It's pouring outside! The rain keeps things quite cool... and the yard very wet! We haven't seen the sun actually shine since Monday or Tuesday, so I'm getting ready for a change.
This week marked one year since we moved to the Philippines. We've spent a little time reflecting on that fact this week, reminding one another what God has done in the past year. This year hasn't been easy and life here continues to challenge and stretch us. Yet in the midst of it all, God is doing what He promised: He is proving Himself faithful and powerful, He is building His Church, He is growing His children (including us!). Would you take a moment to look over the past year with us?
September: We arrived in the Philippines on September 26th. We spent our first days in Manila at the guesthouse, recuperating from jetlag and catching up with things on the field. The field leadership's vision for the future excited us as we stepped into a task we knew to be huge.
October: We flew to Puerto Princesa expecting to spend a couple of weeks there. Instead, we piled into a van the next morning and headed to Lada for what we thought was about a month. Garry and Jerry did an annual on the airplane, readying it for flights. We began to provide flight service October 10th. We found we enjoyed Lada and often thanked God for the opportunity to live there. The quiet and opportunity to work together were a gift.
November: We decided to bring a few more of our things to Lada since we weren't moving to Puerto Princesa yet. We settled into somewhat of a routine with our Philipino co-workers and househelp. Garry flew most days, we did radio work, billing, and a host of other things we hadn't expected. We began to see that what we'd come to do was bigger than we'd imagined! God faithfully reminded us that His commands are not burdensome and we caught a glimpse of letting Him carry what we could not do on our own.
December: Went to Puerto Princesa to find a house and take a short break. We got rained into a small town in northern Palwan, unable to leave for 6 days while it rained. God miraculously got us out the following week without mishap! We found a great house in Puerto and stored a few of our things there. We hoped to move right after Christmas. Once back in Lada we did a lot of flying and faced our first serious weather delay-- 4 days of continual rain! Christmas came upon us most unexpectedly, so we rushed to town and found some lights that we could hang around our bamboo house to brighten up the season. A trip to the beach and a fun meal at a local restaurant were a nice change from the hectic schedule we'd been keeping.
January: We began to catch up on bookwork, moved a lot of our things to Puerto and put them away in our house, and prepared for a team coming the end of the month. The deeper we delved into the books the more questions that came to light, until we had to put them aside for another intense time of flying and doing maintenance.
February: The team brought even more flying than expected. What a neat experience to meet many of them and hear their "God stories"! They did a lot of work in tribal locations and each spent at least a little time in Lada on their way through. On February 15th we piled into the airplane and moved to Puerto Princesa. Our new partners, the Schwabs, had arrived a week before us.
March: A 3-day safety course took us to another island and began to open our eyes to some of the issues involved in the flight program on that island. Our "break" turned into a marathon of technical discussions and government work. Back in Palawan, there was a lot of flying to be done. We began to see that living in a new country half way around the world is a big adjustment, and one that demands time--whether you want to give it or not. Cynthia was able to pass on some of her responsibilities to focus more time on homeschooling and household issues.
April: A course in Manila brought all the missionaries to town, meaning there was plenty of flying. We began to admit to ourselves that this program was going to be busier than we expected. Projections for the program had been less than half what we were flying every month! Jason began to ride with Garry on most flights. At the end of the month our coordinators from Arizona paid us a visit. What a blessing to begin talking through some issues and re-focusing. God desires to do this job, and we must let Him accomplish the work in His time.
May: Our main focus was Schwabs and Jason's checkout. Jason began to do some flying while Garry rode along. The checkout was a process and not an event. God gave the guys great opportunities to talk through things-- weather issues, loading decisions, etc. God gave Jen and I some great opportunities to talk about life in a field flight program.
June: Jason began to do more of the flights on his own. With less flying to do, Garry began to work through a huge backlog of paperwork and technical questions and concerns.
July: Garry was back in the pilot's seat for almost two weeks while Jason dealt with some paperwork on his pilot license. When Schwabs returned from a few days in Manila they took over all the scheduling of flights and related things.
August: Garry left August 1 to spend some time with the field committee and make a trip to the third flight program location. He had an informative time in both places and came home with a few questions answered and many more to ask. Near the end of the month our family headed to Manila for a short break and to return to the northern Luzon flight progrm location.
September: A little work in the hangar on northern Luzon grew into a bigger project and we enjoyed some family time there. We stayed in the "pilot house" which looks like it will be our next home. We had opportunity to talk to lots of people and gain a better understanding of different things related to the flight program and options that are before us. We returned home to begin paperwork on the airplane's annual and prepare for a visit from our technical coordinator.