February 2010

19 Feb 10: The gym below the “auditorium” at the Vancouver Barracks definitely wins the award for most character. Having no funds to fix it up because of the coming closure of the entire post, it is a mishmash of well-used old equipment…with no supervision or rules. Perfect for us! We have thoroughly enjoyed it – both using the few operable machines, the tired mats, and the cob-web-ridden shower area. The low-hanging pipes and patterned ceiling add all the atmosphere anyone could possibly enjoy!

Another treasure of combining support-raising with flying training is the opportunity to visit with friends from all over. It was wonderful to see Sarah and Matt again (to meet them for the first time, in Sandi’s case) and to meet their 13-month-old daughter, Mari. What a beautiful, contented child she is! It’s so obvious how much her parents love and care for her. What a treasure to witness that, and to bask in the company of fellow believers, dedicated to serving Jesus and loving others.

And again yesterday we practiced more cross country navigation, divert and lost procedures en route to a lunch date with still other friends who had a baby we met for the first time. Jenni & Jason drove all the way out from Spokane to Davenport for lunch when the weather did not clear as expected in Spokane. Their 9-month-old Kathryn spoke at length with our 6-month-old Zoe as all of us adults enjoyed the wonderful company of old-time brothers and sisters in Christ, catching up on the twists and turns through which God has been guiding each of us over the last two years.

the gym (below the auditoriom) at the Vancouver Army Nat'l Guard Barracks

Colorado. We finally made it. Our flight from Portland to Albuquerque changed planes in Denver. There was little chance of us staying this time, though: our destination – the Mt Taylor Winter Quadrathlon in Grants, NM – was every bit as attractive as Colorado (for Donna, that is). Silly athlete that she is, Donna thoroughly enjoyed her early birthday present from Slick, a 42 mile round trip from Grants to the top of Mt Taylor and back via road bike, running shoes, cross country skis and snowshoes. Replete with glistening snow atop towering evergreen boughs, vistas stretching across golden, high-desert plains to the horizon a hundred miles away, and the entire town as enthusiastic volunteers, this is by far Donna’s favorite race. And in His abundance, God let her walk away with not only another treasured memory, but an age-group award as well.

Back in Vancouver, WA we missed little flying because it had rained all weekend. Over the last two weeks, however, we have both become for more familiar and comfortable with both the Cessna 206 (one of the planes we’ll fly in Africa) and some specifics of “missionary pilot” flying techniques.

14 Feb 10: Nearly three thousand miles from where we began a month ago, our trail toward Africa continues. Beneath God’s hand of protection, we rolled through the Rockies and arrived safely in Vancouver, WA, as February began.

We praise Him for maneuvering us through many repairs and improvements to our home-on-wheels; for allowing us to visit with many friends, both old and new, along the way; and for the many miles through which Zoe slept! He also directed us around the state of Colorado, coming no closer than seven miles to its border. Both of us would love to live in Colorado, but God has resoundingly slammed the door every time we have tried to find employment there. This time He delayed us in Texas just long enough to discover a winter storm we were heading into and choose to detour around it to the north – and completely outside of Colorado instead of through it. Perhaps He knew it would be too much of a temptation. But given our history with trying to move to there, we have to smile at His rather dry sense of humor!

Over the next month, we will complete our flying training in Vancouver then Slick will begin his training in Nampa, Idaho. We greatly appreciate your prayers for safety, for quick minds and hands to grasp a set of flying skills very different from those God has already afforded us, and for the patience to enjoy life in our 8×21 foot mansion.

Chili uses Mommy's leg as a pillow across much of Wyoming

12 Feb 10: Last Monday we cross country skied with her in the Chariot behind me. We discovered that the stroller can fall over and Zoe will be just fine, and that I can fall over and Zoe and the stroller will be just fine. Fortunately no bruises resulted from our experimentation and I was over the soreness of skiing within only a few days.

The longer we stay in a place it seems the more folks we get to meet and share a meal with. Last week we dined with Rick & his wife, whose son is in the AF, an Eagle driver, and Will and Nan, a young married couple. We know Will from our vision trip in 2006 to Ecuador. Nan is his new wife and a very sweet young lady. Both are willing but a little hesitant about going overseas with missions. Next week we have a pretty full schedule: the Osgoods at Fairchild, the Frauenzimmers in Seattle, Shan (flight instructor) and his wife, my dad’s cousin Patsey and her partner Richard. God has sure given us a broad circle of friends and family to share His work with!

29 Jan 10: A juicy steak and a cooing baby – what better way to cap off an evening of errands in western Nebraska? It’s the little things that confirm this path we’re on, especially after a long hard day of driving in an attempt to outrun a winter storm. This morning, gold glowed from beyond the eastern edge of a low cloud bank, a beautiful sunrise over the North Platt Airport where we spent the night. As icing on the cake, the FBO was open, offering real bathrooms, running water and a microwave to reheat tea before venturing onto the road for another day of rolling westward.

driving into the setting sun in Nebraska

27 Jan 10: As we entered the highway under the last glimmers of evening light, Slick glanced in the side view mirror to look for cars before he merged into the right lane. The movement of something round bouncing away from the trailer caught his eye. He conveyed what he saw to me and we both immediately thought about the waste cap – round and on the left side, and can easily come loose from the jarring of the highway. Being far more conservative than I tend to be, he pulled off at the next exit less than a quarter mile away.

I sat in the truck as he investigated, half wondering why he was being so cautious.

“We’re done for the night,” he announced as he returned to the cab. “What?” I replied in my standard helpful way.

Slick had seen not the waste cap, but part of a bearing depart from the trailer. Now the axle, sans bearing, stuck through the center of the tire at a funky angle. We limped across the street to a gas station where we left the trailer while Slick settled Zoe and I into billeting at Sheppard AFB, which happened to be only 15 minutes away. He was up most of the night getting the trailer to a reputable repairman in thriving Iowa Park, TX.

Thankfully the delay of almost exactly 24 hours allowed us to check the weather and re-route ourselves to avoid a large winter storm in the Rocky Mountains. Amy Grant’s song about the angels that watch over us: “Reckless car ran out of gas before it ran my way…Near misses all around me, accidents unknown. I never see with human eyes the hands that lead me home. But I know they’re all around me, all day and through the night…” As I ponder why He may have given us this delay, I’m finding it easier to rest in His change of our plan. He knows best.

24 Jan 10: This is not the short, easy road. It’s hard to get in a workout, travel, visiting, admin and enough sleep. But there are many highlights along the way: one church posted a “welcome” to us on their sign out front, another was packed despite pouring rain…

We did have a few quiet days at Maxwell AFB to work on the trailer, so we’re a little more organized than we were when we started out. And the leak in the trailer seems to have been fixed – and I type this as it’s pouring rain and thunderstorms have swept through all night… It’s the little things.

20 Jan 10:  Happy New Year and let the race begin!

We are packing the house and hitting the road.

We finished packing and moving out of the house on 13 Jan – no small task with two households that merged only 3years ago, 4 different destinations for belongings (storage, France, Africa, our trailer), and a baby to enjoy and love on. We definitely experienced God’s answer to prayer for efficiency, wisdom and safety during the packing! Now we’d really appreciate your prayers for endurance and emotional strength as we embark on the Great Road Trip, leaving everything familiar and comfortable for the wonderful, but still daunting adventure God has for us :).

Please praise Him with us also for safe travels all over the east coast in December, the chance to reconnect with friends and family and for raising up more than 93 prayer partners already!! If you’d like to read more about God’s “showing up and showing off,” please see our blog.

xc skiing in NJ just before Christmas

20 January 2010: We’re finally on the road…we’re on the road already. Time seems to toy with us. It took forever to extricate ourselves from our house in South Carolina, yet it seems like just a few weeks ago that we moved in, began seminary and searched for local races.

Now we move on, looking back at the highlights: the people we know from the South Carolina triathlon series, FCA Endurance, Officer Christian Fellowship and other places; the unparalleled learning and growing in seminary classes; the joy of having our own plane – and of selling it; the fulfillment of triathlon ministry so far above and beyond that of just racing; the wonder of being used by God to compile and teach evangelism training seminars; the experience of pregnancy and childbirth, and the thrill of hugging a precious little bundle as she responds with a beautiful, toothless laugh. It has been an amazing three years.

But that chapter has closed with finality. And the next one has begun with flair. In a manner we’re beginning to expect of Him, God has already “shown up and shown off” regarding the road before us. We began with the goal of enlisting three prayer partners per day for each day of the month – a total of 93. In His standard perfect timing, we hit that goal on our last evening in South Carolina. Now as we continue meeting with the folks He brings across our path, we watch with humble appreciation as He raises up yet more prayer partners to stand beside us. And we wonder just how abundant He plans to be.

The road we’re traveling toward mission aviation has been long already, beginning far before its formal start at seminary. But our departure from our house and the sale of our beloved Subaru are like the chime of a clock: that hour is done. The next has begun. A page has turned. The next chapter veers far from anything “normal,” but it quivers with adventure and promise.