In 2013-2014, I spent 9 months of my life in Mabaruma, Guyana, a small village established by the Kaituma river, helping to maintain Adventist World Aviation’s (AWA) Cessna 206, N59WA. At least, that was the idea. I found out very quickly that while I definitely was needed to help maintain the missions aircraft, since the only mechanic down there at the time went on furlough with her family, I would be twiddling my thumbs a lot if I wasn’t looking for things to do. I went down with the knowledge that I would be doing more than working on the aircraft, but I didn’t realize how true that would be. I did anything that needed to be done, including: fixing gates, building chicken coops, building a treadle machine to shred coconut, riding to villages to check blood pressure and hand out de-worming medicine, or simply taking the extra time to cook and clean when everything has to be done from scratch. Once or twice a month, I would lug the mobile tool trailer out with the SUV and do some maintenance, but for most of the time that I was there, I wasn’t even touching the airplane. It was during this time that I started to think about the difference between goals and expectations. I had the goal of going down and helping AWA with maintaining their Cessna, and I did. But if I had gone down with an expectation of working on the airplane every day, or even every week, I would have felt like my time there was a failure.
I don’t remember the first time that I was told this, or how many times that he repeated it, but Greg VanFossen (one of the missionaries) use to tell me, “Flexible is too rigid, you have to be fluid.” The first time that he said it, I remember feeling a little confused, and asking what exactly he meant. “If all you are is flexible,” he replied, "then you are going to find a point when you can’t flex any further and you will break. But, a fluid will literally take the shape of whatever container it is in. You can’t bend water to the breaking point, because it will simply continue to move with whatever comes its way.” There are things in life that we need to stand firm on, but often the things that ruin our day or cause us to loose sleep, are simply inconveniences that if we truly give them to God won’t cause us the strife that we allow them to. And often, it’s because we go into a situation with an expectation of how things are going to happen, rather than striving towards a goal, handing the results over to God, and figuring out how to work around the difficulties.
As I reflect on this past year, 2021, there are lots of ways in which I can look back and see how it went very different from how I expected it to go. The Lake Amphibian is still not flying, the Cessna only flew until mid June, and has been waiting on two parts to get fixed before it can be put back together. My good friend stepped down from the role of President of Peru Projects and I am now in the role of Vice President. Jessica thought that she would be teaching, but has taken on the role of fundraising for Peru Projects (which her major project for that has gone in any way other than what she expected). The list can go on and on and on, but even with all of these unexpected twists and turns, we know that we can hand our situations over to God and pray for His continued guidance. Flexible is too rigid, we need to be fluid.
It’s been a while since we last updated our blog. Elga, Cheriss and I have continued to work on the airplanes. The Lake Amphibian has been our main focus. The hydraulic system keeps on causing problems, just as we think that we are able to move on. The latest problem is the electric motor for the hydraulic pump decided to stop working properly. It was working great for all of the tests, then just as we were doing the final checklist items, it broke. What can I say… I think that it just wanted a little more attention…
Jess has been working on figuring out how to help with fundraising for Peru Projects. She has enjoyed having a job that gets her interacting with people more, and gives her a sense of purpose. She has also been getting our little lake home all settled in. We just got some furniture that we have been waiting months for, and so she has been adjusting where things are. I get lost on a daily basis now, looking for where she has moved things around to… It feels good to be more settled into our home.
In the beginning of December, the short term missionaries who were in the jungle communities came back to campus and had a week overlap with the students who were a part of our most recent mission training program. They got to interact, share stories, and give advice to those who are serving this year. Some of those who are came back from the communities will be going back out for another year of service, and a few of them have done this now for three or four years. There is a strong desire to reach the communities, where a knowledge of God and the plan of salvation are not something that most people have.
Jess did a wonderful job around Thanksgiving and Christmas, having little feasts (okay, maybe not so little feasts) that she could share with those here on base. She did a superb job working with the ingredients that she had to pull off something that helped us to feel like we had a little part of home right here in the Amazon rainforest. It’s amazing how sharing your traditions with others can help you feel less homesick. There were lots of little things that we got to share with people that they had never experienced before, and it’s fun when you get to see someone experience something like a candy cane for the first time. They see things about American holidays in movies, but this was the first time for most of them to actually try some of the traditions that we have. Even if most of the things that we did were tweaked, since we can’t access many things that are in the US.
One last thing that I wanted to mention was that we now have two unexpected rascals that live with us. Nutmeg and Soy Sauce, are our two kittens that keep us running and amused. They are mischievous and playful, and it’s hard to not laugh as they chase each other around the house. Neither Jess nor I have ever really wanted a cat, let alone two, but they both plopped themselves into our lives, and we have really loved watching them grow and make trouble. I begrudgingly (okay, there might be some sarcasm there) am learning to love cats...
2021 was a year with lots of changes for us, but we can look back and see how God has lead us all along the way. As we have stepped into 2022, we will continue to pray for God’s guidance and look forward to seeing how He will lead. What a blessing that we are one year closer to His return! Maranatha!