Saturday, October 20, 2018

Fall 2018

I'm loving the fall colors this year. There's something about the beauty that refreshes my soul, reminding me that God is a God of seasons and beauty. He is here and He cares. He is sending us fall in the same way He sent summer. This season, like preceding ones, is likely to have some unexpected joys and unexpected sorrows. This season has had a beginning and it will have an ending. It is good and right for this time, but it will not last forever. Fall turns to winter, spring, summer, and then a new fall. It's hauntingly beautiful.

This summer we were thankful for a visit from Kevin after the Canadian Open, a great drive to Manitoba, a good week at camp, the privilege of attending EAA AirVenture in OshKosh, a visit from our pastor couple from Manitoba, my parents safe arrival from Venezuela, and a visit from my aunt and uncle. So many good and fun things.


The enjoyable was interrupted by disbelief and grief as we had a fatal accident at Moody Aviation on July 13. Three amazing young men moved to heaven that day, leaving behind three widows and six young children as well as many grieving family members and friends. Things shift when we look so closely at eternity. Our values come into focus and our deep beliefs are uncovered. We ask new questions and experience new things. The community changes and our relationships change.

Tragedy opens a sacred space for a period of time. We have been in that time. A time when honesty is easier and raw emotions are expressed. A time when we remember and celebrate. A time when we hold friends a little closer and savor family. A time when we grieve together for this loss and the losses that came before this one. A time when we reflect on the goodness and grace of God. A time when we experience grace in deeper ways as we choose to trust God. A time for growing faith and learning together. A good time, despite the pain.

In this sacred space we have seen God in new ways and learned new lessons. We've taken time to drive around and see the fall colors. We've spent time talking about what is important. We have asked hard questions and chosen faith. We have seen God answer some questions and leave other unanswered.

This time has opened conversations with different people. We've learned a lot about grief and community. We've seen the community work together in amazing ways to comfort and protect one another. We've seen renewed resolve to serve God and to work together. We've seen prayers offered and answered. We've felt the support of the global Church. We've seen how grief and fear are intertwined.

Obviously, the past 3 months are deeply colored by the fatal accident. Yet, it is not all we have experienced or thought about. And the many things that have happened cannot fit in this limited space. So, this is a fly-by view....

May your fall be blessed by beauty and blessings also. May you experience God in the everyday of your life.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Family Update, Summer 2018

One of the things I love about family is that the family is a cultural microcosm. In our family we learn what to value, how to interact, how to interpret life, and so much  more. It seems this is the primary seed of culture. The second place we learn culture as believers should be the Church-- the slightly larger community that we interact with and from, meant to reinforce the values at home and teach us to invest and reach out. From there we expand to our neighborhood, our town, our country, and the world. It's amazing, really, the way God has arranged things to be. And we are incredibly blessed by both sides of our family that have passed on godly legacy to Garry and I, which we have tried to pass on to our boys and they eventually will have opportunity to pass on to their families.

Enough philosophy: what's up with the 4 of us? Life at work has been going well for Garry, and I've shared about his trip to IAMA, progress on the Safety Management System, and interactions at school. Life at home has been full of projects for Garry, which he actually enjoys as it gives him opportunity to work with his hands. He's also amazing at keeping up with our vehicles which are in the "needing more maintenance" stage, fixing issues with the house, and otherwise keeping things in order.

Kaleb finished school a few weeks ago, thankful to be done studying for the year but sad to say goodbye to friends who are moving away. Since then he has been pulling long days animating and editing for Stikbots, the toy company that he contracted with for an animation. (If you'd like to check them out, their YouTube channel gives an idea who they are-- an animation toy company.) He has learned a lot in the process and is just beginning what should be his final edit. In just under two weeks he heads to Manitoba for the summer, planning to counsel at Eagle Lake Bible Camp for five weeks. He's also looking forward to his friend Luke coming to Manitoba for a visit and to work at camp for week.

Kevin is currently driving to Calgary to compete in the Canada Open badminton tournament as he continues to pursue international badminton competition. (Draws and results here.) He is also going to do exhibition games and a clinic at Gao Badminton, a great opportunity. It has been amazing to watch God provide and open doors as Kevin follows the things God has called him to. After the Open he is heading our way to do a badminton summer camp before returning to Manitoba. Kevin is also planning to serve with us for a week at camp this summer.

I've enjoyed planting a small garden this year (which I may not be doing great with keeping up with). I've also been investing in Venezuela through a venture providing soup and sandwiches to some of the neediest people through some friends of mine. Overall it seems the days go quickly with office work, cleaning and cooking, and investing in relationships.

We truly are blessed by our family. This isn't just our sons but also our extended family, but the stories of siblings and parents really can't be shared on this blog!

Friday, June 15, 2018

IAMA

Last week Garry attended the annual IAMA (International Association of Missionary Aviation) conference and presented on Safety Management Systems (SMS) and the Argus Prism software we have been using here at Moody Aviation. Garry's presentation focused on the fact that SMS makes sense. He spent time explaining that just as we do preventative maintenance, we can do preventative risk management, catching problems before they cause catastrophes. He also offered other organizations an opportunity to use the same software we are using, which would allow us all to better share information and prevent incidents. Various people agreed that sharing the software makes sense, evidenced by the number who have written expressing interest in joining us on the Prism Argus software plan.

IAMA is a great community of people who collaborate to see the Gospel spread. Their annual conference is an opportunity for schools, mission aviation organizations, and individuals to get together to learn, share, and network. This year provided a lot of networking opportunities as quite a few of the smaller organizations presented what God is doing in their worlds. One particularly inspiring update was by Marcio Rempel, a Mennonite from Brazil. His passion is to help mission aviation in Brazil network well. Amazonas, Brazil their current focus, an area the size of two-thirds of the USA with very little infrastructure for travel. It was encouraging to hear how God continues to work, grow, and build in so many ways in so many places.

Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia hosted this year's IAMA conference. This was Garry's first time at Liberty and he was impressed by what God is doing there. Liberty focuses on teaching students to impact their culture as "Champions for Christ". One chance encounter was with a grace-filled bus driver who understands the value of ministering to the many students who ride his bus each day. A tour of the facilities was also impressive as they continue to expand.

Another blessing of attending IAMA was time with co-workers. Garry enjoyed traveling with Jim & Ian and attending the conference together. They shared meals and got to know one another in a way that doesn't happen quickly during work hours. In fact, Garry and Ian had a rather long, exciting trip home with many delays and a drive to Charlotte in place of the planned flight.

IAMA. It was a great place to be last week, a great opportunity to connect with others in mission aviation!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

RISE

Soon after we arrived in Spokane I attended a Moody Aviation women's retreat where we began brainstorming about how to engage as a group of staff wives with the student wives and female students. We had a great time discussing goals and vision. We prayed for God's will to be done and wisdom in how to be a part of what He wanted to accomplish. We named our little group "RISE", reminded us that our goal was to Refresh in spirit, Ignite in passion, Strengthen in faith, & Equip for service, both students and ourselves. Since then we've hosted some events, gathered to pray, and wondered how it would all come to pass.

In reality, mostly we have prayed, seeking God's next steps. We have talked and brainstormed and wondered when we would feel more like a group, asking ourselves and one another how to move toward being who we wanted to be.

Over the past months we have seen investments budding into relationships, refreshment, passion, faith, and equipping. This growth hasn't happened overnight, but it is happening. Spontaneously. Women have begun getting together in smaller groups. Homes have been opened for play times with young children. Coffee shop gatherings have sprung up. Lunches have been shared. And slowly but surely, we have seen good things growing.
 
Not long ago we gathered for brunch-- a great spread of food and fellowship. The hostess had things set up beautifully, and so many ladies contributed. I loved watching the ladies mingle and chatting with different ones. I enjoyed the testimony of my friend who shared. I loved what happened as we broke into small groups to pray. I was thankful for the space and the time and each investment that was beginning to bear fruit.

This month our main event was a Ladies Tea to honor the wives of this year's graduates. A local business loaned us a beautiful space which some of us cleaned and decorated. Ladies brought fine china and plants to create beautiful tables, and we gathered for conversation and prayer. We enjoyed beautiful food and the quiet of the afternoon. We gave small gifts to the wives of graduates and had a short presentation on prayer. 

I love these women. I love what God has done in each of their lives and what He is doing in lives. I love their passion and their faith. I love the people we become when we are together and I am thrilled to be a part of RISE, investing in the generations in mission aviation here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Alberta Adventures

It may have been my full heart when we came home, or it may simply be my poor memory. Whatever the case, I never posted about our March trip to Alberta. So, here goes-- nearly 2 months late, but better than never.


My original plan was to start with the top highlight, but I couldn't narrow it down to one-- was it the drive north with new friends, the amazing people we met, the stories we heard, or the families we visited?

We do not feel like gifted speakers, yet when the opportunity arose to go to the EMC Northern Alberta missions conference, we knew this was something we were supposed to do. We were excited about meeting the people there and the other missionaries we'd share the time with. And there was honestly nothing disappointing about the weekend, except saying goodbye at the end. It was amazing!

We shared at several services, some of them larger than others. We had brunch with a great group of people. We talked to people. We joined people in their homes for various  meals. We had tea most evenings with our host couple. We spent time with the other missionaries at the conference. And more than anything, God showed up. He showed up in people who are obviously passionate about following Jesus. He showed up when people shared their burden for their local community. He was there when people talked about world missions with emotion and personal connections.  He was there. And it was beautiful.

There are not just generalities that emerged over this weekend, but personal stories. However, those stories are not ours to share, so we are limited to generalities. Yet it was the individuals that impacted us, the stories that encouraged us, the people themselves that made the weekend memorable and encouraging. The impromptu invitations and the planned ones. The people who eagerly listened and those who passionately shared.

When Garry and I drove to High Level, we decided to go the long way around to check out the La Crete ice bridge. It was a fun experience, one I've never had before. The bridge was impressive, and I had to wonder who first started making ice bridges for public use. The drive was beautiful, a reminder of God's creativity.

Thank you, La Crete, Hillside, and High Level for loving Jesus, for being yourselves and for allowing us to be a part of this year's missions conference!


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Ezra, Nehemiah, and Community

Over the past couple of weeks I've been reading through Nehemiah and Ezra. It's a great journey, reading through the story God wrote through the Israelite nation-- the story of calling, faith, grace, disobedience, forgiveness, and love. Seeing the ways the Israelites stumbled reminds me of myself. Seeing the way God continually called them back to Himself reminds me of His graciousness with me. I've been struck by communal repentance, worship, and purpose, the ways the people of Israel functioned as a community when they returned to their land after captivity. It's both fascinating and challenging.

Ezra and Nehemiah remind me that there is a different power in community than the one that exists in individuals. "A cord of three strands is not easily broken." When we work together there is something incredible that happens, a strength and solidarity and momentum that we can never find on our own. I believe God made us this way and intends to use this truth to help us grow and change. He wants to work in us individually, but he places us in families and communities to multiply His work both in and through us.

This week we've enjoyed time with various communities here in Spokane. At Moody Aviation we are in a time of re-organizing and re-evaluating as we consider the many changes that will occur with the closing of the Biblical Studies Campus this summer. Change makes us take a new look at what we are doing and why, and this process has been good. It's been amazing to hear the conversations Garry has been involved in as staff and students think through this change and the future. We are excited about the opportunities before us and the ways God will intervene on our behalf.

I was privileged to join a group of Moody Aviation wives this week, and it was a sweet time of fellowship. I loved that challenges were brought to the table and wisdom and truth was replied to them. I love seeing women together, focused on what God is doing and how we are to be a part of it. Next week we are planning another get together with a missionary pilot's wife who is here from Indonesia.

Last week Kevin spent a couple days up north, coaching in a first nations community. It's been a great opportunity to sow seeds of love and grace. Just listening to him talk about the things he's experienced I am reminded how not only growth but also brokenness is multiplied in a community. Oxford House, where he visited, is a beautiful but needy place. What they need most is Jesus, a Jesus who can redeem and change them as the people He created them to be, without first requiring them to leave their culture and community. May He invade their community and redeem it for Himself!

Kaleb continues to study and to invest in his junior high group at church. It is awesome to see the ways God is both using and challenging him. He is also excited about an animation job he applied for and got last week! He is currently waiting for the contract and first script, a process that is growing his patience. As I watch Kaleb reach out I am amazed at the things God is doing both in and through him.
God has placed each of us in a family and community-- may we use our place there to both learn and teach, to grow and change. 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Good Friday 2018

It's Good Friday. A day to reflect and remember, a day to mourn the cost of sin and the price of redemption. A day to ponder sacrifice. It's Friday, but Sunday is coming.

Until Sunday, let's take time to stand counter-culture in remembering the hard parts of redemption, in mourning before we jump to the dancing. Let's reflect on the reality of Christ's death and the journey to the cross. Let's allow God to convict us of the things He wants to change and the ways we stray from the best He has for us.

This week I've struggled with a cold. This morning it all came to a head as I woke up feeling terrible and wanting so much more. I was discouraged about the state of our house (it needs some cleaning), the state of my cupboards (I need to go grocery shopping), and the long list of things I still need to do. It took me a while, but this afternoon I realized that my concern should  be the state of my heart, which is lost in the temporal and discouraged by circumstances. There is a reason the Israelites were told to remember special days and celebrate feasts-- to change their focus, to remind them of what's important, and to continually set aside time to remember various aspects of God's truth and His work, among other things. And maybe, mostly to remember it's not our work, but His.

So this Easter season, we choose to pause. To set aside time from our work and our play and reflect. To see God in this moment and the price He paid for our salvation. To realize that the things we are called to are a privilege that allow others the chance to celebrate an eternity with him. To remember our need and the way He has met it. To simply stand in awe of God Himself.

May you see God this Easter weekend!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Clouds of Witnesses

After the famous chapter on men and women of faith in the Bible, men and women who saw miracles and those who waited all their lives without seeing them, there is an admonition for us to remember that we are surrounded by this cloud of witnesses. With that in mind, we are to set aside the weight that hinders and run with perseverance the race set for us. We are to fix our eyes on Jesus, not the circumstances that surround us. And the thought seems to be that we are encouraged by this cloud of witnesses, inspired by their stories, and prodded on by their faith.

I was thinking this afternoon about these men and women of faith. Some of them knew that they'd received a promise-- they received their dead back to life, they had children, they saw miracles. Others spent their lives in faith, waiting for a reality that would only come clear in eternity. Yet, regardless of their story, I can't imagine that these people lived the way they did so they'd be part of the Bible for all of history. They wouldn't have known there would be a Bible, and I imagine that many of them lived their lives of faith in what seemed to be obscurity. I imagine them feeling alone and forgotten. I imagine them wondering if they would see a miracle. Yet, I think they each recounted the stories of what God had already done. I believe they clung to His promises as though they were life. I think they prayed with perseverance even when they didn't feel the faith.

Yet, how much easier it must have been for those who were surrounded by people of faith?! And I thought that each of us has opportunity to be that person of faith, that one who talks about Jesus, that man or woman who seeks God above all else. And it makes me wonder how things would change in my community if I became more of that person. We have many stories of answered prayers and God's goodness and faithfulness-- stories we have lived and ones we have watched unfold. And yet we can set these stories aside for the "pressing realities" of life-- the weather, the things I'd like to do, the items I'd like to buy, the places I'd like to go, the people I met, the challenges I'm facing.

While these things are normal conversation starters, I've been challenged again to go beyond what is normal and be a witness to what the God of the Universe is doing.