Thursday, August 18, 2011

Oshkosh Part 2

This blog post is basically from my journal, I was trying to think of a way that was best and most accurate and since this was written only a day and a half after it all happened I decided that, with some editing, it would be the best way to let everyone know what is going on.  Enjoy!

The Air show in Oshkosh Wisconsin is over, Robby, Sam, Jonathan and I drove the two trucks home with the Mavericks.  It took us only two days this time which is very nice.  For one it gave me more time to move out of my old house for Brian Reeds’ family to move into, and for two, it gave me more time to relax before returning to work this Monday.  

On our way home we stopped through Nashville and my dearest family drove the three hours to have dinner with me and my friends.  What a blessing it was! There is nothing that can replace family.  I have the most beautiful sisters and mother I could ever ask for, a brother-in-law that is just plain out awesome, and a younger brother who is just as awesome and whom I do not deserve. My niece and nephew are so cute and extremely hilarious even though Dominic is only months old he can make me laugh, and Vesper is only 2 and has a vocabulary bigger than mine!

While at the air show, I met several people that I found incredibly awesome.  Several people that I met and found really awesome were in the Mission Aviation tent.  JAARS, MAF, and several others were there.  I met several of them and some of them even came to the Maverick booth.  Though I like a lot of what they do, and I myself have wanted to fly for them before, I did not feel the attraction that I once felt.  There was no nudge from God leading me to any one of them.  This was both a relief and discouraging.  A relief because I do not have any desire to leave ITEC, but discouraging too because I didn’t know how God wanted me to use aviation in the mission field once I got my license.  

During the last couple of days at Oshkosh I felt more and more that God wanted me to spend more time flying and studying and working mechanics for my A and P license when I got back.  I told Troy this and he was fine with that.  He had told me that if I ever felt the need to take a few days and study or fly then to go ahead and do it.

Friday I had planned to do several things including fly.  I was confident that God wanted me to put more effort into it and not just work construction. He brought me here to build, yes, but to learn to fly and get my mechanics license too. I went into town to send off a package to home, get my hair cut and, of course, get some coffee:). I received an email the day before from Dr. Busch telling me that I would get my letter from the FAA before his copy came to him and to let him know when mine came through.  I made my Starbucks stop first and then headed to the UPS store.  On my way there, Mark called me from ITEC telling me that I had a letter from the FAA. I nearly crashed the car i was so shocked and excited.  I was 75% sure that it was my medical certificate.  I had done everything God had told me to do and jumped through every hoop and used the people that God had put in my life to help me.  Even though I was confident, I prayed.  I told God that whatever was in that letter when I got to ITEC, I would still follow Him, I would not turn away, no matter what the cost.

When I got to ITEC and opened the letter, I felt my life-long dream shatter all around me.  My medical certificate had been denied.  After all the hoops I had jumped though, after all the tests I had done, after all the people I had met with, my dream of flying was not to be.  I didn't know what to do, as I turned each page, I was sure that there was going to be some sort of loop hole that they would let me fly.  I couldn't believe that this was happening.

My biggest question is, “Why? Why, God?  I know You have brought me all this way, and now you will not let me have my license?”  My whole life has lead up to flying in ministry, and God lead me to Steve Saint, to ITEC, he taught me so many things on so many adventures, and now I cannot fly? 

I sat in the conference room for what felt like hours but in reality was only about 30 minutes.  I texted Steve and asked if I could come over and talk to him after telling Troy about the letter.  I got there and found out that Troy had already texted Steve telling him about the letter.  I didn’t know what to do, I was totally devastated.

I talked with Steve and Ginny for nearly 2 hours.  I learned so much from them, it would take me all night to write it all down, but I walked out of there knowing that this is all part of God's plan. After being at ITEC for 6 months, I told Jamie that I realized that my view of missions has changed so much, and I have changed so much that I don;t even know who I am.  I had changed more in the last 6 months than I had in the last 6 years and that still holds true.  I told Steve and Ginny that, and I got the same answer from them as I got from Jamie, they looked at each other and then looked at me and said, "That’s a great place to be."  It is certainly not an easy place to be, though I am sure it is a good one. 

Steve and Ginny told me  stories of other men and women of the faith that had their dreams crushed only to realize God's dream--people like Steve's dad, Nate Saint, and people in the Bible like Job. People who knew that God had a reason for doing the things that He did and moved on following God regardless.  I plan to still follow God. I have no plans to stop. I am solid in my faith. I refuse to denounce God in any way or form.  There is obviously a plan that God has for me and it does not involve me having my pilot license--at least not yet.  I have not lost hope.

I am praying that I will get the opportunity to travel with Steve more or travel to represent ITEC in some form or another, then I will at least get to be in air some.  

I called my dad this evening to tell him about the FAA.  He told me a story that gave me hope and encouragement.  It was the kind of story that I believe every father should be able to tell his son at least once.  It was a story that shows you their is hope, and that your father was able to overcome and God gave him his dream.  

The story was that my dad signed up for the Navy to fly.  I inherited the same dream of flying from my dad.  After doing his physical he was told that his vision was 20/25 and the limit was 20/20, no exceptions.  My dads dreams were crushed, just like mine. A year and a half later, he graduated and ended up on a ship.  He was not the top of his class, nor the highest ranked, but when he was on the ship, he worked his tail off. He learned everything he could, and worked to the best of his ability. And the people that mattered on the ship noticed.  After that first tour, he was informed that the vision limit was changed to 20/30.  So he tried again to become a pilot, and after months of attempts, he got called from Washington offering a position as an NFO (naval flight officer) the back seat of the jet, The NFO basically runs the mission, does a lot of the co-pilot work which includes navigation.  He knew that was not what he wanted to do, he wanted to be the pilot so he turned down the offer, and continually attempted to become a pilot. One day, he got that dream and became a helicopter and jet pilot.  

After hearing that story from my dad, I respected him and really loved him as my dad.  It was probably the first time we actually connected on a scale that large and that close to the heart.  I am hoping to see him at Thanksgiving as long as I am still in town.

As for what is next, I am going to remain working for ITEC. I want to stay working full time ministry.  I have a lot I can learn from these people and I still am not losing hope that I will one day get my pilot license.  

My mind is in quite a weird place.  It is telling me that I should be in shock, but God has poured out his grace on me and I am still able to function and not fall into self-pity. Somehow, I know that this is not the end.  I know that I follow a God that can change anything in an instant, and regardless of whether I become a pilot or not, I will still follow Him.  I know that God is the Pilot-in-Command and I will stay with him no matter what maneuvers He does. I will make my plans and watch God smash it to bits as He places my steps on the trail He wants me to walk.  

One more observation is that my whole life, I have always had an end goal, or something to achieve. Once I accomplished one, I moved onto the next.  Now, it seems like God took away all those goals to teach me to let Him write the story and direct the way.  I do not regret making those goals, nor do I think I will refrain from making other ones.  On the contrary, God cannot use a man that sits still, so I will make plans and goals and sit back and watch God destroy them and show me His plan or simply point me in a direction.  
            If there is one thing I have learned in my time here at ITEC that is worth mentioning, it is to be flexible.  I can make all the plans that I want for each day’s work, but I have to be able to drop everything in an instant.  My day can change in one phone call. Or my week, or even month. I cannot even make plans more than a week or two out because I never know if I am going to be in town or not.  Once I was asked if I wanted to go flying, I obviously said yes, and after boarding the plane and taking off, I was informed that we were going to a town north of Atlanta.  Thankfully that night we flew back and I didn't have be out of town unprepared:)

I love you all and am very grateful for your prayers and support.  Have a wonderful day!!

Your brother in Christ,


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Oshkosh Part 1

Again, i wrote this blog about a week ago, so you will have to go back in time.  I am calling this Oshkosh part 1 because I plan on writing about the rest of the air show and the trip home.  Thats the plan anyway:)  Hope you like it.   

So I am in Oshkosh, Wisconsin at the biggest airshow in the world.  It took us 3 days to get up here due to a combination of blown tires, news interviews, and people unwilling to drive late into the night, not to mention the people who could not manage to drink less. However, despite all the crazy turns our trip took, we managed to overcome our obstacles and arrive safely.

We set up the booth with all 5 of our Mavericks on Sunday morning and when we got back later in the afternoon we tried to relax some.  We were all so exhausted from the trip not to mention the past several months of working incredibly long hours.  I must say that I am not included in the long hours.  I rarely work on the Mavericks so I was more of a hindrance that a help in the Maverick shop. Automotive Mechanics is not that foreign to me, but this is an aircraft so it is a bit more important that things are done correctly, and I am not as adept at mechanics as I am at construction.  

Monday, the air show began.  The early crew got there around 8 am to put the final touches to our booth and get the Mavericks ready to display when the doors officially opened at 9.  Because we are the only flying car in production not to mention that the Maverick is plain out cool, our booth is constantly flooded with people.   After mentioning how amazed I was at the amount of people in our booth, I was informed that this was a slow day.  Quite the thing you want to hear when you repeatedly tell everyone every awesome thing you know about the Maverick.  I must say, I am becoming quite the salesman, every time I talk to someone new, I sound more and more professional.
Our booth is right across the taxiway from the War Birds.  And since we are celebrating 100 years of Naval aviation (1911-2011) there are hundreds of the most incredible planes pulling in right near our booth.  I really like the old military planes, they are all huge! Every time I walk up to the engine I realize that each blade on the prop is almost as long as I am tall, and some are even longer than that.

Tuesday evening we brought the original Maverick home with us.  We are flying at the air show Friday or Saturday morning and we wanted to give it a check ride and make sure that it was fit to fly since we haven’t flown it in a few months.  There is a guy who has a private airstrip on his farm about 3 or 4 miles away that we took off from.  It was great, Troy did the test flight and it flew wonderfully.

This morning we woke up to quite a bit of rain.  It wasn’t too hard, but it had been raining all night and didn’t stop till about 2 in the afternoon.  I rode in the Maverick with Jamie while Steve drove it back to our booth.  There were several very important things that were in the tent that were wet.  For one, the computer that was set up with the Maverick simulator was sitting in a puddle of water, for two, someone’s backpack was left open with a laptop and iPad and both were damp.  And for 3, several books were wet and our white Maverick T shirts got wet and the color is all smudged in the material.

After we were all set up, it was still drizzling, and only a few people were in the booth so I went and walked around to see the planes.  I went from plane to plane admiring each one and enjoying the time by myself in the rain and relatively quite time.  As I looked at planes, jets, helicopters, and visited each booth and pricing flying equipment that I plan to get as soon as I have my license, I spent that time thinking.  I had gone with Steve to park the cars in the lots and as we walked back I asked a question I really wanted to ask for a while.  I wondered what I did or didn’t do that made him get impatient with me.  I asked the question in more detail and with some examples but that is basically what I was asking.
For an answer I got more of a life lesson, and definitely not what I expected at all.  I have spent a lot of time wondering whether I should bring anything up or whether I should just deal with it, but to my utter shame, I thought he would be apologetic and sympathetic and understanding ,so I brought it up.  I have some how come to this point where I think that I am right, and invincible, not weak in any way, have a good work ethic, and not easily swayed by anything.

Steve pointed out some things about me that I have been refusing to see, I honestly didn’t even realize that I had been turning a blind eye.  In the circle of guys I hang with now, I can be swayed so that I stay in their good books and remain a “friend”.  I also realized that these past few weeks, my work ethic has plummeted, I dislike even mentioning it cause it is quite a blow to realize that I am letting down the men and women that have taught me to work.  This is on a much different scale than I remember, because God raises bar in our lives all the time and I have been taught to realize when God does that, and I missed it this time.

But most of all, the most painful, yet most obvious is the realization that I have weaknesses and that I am not invincible.  I don’t mean that I would survive a bullet to the head.  What I mean is that I thought that I was strong morally and spiritually on all fronts, there was nothing that could get to me.  I could withstand any attack the enemy throws at me, no matter which angle.  I am just as likely to fall as the next man, I don’t like having weaknesses, and like even less admitting the fact. But it is the truth.
I write all this for several reasons. First and foremost is that I need prayer.  And I will give some specifics here.  1.) Please pray that I would be more faithful with reading my bible. I tend to be on and off with it.  And I continually tell myself that I am too busy.  That is a lame excuse and should not be tolerated, we would never dream of getting up in the morning and not brushing our teeth, therefore I should not leave for work without reading my bible.   2.) Pray for my medical to come through.  After all the loops I have jumped through to get this medical I can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel.  I met with the medical examiner I met at Sun-N-Fun and he send it into the FAA.  However just this past weekend the FAA was on the news and they are going through a bit of a crisis of some sort, the details of which I will spare you so you don’t get too bored.  
To all the people that have invested in my life: I promise to work harder to remember what you taught me and to walk the straight and narrow and to walk constantly with Christ in sight without anything getting between me and Him.  I love all of you so much and cant wait to see you all again.  

Your brother in Christ,