The first few months of 2021 have brought me some unique experiences. I was flying a 182 in Canada getting prepared with instruction to take the Canadian license conversion. One flight, my instructor and I were in Abbotsford, BC, Canada, and we were taxiing out for departure. The wind was moderate and gusty, so I was taxiing carefully. We had taxied for the better part of ten minutes and as I approached the hold-short line of the departure runway, the airplane started pulling fairly strongly to the right. I could tell something wasn't right because I was having to use more and more left rudder to keep it on the centerline. I started using more power and kept moving as best as I could forward. I was so confused. The only thing that made sense was that the wind had increased and the airplane was trying to weather-vein into the wind. We finished the run-up and were cleared for takeoff. I was having to use a lot of throttle to make the airplane budge and a quick glance out the instructors window revealed that we had a flat tire. We told tower the situation and they canceled our clearance and sent a vehicle to help. With some help, we got the tire inflated and we continued our flight.
Within a short time of settling in, Norman and Nancy started sourcing funds for a new truck for MiracleAir, and God worked out a miracle and supplied one for a good price. The Hansen's were also able to make a difference for 32 young Nicaraguan students who received MiracleAir scholarships funded by generous donors.
Just when things seemed to be going well, everything changed. A routine physical exam revealed that Nancy had two malignant cancer tumors and was scheduled for surgery right away. With good health insurance and a dedicated team of professionals, Nancy's 5 hour surgery was successful. The healing process will take several months, so please keep the Hansen's in your continued prayers! From what I understand, Nancy will be will continue recovery for a few months into the summer and fall.
During this time of apparent uncertainty, Norman and Nancy are working with Nicaraguan lawyers to finish setting up a MiracleAir NGO (Non-Government Organization). Over the past few months, we have made progress towards approval for the flight operations and bringing our first airplane into Nicaragua. Until now, MiracleAir has been working with officials high up in the Nicaraguan government, and after a meeting with the official's office staff who has been in charge of approval, we learned that this official was recently promoted and he then directed them to meet with the local governor on the Caribbean coast, who just happens to be good friends with the Hansens. This could be the beginning of a wonderful answer to many prayers!
To fly the Canadian registered BushHawk, a series of steps that had to be done in-person with Transport Canada. An opportunity arose where I was able to cross the boarder as flight crew and still be in compliance with the Canadian boarder crossing requirements and so I spent most of April in Canada completing the commercial written tests and verifying my licenses and documents. Keith LaRoy and I were able to spend some time team-building and learning to work more effectively together.
Once in Canada, Keith and I had the privilege of meeting with a supporter in Revelstoke, BC who has a large gold mining operation. In the slower times of the year, he organizes and sends shipping containers full of food and other supplies to needy places all over the world. His suppliers have been sending him pallets of both Spanish and English literature for several months now. He has seen God work in mysterious ways in the past and even though he didn't have anywhere to send the Spanish books, he decided to accept them. When he heard about MiracleAir, he knew why God had been supplying Spanish materials to him and agreed to send these pallets to Nicaragua.
One of my most exciting things I got to do during my time in Canada was to get a helicopter lesson. I have had an interest in helicopters for quite some time, and this helicopter ride happened at BC Helicopters. In the past, I was a passenger on a handful of helicopter flights, but this one was different. This was my first helicopter instruction flight and I became very excited. I shadowed the instructor with the controls on two takeoffs and landings and then I got my chance to practice hovering. I understood the concept but I hadn't had a chance to try it. My expectations for myself getting it on the first try were low, as it isn't typically something students learn right away.
When the instructor gave me control of the anti-torque pedals, I discovered it was easier than I feared, possibly due to my previous experience in more rudder sensitive airplanes such as conventional gear (tailwheel) and floatplane configured aircraft.
Adding the collective (controls that adjust the amount of lift generated by the the blades) to the pedals proved more challenging but I surprised myself how quickly I got the rough feel of it. There were a few moments where I would overcorrect then it was a challenge to stabilize. For me, it was actually easier to take control of all three. My mind was concentrated and took in so much information, but I was able to hover without the instructor's help. It was so satisfying to me!
I practiced hovering for several minutes and it wasn't long before I started smoothing out the control inputs and started getting the feel of how to fly a helicopter. My instructor was impressed with where my skills were at, even though this was my first lesson with only shadowing controls before.
A few days later, I took and passed the FAA to TC (Transport Canada) conversion exam for commercial and finished sending in my documents to be processed. If all goes well, I should have my license mailed to me in July.
In the middle of June, I was offered an opportunity to work with a friend of mine on a handful of airplane maintenance projects in Texarkana, Arkansas. One of the bigger projects was an airplane that needed some work after the completion of its 100-hour inspection. It had been a little while since I had worked on airplanes, so I was glad for the opportunity. While I was there working, we got word that a fellow fleet plane had gotten a flat nose tire while on a cross country flight and needed to be fixed and flown back. We arrived onsite and noted what we were up against. We had a spare nose-wheel with us as well as some basic tools. It became clear that the tire on the airplane wasn't going to hold air, and our replacement was necessary. We took off the tire in a rather improvised way, using only a simple set of tools. Once the new tire was secured on the airplane, we checked everything and prepared to fly the 45 minute flight back.
I had a few more opportunities to fly various aircraft while I was there, but the focus was maintenance experience, and I was satisfied with the projects I was able to help with. One of the fun projects that I helped with was dynamically balancing several aircraft propellers at a neighboring airport. This is a fairly sophisticated process where two devices are mounted onto the engine case. One measures vertical vibrations, and the other is a laser/receiver that sends a laser beam bouncing off special reflective tape on one of the propeller blades to allow the computer to align the vertical vibrations with the position of the propeller. The computer suggests what weight the mechanic should add at specific screw points to offset the uneven vibrations of the propeller. I had a fun time with that process and seeing such an improvement in the smoothness of the engine.
From Texarkana, I caught a flight to Saint Louis, Mo, to meet Keith and Jennifer LaRoy with the goal of setting out on a fundraising tour with the BushHawk which was based at Wings of Hope.
All went as planned, and after a wonderful dedication service at Wings of Hope, we set out for Collegedale, Tennessee. We had a beautiful flight, and landed in the evening. We stayed through the weekend and had the opportunity to share for vespers at a local congregation, and then on Saturday, we split into two teams and had the privilege of sharing at two congregations about what God was doing in Nicaragua.
Saturday afternoon, we had another meeting where we shared about MiracleAir with those who came to the event at the airport. It was fun seeing the young people getting excited about mission aviation and many of them have a newfound interest in missions after that open-house.
On Sunday, we packed up and flew the 5 hour flight up to Ionia, Michigan, to attend a camp meeting that my family and I had gone to in years past, and this time MiracleAir had the opportunity to have a booth in the exibit. The second weekend, I was scheduled to speak to the kindergarteners and juniors about missions and missionary aviation.
I told some of my testimony about how God had called me to be a missionary and how MiracleAir is using aviation to spread the gospel more quickly. When I asked the young people how many wanted to be missionaries, about half of the little ones raised their hands excitedly. Every time I see that kind of energy towards missions, it really excites me and rekindles the fire in me to serve.
We looked at using a hangar for the BushHawk in Ionia, Michigan, where I did my aviation mechanics and flight training. I also scheduled two devotional talks at the school. Being back at SMAT (the School of Missionary Aviation Technology) brought back so many memories! The training I got there was just what I needed to prepare me for missionary aviation service.
I shared my testimony to the maintenance class. The next morning, I shared with the flight training team for their devotional time. The devotional I shared for the flight class was about my most unexpected frustration as a new missionary - Patience to trust God's timing. Many times for me, and probably most of us, we struggle when unexpected things come up that are out of our plan or control. As humans, we like things to go our way and in our time. However, God knows what we need better than we do, and every time I pause and look back, the plan I had set in my mind was much inferior to what God's plans were. I like the following quote from a devotional I have appreciated reading from:
God never leads His children otherwise than they would choose to be led, if they could see the end from the beginning and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling as co-workers with Him.
In preparing to serve in Nicaragua, I have experienced many delays, as many of you who are following my progress already know. There have been times where the delays and changes have been hard for me to accept and be okay with, but in all of this, God saw I needed more refinement. He has been working on my character as I have been preparing to serve. Looking back, all the delays and seemingly frustrating points, I can see God's hand working things out and at the same time allowing me to trust him to refine those weak areas, for which I'm thankful.
After the camp-meeting finished, the LaRoys continued flying westbound to continue their fundraising trip.
After Keith and Jennifer left, I started packing. I had another exciting adventure to go on. Although it wasn't going to Nicaragua yet, I was excited because this trip was going to be a fairly good taste for what Nicaragua is like. I'm part of a team renovating a clinic in Momostenango, Guatemala. More details about this trip will be on my social media accounts, and I also plan to share more in a future newsletter.
In mid July through mid August, Keith & Jennifer LaRoy and I have been accepted to join the Adventist Frontier Mission's student mission training program in Michigan, USA. I'm really looking forward to this mission program!
In addition to AFM's mission preparation training, I have recently been accepted into a program located in North Carolina and is called the Missionary Medicine Intensive (MMI). This unique program is intended to prepare students to be able to diagnose and treat many common (and deadly) tropical illnesses, and also help me feel more confident in helping with Medical transport in the airplane as well. Many of you have been asking when I'm planning to leave, and MMI in October is the last event I have on my schedule before going to Nicaragua. My goal for now is to be in Nicaragua or at least a neighboring country learning the language by the new year, and possibly sooner.
Thanks to all of you for your amazing support, I have about half of my monthly support pledged so far which I am so grateful for! I feel so humbled as I see how God is working in so many hearts to give to MiracleAir and make a difference for eternity. My personal monthly goal is $4500 a month. Most of my budget is helping to fundraise for Medical evacuation, and a two hour flight can cost close to $1000 USD. Some of this budget will go towards building a house for our staff and me to live in, and a part of this budget goes towards my personal living expenses and supplies. If you want to give, Donate Here.
One of my biggest needs is increasing my number of supporters to join the MiracleAir support team and contribute to my monthly financial goal on the regular basis. If you have questions, don't hesitate to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
God is faithful. He has been providing in countless ways for us and it is so exciting looking forward to learning the language and helping the people of Nicaragua!
In his service,