New House, New Friends, Good Advice

New Friends

One thing we began praying about shortly after we arrived in Ohio to begin our MMS apprenticeship was for Janice to find friends. She was feeling awfully isolated and lonely, especially since we lived out in the country surrounded only by cows. The cows are friendly and seem willing to talk (they even yell rudely across the street sometimes) but they don’t drink coffee and so there isn’t a great excuse to invite them into the house. No, Janice needed to establish some social connections with other human beings.

Read more: Romance and Raccoons: How Janice And I Got Hitched

Several weeks passed and another young couple serving at MMS Aviation had a baby girl! We were signed up to bring them a meal and Janice immediately began worrying about what to make.

“What do they eat? What if the food we eat is weird and they don’t like it?”

“Janice,” I said, “They used to live in the African bush. Grubs and grasshoppers would probably be fine.”

She ended up making an Enchilada casserole, despite my advice. I was intending to just drop off the pan on the porch, ring the doorbell, and run away before I had to engage in small talk but the doorbell didn’t work. I had to knock. Besides, Janice was standing behind me and wasn’t about to let me squirrel my way out of introductions.

They invited us in. “Come in and eat with us!” It looks bad if you’re refuse to eat your own food so we agreed to sit down and sup with them. As it turns out, they also have a two year old daughter. Her and Adi hit it right off and have become the best of friends.

This also means that Janice has found someone to hang out with and it’s not unusual for them to take all the kids to petting zoos or to have playdates at the park.

There are some other MMS ladies Janice is becoming friends with who have already been on the foreign field so they’re a great resource and encouragement for her. I feel like this has been an answer to prayer.

New House

On a related note, we were praying that we could rent a house in town so we could be closer to the other MMS families. It’s much harder for Janice to go on impromptu playdates or to get babysitters or invite people for supper when there’s a 50 minute round trip separating our families. Our old rickety farm house in the country helped us get established here in Ohio and we’re grateful for that but in order for our family to be more connected, we wanted to be neighbors to other MMS families. We began praying for a new house.

Back when we were first looking for a house in Ohio, Janice’s brother, Art, offered to buy a house in Coshocton as an investment property, then rent it to us for 1% of the purchase price. I briefly considered his offer but thought it seemed like too much hassle. Besides, what if my children burned down the house or something? That would be a little awkward at family reunions.

Still, the available rentals in Coshocton are few and far between. The most common features of rental houses are slimy carpets and leaky ceilings. If your senses leave you and you try to rent the place, they treat you like a criminal. “You want to rent this dump? We need a full psychological evaluation plus forty years of tax returns and a small bribe.” Of course, it’s likely that the previous tenants were actually criminals so I can’t blame them for being suspicious. There’s not much available when it comes to renting, but if you want to buy something then suddenly there are options. I told Art I’d take him up on his buy-and-rent offer and two weeks later Art sealed the deal on a nice 3 bedroom, 1 bath house with a tiny yard. We are planning on moving into town near the end of November or beginning of December. We told our current landlord we will be out by December 31.

We really like our current landlord and I feel bad about leaving seven months after we moved in. He’s a Christian farmer with a young family and I hate to make him go through the process of finding another renter. Good renters are hard to find.

So thank God for finding us a nice house in town closer to the other families but pray that our current landlord would find someone to rent the house we’re leaving.

Where to Serve?

We’ve been praying that God would direct us to the organization He wants us to join as an AMT (Aviation Maintenance Technician) family once we’re done with our apprenticeship at MMS Aviation. While God hasn’t given us any writing in the sky, we had a visiting speaker come and give a presentation in the hangar at MMS about the effectiveness of mission aviation. The research is still in its development phase and so I can’t give you specifics since it’s not published data yet (it’ll likely be published in the spring of 2020). However, the guy who did the research, Dr. Timothy “Tommy Gun” Turnbuckle (not his real name although he is a real doctor), drew the data for his research by visiting seven countries, evaluating eleven flight programs, and interviewing hundreds of missionaries from 55 different organizations. His goal was to find out where mission aviation is most effective and where it’s not needed. What geographic conditions make aviation necessary? What age groups, genders, economies, etc need aviation the most? Is this organization really needed where they are serving? Is it a waste of time to have an aviation program in that area? Dr. Timothy “Tommy Gun” Turnbuckle’s presentation was a gold mine since it gives me some great benchmarks to evaluate ministries against to see if they’re operating in an are where they’re needed.

It was uncanny how I was asking God to direct us somewhere where we would be most impactful, then along came Dr. Timothy “Tommy Gun” Turnbuckle with this amazing presentation on how to tell if a mission aviation program is really necessary. Is the aviation program making an impact? The timing was perfect. So although we still don’t know where we’re going long term, I feel much more capable of making a good decision once we arrive at those crossroads. Thanks God!

Prayer Points for October

Teeth Trouble

One of the challenges in front of us right now, literally and figuratively, is teeth. Seriously! I have too many teeth and my wife has too few. If only we could swap a couple around.

For the last ten years I needed to get my wisdom teeth chopped out. I got one yanked out about eight years ago but the dentist told me I should get the others cut out by the time I’m 30. However life, and the birth of two children, got in the way. Besides, they weren’t really bothering me so it was easy to put it on the back burner. Anyway, that’s one thing that we’re trying to plan for financially but it’s a little tough because Janice’s tooth broke in half last month.

Janice went to get an estimate for fixing her broken tooth and came back with an estimate for two new crowns and a new bridge. It turns out her old bridge is wearing down and occasionally causes her TMJ to flair up. This makes her jaw joint really sore and resembles a bad earache. The total repair bill will cost more than two of our Dodge Caravans (that’s how I assign value to things – how many 2005 Dodge Caravans is it worth?) so we’re taking this to God and asking him to help work things out. We’re not going to starve under a bridge if God doesn’t move, but I don’t think we should wait until we’re starving under a bridge before we ask God to do something. I would like to get all these teeth issues cleared up before we leave for the foreign field. So thank you for praying for provision in this area.

Chapel Speaker

I’m planning on giving a chapel presentation at Ephrata Mennonite School (in Pennsylvania) about what our family is doing with mission aviation. It would be awesome if that went well and maybe, just maybe, it will light a spark in a child’s heart that will produce fruit later in life.

Work in the Hangar

Right now the project I’m involved with the most in the hangar is the Bearhawk that’s involved with an orphanage in Haiti. Pray that God would bless our efforts as we try to put this thing back together properly. It’s an experimental (sometimes called a home build) airplane which means it’s not certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. That means that, beside the initial building instructions, there are typically no cut and dried, documented way to put things together. This means we have to make some decisions as we to how exactly we should it put it all back together. Pray that we could do it well and produce a reliable airplane that will serve well for years to come.

Thank y’all so much for joining us on this journey! It means the world to us!

From a small Ohio hamlet,