“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
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
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.
The Kodiak Calls
- 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.
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!
- passport – check
- immunizations – check
- calendar – flexible
- 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
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:
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
Useful Indonesia Information
- 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
- 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
Frames , Wreaths and Smiling Etrucstians
I enjoy re-doing and re-making things. I always have. Using leftovers, taking what is on hand and making something useful again:
- Whatever I might have in the pantry or frig becomes a one-time kind of meal.
- Scraps of cloth become a comforter, pillow or something for the wall.
- Scraps of wood become art, wooden trays or even furniture.
- Dad, an auto salvage operator took old cars apart. They were scrapped out for usable parts and metal. Some parts were refurbished and resold, others just reused as is on another vehicle.
- Clothes were re-done and handed down. If they were too worn out, the cloth was remade into quilts, comforters or some other useful item (remember cloth dust rags?).
- Mom composted in the garden and turned grass clippings and leaves into flower beds (no pesticides were used!).
New Is Good Too!
A man is like a cat; chase him and he will run – sit still and ignore him and he’ll come purring at your feet. – Helen Rowland
We are cat people. This was not always the case with me. Oh, I had pets growing up but they were always outside pets, mostly dogs. The attachment fell far short of what I know today. This had to do with the fact that:
- We were a farming community and my mother was raised on a farm;
- Animals served a practical role and were somewhat transitory so we were not encouraged to get too attached;
If I had any real attachment to animals growing up it was to horses on my grand parents farm and to the iconic TV animals like Flicka, Lassie and Trigger. I out-grew all that when boys became more than someone to just climb trees with, but that is another subject.
Married To A Cat Person
I became a cat person when I married. My husband is a true cat whisperer and could give Jackson Galaxy some serious competition. He has an amazing way of bringing out the unique personality of any cat, of restoring cats who are damaged and to actually get them to mind! Well, mind in that “I’m a cat” sort of way. We have a lot of fun with our kitty tribe. No, we are not crazy cat people, but I have learned to truly love, appreciate and even train these furry soul-mates.
The oldest of our tribe right now is Flaps. Yes, Flaps, like the control surface on an airplane. He is the fifth in a series of aviation named cats. The first three were Pitch, Roll, and Yaw. There were also Stick and Rudder. They are gone now, but Flaps, now six-teen years old, remains.
We started the series when we acquired an airplane hangar with an apartment. The cat’s job, besides keeping us company and entertained, were to keep rodents under control in the hangar. Rodents can be very damaging to aircraft and this was our way of dealing with them. Our version of barn cats.
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.
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.
This will re-publish as I make a return trip to Mission Aviation Fellowship -MAF. This time I am staying for a few days to volunteer in the fabrication shop. I am excited. Following is the background for this trip from a previous post.
To Succeed – “I can think. I can sleep. I can move. I can ride my bike. I can dream.” Bill Walton
When I was accepted into the the Federal Aviation’s Administration’s Air Traffic Academy in 1976, I knew I was on the right path. At the same time, I had no idea what I had signed up for. It was daunting in every way.
I remember, after having passed the first phase of academics, challenging in itself, my class of 16 was now headed to the dreaded non-radar labs. “Phase III” of a thirteen phase program known to be a phase in which “50% will not make it”. I don’t mind saying it, I was nervous, partially because I was not aware of the process.
On the first day of labs, the Air Traffic Academy Superintendent passed by our class, first to congratulate us for passing Phase II and then to encourage us as we entered Phase III. However, the superintendent said something that gave me courage. It was something like: “You have been tested and accepted into this program, so we know you have the aptitude to do this job. All you have to do is apply yourself”. I thought, “I can do that”. Ahhh hope. I trusted what the superintendent said and in the process behind all the uncertainty.
The Process – “I Can Do that”
At that moment, I knew I would not be distracted, party instead of study, or otherwise drop the ball. I had been told I had it within me to succeed and I determined to give this opportunity my full attention. Still, it was not easy and there were obstecles. For instance, we were not allowed to miss any days or be late for any reason. Not even illness. It was winter in Oklahoma, I was not eating right, nor sleeping well and there was just a bit of stress (sarcasm). Yes, I managed to get the flu.
Succeed By Showing Up and Staying the Course
I have an audio recording of a graded pass/fail lab problem while hosting a fever of 102 degrees. I did not pass, managing to score a whopping thirteen “conflictions* (you were not allowed any to pass a graded problem). But I was there and I finished. Fortunately you were allowed one failed graded problem and still pass the course. It was also a Friday, so I had the weekend to get over the creeping crud. Ultimately, I graduated. I trusted the process.
There were many more challenges and not a few moments in which I really wanted to walk away. Even after becoming a journeyman controller, there were moments, even days when I wanted to disappear. Invariably, t\someone or something would remind me to trust the process and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Most of the time it was that still small voice inside that said “I will never leave you..” that I have come to recognize as the voice my Father God. Now that I have retired from the life of telling pilots where to go, I have been employing the same “trusting the process” in developing my second wind for this season of life.
“I Can Do That”
Micheal Hyatt was made known to me as a virtual mentor through hearing him interviewed by Dave Ramsey. Micheal’s book, Platform – Get Noticed in a Noisy World, had just come out and they were discussing the book in the context of the whole entrepreneurial thing. I bought the book and just like those many years ago, I thought, “I can do that”, and so it started. I am still figuring it out as I go, putting one foot in front of the other, learning, studying and trusting the process. This BLOG is one aspect of this new life.
Another aspect is an intentional personal development or a personal growth plan (PGP). One element of my PGP is reading books. Yes, good old fashioned reading. I was inspired to be intentional about this through Mr. Hyatt as well. In both his BLOG and through podcasts he talked about the benefits of consuming a balanced diet of books:
1. Reading makes us better thinkers
2. Reading improves people skills
3. Reading improves our communication skills, including speaking and writing
4. Reading helps us relax
5. Reading keep us young (I am all for that!)
Process – A Personal Growth Plan
I thought, “I can do that”. So in my annual PGP I set a goal to read or listen to 3 books per month. I endeavored to divide these between fiction and non-fiction with some in an audio format. You can see the list of books completed on my Pinterest 2017 Book reading list. I set aside a minimum of 20 minutes each morning as a part of my quiet time and 20 minutes before bedtime for this activity. Fiction reading is reserved for my evening routine.
Instead of going out and spending money on books I did not know if I wanted to keep on my shelf, I have been giving my local library a serious workout. It has been wonderful. There are a few I ended up purchasing as I wanted to mark them up and keep for future reference, but for the most part the public library has been a great partner in this goal. I have been surprised at how much I have enjoyed this activity and its benefits.
So once again, by trusting the process, in other words, taking someone’s advice even if you can’t see or understand the rationale, I have found myself in a better place.
*a confliction meant that two aircraft got closer than the required margins allowed. Opps!
Is there some process you have simply taken someone’s word on? How did it work out? Please share it in the comments below!