Thursday, August 21, 2014

MMS Aviation evaluation week

Here are the details on our trip to Coshocton, Ohio....

  • Saturday at 1am: David and I (Allison) arrived at the Port Columbus, Ohio, airport and bunked down for the remainder of the night. We picked up a rental car at the airport at 9am and drove 1 1/2 hours to Coshocton, Ohio.
  • The MMS Aviation HR director and his wife, Dan and Juli Pottner, met us at Stalter House, a house owned by the mission organization. We ate lunch, shopped for groceries, and settled into the house MMS Aviation had arranged for our accommodations. We contemplated exploring the neighborhood but settled for a 4 hour nap instead.
  • Sunday morning: David and I attended a local Christian and Missionary Alliance church and worshiped with the church body there. We were warmly welcomed. 
  • Sunday afternoon, we explored the local historic village and enjoyed a tour about an antique toy collection from the 1900s. We managed to stay inside shops each time the pouring rain ensued. After our adventure to the past, we returned home for another nap and enjoyed an evening walk around the neighborhood which included the county fairgrounds.
  • Monday morning: David arrived at the hangar in time for devotions with the staff and apprentices and began a three day work evaluation. David helped with an annual inspection of a Diamond DA40 plane. During this time, he measured the cable tension and  ROM of the rudders.  I (Allison) enjoyed a prayer meeting and potluck with some of the staff wives and learned a lot about their lives, challenges, joys, experiences, etc.
  • Monday afternoon: One of the staff wives provided me (Allison) with a very thorough tour Coshocton and the nearby Amish country. The best part of the tour was arriving in Berlin, Ohio (not Germany sadly) to sample cheese at Heini's, one of the local cheese markets. Heini's is renowned for its cheeses, fudge, free samples, and Amish heritage. David helped disassemble an engine block to replace O-rings and then reassembled the engine block.
  • Monday evening: David and I were only slightly lost finding the way to dinner with the Director of Training and his wife, Bob and Lisa Schwartz. We spent a delightful evening learning about Bob and Lisa, their missionary experiences, MMS Aviation, and being tactfully interviewed. Bob Schwartz has a degree in Biblical Studies, Counseling, and maybe a few other things. You can definitely tell how much God has developed a caring shepherd's heart in this man.  We spent quite a bit of time with the Schwartz family over the course of the week.
  • Tuesday morning: David returned to the hangar for the 7:30-4 work evaluation. David worked all day removing paint from an airplane's wings so the exposed metal could be assessed for damage. His afternoon was filled with drilling out rivets and removing damaged sheet metal.  I enjoyed a quiet morning writing some thank you notes and cleaning up at the Stalter house. Lisa Schwartz joined me to share some leftovers for lunch and we talked a long time about family background, Bible college, mentoring, and what my (Allison's) role as an apprentice wife might look like. Lisa shared a lot about her life as a single missionary and, later, a missionary wife. Lunch lasted into the afternoon but there was just enough time for some email communication before David arrived home.
  • Tuesday evening: Dinner at Dwight and Rena Jarboe's house, CEO and President of MMS Aviation. We enjoyed a home cooked meal again and the graciousness of hosts we had barely met. We also enjoyed learning about their mission experiences; Dwight is a wonderful storyteller. Our evening wrapped up with a playfully competitive game of Phase 10. You may guess who the winner was but the answer will not be David.  He was a good sport about it.
  • Wednesday morning: David began his day at the hangar with a devotional about shepherding your wife. The guest speaker, a local pastor, asked each man at the table to share who he was and how long he had been married. The expression on the pastor's face indicated he was a little surprised when he started with David and learned we had only been married 10 months! :o)   That morning, David began the process to install protective rubber boots on the horizontal stabilizers (the small wings at the back of the plane). These boots help protect the leading edge of the stabilizer from rocks and other debris kicked up on dirt runways.  I arrived at the hangar around 10am for an impromptu meeting with Bob and Lisa Schwartz to discuss everything from finances to ministry roles. 
  • 2 hours later.... I (Allison) headed to the home of an apprentice and family for a lunch meeting the MMS apprentices' wives' held in my honor, so to speak. Several of the current, past, and future apprentice wives gathered together to meet and welcome me to the group. We did not have an invitation to join the mission organization yet but it did not make a bit of difference in the warmth, friendship, and fellowship I found among these women. Two of the staff wives organize and co-lead the bi-monthly meetings for apprentice wives to mentor and help prepare them for the mission field while their husbands go through the training program.  Meanwhile that afternoon, David replaced a vacuum pump on one of the planes in the hangar. This required removing ducting and contorting his body to reach two of the bolts. It was a good test of creativity and persistence. David also completed a test for mechanical aptitude that afternoon.
  • Wednesday evening: David and I enjoyed the hospitality of our Human Resources director(s), Dan and Juli Pottner. Technically, Dan is the one who earned the job title but we could easily tell how crucial teamwork was in this couple's life.  They shared about the neat experiences God has used in the past couple of decades to prepare them for the HR role at MMS Aviation. Dan originally was invited as a mechanic's apprentice in 2011 but the mission organization later realized God was providing Dan to fill a much needed position in HR. We stayed pretty late at the Pottner's house but stopped to admire the beauty of the stars over Coshocton on the way back to the Stalter house.
  • Thursday morning: David enjoyed sleeping in a couple of hours. David and I appeared before the Selection Committee at 9am for our final interview. The committee was comprised of the CEO/President Dwight Jarboe, Director of Training and wife, Bob and Lisa Schwartz, and Human Resources Director, Dan Pottner. Since we had visited with each of these staff members throughout our evaluation, there were relatively few questions remaining to be asked. We each explained verbally our personal testimony of faith in Christ and how we have grown in relationship to him as singles and as a couple. We discussed briefly the current life situation and what obstacles are yet to be addressed as we pursue ministry in missions. (The Selection Committee had already reviewed each of our applications as well as the evaluation forms submitted by each staff member with whom we interacted from Monday through Wednesday.) We were asked to wait outside the office while the committee discussed their decision. When the President welcomed us back into his office, the committee at MMS Aviation invited us to join the mission organization and offered David an apprenticeship. Our orientation began immediately afterwards.
  • Thursday morning and afternoon: We sat down with the CEO and the Human Resources Director to look over the training handbook that will be our resource for partnership development or deputation. As we build relationships and grow a network of people to partner with us in this ministry, we will be seeking churches, businesses, and individuals to support our ministry both financially and in prayer.  
  • Thursday evening: David and I were invited to dinner with another couple who is serving at MMS Aviation and gaining work experience. Joel and Abrielle Braxton are Moody graduates training to serve as a pilot/mechanic and a nurse on the mission field. They are in the application process for long-term service with another mission organization and raising support. We had a lot of fun hanging out with peers and fellow servants as we ate Thai food, talked and played a card game together. 
  • Friday ensued with more orientation, some photo opportunities and lots of laughter. The mission is intent on providing the best support and encouragement for our faith, our marriage, and our ministry as we pursue our goal of joining the apprentices and staff in Coshocton, Ohio and beginning the apprentice training program as soon as possible. David and I left Coschocton Friday evening with full hearts and tired bodies.
  • Saturday morning: We were grateful for the rest God had provided although our 8am flight required much too early a wake up call. David especially felt the time difference later in the day when we realized that we rose at 3am MDST. Our flights went well and we arrived at DIA in plenty of time to check with lost and found about Allison's missing ID. No results....  Pray it remains "secure" at the checkpoint and not in the hands of someone untrustworthy. My (Allison's) mom and sister escorted us home by way of Chipotle and the grocery store. Thank God for food! We had time to shower and head out to the family gathering to celebrate our niece, Cadence's, 7th birthday. I have the dinosaur hat to prove it!

Playing on the monkey bars with my younger niece and nephew.

Did you know dinosaurs came in pink?

You can find more information about MMS Aviation and how to support what God is doing through their ministry on our page titled Did You Know?.

Catching up

If you subscribe to our blog at all, you may have been wondering what is up in the world of the DeJong family.
So much has happened, I may need to use bullet points to walk you through the process... :o)

  • I (Allison) began the process of transitioning her ministry over to the faithful hands of volunteers at Creekside Bible Church. 5 months later... she is officially unemployed!
  • David confirmed his resignation with Cadence International and pursued options for training as an A&P licensed mechanic. David cooperatively set a tentative end date for his part-time position at headquarters (HQ) in Englewood and agreed to work alongside Human Resources to interview the potential candidates to fill his position.
  • In March, we both completed the pre-evaluation questions and applications for MMS Aviation-a missions organization that provides technical training and work experience to prepare aviation mechanics or maintenance specialists for their A&P examination with the FAA while serving mission organizations around the world.  Excitement built as we waited for references to respond to the organization on our behalf.
  • Our applications were accepted with MMS Aviation. One final step involved a week of evaluation and interviewing in Coshocton, Ohio, with the MMS Aviation staff.  
  • Allison prepared, with a team of 70 or more volunteers, for CBC's summer Vacation Bible School program, a 4 day journey studying the Gospel through the eyes of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15).  The month of June passed quickly as our team executed a unique program created and led by our own church members. Over 80 children attended and learned about the Gospel and how God is using missionaries to proclaim his message around the world. Each day the journey included a drama illustrating Jesus' parable, a missionary sharing about the ministry our church family supports, and a whole lot of fun celebrating the Good News that Jesus died and rose again to pay for our sin and give us eternal life.
  • Highlight of VBS: hearing my 7 year-old niece explain the Gospel in her own words. Pray with us for her salvation!
  • David was also very busy with training in June. He completed and passed an instruction course to become certified as a Water Safety Instructor for the city of Lakewood. He also attended a six day EMS (Emergency Medical Services) conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The conference provided quality instruction which allowed David to complete the required continuing education credits and renew his EMS license.
  • Allison remained quite busy in Castle Rock, Colorado, as she finished several steps in the process of handing over the Children's Ministry at Creekside Bible Church. Her final day as an employee of the church ended at 10pm but her service to Christ as a volunteer in his church continues on.
  • David and Allison were reunited for a busy but fun weekend of celebrating the 4th of July and other family birthdays.
  • David succumbed to the horrible fever and sore throat associated with strep throat. Two days of fever and other symptoms prompted us to see the doctor where we received a prescription for antibiotics. Praise God Allison never developed symptoms! Praise God for David's ability to choke down all the required doses of antibiotics. Those of you who know his family history may sympathize with how difficult this 2 week process was.
  • The leadership at Cadence International was busy during July reevaluating the needs for IT staff at headquarters to support the nearly 300 missionary staff around the world. The decision was made to start a new interview process seeking to hire a full-time staff member to best support the IT needs of the organization.
  • Friday, July 11th: David was offered a temporary increase in hours and salary as the full-time IT employee for Cadence International while HQ resumes the search for this new IT staff member. His position at Cadence will end December 31. Pray that God will supply the candidate soon to be trained and transitioned into the IT position before David leaves in December.
  • Friday evening, July 11th: David and Allison boarded a flight for Columbus, Ohio, the nearest commercial airport to Coshocton, Ohio where MMS Aviation is located.  Allison lost her driver's license while going through the security checkpoint at DIA.  David became the official chauffeur for the trip to Ohio.
  • Upon our return, David accepted the temporary position for full-time work at Cadence International HQ. His final date of employment for Cadence will be December 31st. Meanwhile, Allison has been busy packing our belongings to move in with family in Castle Rock. 
For more on our trip to Ohio and the culmination of our application to MMS Aviation as missionary candidates (and an apprenticeship), check out our next blog post. :o)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lessons from a four-year old

I have to credit my four-year old nephew for reminding me of important truth last weekend. I had the privilege of keeping my nieces and nephew for 8 hours last Saturday. One of the "fun" things they did with Auntie was attend a party to welcome my friends' new baby. Despite having to walk several blocks past Fair parade traffic, we arrived in pretty good spirits to discover the fun that awaited at this party.

As we walked to the party, Michael (my nephew) had been collecting several small pieces of gravel from the driveways we passed. When we arrived at the party, he promptly found the other little boy his age and handed him the "rocks".  "Here are some rocks," Michael said as he dashed off to plunder the food table.
A little later this boy was jumping on the trampoline with Michael and I overheard a brief conversation between them.
"Thanks for the rocks." -Little Boy
"Your welcome." - Michael
And they became fast friends...
The little boy's mother told me that he was thrilled with Michael's gift.
So simple... so unassuming...

No wonder Jesus told us to look to children for the example of the kind of faith it takes to enter the Kingdom of God. Luke 16:18, "But Jesus called for the children, saying, “Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

I don't often realize how simple it is to share the message of the Gospel with the ordinary people around me. Yes, some will reject it. But how often do I miss those opportunities to share the treasure I hold within my heart by telling someone about what Jesus did for them.
"Here is a treasure-let me tell you about Jesus,"
"Thanks for the treasure."
"Your welcome."

We are missing out on opportunities to make friends for eternity.

My superhero nephew

Friday, August 8, 2014

Holding Out Open Hands

Over the past year, David and I have been building a habit of praying together daily. Often, I have found myself praying that God would help us hold our (fill the blank) with open hands. The request might change day to day, month to month, from money, to possessions, to where we live or what we do. Something about the idea of open hands has been developing as a theme throughout the past several months, even years. It comes up in conversation; we hear illustrations in sermons; someone encourages us with words of wisdom; I end up searching Google images for graphic illustrations of open hands. I have personally seen God repeat a theme that he is teaching me over and over in a variety of settings so that I begin to grasp what this truth means and how to apply it. God uses these "teachable moments" to prepare me for some part of my journey he's written but has not yet revealed.

For me, God began a few years ago to teach me about surrender. I am a planner, a visionary, a little bit fear driven by the thought that if I don't take initiative quickly, I might never care enough to move or do the next scary thing. One of the drawbacks to this reactionary lifestyle has been making plans for myself that don't match those of my heavenly Father. It is a scary thing to have no control, no ideas, no plan for the future. Or so I thought. I have come to find it is actually scarier to hold onto control so hard I was actually fighting off God's control of my life. It became harder and harder to enjoy life or be satisfied in it when I had to wrestle and fight to hold onto what I wanted the future to look like. Two summers ago, I was reading a book by Mark Batterson called Wild Goose Chase. I thought it would be about how difficult and illusive it is to discern the will of God. Instead, I found that the book focused on the challenge and thrill of taking the risk to let go: let go of your plans, dreams, expectations and embrace where the Holy Spirit is leading you. In some ways, it reminds me of a quote from the Chronicles of Narnia about Aslan,
“He'll be coming and going" he had said. "One day you'll see him and another you won't. He doesn't like being tied down--and of course he has other countries to attend to. It's quite all right. He'll often drop in. Only you mustn't press him. He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”

C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The Holy Spirit is "not a tame" being; he is the powerful, sovereign, and completely generous God.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Favorite books have a habit of making themselves useful to drive home your point.
First, God taught me to surrender my plan to be married: whether I would ever marry, who I married, how long I would be married. Even inherent in my marital status was the imminent possibility that I might never bear or raise children.
In the midst of the twist and turns that brought David into my life, God asked me to give up or give him my hopes and dreams to serve in full-time ministry. Then, he asked me to give him my current job. I was 28, living with my mom, and choosing to end my employment. Then, God told me to travel to Germany to serve at an English camp by myself and with no time to raise support. Within a few months, I quit my job, started a part-time position at my church, traveled to two countries, participated on two missions trips, and started dating a man I had only met 3 months before. Was this what I had planned for my future? You've got to be kidding me!
I gained so much joy from those months of learning about surrender. Even the year that followed as I grew to know and love my husband were filled with choices to surrender what I thought should happen and embrace what God knew would be the best life.

Lately, the theme of letting go or opening your hands has been resurrecting in the sermon illustrations or applications at my home church. One pastor talked about how the disciples left everything when Jesus invited them to follow him. He gave the illustration of holding out your clenched fists face up, turning them over and opening your hands to "let go of the nets (and whatever you have trapped in them)". Up until that point, I had envisioned open hands being held face up, a posture of worship and adoration or of offering something up to God. I realized how easy it would be to clench those fists back around what you were trying to give up instead of letting it go. If your hands are turned over and then opened, you drop what you were holding and it becomes much harder to pick it back up.
Another pastor recently spoke about Jesus' statement that " “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." Matthew 16:24 Our pastor captured the repetition of the word must from what Jesus had been telling the disciples in the previous verses. Jesus himself had a mission he MUST complete- to be killed, buried, and to be raised again. What Jesus had said he MUST do, he did. The statement about what we MUST do will, no question, happen as well.
Such a simple observation: This statement is an if/then clause. If anyone wants to follow Jesus, then he MUST deny himself-surrender, let go, open their hands.... Funny thing: if you reverse the statements in the if/then clause, you get an interesting result. If anyone does NOT deny himself, then he will NOT be following Jesus.

So, in answer to my prayer for open hands, here is a list of what God has asked David and I to let go of over the last six months.

  • Our jobs 
  • Our home/privacy and independence 
  • Our income 
  • Being close to my family 
  • My role in the local church or current ministry purpose 
  • My identity as a career woman/ministry leader 
  • The timing on our move and transition to the mission field 
  • What "needs" we desire be met 
  • serving alongside close friends 
  • needs among family members and close friends 
And yet, I can list just as many things he has given us in return

  • hope 
  • joy 
  • love 
  • special moments with friends and family 
  • phone calls or emails to catch up 
  • strengthened relationship as husband and wife 
  • answered prayer 
  • a place to live 
  • purpose that is not tied to what I do but what he has done 
  • new friends in far away places 
  • a ministry to work towards and look forward to 
  • a place to serve among people who delight in God like we long to 
  • more witnessing opportunities than before 
  • relationships that bear fruit 
  • giving generously only to receive generous gifts 
  • every need met 
I am getting the idea that I'd rather have open hands for God to use or discard whatever I have because I have seen his will turn out best. It is time to exercise those phalanges and metacarpals.