We were doing fairly well for a few months with keeping up with our blog post... Then we got buried...
For me (Brad), the month of December brought many late nights as I was preparing the Cessna for its airworthiness inspection. Here in Peru, you have to have an inspector fly out from Lima in order to look at your paperwork and the airplane, in order for the aircraft to be declared airworthy. We had the date set to sometime between the 20th and the 22nd of December, and if we canceled the inspection, the inspector wouldn’t be able to come until late January. It was the beginning of December, and we just had received the parts needed in order to install the landing gear brackets on the Cessna.
As the time for the inspection was getting closer, we were finding more corrosion as we drilled out more of the floor in order to get the brackets installed. With each piece that had corrosion, we had to remove all the parts associated with that piece, clean off the corrosion, clean and prepare the piece for painting, and then paint, before we could start the reassembly process. I spent many evenings listening to music, swatting mosquitoes and working until 9 or 10, so that the plane might be finished in time. But as the weeks went by, it became very clear that there wasn't enough time to finish the installation of the brackets and complete an annual inspection (a very thorough inspection) before the inspector would come. So, we called the inspector, and shifted the dates of the inspection to sometime between January 16th to the 18th. With the stress of the time crunch off, I started working only until 7 or 8 each night.
Then two factors brought the stress back. The first was that sometime in mid-December, my parents called and expressed that they would really enjoy it if I could come back for my grandma's memorial service. All of our immediate family would be there, and it had been over two and a half years since we had all been together. So, I agreed to go and bought a ticket to leave Pucallpa on the 18th of January. The second factor was that a family (Keith and Jenn LaRoy with their two daughters, Kiara and Isabella) had bought airline tickets to come and spend a month with Peru Projects to observe how we operate, because they are starting a mission aviation organization in Costa Rica; they were scheduled to come on the 23rd of January. Now, while the December inspection was past, there was even more pressure to make sure that the Cessna was ready for the January inspection. If we weren't ready in time, not only would the Cessna not get to fly for another whole month while I was in the US, but this family who purchased tickets to come would not be able to see the aviation side of Peru Projects functioning (which was the main reason they were coming).
The week of the inspection came, and it was becoming painfully clear that we might not make the deadline again. So, with prayer and discussion, Eben, Roycer and I worked from 7am on Tuesday, the 17th of January, until 3:15pm on Wednesday the 18th. With food being brought to us from Elvia, Eben's wife, and only quick breaks to fill our water bottles or use the restroom, we worked for 32 hours straight. With the blessing of the Lord, we finished the aircraft, and Eben completed the run-up while I filled out the paperwork. I distinctly remember standing by the printer in the office to complete the paperwork, I was listening to the Cessna running, after over one and a half years of it not functioning, and I started to cry because I was overcome with emotion. Our service with the aircraft to the people in the native communities could continue after over a year and a half during which time we had to work at a slower pace. The gospel could move quickly once again.
I finished the paperwork, ran down to my house, took a really fast shower, and loaded the bags that Jessica had lovingly put together for us, into the bed of the pickup truck. We had finished everything necessary on the Cessna, 15 minutes before Jess and I needed to head to the airport. And at the airport, as Jess and I were checking into our flight, the inspector for the Cessna met up with Eben, and they drove back to the Peru Projects base to start the airworthiness inspection. It was a whirlwind of a day, reflecting the large push we had completed for the past two months in order to get to that point. I slept really well on the plane ride back to the US. Thank you for all of your prayers.
Jess and I got back to Berrien Springs, MI, and could barely catch our breaths, as family from all over came to celebrate the life of my grandma, Irma Church. We loved seeing friends and family, but there was hardly time to rest as we interacted with everyone there. There were late nights, and lots of smiles, tears, laughter, and sorrow. After spending a couple of weeks in Berrien, where we had celebrated a life well lived, we had the joy of flying out to Thermopolis, Wyoming where our sister-in-law, Hannah Curran, gave birth to our new nephew, Caleb Edward Curran, and we got to celebrate a new life. We really enjoyed getting to spend time with Jess' side of the family in Wyoming, as well as having the Hawronsky family drive out from Rapid City, SD, to spend some time with us there. After about a week and a half, I said goodbye to my loving wife, and flew back to Berrien, while she stayed in Thermopolis to help Ben and Hannah with their transitionary period. I was in Berrien for about two days before flying back down to Peru in order to continue the work of spreading the gospel.
These past couple of months have had me thinking about life. There are so many things in our lives that keep us racing at a break-neck speed, some of them are simply distractions and others are really good things. As humans, our lives truly are like the morning dew, here and then gone. Our passions in life, the things we fill our time with, the projects that we invest in, what is their value? From the cradle to the grave, we have 99 years if we live a good long life, but what's the point in those years if they're only used to serve ourselves. If all that we've done when we pass away is have served ourselves, our accomplishments will die with us. But, if our lives are filled with investments in people, in serving the Lord by spreading the gospel and the present truth of His soon return, we can know that our time on this earth will stretch into eternity.
Since January 26th, the Cessna has flown over 40 hours, with most of those being flights to support the people and the church, and a few of them being medical. God is re-opening our channels of communication for flights again, and we will soon be doing even more flights. The Lake Amphibian is sadly still waiting for the church here in Peru to give us an answer. We ask that you keep that situation in your prayers, that we are able to fly again in God's time.
Brad and Jess Church