Monday, September 26, 2016

The Colors of Fall

It's fall! I'm not sure how this happens year after year. Living in North America it feels like every time I turn around it's a new season, either it's warming up, cooling down, freezing, or blistering hot. And it seems to happen without notice. Maybe that's because I don't know the signs of upcoming change, or because I want it to stay this way for a while. I'm not sure, but the changing of leaves has made me ponder other changes in our lives.

Garry is back into the swing of things at Moody Aviation, and the incoming class is changing the dynamics of things in the hangar, as is the lack of last year's seniors. We are thrilled to have the software we have been pursuing, and it means training others in its use and imbedding its use with other safety training. New staff also means things change slightly. These are just a few of the things that are changing as the leaves turn color and temperatures begin to fall.

I am also thankful for the ways I am involved at Moody this year, meeting new students and investing in women in mission aviation. I am amazed at what God has done and how His themes are timeless. I'm also enjoying a ladies Bible study at our church this semester, a new thing for me.

Kaleb is a senior, so this is my last year to make decisions about school for the coming year. The last year to scramble around for curriculum, only to realize I didn't get it right and repeat the process about a month later. The last year to introduce myself as a homeschooling mom. Homeschooling will be one less thing I have to juggle in upcoming years, and the thought is both relieving and terrifying.

Kevin is in school at Moody Bible Institute-Spokane, beginning to build a local badminton program, and doing his best to train for international competition. We are enjoying having him here for this chapter, enjoying his stories of school and learning. He is embarking on yet another chapter in his journey, and it is exciting to see him take new steps in that journey.

The fall colors remind me that summer is gone and fall is beginning. Winter is coming. And that reminder is good because it causes me to stop and reflect on things that have changed and ways I have changed. The ways God has changed me, changed us. We are a blessed family to be on this journey with Him, constantly pursued and in pursuit of the God of the Universe.

Fall is, after all, a blessing. And this MAY be the year I say the same thing about winter, though that may take a little longer, given how current my feelings on being cold are.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Zambia thoughts

I've heard of Zambia most of my life, a place of exotic animals and African safaris. I've seen photos of lions up close and elephants standing in the shade with a safari jeep close by. I didn't believe it, not really. After all, many of the places I've lived are supposedly the source of amazing photos and yet provide a somewhat less-than-incredible reality. However, Garry experienced a real African Safari in Zambia, complete with lions at rest, elephants, many birds, monkeys in the lodge dining room, and many animals I didn't recognize. The tour guides were knowledgeable about the wildlife and the country. The service was exceptional. 

Zambia is, in fact, a beautiful country. And beyond the outward beauty, God is at work! Garry was privileged to spend the majority of his time with folks from Flying Mission Zambia, once more looking into the work that's done and the interviewing the people who do it. Checking out airplanes, accompanying pilots on flights, and looking through the paperwork filled his days. 

What he found was a unique, inter-cultural team of great passion and purpose. He heard their hearts for the people of Zambia and their passion to share the love and truth of Jesus. He experienced some of their investment in this land and the work that God is doing as a result. A young German couple were a special blessing as he is a pilot and she runs the guesthome. Their desire for excellence was outstanding, their hearts for ministry amazing. 

Another blessing of Garry's time in Zambia was attending a local church and fellowshipping with believers. He enjoyed the sermon and was challenged by it. After church there was a fellowship time on the lawn, and Garry heard from a couple how God is allowing them to be involved in the country with high-level government officials. 

Far back in the history of Zambia is colonization by the British, and the British influence remains. So, also, does much of the infrastructure that the British built in Zambia. Soon after discussing this with Garry I was listening to the radio and heard a statement to the effect that God has left His people on earth to colonize it with His people. I was challenged by the thought, challenged that what we do can make a difference in a hundred years, and what we build in truth and justice can last. 

Angola Reflections

I didn't go to Angola, but I love hearing Garry's stories. I've laughed and I've cried. I've been shocked by the pain and by the good that has arisen in that country. I'm impressed by what MAF Canada is doing in there. I love that Garry got to meet a doctor whose family spent the years of civil war there, helping victims.

To be honest, before Garry went to Angola I had no idea where it was, beyond that it was in Africa. I had no clue that getting a visitor's visa would take months or that it would require such an investment of time and paperwork. I didn't know it was a relatively closed country or that civil war had destroyed so much of it. I'd never heard about the land mines that cover much of the agricultural land or the many people who have lost limbs to the mines.

The missionaries who serve in Angola do so in a very difficult environment. They face unique pressures and unique joys. The team is multi-cultural, blending nations on a relatively small compound and reaching out from there. Garry stayed with a young Dutch couple, people of passion and purpose who are giving their lives to share Jesus and help the people of Angola. He was offered meals by others in the mission community. He spent days talking with missionaries and local employees, walking through the hangar, and flying with the pilots. What a privilege to encourage each of these people toward knowing and loving God more and serving Him with excellence!

As Garry shared what he learned on his trip, I was struck by the fact that this is home to about 21 million people, and yet to the rest of us it is a distant land, a name on a map, or less. But for 21 million people, their home and community in Angola is their life. And God knows each of them by name! And this is true not only of Angola, but many countries in the world that we are not familiar with that God is invested in. And He is not only invested, but also at work. The further we go, the more places we visit, the bigger God becomes in my mind. Not because He is growing, but because I am becoming ever more aware of what He is doing and the vastness and uniqueness of this planet where He placed us for a few short years.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Life's Reality

Garry has had some incredible opportunities in Africa. He's met amazing people and seen amazing things. He's journeyed for two weeks primarily with people he would never have met without this trip. He has looked into two flight programs and interviewed various people within those programs. He attended a local church in Zambia and met passionate believers, some of them missionaries, who do a variety of things. He went on an African Safari and saw incredible wildlife from close range.
This week we at home had a first when Kaleb was beat up and his bike stolen at a local park. He wasn't exactly overpowered, but rather caught off guard. The bike is important to him, and his biking has been a great opportunity to connect with kids and minister to them. We were shocked and hurt. Some stranger had taken advantage of one of us, and in so doing, offended all of us. We called the police and were surrounded by badminton friends as we looked through security camera photos and filed the report. 

News from Venezuela, the land of my birth, has been double-sided. Peaceful protests took place yesterday, and many prayers were answered as protesters went home without the bloodshed that could have happened. Yet the reasons for the protests are heartbreaking, the reality of everyday life in that country alarming. We grieve for what is and ask God for mercy and grace for this country.
The Philippines is also making the news as a new president begins his term and reportedly battles drug abuse. His methods inspire fear at many levels. We pray from here and wish we could do more, but we have no clue what that would be. 
As I look at the photos of Africa, it looks different, and yet so similar to places we've lived before. And I wonder why we are so blessed. You see, when we faced the mugging and theft, friends were somewhat shocked. Police showed up. The process reminded us of all the ways we are blessed and the obstacles at-risk kids in our country face as they grow up. In many other countries, a great percentage of the population is at risk, facing danger and difficulty we can barely imagine. God must weep at what evil has done in this world, and lately we've been reminded of His heartbreak as our hearts break at the evil, pain, and suffering we see. 
The tears have reminded me once more that light is greater than darkness, that good has the capacity to overcome evil. My resolve to live in light and righteousness has been strengthened by the stories I am hearing and living. My prayers for others have grown longer. My view of the battle going on all over the world has shifted, my appreciation of what God's people are doing has grown. My heart to see God's people fight evil with good has deepened.