With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation. – Psalms 91:16
- my mechanical bent
- and writing
With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation. – Psalms 91:16
In the post My Journey Into Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) I mentioned touring
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.
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.
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.
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).
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
as well as,
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.
The story of the nativity would be incomplete without the shepherds “keeping watch over their flocks by night”. They were the first to hear the announcement, beyond the immediate family, that something extraordinary had occurred. A very special baby boy had been born.
I have heard this story for as long as I can remember. As a child we read the Christmas story in our home every Christmas Eve, heard it at church and even reenacted it as a drama to the best of our ability. But who were these men? Why shepherds?
The day before Thanksgiving is the heaviest travel day of the year. This true of all modes of transportation, but none more filled with tension than air travel. During my years in air traffic I worked many of these days. From the inside, it was serious business. I arrived to take my position at the radar in the Los Angeles Center with coffee at hand, my mind focused and with a bit of apprehension for the task at hand. It was fun and awesome at the same time.
Those days were also days of honor, where I could serve the travelers of this nation, even the world, so they could get home to be with family and loved ones. I was aware of what was at stake:
Whatever awaited at the end of each passenger’s voyage, we did our best (really) to not add to the stress of the travel.
Today, I have to admit, I don’t miss the tension and stress. Yet, neither do I regret having served in this way. As I said, it was and honor.
The video above is sent to provide you a moment of peace, respite or even escape, if needed. The Music is from David Cullen – not the one I am married to.
So from Maison Steinbuchel we sent our warmest prayers for a day filled with peace, good food, and fellowship, wherever you may be. For those serving our country in the military, public safety, air traffic or any other civil service, we send our thanks.
If you are serving in some way away from friends and family, please let me know in the comments below. I want to thank you personally. If not, where will you spend your Thanksgiving this year?
I am writing this several weeks before it will post. It has been a gloomy few days and even though I hate to admit it, my grumpy level goes up when the sun hides. This tends to press my gratitude level down. I would not do well in Alaska in winter.
So I decided to go ahead and do a Thanksgiving post. Thanksgiving was our extended maternal family’s reunion gathering as a child. We usually went to the farm where all the traditional comfort food converged from a eight county area onto one table. If there were strained relationships they were set aside for the day as far as I could tell.
This breaking of bread among family served us well. I only remember the laughter, the stories (that got bigger each year) and the fellowship. It was expressed gratitude that we had family. I know it was far from perfect, but even in that, I learned gratitude in the face of the imperfect. I learned that one does not depend on the other.
So today I am revving up my gratitude meter. This year, we are gathering the extended family at my aunt and uncle’s home. Not on the farm this time, but the family will be there. Things are far from perfect. In fact, there are some real challenges many of us are facing, but we still have much much to be thankful for.
Here is a start. I apologize up front if my list seems superficial to some who may read this in much worse situations, but here I go. I am grateful for:
Now, it’s your turn. In the comments put one (or more) thing you are grateful for. Let’s see how far this can go.
And oh yes, if you are traveling, safe journeys!
I am not a Lutheran. Although I appreciate much of their theology, I attended a Methodist Church growing up. A movement that grew out of the Anglican church and although much removed from its roots – the tree does flow back into the Roman Catholic faith. However, there is no disputing the effect the reformation had on both the faith of my childhood as well as the path my German ancestors took.
In a post about a circa 1907 family reunion on the Rightmeier homestead in Jewell County, Kansas, I mentioned a great great uncle, August, we had lost track of. A friend who has a gift for finding lost family on the Internet decided to poke around for me. I was humbled that she took time to do this.