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.
Encounters With New Details
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.
“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” — Mary Lou Cook
- a Stanley hand miter saw (that, as I said, I only use for 90 degree cuts for now)
- a small hammer (for small brads)
- a set of corner picture frame clamps (estate sale find)
- a multi-purpose screw driver
- a cordless power drill (my one power tool)
- Greased Lightning for cleaning the porcelain parts
- Nitrate gloves (to protect my manicure – of course!)
- Wood glue
- E-600 glue (it will hold anything!)
- Lots of small brads and screws (estate sale finds)
- Buckets of hex nuts and bolts (leftovers)
- Paint samples. I generally do not paint lath, but there are other bits I may add some color to.
- Cut the Lath into pairs of the same length. Most of the time I have already cleaned it, but if needed, I take a wire brush for a final scrub.
- Place into the frame clamps, gluing as you go
- Using a very small drill bit, drill two small pilot holes in each joint. Do not skip this step! 125 year old wood is well seasoned and can be brittle – this will avoid cracking.
- Nail each corner and let set for a few hours or overnight.
- Measure the bottom and cut the lengths of lath or other wood material for the base. I have used reclaimed cedar shingles or other bits of scrap wood as long as they are the same thickness
- Cut, glue and nail the base
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Drawer. Noun: a sliding, lidless, horizontal compartment, as in a piece of furniture, that may be drawn out in order to gain access to it. Origin & History of “drawer”: A drawer is literally something that is ‘drawn’ or ‘pulled’ out. The coinage was perhaps based on French tiroir ‘drawer’, which was similarly derived from the verb tirer ‘pull’. (16th c.)
Old drawers, or more exactly, drawers that are no longer useful as drawers but remain in tact, call to me. If you have read some of my previous BLOGs you know a bit of my passion (obsession?) in reusing stuff. I come by this tendency honestly from both my mother and father. On my dad’s side, they just kept stuff because “I might need it someday”. And in some cases that was true. Usually it just meant that things stacked up. On my Mom’s side, the farmers, it was somewhat the same, but the German genes forced things into something useful. Not always in a pretty way but used none-the-less. Nothing and no one sits idle in a German household for long!
In both cases these things represented an asset; money and time that did not have to be spent. It represented frugality and, yes, in some cases a fear of not having enough since these were families whose psyche were formed by the years of the Great Depression. I did not know that kind of lack. Not even close. Cash was not abundant, but we had nice things. Mom knew how to re-purpose, up-cycle and re-cycle before it was a political statement. However, she did not abide clutter and enjoyed making things look pretty. Things in our home were neat and tidy.
Even the Drawers!
So when I see and old drawer my DNA takes over, times two. It takes some skill to build a good drawer. I am almost in awe of the old kitchen cabinet drawers from 70+ years ago, that are still solid and sturdy when the cabinets or cupboards that once housed them are long gone. They are not elegant, built primarily for function: to put things in. So when I come across an old drawer it goes into my project room.
- Lightly sanded and primed. There were stains that my favorite stain hider, KILZ, took care of.
- painted on the outside with a semi-gloss version of the wall color of the room it will reside in.
- then painted inside in a rust color from a bit of a paint sample I had on hand.
- given a “new” handle from my stash of cool vintage hard ware (let me know if you are interested, I have lots)
- put on pretty red casters that I acquired from an estate sale for a few dollars.
- topped with a padded lid so I can rest my feet in comfort while gaining some storage.
More Old Drawers
We are cat people. I was not always a cat person. Oh, I had pets growing up but they were always outside pets, mostly dogs, and the attachment fell far short of what I know today. I suspect that had to do with several things: 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.
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 fo
urth in a series of aviation named cats. The first three were Pitch, Roll, and Yaw. There were also Stick and Rudder. These are gone now, but Flaps, now four-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, I guess.
- a line that marks the limits of a geographical area; a dividing line, “the eastern boundary of the wilderness”
- a limit of a subject or sphere of activity. “a community without class or political boundaries”
It has been a challenging few months. It began last fall when my husband took the season a bit too literally and FELL from a ladder while trimming a tree. Yes there was a running chainsaw involved so we are thankful that the only damage from the incident was a broken left heal bone. None-the-less, crutches in a three story house, trips to specialists, me becoming his chauffeur, and generally having to pick up the tasks that require two good feet (which is more than one realizes) to keep up with daily life was a challenge for both of us. Many goals and plans had to be put on hold, although we did soldier on in many ways.
We even did some things we might not have done just as a diversion like Tuesdays on the Terrace at our local botanical gardens. We received wonderful aid from our church family so that the lawn stayed mowed until cool weather set in. By Thanksgiving he was back on two feet and is now doing physical therapy to get rid of the last of the effects of the injury. We are grateful that the outcome was not worse. Very grateful. Yes, very very grateful.
However, this kind of thing messes with ones goals, plans and dreams. It also taps into the reserves or margins one tries so carefully to build in to life. Margins of:
* relationship resources
* money (savings)
* emotional and mental resources
* spiritual resources
These past few months have demonstrated to me the critical value of margins. Especially when life throws you a curve ball.