US


February slipped away with amazing speed, as we should expect since it lacks five days. However, it has taken with it our airplane! Just as we were beginning to receive increasing requests to fly, one of the engines burned through an exhaust pipe. Thankfully, we landed safely and were even able to return the next day. But the mission has agreed we need to do some work before the plane goes back into service – we are estimating 24 March as we wait for parts from the US…

We fully understand that never in scripture does God guide through frustrated efforts. Nevertheless, please pray with us that He would clearly guide our next step. A significant factor in this is our support rising from 70% to 100%. We have absolutely no doubt God can do this – since we’ve seen Him do it in our own lives before. Our question is, will He choose to thus move people in this case?

Much also depends on decisions of the mission’s leadership over this month regarding both the flying operations and the church. So we’d also appreciate your intercession for wisdom, insight and God-given courage for our leadership as they visit to evaluate and set the direction for PMA’s future here in Palau. (And if you know of anyone looking to donate or write-off a Cessna 206 or small airliner, please let us know 🙂 !!)

So it’s been a month of perseverance development – but if we had no needs, why would we need Jesus? 🙂

The girls on one of our favorite Sunday morning walks… and us in our 20′ container office at work.

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We were looking west, but not far enough. When Western Seminary in Oregon accepted Slick for doctoral studies and his boss opted to release him in August, we understood that God wanted us to move again. And we thought it would be to Portland, but apparently we weren’t looking far enough west.

When friends forwarded us an email about the need for a twin-rated pilot to fill in for one year on the South Pacific island of Palau with Pacific Mission Aviation (www.pmapacific.org), starting in September, we raised an eyebrow. At first that was all, but over several weeks other events began a crescendo of cooperation.

This past Monday God led us to decline an offer here in Germany. On Tuesday we received notice that we were approved to be PMA missionaries. On Wednesday, the church that “sent” us to Africa welcomed us back to active missionary status. Another church remains committed, whenever we should return to the classic “mission field”. Today is Thursday and as we reflect on the many “fits” and coincidences and many details falling together all at once, we cannot ignore the evidence of God’s unseen hand.

The telling factors? God previously arranged that we should have theological training for mission work. He had already provided flying training for mission aviation, including sea plane ratings (which might be rather useful on a series of islands!) and multi-engine ratings (which are required for this particular post, but rare among available mission aviators). He determined that we would be available to move at the end of August and armed us with plenty of experience at moving ourselves overseas. Zoe is one year out from being “school age” and this post is for one year – until two pilots who are in the PMA “pipeline” are fully trained and ready. And finally, it just so happens that the folks who need to step away from PMA due to the challenges of age (67!) are friends whom we highly respect.

Thus, after much prayer and discussion with our pastor and several mentors over the last few months, we believe Palau is where God is leading this next step of our lives. Our only concern is that our one year in the tropics might stretch into a much longer season of our lives. Should that happen, we are certain there is no better place for our family – none other than the center of our Creator’s will.

That being said, we’d love to invite you to join our journey once again, either through prayer or financially – or both. For those who have continued to pray for us and drop us emails of encouragement, we cannot thank you enough: those tangible glimpses of the body of Christ at work have nourished us deeply. We will be re-energizing our “prayer calendar” so let us know if you want back in the gameor if you want to pick your day to pray for us and join the team (for more info, see http://donnadouglass.wordpress.com/ministry/prayer/). To support us financially, please see http://donnadouglass.wordpress.com/ministry/donate/. We need to raise $4300/month and $10,300 for outbound expenses. Thank you for investing!

And thank you for considering being on the team that will work with us as we go forth. We look forward to sharing with all of you “back home” how God moves in answer to your prayers.

Funny how you never know how much one email will change the course of your life :).

Over time, the sojourn to Africa begins to make a little more sense to us… The other day Slick had a tiny bit more insight into the great “why” of it all. A voice of experience once told us, if you think God might want you to become a pastor, try every other road first. If He wants you to be a pastor, nothing else will work.

Not long after, both of us reached a point where being in full-time ministry seemed to be the only right response to the immense gift God had given us – the gift of His Son, through whom we can have a relationship with God Himself, which is the very definition of eternal life.1 So off we went to Africa, the quintessential Mission Field, with the wholehearted support of many godly advisors.

Were we all wrong? We know sans doubt that God wanted us in Africa…and we know just as certainly that He led us back to the US a short seven months later. An obvious reason “why” eludes us, but we now see several results. First, had we never gone to The Mission Field, but instead entered straight into traditional ministry, we would always wonder when times were hard if we’d made a mistake – if we were supposed to go be the missionary pilots we’d dreamed of since we were young. Now with assurance born of experience, we say, “no, that is not where God would have us.” Second, our mindset for the last several years has transformed into one of fulltime ministry. Now in a “secular” job, we still view ourselves as fulltime “ministers,” fulltime workers in God’s Kingdom. It is a step closer to how we all know we should think: what we do is irrelevant; who we are is His ambassadors to our little corner of the world wherever that is – and that is our fulltime “profession”.

So Africa has taught us some valuable lessons, but I have to admit that as we heal and move on, we thank Him daily for placing us in a place our hearts humbly and simply enjoy. I think He is pleased with that, too. Slick used to often say, as he watched God work through him in lives and situations, that he liked being a tool in God’s hand. He says that less frequently these days, hoping that as he continues to mature, God would use him as something other than a hammer! 🙂

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.2 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.3

1 John 17:3
2 John 3:8
3 Isaiah 55:8

Normally Matti smiles and coos, but sometimes she fusses impatiently as she waits for me to pick her up and comfort her. Sometimes there are just things that need to be in place before I can settle down with her. And while those things are arranged, she simply has to wait.

Such is the place we feel we’re in. God is doing something and we’re dying to know what, but while He arranges the circumstances, we must simply wait. We have accepted a job with the Air Force in Spangdahlem, Germany where our mission field might be fighter pilots and military folk. But paperwork will prevent us from going until the end of August. And so for the summer we’ll be working at Camp Cedarbrook in upstate New York (see below).

Separately we have both wondered if God is slowing our timeline down so that the folks in Colorado might have time to hire a pastor for Fraser, though we do feel that the chances of them calling Slick are low. Or, by making us wait even longer, God might simply be further forming us… As my dad likes to say, situations we don’t like, but can’t change are “opportunities for spiritual formation.”

As we wait, we’re getting our bodies back in shape with a little encouragement (see picture below) after some time off from the athletic scene due to pregnancy and the life in Nairobi. When Donna competed in a local race, God seemed to affirm this direction with a tiny sip of His abundance: she placed third in her age group in the oldest and largest triathlon in New Jersey.

We continue to pray for you all and very much appreciate your prayers, support and encouragement through this time of transition.

In His grip –
The Douglasses

PS: Our latest pictures are posted: http://www.flickr.com/photos/donnadouglass/sets/72157629848790439/show/

PPS: Camp Cedarbrook is where Donna spent her summers years ago as a camper then counselor. Their “Camper in Leadership Training” (CILT) grounded her in the Word and gave her the tools to study it and to teach it. It has been an invaluable benefit: to Donna throughout her life, now to us both and also to all those with whom we’ve studied the Bible over the years. While Slick’s position there this summer is paid (a little 🙂 ), the camp is supported largely by donations. So if you would like to support the camp’s work or indirectly support ours, please visit their website: www.campcedarbrook.net

Zoe gives Mommy a little help starting the route

We have a lot of transitions going on in the Douglass home!

FAREWELLS (the next chapter about Slick’s parents): With great peace and surrounded by family and friends, Slick’s mother passed away on Monday 7 May in her own bed at home. We saw her the Saturday before at the wedding of Slick’s younger brother CT. Matti was only 12 days old when we flew up to Minnesota for Grandma to meet her second grandchild and spend some time with her first, Zoe. Brenda glowed as she held the tiny one on her lap. She glowed also during the wedding reception as she asked Donna if she could see her cup running over with the love and blessing she felt. In Slick’s last conversation with Mom she told him that angels were all around her. She asked if he believe her so he recounted the story about Elisha: When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:15-17). Slick thanks God for the assurance that Brenda is now decorating the rooms the Lord has prepared for our family there. We thank you for praying with us.

NEXT STEPS (the next chapter of our lives): With great trepidation we bring y’all another prayer request. As we’ve said before we will most likely not return to Africa. Consequently, we are seeking the Lord’s guidance and Slick has applied for some jobs. When asked what he really wants to do he replied, “I want to pastor that church in Winter Park (Colorado).” (We visited Fraser Baptist on Easter 2010 while raising support and visiting family. We found out they were looking for a pastor and the more Slick got to know the people the more the fire in his heart grew…but we knew the Lord was sending us to Africa and so he refrained from applying.) Last month, Donna suggested looking at Fraser again, but we knew they had hired a pastor already.

A few days later without knowing why Slick checked on Fraser via their website. It looked dated and not quite right. Searching further, the staff page displayed no name beside the pastor slot… For the first time during the job hunt, Slick heard pounded. Several phone calls revealed that the man they had hired left after only seven months and the church was heartbroken. Their confidence shattered, they have turned to the state church association for guidance.

Slick shared our encounter with Fraser with the state association. Though interested, they want to move slowly. They have considered adding him to the transition team but want to apply due diligence before making any moves. Thus we wait while they move through whatever process they must follow.

Meanwhile, the end of May brings the end of our time in this loaned house and the selections for some of the civilian jobs Slick has applied for. In need of a home and means to support a family, we feel that the end of the month is 4th down and 15 yards…either we hear from the CO state board and we move forward with Fraser or Slick takes a different job and we bloom where we are planted…

Above all, we desire that His be done, whether following our own hearts’ desire and pastoring in Colorado…or otherwise. Thus we ask you to pray that God would move the hearts of those He has placed in authority in His church in CO and that He guide us clearly by closing the doors to all other jobs. But if not, that He give us the confidence to rest in the manifestation of His will through the association’s silence and steer us to the job of His choosing.

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him (1 John5:14-15).

We have been enjoying Matti Grace tremendously. Both Donna and she have been getting stronger every day. We sure appreciate your prayers to get us thru the delivery…they were right on the money! In fact more than once we have commented on how things have gone too smoothly at times, but we know why. Having y’all behind us has been the greatest blessing of this season of our lives.

Unfortunately, it looks like this season is at its end. AIM AIR has had some rather tremendous setbacks and is now struggling to decide whether they will continue to function at all. We knew AIM AIR had some problems but were shocked at the level of organizational dysfunction we had just stepped into. It became rapidly apparent that the leadership had made some tragic errors…some they will never recover from.

AIM AIR suspended the General Manager unjustly shortly after our arrival. AIM conducted an extensive investigation which cleared him of all the allegations and (without any apology) offered him reinstatement, which he refused. Since we have been home (12 March) the government of Kenya has revoked AIM AIR’s maintenance license and AIR AIM is presently not booking any new flights. They have fired the Director of Maintenance; the Director of Flight Operations resigned shortly thereafter to avoid his impending termination. The owner of one of the most well-used planes terminated its lease to AIM AIR. Samaritan’s Purse has announced they will be leaving their long time partnership with AIM AIR to begin independent operations. Slick offered to help AIM AIR reorganize and reconstruct, but was told he was the “new guy” and despite his 25 years as an aviation professional, they dismissed his inputs and gave him no credibility.

Consequently, we have been intensely seeking God’s guidance for the way ahead through prayer and the guidance of many mature godly men in our lives. We have concluded that the door to mission aviation with AIM AIR has closed. We pray now for the Lord’s guidance on our next steps and are awaiting His revelation. But sadly, this chapter has ended.

Truthfully, we were a bit bewildered about the sudden, unexpected change of events. We hope you are not left wondering what this was all about. It is pretty simple really: sin…there are men everywhere who sin and there are repercussions. Sometimes we suffer because of our own sin and sometimes we suffer because of the sin of others. What is important is how we react to each situation. As Donna and I have processed this, we realize we do not have all the answers but we are certain that the Lord asked us to go to Africa, that He has brought us back, that He is in control and has done all things for our good and His glory. We are confident of His care and have seen Him move during this trying time, growing us and covering us with His protection and provision. We have had the opportunity to share our lives and the Gospel on many different occasions. We plan to continue doing just that wherever the Lord plants us next.

We would like to thank you for all you have invested. Our interaction with you, our prayer teammates, has truly been the highlight and greatest blessing of this chapter of our lives! However, our time as overseas missionaries is officially over.

Donna will continue sending very infrequent email/blogs and maintaining her blog as she has for many years and we invite you to continue the journey with us. If we do NOT hear from you, we’ll assume you prefer not to hear from us. We look forward to sharing the stories of how He is moving around us. He is always working in the most amazing of ways 🙂

At "home" with day-old Matti Grace

Praise God for answering countless prayers – ours and yours! We have finished packing (all but the final trip to France) and finished our degrees! Slick said it seems like the monkeys have been leaping off my back. I’d like to say I feel the weight just lifted away – and I do – in everything except running 🙂 Did I mention we’re training for the 2500th anniversary of the original marathon, run on the original course? There’s never a dull day…

Seriously, we have begun the deep sigh of completion. We’ll feel like we have totally relaxed once we settle in to Albertville, France and stop moving! We really do appreciate your prayers. God has been extremely generous and gracious. He even gave us another little coincidence last week when we filled in the last line of our mileage log with the last leg of our journey. He is a God of the entire universe and yet a God of the details. We worship Him!

The view from the cabin that our very generous friends allowed us to stay in for three weeks while we sorted our stuff. In yet another "coincidence" their renter broke her lease just before we arrived...

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