When they call

I was running super late. The night before heading to the start of my airline training, I hadn’t planned ahead sufficiently, and I realized I didn’t have my logbooks on hand. I didn’t even know where they were after moving everything from Phoenix. I asked Sarah, and she didn’t know where they were either. As I was on the edge of panic, the kids were exhausted from Arianna’s first birthday party, and Joel especially was difficult to get down. Sarah laid in bed with Joel, and was praying for help finding the logbooks the whole time as he was slowly winding down to sleep. It suddenly dawned on her that the missing folder containing my logbooks were in the Eggo box, which was somewhere in the storage unit we have while looking for a place of our own. We didn’t have time to go down and look then, it was too late, but with Sarah’s confidence that it was surely there, I resolved to leave a half hour early, then we’d be on time to leave for the 1.5 hour drive to the airport.

We ended up leaving 10 minutes early, not 30, so when the box was not immediately evident in storage, I was about ready to get really worried. Just then, I got a text from United saying: “Your 1035am United flight to Chicago is delayed due to awaiting aircraft. UA4540 now departs Rochester 1117am and arrives 1215pm.” Well that’s great, I realized. Now I have an extra 45 minutes. Calm again, we started digging to find that elusive box. Sarah climbed up on top of boxes and furniture to the very back and, holding herself up on the storage shed’s main skeleton, finally found it buried way in the back, under several other items. She was able to reach down and pull out the folder, and we smoothly put everything back in its place and started for the airport.

En route, we smiled and talked to each other as our kids sang to themselves in the back. When they fell asleep, we listened to James Harriet’s description of Callum Buchanon. I had no stress or concern for the flight, because we were well on the way to make it with plenty of my built-in wiggle-room. After a prolonged period of goodbyes for my long period gone, I saw what I suspected was the late aircraft arriving, so I wrapped the goodbyes up. I casually made my way to the check in counter, weighed my bag in at a perfect 49.5 lbs, and got smoothly through security.

As I arrived at my gate, however, I was surprised to find a line of people ready to get on board. It was 10:18. As I got closer it was evident that they were already a fair ways into the boarding process. Our flight was leaving on time! In fact, we pushed back almost 5 minutes early. I asked my seat mate, and he said they also had seen the flight was delayed, but then the gate agent took it back almost immediately, claiming it was an error in the system. I shudder to think what would have happened if I had not built that margin into my time, but this thing I know: God must have arranged for that error to be made so that we would be able to fully enjoy our final moments together without our having to worry about being late, and the stress associated with it.

I think back on those final moments. Sarah leaning against my shoulder as I drive through the countryside. Arianna’s bright, adoring eyes shining at me as she looked back at me getting my bags from the trunk, then getting even more resplendent as I kissed her goodbye. Joel’s gentle “Love you, Daddy” as he waved me goodbye. I had prayed that God give us pleasant and sweet goodbyes without panic and worry. Surely He had answered. Just as He always has.

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Another Step.

When Sarah and I were about to leave for Chad, everybody told us we needed a blog.  So we thought, why not?  It’ll keep people somewhat up-to-date with us without our having to update everybody individually.  But what to name it?  Well I don’t remember all the names that we debated, but many of them had something about “Chad”, “Africa”, or “Aviation” in the title.  And why not?  It was what we were doing at the time.  Yet somehow we ended up deciding to go with “Going Where He Sends Us.” Why?  Honestly, I’m not sure, but we thought it was fitting because if God called us somewhere else after some time, then, had we named it “Chadian Aviation and Dietitian Services” we would have had to change our blog name.

Well as most of you know, God did bring us back from Chad after 2 1/2 years, rather than the 6-7 years that we were expecting. He sent us to Phoenix, where we have been for this past year.  It was a nice time to kind of unwind and get re-established into American life. And in fact, our time in Phoenix was the longest we’ve ever been in the same abode in our married lives. But our time in Phoenix has come to an end, and I have a new job with the airlines.

I didn’t want to go to the airlines.  Actually, it was kind of my last choice.  But when God calls, it’s our duty to follow.  And we are convinced He has brought me to work for the airlines. For now. Here’s how it happened:

I was looking for a different job for about 6 months.  Not that we disliked Phoenix, we just knew that it was a temporary stop in our life.  Joel is a typical 2-year old, so full of energy and wanting to explore everything, and we know Arianna is just a short ways behind him. So looking at that, we wanted a place where the kids could play outside (without having to worry about getting heatstroke).  We wanted to live close to one of our families (either in Denver [greater Denver metro area] or western New York).  We also wanted a place that was more in the country, and away from the constant noise and distraction of city life.

Looking, we found several job possibilities that satisfied our desires.  One, a buddy of mine was setting it up that would have put us outside of Syracuse NY, flying for the owner of a business based there.  The schedule sounded ideal as I’d be home almost every night, and have most of the winter/early spring off, but it ended up falling through.  Then I applied for several other jobs that met our requirements, but nothing seemed to be going forward.  Either I didn’t have enough experience, or the applications fell through on the employers side of things, and I never got a call-back.  Or one job actually did offer me a position “once a spot opened up”, but to date a spot still hasn’t opened up.

In the meantime, my current work in Phoenix had a perk where they were offering the two instructors I was working with and myself a free trip to airline headquarters to take a $5,000 course that I’ll need for most any future job. In the end, somehow, the two instructors got to go, but I didn’t. Naturally, my sense of justice got in the way, and I started to try to make them aware that I had been left out.  They said they’d be more willing to arrange it for me if I showed more interest in possibly working for the airline, so I signed the little “intent to join” sheets and got set up, knowing I wasn’t committing to anything substantial. The airline brought me to their headquarters, and I spent a day getting a tour and intro to the company, yet they still didn’t offer me that training.  I kept working at it, and they asked me for a little more commitment.  In the end, they never did give me that training while I was with my other job, but it kind of got me in the door.

I never wanted to go to the airlines.  I knew I would be out of town a lot and miss seeing my kids grow up.  It’d be hard on our marriage, and the schedule, simply put, seemed very difficult to keep the Sabbath.  As I have been getting more exposed to this life, I am seeing that there are ways to possibly work my schedule around to get Sabbaths off – though none of them are guarantees.

After several months of looking and looking for jobs, however, everything seemed to align: I found a perfect job that would be a great schedule where I could be home every day, with amazing pay and great quality of life.  As I interviewed for it, though, I didn’t do as well as I was expecting, and they were hesitant to bring me on in the position I applied for.  They ended up offering me a different job, but simply put, we didn’t want to move to another temporary stop for another year where they would have put me.  There was an option to commute, but if I commuted, we figured I may as well just go to the airlines, since I’d be home probably the same amount of time, and the airlines offered a better experience level which would help me more in the future.

I ended up saying no to that “ideal job”-turned counter offer.  By that point, we were frustrated that nothing was working out.  Then we remembered a prayer we had prayed months before, early on in the job search. We had prayed,

“Lord, we want to be where You guide us.  So please open doors where You want us, and close them where You don’t want us.”

We decided we shouldn’t get upset that God had answered our prayers, but that we should try to listen and see what doors were opening.  We also prayed for God’s peace, regardless of what He was doing. That’s when we came to realize that the doors had been wide open towards the airlines, even though I had put up our own barriers in front of that open door.

So we looked more into it, and I arranged an interview with the airline I was already set up with. It was the most incredible thing. As soon as we started moving towards this idea we had long resisted, suddenly, all the little blocks and obstacles, those which we ran into with all the other job possibilities, they all disappeared like they had been vacuumed up to a cosmic bin of forgotten worries. There were too many tiny little signs, most too minuscule to even remember, some too detailed to explain in this already-too-long blog post, but for us, it all spelled one thing: C-O-N-F-I-R-M-A-T-I-O-N. This was where God wanted us.

Actually, even during the interview, the recruiter asked me “why do you want to fly with us? We’ve interacted before, and you were always resistant.” I explained to him, knowing he is a man of faith, that we had tried other jobs, but it seemed that God was bringing us to this point. We ended up spending a fair amount of time discussing how by faith God seems to guide us in our decision-making processes. Before moving on to the interview content, of course. Afterward, he wrapped up the interview saying, “Here, we care more of the quality of our team’s character than their technical skills [obviously, this statement is not to take away from the very high technical demands of the job]. I’ve been watching you for the past year, and the humble way you approach people and the gentle spirit you seem to carry with you. I can’t officially offer you a job, but know you will have my recommendation.” So by the time I was offered the job as a first officer, we already had the answer: Yes. His words have been a great affirmation to me though, and a testament of the changes God has wrought in me over the years.

So here we are. Sarah and I have moved all our affairs out to New York with her parents, and we hope to find a place of our own very soon. I have spent the past week and a half in training, and will be another 2 days before I get to see my family again. Then after a weekend home with them, I’ll be training for the next 6 weeks.

It’s God’s strength alone that will get us through this. Even though it is going to be difficult, we are comforted again in the knowledge that we are in the center of God’s will for our lives, and that He will bring us through. I hope to write more of the insights God opens to me while I’m living out of a suitcase the next year (at a minimum). And who knows. Maybe I’ll become a little bit of a gardener.

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Joy is in the Journey

As I sit leaning against our couch in our own apartment, I am overwhelmed again by the goodness of God, and the compassion that He has shown towards us.

I could reflect on His abundance in providing an awesome job in a great location, with fantastic bosses, but that happened a long time ago.

I could reflect on His blessing me with a beautiful baby girl, her loving older brother, and the world’s greatest mother as a wife, but that was so two weeks ago!

I could reflect on His greatness in providing us time with family, with my mom who arrived hours before we went to the hospital, with Sarah’s parents visiting us for a week, and getting the chance to talk to my younger (taller) brother during the drive from the airport during a lightning-fast trip to Denver.

But the blessings that have overwhelmed me tonight lie neither in the occupational, material, nor even the relational blessings God has given us (though they are great). Throughout today I have just been reveling in the greatness of His peace, and the joy that comes from a simple life.

I have been working hard since Arianna was born. My work was very flexible to allow me to take four days off for her birth and getting her settled back at home, but after that I launched back in, picking up an extra day to make up some of the difference. Then last week I worked Sunday-Thursday while Sarah’s parents were visiting, then flew up to Denver to drive the 13 hours back to Phoenix with our new/old car (my beloved PT) on Friday. Sunday, I was back at work again, until today I finally (and accidentally) got some rest.

I didn’t realize how much I needed a break. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment.

Today, I spent time with my man Giolo. We wrestled and ate and did man stuff.

Today, I spent time with my lady Ari. I held her and tickled her and tried to coax a smile from her beautiful face.

Today, I spent time with my gorgeous princess of a wife. We shopped and talked and lived life together.

This is what it should be about. This is what we have been missing. It’s so easy to get bogged down by work and politics and the things of everyday life that we miss the joy of the journey. I know I do. But today has been a reminder to me that there is more to life than advancing professionally, than earning beaucoup bucks, than being up to date on the latest gizmos. It’s a life of simplicity that I yearn for.

Lord, thank You for Your rest. Lord, thank You for Your peace. Lord, thank You for Your Spirit in our lives. May all who read this thirst for and know the eternal goodness of the joy You have given us through Your name. Amen.

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Second Coming!

For those of you who don’t know, October 22 is a significant date for us Seventh-Day Adventists.  Back in 1844, there was a group of people who, through careful study of the Bible, concluded that Jesus must be returning on that date, because it marked the end of the 2,300-day time prophecy in Daniel 8.  When He didn’t come, it became known as the Great Disappointment.  That event, however, was the seed that eventually led to the creation of the Seventh-Day Adventist church.

And while Jesus didn’t come that day as expected, we know He will come very soon.  It’s clear as day.  Like the pains of a woman in labor, our world is obviously starting to accelerate into the sorrows we know must take place before He comes.

This date, however, has gained a greater significance for us as a family this year.  Just as careful study led people to prepare for Jesus’ arrival at the end of a period of time, scientific evidence has led us to prepare for a certain date at the end of a fixed time. Like many who were excited for that day, we also are excited.  And while we don’t know the exact moment, we see signs that convince us this event is right around the corner!  There will probably be some labor pains that one of us will have to deal with too…

Have you guessed it yet?  That’s right!  We have our own little second coming this October 22!

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Little sister, on the way!

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Before they call…

“It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.”  Isaiah 65:24

I cruise along the freeway, taking in New Mexico’s wonderful sunset. Soft blues and brilliant pinks shared space with small dark pockets of thunderstorms, like God was using flint in a vain attempt to relight the sky. I set aside my phone and turn off my audiobook playing in the background, and take a couple moments to reflect on God’s goodness over this trek across the length and breadth of America.

It has been a long couple of days, complete with over 1,800 miles of driving and several signs of God’s protection. An almost-accident just before crossing the Mississippi. A couple would-be tickets. He kept me from slamming our roof-mounted bike into the concrete barrier of a low clearance had I continued forward like I normally would have. He made me see a man peek through a car’s window before jumping into his own, inspiring me to tuck our bike and stroller into the hotel room with me rather than leaving them in their vulnerable travel positions atop the car. Yes, God has been guiding and protecting me.

The latest is most impressive yet, and had happened only a moment before. A storm was bristling right before me, daring me to enter its depths. The road seemed to be leading straight into the darkest section, while not 20 miles to either side the playful tints of sunset were tickling the tempest’s edge. But the storm looked deep.

“Oh Lord,” I cried out, “I am on pace to get to Albuquerque by 9pm already. If I have to power through, I may not arrive until 10 or later! I don’t think I have the strength in me for an extra hour, particularly after battling such a storm.” I inch closer and closer to the storm, still appreciating New Mexico’s 75mph speed limit despite the extra haste into the impending doom.

“But You have been with me. I was looking forward to the easy drive tomorrow, only 6 hours instead of 14! But if you want me to stop in Tucumcari for the night, I’ll accept the extra 2.5 hours tomorrow.”

Just then the road turned about 45 degrees right. Then another right turn. Before I knew it, the road had taken a route just skirting the edges of the storm, and I raced around it, receiving only a couple of sprinkles on my windshield. I couldn’t believe it!

“Before they call, I will answer.”

Sure enough! God had answered my prayer 40 or more years before, when he guided the builders of the road to make a bend at just that moment, and take a new route! Hahaha!  Is there anything our God can’t do?!

I continued to reflect, and God opened to my eyes wonderful things, very simple and straightforward, to understand His plan for our lives.

Pulling into my hotel for the night in Albuquerque, I was greeted by a nice gentle Irish accent, and a surprisingly reasonable room rate. Yes, God has been good to me. On this trip, and through all my life. He is my God, and I find rest in Him.

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Employed!

Well, the sweepstakes are over, and the results are in. After fully or partially completing 20 applications, 4 phone interviews, 5 full interviews, a turned-down job, and a final little push, we have accepted an offer of employment.

We are going to Phoenix, Arizona.

I’ll be a flight instructor for TransPac Aviation Academy at Deer Valley Municipal Airport (north of downtown Phoenix). I didn’t really want to go back to flight instruction, but I guess God knows best. They actually offered a pretty decent payscale and benefits package, considering many entry-level flying jobs really seem to be geared towards kids still living with their parents with no financial responsibility.

The deciding factor of this job, though, is that they were willing to give me Sabbaths off, guaranteed. Plus I’ll be home every night, which was important to us since we still need time to reset and reestablish who we are as a family here in the U.S.

Thank you all for your prayers and support, and especially a very special thank you to our friends who gave us the ability to get my CFI back. You know who you are!

We’ll be packing this week, and next week I start the long drive from New York to Phoenix so that I’ll be ready to start training September 19. The company will lodge us for 5 weeks in a furnished apartment while we find a place of our own. Any contacts who might be able to help us with this are appreciated!

 

 

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Stand Still…

Here’s just a little update since our post last week:

Praise God, I (David) was able to make it out to Southern California for my grandpa’s memorial service. It was a good time for catching up with family, and celebrating the life of another man who I take after. I’ll be posting a little of his story in another post soon. Hearing his story helped me understand myself a little bit better as well. But that’s for next time.

Concerning Cape Air, I had to turn down the job. As I had mentioned, I had some questions still, questions concerning working on Sabbath hours. I asked if I could have any assurance that the company would even be willing to put any effort into helping me keep Sabbath, since I’d be signing what would be at least a 15-month contract with steep penalties for backing out mid-contract; they were unwilling. So as much as I would love to work for them, I would rather walk in God’s way, even if it takes the sacrifice.

Just a couple days ago I shared this with a friend, just while we were catching up on life. This friend turned and handed me a wad of cash, saying, “Go get your flight instructor’s license back. I believe God will honor you because you are honoring Him by standing firm on the Sabbath, and I want to help.” Wow! I thanked them profusely, and am amazed at God and how He provides in all situations! And God will bless these friends even more, I know.

The amazingness didn’t stop there. With the cash as the catalyst, I messaged an old friend of mine in Dayton who could get me reinstated. I saw him today. He gave me his time for free! And I got my CFI back! Amazing how God continues to work.

While I was chatting with him after the paperwork had all been completed, I mentioned that I was still looking for a job, and that the biggest thing that’s kept me from getting one till now has been my commitment to keep the Sabbath as a day without work.

That opened a door, and he started asking questions.

“Why are you so firm on keeping Saturday? What difference does it make?”

“Well, it’s to remember that God created the heavens and the earth in six days, and on the seventh day he rested.”

He shared his beliefs on the subject, and that he didn’t think the Bible had much merit or reliability to it (even though he says he’s a Methodist), and truth can come from any number of areas.

“True,” I said, “But remember that Jesus Himself prayed that God sanctify believers ‘by [His] truth; [His] Word is truth.’ If we can’t believe what the Bible says, what else is there to believe in?”

I left it at that, not wanting to push him more. We talked a little more, then, hoping for a mite of hope from someone who’s spent his entire life in the aviation world, I asked, “Is there any pilot job you can think of that would be willing to work with me on getting Saturdays off? I’ve only ever heard of one, but it’s in Alaska [and we’d rather be closer to family; I’ve applied, and haven’t heard back from Alaska anyways].”

“Not really,” he replied. “You’d be better off just changing your religion.”

How easy it must be to give up something you don’t believe in. Fortunately, I believe in the power and truth we find in God’s word.

All seems to be lost, there seems to be nothing available that will satisfy my occupational desires while still meeting my spiritual, familial, and financial needs. I’m burned out by searching page after page of job postings. I have nowhere else to turn.

Praise God!

When we have nowhere to turn, but we know God has led us to where we are, that’s where God parts the waters. That’s where God turns the enemy one on another. There is nothing impossible with Him. The binds that have kept many faithful Adventist pilots in the smaller quadrants of aviation because of the unavailability of Sabbath respecting jobs will not hold sway, because God will provide an answer. He has not led me to this point for me to be another statistic of Adventist aviators with broken dreams. But it won’t be because of anything I have done, but it will be God’s power in action. And those who don’t believe will see it and know God’s power to save.

“Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you.” (If you need help finding where that quote’s from, ask me).

By this you will know God has pleaded my case, if I get a job that will:

  • Guarantee cooperation in giving me Sabbaths off
  • Bring me home most every night
  • Be financially sufficient for our family
  • Be flying passengers to various points throughout the U.S. and the world

“Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.”

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God always provides!

Today we have been shown greatly the goodness and provision of God.

Over the past month and a half, I (David) have been looking for a job to provide for us now that God is bringing us back to the US. I’ve been knocking on all sorts of doors waiting to see what will open. 15 applications, to be exact. Of those, 10 have replied, 5 have done at least a preliminary interview by phone or one in person, and had 2 full interviews, one about three weeks ago in Connecticut, the other this past Wednesday in Boston.

It has been a very informative search; I can’t imagine what kind of difficulties other pilots go through, particularly those with less time than my over 1,000 hours. On top of all that, we’ve been trying to prioritize towards jobs that would allow me to be home more often than not, which is hard to find among most pilot jobs.

Finally, this afternoon, I got a phone call from the pilot recruiter for Cape Air, the company I interviewed with last week. Within a matter of seconds, our hopes for a job went from hopeful to ecstatic. They’ve offered me a job! Of the group of 10 that I interviewed with, 5 of us will be hired. To top it off, we had been shown the spaces left available for the next several training classes. I was offered the soonest class, starting September 7, which will affect my seniority within the company once we get going, and which also gives me more options for where to base compared to my fellow interviewees. It’s the best situation I could possibly get right now for this position with Cape Air. One last verification of some questions with the chief pilots, and I hope to move forward with the job!

Unless we miraculously get a job offer from Corning, Inc. just down the road from us here in NY within the next couple days. That would be an absolute miracle considering we’re currently at the step of “friends within the company are looking into it and asking around,” but I suppose anything can happen with God.

The other providence of God today has come in the form of a specific answered prayer. A couple weeks ago, my mom’s father passed away at 93 ½, just 10 weeks after my grandpa on my dad’s side passed away. The memorial service for Grandpa Goude is this week, and I really wanted to make it to CA for it, but we didn’t have the money for me to make the trip. At all. But I prayed about it, and I let God know that I’d really like to be there, but I refuse to buy on credit to get there.

Also happened today, my mom called to say a friend had saved up money for us, and wanted to help me get to the service. Not knowing our needs, she gave almost exactly the amount we needed for me to get to SoCal in time, and I quickly bought the ticket.

God is so good, and His mercy endures forever!

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Farewell

Our dear friends, supporters, and prayer warriors,

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Over the past few months, we have spent a large amount of time in prayer and reflection concerning our work in Chad.  Through this time of careful soul-searching, we have confirmed that God has called us out of Chad.We have hesitated to make this public because we do not know where our next step will be, whether we will continue as missionaries, or return to the workforce in America.  It is also humbling because some regard us as heroes, and stepping away from that will be seen as cowardice, poor spiritual strength or endurance, or ignoring God’s calling in our lives and running away like Jonah.  But we are confident that God is leading us, and that He will make our next step clear to us.

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Thank you all for your support and love throughout our time in Chad.  Really, from the depths of our heart, thank you!  You brought us encouragement, strength, and hope.  You were God’s hands supplying all our needs.  You made an impact in the lives of hundreds of babies, as well as all who hear the gospel through the continued ministry of the aviation program.  We literally could never have done any of it without you, your prayers, and your support.  Thank you!

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We ask your prayers as we seek God’s next step in our lives.

With love,

David & Sarah

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Rest

Thank you for all the prayers and encouragement these past few weeks. We will be taking a break and going back to New York this coming week. We are looking forward to time to reflect and rest. Thanks again for your continued prayers. 
With love,

Sarah

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