It’s hard to believe that six months ago, almost to the day, we arrived back in the U.S., and began preparing a helicopter for service in the Philippines. It has been an amazing, faith building, frustrating and yet exhilarating six months. As I pondered what to title this post, ideas like “How To Hit a Moving Target”, and “How NOT to Plan Ahead” ran through my mind. I settled on “I can’t write fast enough” because our last post Gideon: God loves the impossible, contained a timeline that was outdated by the time we published it!
Over a month ago, we shipped a box to the Philippines containing canned pumpkin, turkey stuffing mix, and other Thanksgiving goodies because we fully expected to be back in the Philippines settled in a house on the island of Mindanao long before Thanksgiving. No sooner had we shipped the box than we learned of several issues that would further delay our return to the Philippines:
I (Josh) need to complete my commercial helicopter license before we return. Helicopter maintenance, preparing our spare parts inventory for the helicopter and planning the details of the portable hangar and shop that we need to build on Mindanao have slowed the process of getting my commercial license some, but I hope to take my check ride the first week of December.
There were some issues with some of our visa paperwork. They are mostly resolved now, but we are still waiting on one more document from the Philippine Consulate.
After the initial break-in flights on the helicopter we just rebuilt, we discovered just this week that the overhaul facility that overhauled the helicopter engine incorrectly set the internal timing, so we removed the engine and are waiting for it to come back from the overhaul facility for the second time.
Due to some changes in Philippines customs law, we will not be able to ship the helicopter to the Philippines until January at the earliest.
Where do we go from here?
Despite these challenges, and the driving urgency we feel to return to the field and restore flight service to our church planting teams, there has been an incredible peace, and even joy, as we have watched the Lord work out HIS plans and timing as we pursue him and the task that he has called us to. The best way I can describe our journey is like an extreme roller coaster. Yes, there are ups and downs, unexpected drops, hairpin turns and loops, but really what I am thinking of is the exhilaration that comes from knowing that despite the feelings of danger, chaos and the unexpected, we are safely and comfortably restrained in the arms of our Father, and just like a roller coaster, nothing will happen that was not planned and intended by it’s designer!
As we have talked and prayed with our team, both here in Arizona and in the Philippines, we believe that our best course of action now is to wait until early January (or even New Year’s Eve if tickets are cheap enough!) to return to the Philippines. This ensures that I have time to complete my Commercial Helicopter rating, and the reality is, there is very little that we could accomplish in the Philippines during the last two weeks of December because of Christmas holidays.
How you can be a part!
First, Praise the Lord with us for his provision for our visas and for our airline tickets to return to the Philippines! We serve an Awesome God!
Please pray with us for the rest of Josh’s training process to go well – Everything from good flying weather to instructor and examiner availability, as well as the hand-eye coordination and mental capacity to learn and do everything required for a commercial helicopter pilot’s license. While there is much more advanced training and experience that will be required before Josh is prepared to fly for missionaries overseas, gaining the commercial helicopter license is a huge step in that direction.
Pray too for all of the paperwork and logistics required to ship the helicopter and set up a new flight program. This seems at times like a nearly insurmountable obstacle, but our God is able!
Finally, please pray with us for financial provision as well as stamina for the year ahead of us. We will need to pack up and ship our vehicle as well as all of our appliances, furniture and belongings from Palawan to Mindanao at some point next year, as well as returning to the U.S. again to complete advanced helicopter training in preparation for flying overseas. This, in addition to settling in to a new language and culture (An entirely different language is spoken on Mindanao), starting up a new flight program, and liquidating the airplane and all of the NTM Aviation assets on Palawan will make for a very busy and expensive year:
- Round-trip travel expenses to Palawan and the U.S. next year: $8000
- Moving expense (Vehicle + 20′ shipping container via sea from Palawan to Mindanao): $4000
If you believe the Lord might have you be a part of our financial team, check out our give page here