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The Problem with Paperwork

With time, sweat, and sometimes even tears, the planes are finally coming to the place where they are about to be able to legally fly! Throughout the end of June and the beginning of July, I was working away with getting the Lake Amphibian to the place where it was flyable; while the maintenance finally seemed like it was starting to come together, the paperwork monster continued to grow. I always knew that paperwork for aircraft could be a headache, but I experienced that at a new level here in Peru.

For a little clarity, the Cessna is legally a US registered aircraft, and so the regulations that it follows are for the US, with a few added things since it is flying in Peru; but because it is US registered, I can sign of the logbook. The Lake Amphibian is Peruvian registered, so it is completely ruled by Peruvian regulations and I can’t sign off anything, we have to have a repair station here in Pucallpa sign the logbook. With that background, let me give an example of the paperwork game.

Last year when I realized that neither airplane was going to fly for a while, I preserved both engines to help prevent corrosion. It's a simple procedure, and once completed, I wrote up the work that I had performed in the Cessna’s logbook, which took me a total of 15 minutes to write. When I wanted to complete the logbook entry for the Lake Amphibian, Eben and I drove to the repair station here in Pucallpa, and after approximately 4 hours of waiting, they had finished signing off the log book for the Lake Amphibian. They had so many pages to print, and stamps to mark, and dates to write, and signatures to sign, and the list went on, and on, and on, until it was absurd. What took me 15 minutes to write down for the Cessna, took them 4 hours for the Lake Amphibian. I was flabbergasted.

One day I was talking with a person who is involved with aviation here in Peru, and in the conversation, they stopped and smiled at me before saying, “In Peru, we have ‘perfect airplanes,’ they never have any problems.” Confused, I thought for a moment and then realized what he was truly saying. Because the paperwork for maintaining aircraft in Peru is so difficult, people only record what they are forced to put in the logbook. The government has so overregulated aviation, that rather than record when they fix something, people will often only write down things in the aircraft logbook that they are required to report. If a lightbulb burns out and a mechanic goes to change it, you can be certain that they don’t want to turn a 15 minute job into something that takes 4 hours by the time the paperwork is done. So rather than record it in the logbook, the bulb simply gets changed. Hence, Peruvian airplanes are perfect. You will almost never find any maintenance recorded in the logbook that isn’t mandated by the government to be done. They have so overregulated the aviation industry that rather than report helpful information about what they have worked on, mechanics simply don’t write it down.

Have we, as Christians, made following Christ so burdensome that it drives people away from having a true relationship with God? Have we given them a checklist of things, telling them that unless they follow each and every item perfectly that they won’t be saved? “Don’t each cheese, meat, or drink any caffeinated beverage.” “You can only wade up to your ankles on Sabbath, no swimming.” “The more worships you attend, the more it shows your passion to Christ, so you better be seen at every prayer meeting, vespers, Sabbath School, church service, and VBS program.” We have these lists, some of them self-imposed, some of them imposed on us by others, and still some of them we judge others by. We create this picture in our mind of what the perfect follower of Christ will look like, and then start making rules and regulations to follow in order to become that picture. Have we so flooded our lives with restrictions that, like the Jews in Jesus’ day, we chase away people from actually following Christ?

The regulations for aircraft in Peru are so strict and overbearing, that rather than go through the proper streams of doing and recording maintenance, people will find other ways to do it so that they don’t have to deal with the laws. Is our Christianity the same way? Will people avoid coming to the truth because we so burden them down with all of the rules that we believe are associated with Christianity? I’m not saying that we do away with the law, not in the least bit. The law is what helps us see where we are falling short and brings us to Christ. But I am asking, have we added things to the law that are unnecessary and man-made? Have we added stamps, and signatures, and dates, and this, and that, until we think that it makes the Christian life look perfect? But really, all we are doing is chasing away people from following the truth? They would rather avoid the entire situation than start the process of following Christ. And the Christians that we do have, are they actually following Christ? Or do we just have “perfect Christians” in the same way that Peru has “perfect airplanes”? They look good on the outside, but on the inside are like a white washed tomb. It’s something that truly has me thinking about and looking at my life.

While I was struggling with paperwork, maintenance and thinking about how crazy Peru’s aviation regulations are, Jess was working away getting a group of us ready to go to Adventist Laymen’s Services and Industries, or ASI for short, in Orlando. This year was the first time in approximately 10 years or more that Peru Projects had a booth at the ASI convention. For those of you who may not be familiar with ASI, it is an organization that is a part of the Adventist church whose slogan is, “Sharing Christ in the marketplace.” Its focus is to help equip people with sharing Jesus wherever they are and whatever they do, and it also has booths where ministries, like Peru Projects, can come and share with others what they do in their part of the world. It is spiritually boosting, and a good way to help share Peru Project’s name.

Just before going to the ASI convention, Eben and I were approved to do a test flight in the Lake Amphibian! So, on July 20th, we got to fly the Lake Amphibian for 2 hours in order to do the engine break-in procedure. It was amazing, and things went very smoothly!

We then jumped in a plane and flew off to spend almost 2 weeks in Orlando for ASI. To get our flights a LOT cheaper, we flew in the weekend before the conference and left a few days afterwards. This allowed us to get to spend some time with some good friends who live in the Orlando area, it was such a good time to see them. The conference went amazingly, and we made lots of good connections that we pray will allow us to serve the jungle communities here in Peru more effectively.

After getting back, the students who were a part of the three-month training program that we have here at the base got shipped off to the jungle communities where they will be serving for a year. That was super exciting and nerve wracking for them. It is always a time here on the base that is filled with lots of emotions.

I have continued to do some finishing touches to the Lake Amphibian, while Eben is still taking care of getting all the paperwork with the Peruvian government sorted out. We are still waiting, but we have been informed that a government official will be coming to look over the paperwork and aircraft soon.

The brackets for the Cessna were finished getting manufactured last week, and we were able to get them down here. So, Lord willing, once the Lake Amphibian is all sorted out, I am going to shift gears and get the main landing gear brackets for the Cessna installed.

Earlier this month we had a new student missionary from Oklahoma Academy come down and join us. Acker, spent last year training to assist with communications in a mission environment, and so came down here to help our communications girl, Sollange, to produce media. He is also very interested in aviation, and we will be involving him with the aircraft as well.

It has been amazing how quickly the last three months flew by, and I can hardly believe that it had been that long since our last blog post. I need to figure out a good way to stay on top of producing posts monthly… Thanks for your interest, and blessings wherever you are in the world. Jesus is coming soon!


Brad and Jess

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