Monday, October 3, 2016

Update 9/2016

Bonnie and I attended UIM's missionary candidate orientation (our formal interview process) in Nebraska this August, just a short time after the whole family spent 3 weeks in Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico. As a result, we are now "Missionary Appointees" with UIM Aviation, here in Tucson, Arizona (this is the organization with which I've been a full-time volunteer since last Summer). Next Summer, if the Lord wills, we will begin traveling to develop "ministry partners," a term for inviting the Church to send us into the world as their representatives in the Great Commission. It's a huge privilege to be used by God in his plans, both for us and for those who send us. As missionaries, we simply go where others cannot, to help establish the Church where it isn't. Aviation is the tool that helps us do that more efficiently and quickly, and enables a lot more follow-up and discipleship than possible via foot, donkey, boat, bus, or truck. When the Church, Christ's Bride, is then established and bolstered in a new area, it begins to send out missionaries whom we still support with aircraft, and the cycle continues. This is how the Church grows exponentially, bringing glory to God, until every tongue, tribe and nation hears there is a God, there is a living Mediator between man and God, and that means there is a Hope.

I was invited to fly a Robinson R-44 Raven II helicopter from Tucson to Phoenix this month. I am currently devoting my time to helping UIM Aviation determine what helicopter to begin raising funds for, and the flight was educational for me. This was the smallest helicopter I've ever flown, and the only one powered by a piston engine.
The desire of UIM Aviation is to expand ministry in Tepic, Mexico, into areas that aren't serviced by aircraft because there is no airstrip. Furthermore, many areas that do have airstrips are inaccessible by plane during the rainy season, because the rain erodes the surface of the airstrip, or makes it too soft to land. Also, daily flights are limited to mornings because the mountain wind shear makes it dangerous to approach at the slow speeds necessary to land on the short strips. Each of these issues could be addressed through the use of a helicopter. Please pray and ask the Lord to reveal his will as we endeavor to pursue a safe and effective aviation tool for the further spread of the Gospel.

Bonnie is just as busy as ever, even though all four children are now attending school. She gets a couple of kid-free hours every morning, after delivering the kids to their three different schools, to accomplish a myriad of tasks.
In addition to volunteering in our local church and with our kids' schools, Bonnie is studying nursing again, this time to reestablish her Arizona nursling license, which lapsed while we were in Washington. She is required to study, take a number of tests, and practice 90 hours of clinicals under the supervision of other medical professionals. She hopes that refreshing her knowledge and skills, and regaining her license will lead to ministry opportunities wherever the Lord has us in the future.

Anya is back at Faith Christian Academy (FCA), after a brief stint at a local charter middle school. Due to her age, the middle school decided she could not continue to attend, but FCA quickly and happily accepted her back, and she's been doing very well.

Learning to surf in Las Playas, Nayarit
Anya has also been seeing a counselor, with whom the Lord has blessed us through Arizona's healthcare system. We are seeing many small improvements, and are learning a great deal ourselves as we relate to Anya.

Sam's 13th Birthday Present: Getting Blasted With Paint!
Sam's doing well in school, and is now on the Youth praise team at our church. He's blessed to have true friends that he gets to see almost every day of the week, since a few of them attend the same school and the same church. He's growing, too, and if he fits into his feet at some point, should outgrow the smallness he's experienced most of his life.

Ciara is in the fourth grade and attending a small charter school that specializes in math and science. She enjoys grossing out even the male teachers at school by picking up interesting bugs in the playground. She recently wrote a 2-page essay on "Your Favorite Body Part," but apparently the spleen is one of those parts that gets less glory and is treated with greater modesty, so she had to pick a new subject. She's just that kind of girl.
Ciara with the girls in a Hoichol village near Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico

Asher is now attending half-day preschool, which seems to produce unbridled energy for use during the rest of the day. He has good behavior at school, but likes to test his limits at home. He seems to be in that part of life where he's developing new independence, but is a little scared at the prospect. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Missionary Weird...and trusting God

The last few months have just flown by; I can hardly believe it's nearing the end of the school year. We've had several big decisions to make, or as I want to call them, "opportunities to trust God."

Read on:

Opportunity #1: the House. You may remember a year ago when we were considering moving back to Tucson that I (Bonnie, of course) was really hoping to move back to our old house. God even used the renters moving out as a sign to help us decide to look this direction. But then it took a while, we allowed the property manager to advertise it, and he found new renters. Then we heard from UIMA that they could use Gabe as a volunteer/intern and made plans to move back. We asked our property manager to refund the tenants' application fees if they hadn't signed the lease yet. He told us it was a "done deal". 

Turns out he lied to us. He took their deposit and then told them they'd have to move out in in a year because we were moving back. Meanwhile we found a place on the other side if town, closer to Gabe's work.

Fast forward a month ago, and we were considering not renewing their lease and moving back. Except that now we have a church we are really plugged in with, Gabe's work, and Sam loves his school. All of which would be a long commute from the old house. What to do?

We decided to meet with the tenants and do a walk through. In that meeting, the Lord showed us several things. 1. It's a nice house, but we (okay I) are no longer attached to it. I don't need to live there anymore. I know it's silly, but this is huge! There was a time that I was super attached to that house and all it represents. A life that no longer fits. But I'll get to that :) 2. They are great tenants and want to stay! Praise God! They haven't really "moved in" because they thought they had to leave again. But they like the house, neighborhood etc and are clean and taking care of it. 3. Our property manager has not taken care of the place at all. Lots of things broken and never fixed or shoddily replaced. Water damage in the kitchen. Broken light fixtures.  Not cleaned or fixed before these tenants moved in. Etc, etc. So he's fired and we are getting a new manager. It stinks, but it's just a house and has been a good source of income.

The decision has brought peace, kind of a heavenly peace that comes with knowing you are where God wants you. And for now, that is West side Tucson! Where we are the whitest people everywhere we go and Ciara is the only blond white girl on her soccer team. We are falling love with the Mexican culture on this side of town, and I think that is from the Lord.

Trust Opportunity # 2: We are moving forward in missions! Just this week we finally mailed in our application packet to become full time missionaries with UIM Aviation! 

We've really taken our time and prayed this one through, especially Gabe as he has volunteered full time with the team for the last 10 months. He's gotten to see their ups and downs and how they handle challenge and conflict. They are a good group who seek to honor the Lord in all they do. So we are moving forward. No sooner did we say yes and we got the privilege of hosting another young family looking at joining the team in our home last week. It was sweet to get to know a younger couple with a baby who have a similar calling to ours. What really stood out to me was that we are just ordinary, dorky people who God has somehow made not fit anywhere else but full time missions. It doesn't make us more special, holier, or in any way better than anyone else. Just weirder :) 

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 

Which brings us to Opportunity to Trust #3:  Summer plans! The Lord has opened a door for us to make two separate trips to Mexico this summer to see what He will do with us there. The first is a weeklong youth trip with our church youth group that I am chaperoning (*gulp!) and Sam is going on. This should be an "easy entry" one since the youth leaders are Mexican and we are going to support a local church. I know very little Spanish and am trying to learn what I can between now and then! I also have not done much with youth ministry so stepping into new territory! We are going to support a little local Mexican church with community outreach and I am excited about that. But terrified too!

Then a couple weeks after I get back, Gabe would like us to "take our show on the road" as a family and spend 3-4 weeks in southern Mexico with a UIM missionary family, seeing what their daily life is like. We will be driving 18 hours south into Mexico and finding a place to stay while we are there. We are excited, but I'll admit this trip feels even bigger! Three of our four kids are excited, one is a bit if a control freak and not so much.

Then there's opportunity #4, next fall and where everyone is going to school. Right now it looks like Christian school for Sam, charter school for Anya and Ciara, and Asher hanging with me. School has been a particularly tough challenge for us with Anya, as we care about it a lot more than she does, so there is no one "right place" because she doesn't have much internal motivation to learn. It's hard to tell where she is on the spectrum of "attaching" into our family most days. So we just keep loving and parenting on faith. It's not easy, but no matter how hard it gets, it does come with the aforementioned peace from God, which is only found in Christ Jesus.

May He richly bless you today! (Especially if you actually read all of this:) )