Tag Archives: family

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

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.

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!

Giving A Voice To The Voiceless – The Christmas Shepherds

The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can. – Neil Gaiman

voiceThe 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?

Without A Voice
Shepherds have an ebb and flow of status in the Bible.  In the early days of the Patriarchs they held an important place.  Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (renamed Israel) were all nomadic and owned large herds and flocks.  Along with provision and lively hood, these were a sign of wealth of the day.  However, their neighbors, the Egyptians, did not hold shepherds in high regard at all, and when Israel devolved into slave status in Egypt, it seems this attitude toward shepherding remained with them even after their exodus.
The Shepherd Psalmist King’s Voice
Still there were shepherds.  In the time of David, he was found tending sheep when anointed to the King.  The fact that he was the youngest and his station in the family not highly regarded, indicates the low status of those who tended these woolly necessary creatures.  As David rose to Kingship, so did the status of the shepherd for a time.
However, at the time of the birth of Jesus,  shepherds were regarded about the same as the tax collector (think IRS).  They were not allowed to even speak in a court of law.  They had no voice.  The particular shepherds on that special night, were tending the flocks for the temple.  These were the sheep used in the daily required temple sacrifice.  One would think they would have some kind of status, but apparently not.
A Voice Is Who We Are

Continue reading Giving A Voice To The Voiceless – The Christmas Shepherds

Happy And Blessed Thanksgiving – Practicing Gratitude

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”  ― Epicurus

gratitudeI 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.

Choosing Gratitude

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:

  • hot and cold running water
  • several modes of reliable transportation
  • heat, gas and electricity
  • a warm, clean bed
  • a washer and dryer and clean clothes
  • for a loving husband of almost 40 years
  • for a loving church family and friends in several languages around the globe
  • hopes, dreams and plans that my Lord superintends on my behalf
  • ……????

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!

 

 

The Practicality, Mystery and Beauty of An Attic

attics“As the years pass, I keep thinking that our greatest lack today is attics.  Modern homes never have them, with the result that young people live only in their own generation, feeling no intimate connection with the past.  Their roots will go deeper if their homes have attics?”

from “More Than Petticoats” – the chapter on Maude Frazier, an early Nevada educator

When we were house hunting in anticipation of our move from California to Kansas, I made a list of features I wanted in a house.  One of those was amble space for a proper library for my husband’s bibliophile habit.  We also wanted a home with some history and character.  We were weary of So Cal subdivisions, one story, no basement, no character houses.  It was all so, well, boring!
Our time in Europe had awakened my Kansas need for the character and history of an older home.  Our Realtor understood, and scoped out homes in the older “classic” neighborhoods of Wichita.   She did find it curious that before the kitchen and bath decor or number of bedrooms we headed for the basement and/or attic.  We needed serious space for this library.
Early Attic Dreams
The house I grew up was a two story frame with the second story almost attics like.attics

It had a real attic but it was not usable for anything other than getting to the flat part of the roof.  I was only up there once or twice since it had to be accessed with a ladder from the upstairs hallway, but sleeping among the gables in my second story bedroom brings back cozy memories.

The vision of a proper third floor library, a retreat among books drew us in.  When we first looked at the historic home we eventually purchased, it was the attic that clinched the deal.  My husband’s books still rest in boxes up there, patiently waiting for the home they have been promised.  We have a vision, and even plans drawn up, but other necessary steps seem to extend the path as we travel toward that dream library in the sky.

Continue reading The Practicality, Mystery and Beauty of An Attic

dream-Home

Finding Lost Family Members – Or Not….

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing – Wernher von Braun

In a post about a circa 1907 family reunion on the Rightmeier homestead in Jewelllost family 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.

 I had found an 1880 census record of an August G. Rehtmeyer on Ancestry that put him working as a “clerk in a store” in  Pocahontas, Bond, Illinois.  He was 19.
What We Found On August G Rehtmeier
  • He voted in 1890 while living at 819 W North Avenue, Chicago, IL
  • On November 24, 1887 he married Catharine Goldenbogen in Chicago, IL.  Sir name spelled Rithmeyer on the marriage license.
  • 1900 US Census shows him in Chicago at that same location with a wife, Kate and three children, Neta
  • (Nettie) (11), Walter (8) and Florence (5) Sir name spelled Rehtmeyr and occupation as a furniture dealer
  • He and Kate took a ship while cited as being a resident of Chicago and he went to Hamburg, on the Hamburg-Amerika line, a Dampfschiff (steam ship)
  • 1908 He’s married and going from Hamburg through a French port to New York
  • September 12, 1912 He, Kate and the two girls takes the ship President Grant from Boulogne sur Mer France to New York
  • 1920 Census he and Kate are living in Los Angeles on 3008 West 7th Street in a rental. He is listed as a furniture merchant and employer. The building there today looks about a 1920’s stor
    efront. It is probable they lived above the store he ran. Name shown as AG Rehtmeyr
  • Then I see him going from Hawaii to LA on a ship 1923 and he’s living in LA on Olive St in 1926. He voted in CA as a Republican.
  • Two places have his death mentioned: Jan 6 1929, Los Angeles, CA at age 67. He’s buried at Forest Lawn Glendale. He was considered American on all the ships manifests.
Opps…

Continue reading Finding Lost Family Members – Or Not….

Discerning Fake News – Family History Style

fake newsThe thing that interests me most about family history is the gap between the things we think we know about our families and the realities.
– Jeremy Hardy
In a recent 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.  He was one of my great great grandfather’s older brothers with whom he stowed away on a ship in order to immigrate to America from northern Germany.
A friend and reader of this BLOG who has a gift for finding information on the Internet decided to poke around for me.  I was humbled that she took time to do this.  I found an 1880 census record of Uncle August on Ancestry that put him working as a “clerk in a store” in  Pocahontas, Bond, Illinois.  We currently subscribe to only the US portion of Ancestry, but my friend has the global version.
Avoiding Making Fake News
She found all kinds of neat stuff that opened up all manner of “filling in the blanks”.  I wrote a great BLOG about it, even contacted a couple of family members about it. Using  my version of Ancestry to find more details, I filled in a few more gaps.  Once done, I decided to update my family tree maker in preparation to build a tree on ancestry with all this found information.  And then I realized that the August Rehtmeyer that worked as a clerk in a store was not MY uncle August.  Opps, that pesky reality, Truth, was about to mess up all my work.

Continue reading Discerning Fake News – Family History Style

picnic

A Family Summer Picnic, A Castle And Providence

This weekend I will be joining my mother, her brother and members of three of the seven branches of my maternal grandfather’s siblings for a family picnic near Boise Idaho.  Sometime in the 40s or 50s three of  my grandfather’s six siblings moved from Kansas to this area so I only knew them by name.  A large reunion of the Rightmeier clan in Kansas in 2005 and the advent of Facebook reinstated relationships  geography had eroded.

This picnic gathering has me thinking about this branch of my family tree’s German roots.  It centers around a small village in the northern District of Lippe Germany:   Varenholtz.

A Castle

When my husband and I had an opportunity to visit Varenholtz in 1998, we found a landmark never mentioned in any of the family stories:  Schloss (Castle) Varenholz.  The castle location was the seat of a family of Knights , under Heinrich the Lion. Built to its current size in 1596 by Simon VI, the son of a staunch Catholic Count, who ruled the region and fiercely resisted the Protestant movements in the area.

When the elder Count died, the care of Simon VI, his son, was left to Phillip of Hessen.  Although the Count gave strict orders that his son be educated in the Catholic faith, Phillip did not adhere to this request and Simon was educated as a Lutheran, and later studied “at a reformed school in Strasbourg” where he became a follower of John Calvin (1503 – 1564).  It was in this way that Lippe became a mix of Lutheran and Calvinistic influence.

Regetmeir to Rightmeier

My maternal great great  grand-father, Frederic Regetmeier,  immigrated to the United States in 1864 at the age of 14. During this period, a long-term drought, along with political and religious unrest made living conditions in Lippe quite desperate.  In other words the feudal system was breaking down.

The life they knew was disappearing.  Word of the opportunities in America sparked by desperation, drove young Frederic and his brother August  to make the voyage.   In reality the brothers were stowaways on a ship to New York.  It is said they jumped ship in New York harbor and swam ashore.

Continue reading A Family Summer Picnic, A Castle And Providence