Monthly Archives: October 2017

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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Isaiah 6:8

Olen and Danae

Isaiah 6:8