Plane Coffee Mom

Chatting about Mission Aviation over coffee

Tag: mission aviation (Page 1 of 2)

Ideal Friday evening

It’s quiet right now, an ideal Friday evening. We’re reading and writing, chatting a little about life between the silences, and simply being.  It’s strange how seldom this happens. Life is busy. We’re running, we’re doing, we’re busy. We have people over and we go out. We are involved and engaged.

And then suddenly, quiet. We value this because we’ve learned the hard way that we need it. All four of us. Parents, grown son, and nearly grown son. We have lived many different ways and survived deep changes. The process has been amazing and beautiful, terrible and painful.

Some of my best family memories are  of  a Sunday morning spent listening to songs chosen by our sons, sometimes crazy songs with round-about lyrics and sometimes straightforward worship music. Terere, a Paraguayan ritual we’d carried with us to Philippines, made its way around our small circle as we sat together. We discussed the music. After a while we’d turn on a podcast we were interested in. When it finished we’d chat about what we’d heard and the week just passed. There was wood carving and drawing and painting in the circle. For a while friends joined our circle and we enjoyed the quiet together.  About the only thing we tried to keep outside the circle was hurry, though it sometimes crept in also.

Sometimes we planned a day of rest only to interrupted by an emergency. Sometimes we’d get a text, or turn on the radio at noon, and find our plans meaningless in the face of urgent need. Each of us had our job in those times– food, overnight bag, phone calls, and weather checks were the norm as we went methodically about the business of doing our best to get Garry out the door to do a medical flight or an evacuation. Our plans were soon forgotten in the rush and noise of interruption. The radio always crackled in the background during those times, its static somehow friendly because we knew it was what allowed us to stay in touch.

There were times we survived too long without quiet, getting by on too little sleep and driven by seemingly endless needs. Conversations and tempers both got shorter. We questioned one another’s motives and wished for more hours in a day and more energy in our bodies. Non-essentials were left undone and efficiency became king. If we didn’t choose to stop, it was chosen for us. Paperwork, sickness, or unavoidable obstacles would put us out of commission and we’d find it was a good place to regroup and get back to basics.

As I sit here writing I ponder the path that has brought us here and I am deeply grateful. I’m thankful we value this, and I’m thankful we do it. And I’m just a bit surprised still at how ideal this evening feels.

Risk and Danger

I woke up last night in a cold sweat, heart pounding. I had been cornered. I was caught. And I had no clue what would happen next. Thankfully, the next thing that happened was waking up in my own bed, safety beneath my warm blanket.

It got me thinking. I’ve lived with danger. I’ve done risky things. Some of the most dangerous things didn’t feel dangerous, and some of the least dangerous felt very risky. I’ve been scared in perfectly safe darkness and felt safe in a spot that proved risky. When Garry talks about risk management there are two key factors– the probability that something will go wrong and how serious the effects of a failure would be.

There is a cobra in Paraguay, for instance, that is one of the most deadly but least dangerous snakes in the world. A bite is usually fatal, but they seldom bite. I think it was one of these snakes that five children under the age of nine encountered in our back yard. I persuaded them that neither playing with nor attacking snakes was a good idea at their ages and maturity levels. They came inside. The snake left. End of story.

It was scary, at least to me. My son, on the other hand, complained to my husband that I never let him do anything. I considered never letting the boys outside. I thought I should watch them more. I wondered what I would do if something happened to them. In the end, I realized that keeping boys in the house can be more dangerous than letting them play outside. You see, boys need fresh air, space, exercise, and adventures. Andrew Petersen catches the wonder in this song, Little Boy Heart Alive.

In a culture that is often averse to risk, dependent on insurance, and in love with comfort, the thought of a life overseas can be scary. Missionary life seems risky. Mission aviation feels dangerous. The unknown is scary. The truth is, boys need to leave the house and sometimes we need to venture into the unknown. Faith needs the unknown to grow. We need challenges to get stronger. From this vantage point, the most dangerous thing I can think of is not going where you’re led, not following God’s direction for today, or not embarking on journeys you are meant to take.

Not only do we need to grow, we need to see God. When there are no other options, we see God at work. When we cannot control things, we realize that God has a plan. After all, there’s difference between watching the storm through the picture window in the living room and standing outside in the midst of it. Vicariously adventuring with the latest reality TV show is not the same as going yourself. And there’s nothing like adventure to change us and grow our faith.

Dissecting today

These days feel wearing. New, yet familiar. The wondering, the rush, the chaos. The early mornings and long conversations. The expectancy and the dread. The intertwining of lives and the utter aloneness. Right now the crisis is simply about a place to live and a paperwork dilemma. There are enough supporting stresses and questions to make life feel unstable. These days pull me back to other days.

img_0745Checking in on the radio as the sun peeked over the horizon. News that there was a medical emergency. The dew soaking my bare toes as I went to tell Garry what was happening. Rushing when I headed back inside to get him breakfast and whatever else he needed for the trip. The radio static alerting the boys to a change of plans. Their young faces wide-eyed as they emerged from their bedrooms still half asleep but in need of an explanation. Kevin adjusting his hat as he squared his shoulders and headed out the door to help Garry fuel and load. Kaleb doing his best to lighten the mood as he ran between the hangar and the house carrying bundles in his still-small hands and repeating the message he was supposed to pass on.

A friend visiting from Canada, our time with her shortened when we got a call from friends that their son had a brain tumor. A long drive to the hospital, meeting white-faced parents in the hallway, looking into the scared eyes of siblings, and chasing down food in a still-new city. Doctors and options and near-hysteria. Cold hotel rooms and short nights. Coffee from the best places in town. Long conversations that allowed us all to avoid the issues at hand. Tears as we discussed the realities they were facing. Quick conversations with the boys and our visitor, making sure all was ok at home.

House-hunting in various countries. Run-down apartments and weather-beaten houses. Tiny yards and empty swimming pools. Compounds and complexes. Mobile trailers and abandoned dorms. Security options and neighborhood questions. New friends and adjusting expectations. Carrying babies on the house hunts and then following teens as they surveyed possible homes.

Suddenly, this place is neither scary nor new. It is the familiar reworked. It’s a scene in a book. It’s the unfolding of a story. It’s called life and this demands faith.

Going Home

Lada, Philippines, October 2005

“School time,” I announced to the boys.

Kevin, age 10, groaned. I was ready to tell him to straighten up his attitude when he looked at me, his eyes red and brimming with unshed tears. I sat down beside him and put a hand on his shoulder, “It will be ok,” I said. I hoped I wasn’t lying. We’d come because we believed this was God’s call, and now we were here, committed to a job a world away from what Kevin was accustomed to, having exchanged a housing complex full of kids for a place beside the airstrip, our only neighbours an older couple and their baby.

Kaleb was just 6, and he knew an opportunity when he saw one. His chatter stopped and he quietly crept down the ladder from the loft above me. I heard the door close behind him, and I knew he’d escaped. Again. I wondered what to do. But this was Kevin’s moment.

He looked at me and began to yell about all he’d left behind and the friends he’d missed. I asked him what they’d be doing now and told him I knew it was hard. I listened and my heart cried, but I was determined to make this work, and I only knew how to do that by keeping a check on my heart and not giving into the emotion that often surrounded me.

We came to provide flight service for a handful of a missionaries on this island. Committed people who were preaching the Gospel. And people with relentless expectations and a string of criticism. We’d inherited a world of disappointment with the flight program and pilots before, and we did our best to simply serve and keep ourselves and those we served oriented to what God was doing. But sometimes it was exhausting. And the added grief of saying goodbye was just that, an added grief.

Eventually Kevin’s tears turned to smiles at good memories. I made him a cup of hot chocolate and me a latte in my new espresso machine, and got him settled into math for the day. Then it was time to find Kaleb.

I expected to find him in a tree, and I did. He loved to climb and just sit in the branches and watch what went on below. He would have been hard to find if not for the constant commentary on his thoughts and what he saw. The chatter was happy right now, and I knew part of it was simply that he had escaped school. I waved to him and told him to come in for school, thankful that he seemed ok. As he grabbed my hand and we headed back inside I wondered what was inside that active mind that questioned beyond his years and expressed his emotion in both chatter and screaming.

Manitoba, Canada, August 2012

The basement was cold and dark, and I huddled on the bed. Ten minutes. I’d give myself ten minutes. I cried as though my heart would break. It was. But in eight minutes I knew that if I didn’t stop now, I’d never stop.

I swallowed and gulped in air. I sat up and began to re-organize the room in my mind, chastising myself for the messiness and the dirty laundry. One minute. I headed to the bathroom and blew my nose and washed my face. I looked in the mirror and demanded compliance of my overwrought body and tired face. I laughed at the red around my eyes and blew my nose again. One more gulp of air, and I was ok. Emotions in check, yearnings locked deep inside.It had been ten minuted flat.

Garry was with his family and the boys were in the room beside ours. I straightened up our room and poked my head inside their door to make sure things were ok. Kevin sat with his headphones on, lost in music or memories or both. I didn’t want to know which just now, because I couldn’t solve either and I didn’t want to force him back into this foreign world. Kaleb was surrounded by a pile of Lego, a happy smile on his face. He was hiding, I knew it, but I couldn’t make him come out and face reality. A few more days of hiding wouldn’t hurt, and maybe in between he’d find something to smile about.

I went upstairs to chat with the lady whose house we’d invaded, a good friend. I had hoped when we arrived that we’d get a chance to really talk, but her life was obviously full also. I knew I had reason for the pain, and yet the pains all tangled into a mess that didn’t seem worth unravelling. Tomorrow we’d bury my mother-in-law. Two days before we’d said goodbye to people who were a family to us. The week before we’d said goodbye to a lot more people who were great friends. A new job in a new country and a million unanswered questions. I was recovering from a serious bout of dengue fever and Garry was still trying to deal with a back that had kept him flat in bed a few weeks before. My mother-in-law’s death had blind-sided us, happening when we least expected it. The family was in deep mourning for that loss, and that grief simply added to the other griefs we’d been trying to walk through.

Washington, USA, August, 2015

I thought it would change, and quickly. But three years later, so much pain still remains, the initial grief of moving replaced by a million small disappointments and a thousand more changes on top of a handful of larger griefs. Changes in our family as we resigned one position and moved across the country to start another, leaving our oldest son a thousand miles away. Moving a teen into a community that apparently doesn’t have space for one more person, where friendships are forged in new ways and expectations are surprising. Big dreams that sometimes feel like nightmares. Depression and anxiety and questions. Peace and purpose and answered prayers. Conflict and opportunities and challenges. Amazing forward motion and a heart that longs to go home.

And my heart hurts with the pain of each of my men. The tears come. The questions long for answers and I beg God for wisdom in how we walk through grief. I believe in friendship and grace and love. I believe in the power of being there, and yet sometimes I wonder if I am missing something. But what am I missing? I cannot see, so I go on, walking a varied road with those I love the most, hanging on to promises that have been true from eternity past and will remain into eternity future.

I suppose it will always be like this, A God who rules the universe and invites us to be part of HIs epic story. Eternity at stake and the temporal always trying to gain our attention and cause us grief. Joy and mourning, peace and conflict co-existing in a spirit that was created to live in another place. After all, we’re not yet Home.

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