert, along with experts in the areas of:

  • airport operations,
  • aircraft airworthiness
  • aircraft operations.

It was a two week  assignment.

As we began to ask the questions required in order to complete the assignment, we had the sense that we were not getting the entire picture. So we headed to the airport to ask the folks that used the system for their perspective: the pilots and mechanics. We talked informally with airline and general aviation folks.

Included in this group were some of the MAF pilots who flew to the remotest parts of this island nation, in many cases, in response to life and death situations. It was through this contact that I became acquainted with and supporters of one of the missionary pilot families posted there. With this connection we received regular updates and information of the work done around the world by this organization.

Backstories Continue

In the 1990s, MAF celebrated their 50 year anniversary as an organization. A wonderful book outlining the history of MAF was published and I read it. Wow. Through reading this I received an even wider and deeper view of this work. This included the strong connection with the Cessna Aircraft Company based in Wichita, Kansas.

Then in 2005, the movie “End of the Spear” was released.   It tells the story of Nate Saint and the others who sacrificed their lives while serving in Equador.  Because of my reading the history of MAF, we made a point to see the movie.

I stayed in touch with the pilots we supported. They came to Wichita to visit once. During their visit they put me in touch with an MAF advocate in the area and we got acquainted as well. Pilots love to compare stories, and I am no exception, but when chatting with these folks I listen. Nothing I have ever done in aviation is even worth mentioning next to what these pilots do – and, I might add, with an awesome safety record. These are not bush pilots, these are professional pilots who happen to do a lot of flying in the bush.

Aviation Safety

Because of MAF’s aviation core, it is unavoidably involved with the FAA, particularly the regulatory and certification side. Although I was not a part of the FAA regulatory world, I was drawn to the reality that MAF, from its start gave safety the utmost place in their strategy.

This was made very clear to me as I listened to the the audio version of book, Jungle Pilot. This work is compiled from the letters that Nate Saint wrote from Shell Mara in Equator.  His letters are filled with a passion to serve but always with an eye on mitigating the risk encountered daily.  These were pilots in the military during WWII.   They brought with them the training, skills and instinct for flying in high risk situations, yet doing all they could to manage risk. That core continues in the organization today.

And The Journey Continues….

In all my interactions with MAF, I am moved by the love, humility and professionalism with which they serve.  The mission statement of MAF, countless stories and testimonials on their web site speaks better than this space allows.

As we toured the MAF Headquarters, these connections, and intersections with MAF came flooding back to me. In my Stonebridge, MAF is a part of my faith, family and flight stones. It connects to my past, present and yes, future. On the latter, things have accelerated significantly. To find how how that acceleration landed me in Sentani Indonesia, you will have to read coming posts.

Indonesia

Things I Did Not Know About Indonesia

Indonesia

I recently was given a great gift through the opportunity to serve on a project in the country of Indonesia, specifically the Provence of Papua.  The opportunity came up very fast and aside from a few minor logistical items, most of which were taken care of for me by the sponsoring organization, I was on my way in a matter of a few weeks.

I knew little or nothing about this island nation on the other side of the planet.  I barely knew how to get there.  (head to Australia and stop short….).  As I made preparations to leave, there were many questions, but I knew from past travels there are just a few essentials one needs to have and know in order to go.  The sponsoring organization has many years in this location, so I trusted they would take care of me.

Needful Preparations
On the other hand, I wanted to be prepared so as not to be a burden.  I wanted to arrive as part of the team.  Fortunately, I am married to the consummate researcher.  My husband would rather research anything over almost any other activity in life.  I am not exaggerating….!
So, as I took care of the practical aspects of my departure such as what:
  • clothes to take (hot, humid, tropical)?
  • laundry facilities would there be?
  • medicines to carry with me (malaria and dengue fever – gulp)
  • would access to connectivity be? Computer, iPhone needed?

as well as,

  • Paying bills
  • stocking the pantry ahead
  • and scheduling BLOG and Facebook posts through the end of the year.
 We also took time to do our annual legacy file review:  wills, power of attorneys and monthly budget procedures.  We do this every year and this trip seemed a prudent time to get it done.
Useful Indonesia Information
In the midst of this, Hubby was glued to his computer looking up facts, information and curious tidbits about my destination.  At the moment, these bits of information were the last thing on my mind, but I have come to learn after 40 years of marriage, that however out of time, his research comes in handy – eventually.
Here are some things I did not know about this fourth populous nation of the earth:
  • It is the largest island nation on earth with over 13,000 islands forming the archipelago.  Most are uninhabited.  By the way, most island nations are the tops of volcanoes, both dead and alive, and the remains of ocean floors pushed up from volcanic activity.  Earthquakes and tremors were normal.
  • It’s land mass is 1/5th of the United States, however, when overlay-ed the USA, it stretches on the diagonal from Oregon to Florida.
  • The Republic of Indonesia is also the Spice Islands.  Cloves, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Star anise, turmeric to name a few, have been sought after and traded for since ships and caravans found their way from Europe.  Remember the brand of spices your mother used to buy:  Spice Islands!
  • They drive on the left side of the road, right hand drive.  This goes back to the Dutch Colonial days when they also drove on the “other” side of the road.  The Dutch changed in the early 1900’s but Indonesia remained Right hand drive to conform with much of their region including Australia and Southeast Asia.  I had to resurrect my London days of “Look right” before crossing roads to avoid angry beeps from the herds of scooters!
  • The Sumatra and Java Coffee I drink at Starbucks come from Indonesia.
A Personal Connection

My father-in-law was stationed at Morotai on the Island of Maluku during WWII.  He flew P-38 reconnaissance at the end of the war and was all over the Pacific Theater in his career.  It was not until this trip that his time in Morotai came alive.  I did not visit there – it would have been like visiting Idaho while in Kansas, but still I am the one family member to get this close.

A Small Part of Indonesia
My exposure to Indonesia was very limited given its size.  The airport at Jakarta on the Island of Java and Sentani-Jayapura on the Indonesian side of the Island of Papua. I discovered the huge part this region played in the Pacific aspects of WWII.  I read several books during my trip (25 hours in the air each way gives one a lot of uninterrupted reading time).
While there, I was loaned a copy of Lost in Shangri-la by  Mitchell Zuckoff .  While telling the remarkable story of the discovery of the lost Dani tribe, it also provided a wealth of information on the role this strategic spot played during this time, the region’s history and the history of its people.
  • The Sentani Airport was built by the Japanese, then taken over by the US and allied forces.
  • General MacArthur was headquartered there and today remains an Indonesian military compound that contain artifacts of his time there.
  • There are virtually no roads to the interior of this island.  Wamena, is the world’s largest city is supplied only by aviation.
  • There are over 800 languages on the island of Papua alone.  The national language, Bahasa Indonesian, was adopted in the 1930s.   Its’ written form came into being over the previous 100 or so years during the Dutch colonial days.  In 1945 it was adopted as the national language in the constitution.  Most Indonesians are fluent in one or more of the other languages and speak a different language in the home.
Learning How Much There Is to Learn
All of this served as a humble reminder of how self-centric we are naturally.  I felt the sting, more than once, of my own ignorance of such a significant region as I learned more and more about the context in which my service would take place.  Yet, I did not scratch the surface of this remarkable place:  Bali, Kalimatran, Sumatra, Java, and much much more.
In the coming weeks, I will be sharing aspects of faith, family, and flight which  converged  into this unexpected assignment.   As we identify, build, shore-up and realize the stones in our unique Stonebridge of life, the history, back-story and context serve to add color, depth, hue, shades and over-all meaning to what appears on the surface.  Here’s to digging deep in 2018.
Name one event or experience that helped define your Stonebridge in 2017?  Please share in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe!  I love hearing from you!

Grosspapa’s Passing – Most Viewed Post of 2017

passing

In 2017 one of the last of the Steinbüchels to live in our home passed on.  The post about the passing of his ancestor, Herr von Bernard Karl Steinbüchel, was one of the most visited posts this year.  I am pleased that in this time of loss, we were able to reconnect with several of the living family members.  Below is a partial repost.  The original post may be seen here.

Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life. – Anne Roiphe

 We recently learned of the passing of Mark Joseph Steinbüchel.  He was one of  house’s last namesake to have lived here and was one of the grandson’s of Marie-Louise and Herman.  We met he and his brothers Max and Mike when they dropped by a few times.  If I have the family lines correct, there remain three siblings who lived in this house.
Dealing With The Passing Of A Loved One
I am not fond of dwelling on death.  My Christian faith and world view regard it as simply a departure.  Yet once we walk this earth, no matter how visible or widely known that life is or is not, it matters.  It made an impression.  In fact, as I look into the Steinbüchel and my own family’s history, the more I realize the impact one single life makes.  It is for this reason, I take time to piece together the footprints left by those who have gone before.  To uncover the lost or buried stories and retell them.
For the Marie-Louise Hahn-Stackman-Steinbuchel story, my go-to guide is an out-of-print book by Dorothy Elisabeth Steinbüchel-Wilson-Gouldner, A Living Gravestone.  She was the daughter of Herman and Marie-Louise.  On page 66 of the book, there is a section, “Grandpapa’s Passing”.  Sometime in 1900 Bernard Steinbüchel became bed-ridden.  She describes his last days and the times she sat with him.  He lived with his two daughters at a house at 11th and Main next to where Elisabeth and her family lived at the time.
 Grosspapa’s Final Days
Grosspapa, German for grandpa, and his two daughters, the “tantas,” (aunts) were neighbors to Elisabeth from the time she was two until his passing.  He was a part of her daily life as a young child.  He only spoke and understood German so the language of the house was German.
“Grandpa lay in a huge wooden bed, two large pillows under his head,  He had lace all around his collar, with more on the lower edge of the cuffs on his long-sleeved and very white night shirt.  He looked comfortable”.   She said on one occasion, he smiled, took her hand and said “You see what happens to people when they grow old”.  She would have been seven years old.

Continue reading Grosspapa’s Passing – Most Viewed Post of 2017

Happy Christmas!

happy

We are enjoying a quiet Happy Christmas at home.  I recently returned from a three week trip to Indonesia where I was able to assist with a project for Mission Aviation Fellowship.

Giving One’s time in this way is such an honor and Joy.  I turned 64 while away.  God’s special gift to me – an adventure.  He knows how much I enjoy this kind of thing.   So as you enjoy your version of the Holidays here are a few thoughts.:

Calvin Coolidge

Wedding Anniversary Adventures – Forty Years!

anniversaryA wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity. The order varies for any given year.   Paul Sweeney
This month my husband and I will be married 40 years.  When he asked me to marry him, we had planned a June wedding after his first year of ministry school at Melodyland School of Theology in Anaheim, CA .  I was in Denver and progressing in my air traffic training program.  A June wedding would have been at a more routine phase of my training and would include the option of taking some time off.
However, the first part of October, just as I was entering a critical phase of training with no option of time off, David called.  He said “I think we should get married when I am home for Christmas break”.  We had not planned a big to-do, just a family and friends day church wedding with a cake and punch reception, but still 10 weeks?  Seriously?
There were some logical reasons for this request, which are beside the point right now, and in spite of all of the reasons to the contrary, I said OK.  It only meant:
  • getting a dress – which I ended up making
  • assembling an invitation list
  • ordering invitations and a cake and flowers
  • Oh and bridesmaids dresses, tuxedos
  • and of course, continuing my studies in air traffic
  • with absolutely no money saved

But still, why not?  Indeed….

Celebrations Need Help
Fortunately, God gave me an awesome friend, Beverly, to pull it together.  We also had a strong church family of talented musicians, cake makers and decorators, as well as family on both sides who rallied to make sandwiches, mints, punch and, of course dresses.  My sister, my matron of honor, became the seamstress for the wedding party.
I made a trip to California on a long weekend, to see David where we bought our rings on sale at J.C. Penny.  I also bought material (on sale) and, with the help of my great Aunt Eunice, with whom I was staying, we made my dress and veil.  David arrived back in Colorado a few days before the wedding and with medicals in hand we got our license.  On December 17, 1977 we were married over the weekend at The Happy Church with family and friends to witness.  We had 24 hours to celebrate at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs.  I was then back to work learning how to keep airplanes from colliding.
Celebrations and Obstacles
It sounds like all went off without a hitch, but there would be no story if that were the case. The wedding was scheduled on a Saturday between my high altitude and low-altitude pass-fail non-radar problems at Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center.  (did I say pass/fail?) I had been through this process once before at the FAA academy, but that did not make this phase any less daunting.
As with each of the 13 stages of training, I had to pass this one or I would be out of a job. That meant at least one of the two final graded problems for the low and high altitude sectors had to be flaw-less.  If I passed the first graded, which was on a Thursday, I would not need to take the second one on Friday and could take the day of to be a bride.  But….
…I failed.  Two of the 30+ aircraft got closer than required 10 minutes apart .  Ten minutes that changed everything,   I would have to go in ant take the last problem on Friday morning and pass or our wedding would take place under a cloud of uncertainty regarding my employment situation.
Celebrations in Spite of….

Continue reading Wedding Anniversary Adventures – Forty Years!