Thursday, December 27, 2007

Here We Go!

Tomorrow afternoon we'll leave home...and will be gone a whole month. For a family of five, that means lots to pack and plan for! Entertainment for the road, winter gear, diapers, home school books and supplies, clothes, snacks, camera, cat, litter box, cat food, gps, and lots more!! We'll spend two weeks in Tennessee with Jerry doing a lot of flying and studying getting ready for the T.E. (Technical Evaluation....yes the one we keep talking about and have been preparing for a looooong time, or so it seems, the one Jerry must pass so our acceptance with AIM-AIR - at least with Jerry as a pilot/mechanic- can become official official...ready to fly to Kenya official!)
...then the kids look forward to the next ten days being spoiled rotten by Grandmaita & Grandpa Sellers at their home in Indiana while Jerry faces the ten day evaluation in North Carolina. Breanna will tag along as moral support.

We crave your fervent prayers for this time!! We know God is in control, and will trust...but need the holy spirit's calming of our sometimes fraying nerves. We'll try and keep you updated here as much as possible (assuming we have internet connections where we'll be staying, don't about that yet!) Please pray the kids travel well and handle separation well(maybe we should be praying for Breanna, here!) They don't spend this much time apart from us normally :)

Since we don't yet have trip are some from our awesome Christmas together here in Minnesota.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Painstaking Family Photo

Grace: "If we took our picture inside, maybe I would cooperate."

I (Breanna) had a great idea for our annual family Christmas photo. Since we are currently living in the land of however many lakes...why not a picture with our lake in the background? Jerry grumbled that I would require him to not wear his coat (even thought he had on a long sweater), and the kids, especially Grace whined about the cold wind. I didn't think it was too much to ask to withstand the cold for a few minutes for art... and posterity...a photo lasts forever! I was wrong and have since been labeled the enemy of family warmth and comfort. Occupational hazard of the memory keeping, scrap booking mom determined to attain just one great family photo a year! Any one else out there feel my pain?!
Here are some examples of this seemingly never ending process to capture 2 chubby adults looking somewhat lean and three kids all smiling, eyes open and looking in the same general direction.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Fuel, Wind, and Tears

Happy Thanksgiving! While we all let our bodies recover from piles of turkey, ham, dressing, or pie, I thought I would share a story.

One advantage of having the shop close to the house is the random visits from our kids. Yesterday Isaiah came over and as usual was overjoyed to see the airplanes packed into the hangar. I was asked to get the King Air out and fueled so it would be ready for a flight in 45 minutes.

The pilot asked if I knew where the tug hooked onto the nose gear. Good question, but it stung a little. A month ago I had sheared off two studs on a Piper Navajo by hooking the tow bar up to them. They were actually for pulling the gear door up, not designed for tugging the airplane. And if I had thought a little harder I would have realised that. In fact, in my mind I replayed all the tragic tugging stories I had ever heard at Cessna.

I put Isaiah in our tug, a modified Dodge truck with a very short wheel base and duallies. His two year old excitement was piqued as the big white turbo prop followed our truck around just feet away from us.

The temperature was in the mid 20's (Fahrenheit) with winds at 20 knots gusting to 30. I smacked my face into the right prop after hooking up the grounding strap. Stupid four blade props ... mutter mutter mutter.

My face was on fire, my fingers numb, and the King Air has anti-siphon flaps that prevent me from pumping fuel in at a fast rate. As I start to feel sorry for myself, I look back at the tug. I turned it off to keep the unthinkable from happening, but Isaiah was standing up and looking out the back window away from the airplane. I could tell what he was thinking.

"Look at me! Look over here. I'll be done soon" My thoughts didn't reach him. I could tell he was getting worried.

Come ON! Isn't this tank full yet?

I guess at times I feel way out of my element. I don't think much about it, but it does feel weird not being an experienced worker. Behind my white vaneer desk and black plastic monitor as an engineer in Wichita, things seemed more ... manageable. Definitely warmer. Now I make stupid mistakes as a mechanic, I am rusty at best as a pilot, and at times it just wells up inside ... Discomfort to put it mildly.

Fortunately, yesterday I was too numb to think about any of this. But Isaiah was out of his element and he was thinking about it. As I finished up the last tank, the inevitable happened - tears started to flow. I smiled, waved, even laughed ... he just shook his head.

The fuel cap did not want to go on right, the hose took forever to reel back in, but then I made it back into the truck. Isaiah was sitting next to me, and he was smiling again, trying hard to suck in his tears.

I pulled the airplane around to the terminal to park. Then drove back to the hangar to shut the door. As soon as I got out of the cab, turmoil, tragedy, and great wailing began. It was time for lunch, and I asked him if he wanted me to hold him.

He nodded.

"Do you want to go home"

Another nod, and a clear sign. To want to leave this wonderland of airplanes, airplanes, airplanes was not typical.

Yesterday Isaiah and I felt lost. There is no way I can summarize what that means to me. But I can relate to several characters in the Bible. Leaving their jobs, homes, families, whatever defined comfortable ... to be placed up in the air. Physically and emotionally it is just awful. Spiritually it is intense, vibrant, and edgy.

I carried Isaiah across the street and into the warmth of the house and the promise of a sandwich. Our fingers were stinging, faces red, cheeks moist, noses running, but inside our soul there was fire!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tail wheels, transitions, tests

The counter on the right has changed. The number jumped by 48 days. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Last week I enjoyed the hospitality of Lionel and Sarah Smith at Dove Airstrip. I received my tailwheel training from Monday to Wednesday AM in their Cessna 180.
Lionel has tons of instructing experience and has founded Christian Wings for the World.
His heart and passion are for training future missionary pilots. I came away rich in great tidbits and practical "tools" that will help as a pilot on the field.
Lionel even threw in two extra lessons at no charge as a way to help me prepare for my upcoming Technical Evaluation.
Speaking of which, the date has slid now to January 16. The reason is that Focus aviation training was canceled for November. January is my next shot.
The extra 48 days will be spent jamming my head full of flying and maintenance information ... and lots of prayer.
No matter how hard I study and train, I know the outcome rests in the Father's hands. He has led us this far for a reason, and God will be faithful ... no matter the outcome.

Friday, October 19, 2007

New news

Our October newsletter is almost ready to send... stay tuned! Subscribe by e-mail if you wish by using the link in the right bar.
Also, a new poll question is up for the week.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Healthy Paranoia

"I just bought this airplane on Ebay. It has incomplete maintenance records, something about repairing the rudder, but the paint looks nice. I need you tell me if it is airworthy so we can fly it home."
Thus began my fantastic afternoon. I broke out my stubby flat and phillips screwdrivers, inspection mirror, flashlight, and recalibrated my eyeballs.
To be fair, this was just a drill. The guys with Proclaim had "maintained" a Cessna 172 while I wasn't around. My challenge was to find what was wrong with it. It was a BLAST!
Despite how I choose to play guitar (just kind of improvise) when it comes to airplanes I do have an ... Attention to Detail side, apparently. Engineering had something to do with that. I found two pages of problems. I did miss some ... sigh! But it was a great challenge.
My favorite problem? The navigation light lenses were switched, so red was on the right wing, and green was on the left. Pretty tricky!
John told me the sense of paranoia I had because I knew something was wrong was something I should keep no matter what or when the situation is.
I better go. I probably said too much. I'll tell you more later, but I need to look for a payphone.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


"[Let's race]. First one there is a rotten old person!"

Monday, October 01, 2007

Life in Minnesota...for the Rest of the "herd"

Jerry posted with his experiences thus far as a mechanic in our new home...I am so grateful for a job he loves that gets him...and me, closer to our dream of being missionaries in Africa! But, you may ask, what about the rest of us?
Olivia's made friends, lots, already!! She's learned to crochet, is reading nearly nonstop, and coming up with lots of reasons why we should get a kitten. She loves to be a "home school" girl and have a lot of free time to read and crochet...and help mom too sorting and washing laundry, making meals, and helping look after Grace & Isaiah. Today in our new home church, "Journey", she was in her element -performing! She recited a memory verse on her own and sang with the kids' group.

Grace doesn't know a stranger and has had no trouble making acquaintances every where we go. She enjoyed decorating her side of her and Isaiah's room with dinosaur cut-outs and stickers. She's dinosaur/ Land Before Time crazy and is frequently a "long neck". Grace enjoys visiting our neighbors' two dogs: Socks & Cody, and kittens at a friend's nearby farm house. Grace is certainly the family entertainer and we love to hear the things that come out of her mouth ("Grace-isms"). Should we get one a kitten, Grace wants to name it, "Solution". Grace is enjoying "doing school" with Olivia in our class room/guest room, but wants frequent "fun breaks". She loves the early childhood preschool program we go to Monday evenings for her and Isaiah...they have all the fun things set up: a play kitchen, dinosaur toys and a sand box!

Isaiah makes this mommy tired!!The girls call him "Izzy busy". So appropriate! He's very much a 2 year-old boy full of energy and curiosity, and has to fight his sin-nature when we say, "no". He's in heaven living here at the airport. We frequently find him on his step stool by the window, yelling, "Pane. Dada." Plane. Daddy. He loves airplanes and knows that his dad does too, they just go together! He also likes his new room he shares with Grace, the airplanes Olivia put on the wall for him, and his Lightning McQueen, "Cars" bedding. He loves to be on the go, so much so, if someone mention the word "go". He comes running with his shoes, "Shoo. Go!" As he did in Wichita, he recognizes the route home and starts to fuss when he knows that's where we're headed. He's addicted to his pacifier, milk and baths, and pray for us...we need to start potty training soon! But his laugh... it's truly precious.

As for me, Breanna (if you hadn't gathered :), I attempt to keep the messes under control, the laundry & dishes mostly washed, and our home school lesson plans caught up. I am so thankful to God and those who prayed that this move has been so extraordinarily seamless! My biggest worry was that Olivia would settle in quickly and there wouldn't be too many tears. She fell in love with her room the moment she saw it and has loved her horse-loving retreat (she's decorated it as a stable with horses). She made friends practically immediately and says she loves it here.

I feel at home already. I've found a phenomenal home school mom's group and a women's bible study to join. The "Journey" church, I mentioned earlier, where we attend gave me the opportunity to help get them started with a children's ministry curriculum we do at Eastside in Wichita. I'll be teaching all of October, which if you know me, you know I'll have a blast!

The people with Proclaim could not have been more welcoming or accommodating! The house they provide for us was decorated gorgeously. They even had the beds made for us when we arrived, Uhaul and all, late at night. Though everyone knows we're transient, they welcome us with open arms.

This town is so beautiful. I like that I can easily find my way around (the small size helps!) The people are so nice and polite. I have been surprised at the variety of cultures found Gioconda (Ecuadorian wife of Proclaim Aviation's co-founder, John Armstrong) puts it, "When I close my eyes and listen [to the voices around me], I feel like I'm home." Several times in Wal-Mart, I've felt like I was home in Costa Rica.

There are lots more boxes to unpack, but praise God, I'm putting things away at HOME! Yet, I still can't wait for the day when our possessions find a more permanent resting place on a shelf in Kenya, east Africa!


"Mom, you're crackin' me nuts!"

Saturday, September 08, 2007

My week as a mechanic

This week I got out of the house and into the hangar. It has been challenging, but at the end of the day, it feels good. Lucky for me, this was only a four day work week. The main focus was an annual inspection on a baron (think Beechcraft, not royalty ... we're talking aviation remember).

This week followed a weekend of attending a free festival in Sioux Falls, SD called LifeLight. Amazing what was packed into three days. On Monday we were invigorated and tired. On a side note, we have a great radio station here, called the Refuge, that plays a lot of great tunes from some talented Christian groups.

Wednesday saw me off to Scott City KANSAS ... Deja Vu I guess. It was a business trip and I became quite familiar with the airport terminal and the Wendy's in town. It was my first challenging situation as a pilot here, how to fill up six hours in a terminal building. More of Scott City to come, I'm sure.

Tomorrow is the 60th anniversary celebration of the airport. Pancakes, aircraft on display, aircraft rides, sky divers, and an aerobatic demonstration. Today we cleaned up one of the hangars and I did a familiarization flight in the Cessna 172 to get ready for the scenic flights tomorrow.

I guess no two days have been alike yet (out of four!) and I love it!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The week in a new town

I am sitting in the public library listening to Costa Rican radio over the internet. Between e-mails I thought I would catch you up on the week.
Minnesota has been very good to us. Everybody has been extremely helpful. Dave and Jen helped us move up here, and helped us unload the U-Haul. They left Monday morning.

The people at Proclaim have let us use this week to unpack, unwind, and get familiar with the town. I would love to say that unpacking is over, but sadly it will be a long process as we decide what should go where, and if we really need it at all!

Here is what did get done:

Sunday we found a local Ethiopian restaurant, called the "Queen Sheba." It has a great abandoned Hotel lobby feel to it, mainly because it's in an abandoned hotel. Plan on a long meal, though. The lady who hosts the restaurant does everything, and I mean everything! It warmed my heart to hear Grace tell her she was very beautiful. The food was great, and all made from scratch.

(As an aside, we once drove from Wichita to Kansas City just to eat at an Ethiopian Cafe, so we feel incredibly lucky to have one in our little town!)

On Tuesday I found out that we can only get driver's licenses on Tuesday. So I crammed for my driving test and got my Minnesota driver's license and motorcycle license too!

Some friends from Proclaim, Jim and Kim, who have a farm near here, brought us some great fresh meat. I cooked them up for our first BBQ at the house. It was the first day that didn't threaten to blow us away, and it was great outside.

The weather has been gorgeous. We are enjoying it while we can. The kids are swimming in the lake with Breanna. We hope it lasts for awhile... winter is coming!

Sunday, August 26, 2007


At 2200 we pulled in to our new home in SW Minnesota. The Garmin GPS we used to navigate up with tried to get us lost a couple times, but we made it!

The house is all set to live in including food in the fridge and cabinets. John from Proclaim Aviation met us last night with a warm welcome and a quick tour of the house.

Our friends Dave and Jennifer drove up with us with their two daughters.
We will unpack today. It should be a quick chore with all the helping hands we will have!
Oh, BTW... my work will be about 100 ft from the front door. Not to bad!
Olivia studies a much thinner phone book

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Goodbye yellow brick road

The house is empty, the floors shiny, the walls are bare. The U-haul is 2/3 full, and we are all exhausted.
Tomorrow we will run to Goodwill, the doctor, and the dump, then turn north. 8.5 hours should bring us to Worthington. The guys at Proclaim Aviation are all set to meet us, and the house should be ready for us to crash.
I am sure there is a flurry of emotions. Yesterday was my last day at Cessna. It took all afternoon to say goodbye. Today the house slowly emptied. But I am too tired to really care.
When it hits me I will have more to say.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Monday, August 13, 2007

Safari Send-off Party - August 22

Our last hurrah in Wichita will be a farewell party for the kids. A friend is hosting it for us on August 22nd. We are going to decorate cookies, play games, and If you are interested in coming, or would like to help out, please contact us (scroll down and click on "view my complete profile").

Today was our commissioning service. It had a larger effect on me than I thought it would. The realization that today starts a new era for us hit home. It was great to have AIM reps Dale and Suzanne and my friend Rob as well as my mom and dad there to be with us! It was a good time, and the kids did well (despite Grace's concern she would have to go into the baptismal!)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Commissioning service - August 12

August 12th, Eastside Community Church:
9 am & 11am
We are going to share with our home church about where we have been and what are going to be doing. It will be a chance for us to leave for Minnesota with our church's support and prayer.

All are welcome! A map is here.

The countdown is on!

To my immediate right you will notice the number of days until we move~ and the number is getting smaller. I remember last winter seeing 149. Time has flown since then.
I will post up and coming dates for us. We want to touch base with everyone before we leave, but we alas we are also bound by the constraints of time and space. So, until we can find our pause button, we will catch up with as many friends as we can. We will miss our friends here ... and we remember the sting of goodbyes.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Mustang farewell

This week I no longer work on the Citation Mustang. I joined the project in July of 2003. It was my first real stab at doing Electrical design work. My previous projects were installation designs for the electrical components.
The Mustang team was fabulous. I learned and learned and learned about things you never find out about in school. It will be interesting to read the articles on the Mustang and see how well it does out in the field. My gut tells me the reliability and performance numbers will continue to get better. I think it is still a sleeper with regards to revolutionary design.
The highlights for me were the environmental control and the flap control. Both were brand new. We kept everything simple -- saving millions of $ and also improving maintainability. The program hit all the due dates, beating most of them. Performance numbers were better than what were targeted. It's a big deal considering this was a completely clean sheet design.
The entire team was driven, motivated, creative, and practical jokes were abundant (at least around my area). It has been a real privilege for me to have been a part of this. I think only God could have timed this so perfectly!

Olivia, Grace, and I sitting in Mustang Production Unit 2 during the certification party. This airplane was sold through Sam's Club and will be delivered this year.

Monday, June 11, 2007

One month later

I tagged along with my friend, Rob, to fly in an employee's club Cessna 172. As we scanned for traffic and watched the moving maps, reggae was playing on the XM radio (the station, to our amusement, was named "The Joint"). My limited experience with "airborne" XM radio confirms my belief that this drop beat music is the best to listen to while flying! Yes, I know I am spoiled. No worries, I don't expect this luxury while flying in Kenya ... I plan on humming to myself!

Our objective, actually Rob's objective, was to photograph Greensburg from the air. As you know, a massive tornado (classified as an EF-5) tore through the town of Greensburg during its 30 minutes on the ground. In fact, this was the first time a tornado of this magnitude had hit the United States since the turn of the century/ millenium.

There is still a temporary flight restriction, so we carefully stayed at least 3,000 feet above the town.

Outside of town, damage was barely noticeable. Some mangled trees, a twisted irrigation pipe. The grass was green and from the air looked normal. The frequent rains no doubt played their part to cover up the tracks.

Inside the town was completely different. Some houses still were piles of debris. Others were completely dug out, leaving dry, hollow sockets in the ground. National Guard tents were erected to serve as a field hospital. Tents and campers occupied the football and baseball fields. Trailers had been brought in as homes and some possibly to serve as schoolhouses in the fall. Smoke was clearly visible several miles northwest of town, probably burning off trash.
Tempory schoolhouse buildings?

Football field with tents and campers

Field Hospital

Northwest of town

Largest hand dug well (the circular hole amidst the square ones)

I've been told the town will be rebuilt completely from scratch. They plan on using high efficiency materials and systems for the new town. Local response has been awesome, and I know prayers continue to be raised for the citizens of the town.

The return to Wichita left me thinking about tragedies that so easily occur next door and around the world. The reason and purpose seem to grow and blossom awhile after the fact. The greater part is beyond comprehension, but I am sure that I want to be a part of God's purpose, helping until restoration is complete.

See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.

Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.