Since our flight program on Palawan closed in 2014, God has grown and stretched us in some unexpected ways. Much like Isaiah, before we came to the Philippines, we told the Lord: “Here we are, send us.” Little did we know where that commitment would take us. At the same time that the Palawan flight program was closing, we were beginning a massive transition in the Philippines from using Cessna 185 bush planes, to using Robinson helicopters. As sad as it was to see our “Missionary Bush Pilot” role come to an end, we soon realized that the Lord was freeing us up to handle the mind-boggling logistics that were required for this project. Some of our tasks over the four years have been:
- Surveys and People Group Assessments to determine church planting strategies and needs
- Overhaul and customization of a Robinson helicopter for use in the Philippines
- Export paperwork, disassembly and crating of one Robinson helicopter and one Cessna 185 for shipping back to the U.S.
- Import paperwork, Registration and Airworthiness process, and assembly of two Robinson helicopters for service in the Philippines
- Liquidation and shipping our shop and hangar equipment from Palawan to our new facility on Mindanao
- Locating and leasing land, and building a new helicopter hangar and flight center on Mindanao
- Serving as supply buyer for church planting teams on Mindanao
- Serving as regional security/safety coordinator for our mission
We always assumed that once we were finished with the logistics of transitioning from bush planes to helicopters, that Josh would complete the flight training requirements to fly helicopters in the Philippines, and that we would continue with the ministry that brought us to the Philippines 9-1/2 years ago. As we have talked and prayed with our leadership team over the last few months though, it has become clear that the Lord has given us other gifts that are needed on the field.
So…big drum roll…our new ministry is…two roles:
1. Director of Maintenance in the Philippines with Ethnos360 Aviation for our helicopter operations and 2. Ethnos360 field leadership team in the Philippines, helping to provide strategy and vision for the field and especially working with new missionaries coming to the field. Our mission language school is moving to the town that we live in and so all new missionaries arriving in the Philippines will be doing language and culture study in our town. We hope to encourage and help them in any way that we can as they adjust to Filipino culture.
Our time in the Philippines has looked very different than we imagined and we never thought we would be doing anything but serving our missionaries by flying for them. But God had a different plan. The realization that we will not be flying anymore has been hard. Many tears have been shed. But we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that our God is good and He knows what is best for us and there is joy in following Him, even when it means leaving things we love behind.
We are excited to see how the Lord will use us to expand his kingdom in these new roles and we see these new roles as being a really good fit for our family. We look forward to sharing more with you in person before we return to the Philippines in May. Please contact us if you would like to schedule a time to get together and hear more about the amazing things God is doing among the indigenous peoples of the Philippines.