Above: Tim Obarow’s seasoned hands gently convince a piece of solid aluminum to turn into a window latch.
As I’m learning to know people who have been involved in missions all their lives, I’m beginning to notice something.
This idea has been bouncing around in my head (there’s a lot of ideas up there so it’s hard to keep track of a single idea for a long time) since I’ve been reading Jon Acuff’s book called “Start.” Apparently, as the cover says, it’s a New York Times Bestseller. I didn’t buy it because a bunch of other people did, I bought it because it was $2 at Goodwill. I was trying to entertain myself while Janice leafed through racks of children’s clothes in various states of disrepair. Disrepair is OK though. We need to have weak points (such as patched knees) in our kid’s clothes because then if they grow too much that day, they’ll simply tear the clothing at the perforations and have room to expand. Go ahead, laugh, but every time I look up my children are three inches taller! I don’t want my kids growing around their clothing like a trees do around barbed wire fences. We need some stress relief points! Speaking of which, Adi turns four years old today! (Related: Quarrelsome Instagram Health Nuts and Nursery Design Tips)
But anyway, I bought this book called “Start.” I started reading it and actually found it quite good. I usually get halfway through business self help books and my eyes glass over so severely that I can’t read anymore. In the book he talks about the road to awesome. Along the road to Awesome you will find five stages:
As someone nears the destination of Awesome, they will find themselves Guiding others there. In the secular world, as folks go through this road to awesome, they find themselves at the Harvesting stage. This is where someone has been in their career long enough that they are really good at it and so they begin reaping benefits. A lot of these benefits are financial. On the mission field, not so much.
It seems, from my limited perspective and time involved in missions, that older people find it harder to raise support. They don’t have all the Facebook pages and blogs and selfie videos. They don’t have youthful energy. They don’t a lot of younger friends. A lot of their supporters have passed away or are living on retirement so they can’t afford their former support levels. Typically young missionaries are looking excitedly to a lifetime of mission work while older missionaries are looking back at a life full of mission work. Exciting sells better. So it seems that the further missionaries travel along the road to Awesome, the harder it gets to raise or maintain support. The more skilled missionaries are supported less. The greenhorns get all the acclimation, excitement, and support. Isn’t that kind of strange?
We have a lot of people on the mission field who have traveled down the road to Awesome and who are struggling to stay on the field because many of their supporters are gradually slipping away.
Most of the staff here at MMS Aviation has been doing aviation a long, long time. I don’t know if you’d find a better group of mechanics. In fact our own Mike Dunkley just received the Aviation Technician of the Year award from the Federal Aviation Administration. That means he was selected out of all the aircraft mechanics nationwide to be honored for his life of service and skill in our field. Tim Obarow helped maintain SR-71 Blackbirds and U-2 spy planes during his time in the Air Force. Yet all the staff members here live on support which they had to raise (and maintain) themselves. With their resume and experience they could be making much better money working somewhere else. Yet here they are teaching greenhorns like me who, at times, are making almost the same money as them. That’s a tragedy.
Or maybe it’s not. The guys here in the hangar would be the first to tell you it’s not about money anyway and the last to complain about anything (except young greenhorns). Their rewards are being piled up in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.
Old people are awesome. (Related: Getting Old and Being Mature About It) We can learn a lot from them, which is exactly my point. They are some of the most valuable members of the mission field. As we say around the hangar, “They forgot more than I ever knew.” I’m learning so much from the seasoned veterans in our hangar. I’m really grateful that they choose to forego this world’s pleasures and choose, instead, to invest their lives into apprentices such as myself while donating (as in giving it away for free) their valuable expertise learned over a lifetime to help repair missionary aircraft. I don’t know if you know this, but people who are really good at fixing airplanes are kind of hard to come by and usually cost a lot. I wish I could absorb their knowledge faster and I hope to someday join their ranks.
So please consider investing in an older missionary. Your investment will double, triple, quadruple as they teach us young punks what to do and, sometimes just as importantly, what NOT to do, as we follow God’s leading over unknown horizons.
If you don’t know any older missionaries to support, may I suggest any staff members at MMS Aviation. They’re all good investments.