I wanted to take some time and write about some of the people and experiences that we have been blessed by in our time as professional moochers while we traveled around the US. I recognize that I can’t mention everyone that touched our lives in our short time back in the states, but needless to say, all of the interactions with people were very much enjoyed and memorable.
We started our time in North Dakota, where we lived for four and a half years before moving to Pucallpa, Peru. Not only do we have many dear friends there, but my brother, Nathan, lived with Jess and I for a year there and then decided to stay when we pulled up anchor and moved south. Nathan is living in a bachelor pad, a single room apartment with a friend from high school, and there really wasn’t any room for us to crash at his place. So, Jess reached out to some very good friends, Brian and Brittney Barry, and they very graciously opened their home and cupboards to us (which I took full advantage of…). Many friends took the time to come and see us, and whether they treated us to a meal or spent a few hours of their busy schedules simply to hang out, their graciousness and love was so overwhelming. It was amazing to get to spend two Sabbaths with our Mandan SDA church family, they hold a special place in our hearts. And last, but not least, getting to spend time with Nathan was, and always is, a highlight for me.
After our time in North Dakota, we were blessed by a friend driving us to meet the Hawronsky’s half way down to the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. Eric, Marla, Juliet and Quinton kindly allowed us to stay in their home, with Quinton even letting us kick him out of his room and Juliet putting up with having her little brother crash her space. We were genuinely privileged with this stay, because Marla had recently had kidney surgery and was still in the recovery stages. For those of you who don’t know Marla, I count her as one of the most amazing people that I personally know. She is smart, healthy, extremely caring and other-centered. I don’t remember exactly when she made this decision, but she heard about how she could donate one of her kidneys to a stranger in need, and signed up to give someone a piece of herself. She went through major surgery to help a random person who was hoping for a chance at life. There have been many struggles for her, and it hasn’t always been a smooth road, but she’s toughed it out and made a huge difference. We were a part of the bumpy road for her, as she let us bombard her home for half a week. It was so much fun to hang out with the Hawronsky’s, and the perfect place for Jess’ family to pick us up on the way to Michigan for Grandpa Curran’s funeral.
We spent time with Jess’ family in both Michigan (invading Grandma Curran’s house), and then carpooling out to Wyoming (where we took over Jess’ brother and sister-in-law’s house, Ben and Hannah). Our time in Wyoming was literally a take-over of the house since it included, Jess, myself, Ed, Deb, and both Grandma’s jamming into their little home. We had a blast playing with Jordyn, our niece. Whether it was taking her to the park, playing hide-and-go-seek, or reading books, there wasn’t much down time when you have a three-year-old to hang out with. As a group, we were often playing games after dark, out hiking around in the evenings, or simply enjoying being in the beautiful landscape that Wyoming has to offer, with some of our favorite people in the world. Hannah took the whole situation like a champ, with four extra women meandering around her kitchen and sifting through her cupboards, she kept her cool. Deb always had an amazing meal prepared and both Grandma’s kept the dishes squeaky clean, they produced a well-oiled machine that would have been chaos without them. If I had been in charge of cooking, I probably would have thrown out a loaf of store-bought bread and some PB&J for every meal, and still would have failed. If anybody is looking for some recipes, I make a killer PB&J and might consider passing along the trade secret…
We got back to Michigan and spent the next few weeks consuming my family’s food. There’s nothing like your mom’s cooking (except your wife’s… I need to tread softly…). Spending time with the Payne’s, the Larson’s, family and so many others, it was very good. We got to have a bonfire, go to Lake Michigan, spend time canoeing, and just hang out with people. My parents took us up to Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, and my mom and I made fun of modern art, while Jess and my dad tried to pretend that they weren’t associated with us. It was a good time, but way too short. One of the huge blessings that we were gifted with while in Berrien, was that Dr. Rick Beckermyer was able to squeeze us in, last minute, to his dentistry office for a teeth cleaning and to fill one cavity (I won’t say who had the cavity…). There are a LOT of people in Berrien Springs that we wanted to see, but sadly we weren’t able to spend time with all of them. One special treat was when some family friends, Richard and Barb Smith took us out to eat, and we got to enjoy one of our favorite cuisines with them, Mediterranean.
Our last little bit of time was in Macon, GA with my sister and brother-in-law. They were both very busy with work and school during the day, but every evening was a good time together. I got to harass my sister a little bit at her work, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. She’s doing an awesome job as a counselor, helping under-privileged college kids with the support they need to make it through school. My brother-in-law is studying to become a doctor, and is very busy with everything associated with his program right now. We got to enjoy a slower pace with them, but still managed to squeeze in some time bombing around Georgia in their convertible and I even attempted to learn how to wakesurf.
Since getting back to Pucallpa, we have thrown ourselves headlong back into our roles. Jessica has been kept busy with teaching Amy and getting us ready to go back to the US to attend the ASI conference in Orlando. I have been really honing in on getting the Lake Amphibian ready to fly. I am expecting that sometime in the next couple of weeks we should be able to complete our first flight!!! There have been many late nights and lots of sweat and tears, but it’s starting to look like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. After the first flight there will still be issues to correct and more paperwork to complete, but if everything goes as planned, the airplane will be fully functional by the end of July, Lord willing. I keep telling myself that this is His airplane, not mine, so He’s got to work out the problems that come up. The two student missionaries from Oklahoma Academy, Elga and Cheriss, headed back to the US shortly after we returned to Peru. It was such as blessing to have them here, and we know that God will continue to guide them as they seek His leading in their lives. God is so good. We are daily relying on His guidance and strength, and truly appreciate all of the thoughts and prayers that are said by those supporting us.
Thank you to all who were a part of our adventure around the US. Sadly, there were a few people we didn’t get to see, but we’ll do our best to take advantage of your free housing and food the next time we are around the area.
Brad and Jess