Saturday, December 31, 2011

Part I: Questions and Answers

For us, December has been a slow month. Many people have been busy preparing for the holidays and still others have been vacationing and have been unavailable. So, this month, we decided to take it easy and work on our house and make other preparations for our departure. Well, I guess that is not really easy after all. I have been thinking about my New Year’s and all the possible resolutions I could come up with, but in my pondering, I have thought about the past year. What pops out in my mind most, are the questions that we have been asked throughout this whole process. I have decided to share them with you and hopefully in this process, answer any questions you might have not been prepared to ask. With this, I am sure will come more questions. I will eventually set up a Q&A section in this blog with your contributions.
-          Where will the baby be born?
o   Fortunately for us, God has provided us with a convenient timeline. The baby will be born roughly May 31st (but only 12% actually deliver on their due date).  This is in the middle of our fundraising efforts. We have planned to move to Canada for language school several months after. Meaning, our child will be born in Knoxville, TN.
-          Are you going with Kevin?
o   Oh my yes! I personally feel called to this ministry just as much as Kevin. I could not let him go off and have all the fun!
Ephesians is chalked full of incredible scripture about how a man and woman belong together! The one that sticks out is 5:31, which says “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Kevin and I have both been called to missions and as we are now one in marriage, we are now one as missionaries.
-          What does your kid think about moving away from home?
o   Well, I asked and he didn’t kick back, so I think he is stunned. Just kidding. In all seriousness, I have been asked if I planned on taking my child (which I am), and other missionaries have been asked the same. Much like parents in the US who move homes, the children don’t have much of a say. When parents have decided to become missionaries, they are speaking for their children. All of my friend’s children, who are going through this process with us, range from 7 months to 7 years. Obviously, the younger children will grow up in another country, not knowing the difference, but a few do understand. Many children that I have spoken to are so excited about the change. The chance to go to a new country, the chance to make new friends, the chance to share Jesus. Children are resilient and cope much better than their parents. Our child will grow up with a totally different worldview than we have. For all intents and purposes, our child will be “African”, so that will be his home to him, not the US.
o   Here is one example I can provide you: One of my friends’ son began crying as they boarded the airplane for Indonesia after saying good-bye to his grandparents. It is unknown whether he cried because he realized he was leaving them behind, or that he was tired after having to wake in the middle of the night for a long flight. Either way, they have been there for four weeks and he already attends school and church, and has made many new friends. He loves the motorcycle rides with his dad and enjoys looking at the wildlife he didn’t see back home.
o   I am excited to be raising my child in Africa, where he will grow up seeing God’s love and His miracles, first hand.
-          What do your parents think about this?
o   While any move for any parent is hard, no parent wants to their children to leave especially now that a grandchild is on the way. But both sets of parents know this is something we feel called to and respect our decision. Matthew 10:37 says “Those who love their father or mother more than me are not fit to be my disciples. Those who love their son or daughter more than me are not fit to be my disciples.”
o   Keeping that in mind, we do respect our parents. With the advances MAF has made in technology, we will have the capability to e-mail, video chat, and make calls on a regular basis. Just because we move halfway across the world, does not mean we will ignore our family back home. Some missionary kids I have spoken to feel a unique bond to their grandparents. They have to make a willing effort to connect to them, so each visit becomes special, each call important, and each video chat means memories being made.
-          What exactly is it that you will be doing?
o   This can be answered in many ways. Traditionally, MAF seeks to share the love of Jesus Christ through aviation and technology so that isolated people may be physically and traditionally transformed. MAF partners with over 600 Christian and Humanitarian organizations worldwide to bring in peoples and supplies to these isolated groups. Someone once tried to define us as “UPS for Jesus.” That is a good way to look at it. We deliver things (books, medications, doctors, missionaries, Bibles, food supplies, etc.) to remote groups who could not otherwise have certain needs met. The areas that MAF have been led to operate in have no infrastructure and lack of a way of getting aid. In the US, if I get an upset stomach, I can drive in my car to the pharmacy. In Africa, if a villager gets an upset stomach, they ask the nearest witchdoctor (sometimes a week’s walk) for herbs and/or spells. If that doesn’t work, they have no choice but to suffer. There are no pharmacies, there are no roads, there are no paths to a doctor’s office, there is no money to pay for a hospital visit, and there is no hospital.
o   These tools (airplane, pilots, teachers, doctors, etc.) are what help us to fulfill the Great Commission: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.” We are very blessed to have Africa as our new home. The Democratic Republic of the Congo claims to be roughly 90% Christian, but they have included voodoo, animism, witchcraft, and any other thing that they feel will help them. It is like a pool of water 1 mile wide and 1 mile long, but a millimeter deep. Kevin and I, as well as the other missionaries in the Congo, DRC live as examples of God’s Holy Word. We are to draw upon the teachings of Colossians 3:15-17: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Newsletter Update

Have you gotten a copy of our December 2011 Newsletter?

To make sure you stay up to date on all of our MAF adventures, please email me and I will make sure you are on our list.

Here are the links to our past newsletters to get you up to date!

December 2011:
https://www.maf.org/document.doc?id=801

October 2011:
https://www.maf.org/document.doc?id=623

August 2011:
https://www.maf.org/document.doc?id=469

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On the Road Again

This post will probably not be pithy, well thought out, or thought provoking, but it is an update none the less. We have moved on since my last verbal goof up, much to the credit of Tasha's patience and kindness, and are now in a very cold, cloudy and waterlogged Paris, TN.

Saturday night we left East TN, and after making a few pit stops and stopping to see a few friends, arrived at my sister-in-law's (and brother's) house. Sunday we got up early and spoke to a missions class at the Otter Creek Church of Christ and then drove to Paris to spend some time with the Sulphur Wells Church of Christ. We spent the better part of two hours sharing the ministry of MAF, then went to dinner with some folks.

Throughout the drive through TN, the moment I hit 70 MPH (and not 1 MPH more), I felt a vibration in the car. Call it a mechanic's intution, but it did not feel like a wheel balance issue. Our host family recomended a local shop and after a quick inspection, they confirmed my suspision that there were some severely worn suspension parts. I'm glad I followed my gut! The car is in the shop now and will be ready for pick up tomorrow.

Monday evening we had another meeting with a wonderful Life Group from Sulphur Wells in our host family's home. We will be here in Paris until Thursday morning visiting with our old friends and making new ones. Then we drive back to Smyrna to spend some time with my brother and sister-in-law until Saturday afternoon, when we will drive back to Paris for a bit more time with Sulphur Wells. Finally, Sunday we will head home, making a stop at the College Side Church of Christ in Cookeville, TN. Our time now is being spent working on updating our mailing list, writing our December news letter, making phone calls, and managing time to update this blog!

I hope this post finds everyone in good health, and we wish you a warm week!
In His Service,
Kevin and Tasha Spann

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Life Lessons

The process of Deputation (also known as fundraising) is an awesome time. We use this time to confirm God’s calling to us regarding our ministry with MAF in Africa. God uses this time to show us who He is and to grow our faith in preparation for the time when faith is the only way we will thrive. As a married couple, this season in our lives has a way of forcing us to refine and sharpen our relationship. On a personal level, we are put us in situations where we learn about ourselves (good, bad or indifferent).This morning, nearly all of the above happened.

It seemed that nothing was going right: we could not find our zip drive with our presentation videos on them, the printer would not print our presentation notes, and Tasha was "hogging" the bathroom! We had to get food in the crock pot for a lunch appointment, feed the dogs, and at some point eat breakfast.
The presentation was in less than 30 minutes and neither of us were dressed. As I was ironing my shirt, I began to grumble about how late we were going to be (being early IS one of the fruits of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22, see for yourself). As I began to brush my teeth, I began to growl. Literally. Then I noticed Tasha was tweaking the PowerPoint presentation, trying to get it just perfect. The growling then grew to a bark that sounded like this: "Tasha! We have to leave in 3 minutes and 35, no 34 seconds, we don’t have our notes printed, we don’t have the car packed, we still need to run by the store and grab a table cloth for the display and your hair isn’t even dried!"

My wife calmly responded almost in a whisper "WE are not going until you calm down and get your head on straight".
To which I responded "What?!? Don’t talk to me like a 5 year old; sometimes I wonder if you try to make us late on purpose just to aggravate me!"
Tasha replied with tears.

The instant I said it, I knew I was grossly out of line. Tasha was completely, totally right. As a husband, my first duty is to Glorify the one who called us (heart, soul, mind and strength) and my second duty is to treat my wife as a sister in Christ, as the companion God has entrusted to me. My actions did none of those.

After apologizing and rebuking myself, Tasha said she didn't need to dry her hair (which by now was mostly dry anyway.... and the power bun looks great on her) and we didn't need to get a tablecloth. As we drove to the church, we prayed together. We walked in 15 minutes later than I wanted to, but the world didn't end, class hadn't started and we had a warm welcome. The moment we walked in I saw some ladies spreading none other than a tablecloth on the very table we were to set our display on. Tasha looked at me, and her look didn't say "I told you so". With all the patience and grace in the world, her look said "God is good, and what a sense of humor He has."

We set up our display and greeted a few folks, and sat down for class. We picked up our Bibles and mine fell open to the passage in 1 Peter, Chapter 3. You know, the verse that talks about how wives should live with purity and reverence and an unfading beauty from the inside which is gentle and quiet so they can win over their unbelieving husband, and how husbands should be considerate as we live with our wives and treat them as the heirs of the same gracious gift of salvation we received.

I am truly grateful for my wife. I would not be who I am without her. I would not be where I am, following a lifelong dream of being a missionary pilot, without her. Several people have asked if she feels the same calling that I do. When work gets busy, and I get too distracted to do our Bible work, she pushes me through. When I got discouraged with the stress of the MAF application and interview process, she encouraged me to fly how I know to, and let God do the rest. When I act like a complete pig, she pulls me back into reality. When we stand together and smile during our presentation, it is because of her that our joy as a family, as a missionary couple, is not an act, but sincere excitement about the journey God is leading us on.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Matthew 10

Sorry for the delay in our posts! We have [many] an excellent excuse - unfortunately, you will have to wait for our December newsletter to read all about it! (Insert shameless plug here: if you are not currently signed up to receive our bi-monthly newsletters, please email me with your preference - snail mail or email. Also, include the address to where you would like them sent!)

Today, we had the honor of leading a Bible study on Matthew 10 with a group of our youngest missionary partners - Mrs. McClane's 4th grade class at Knoxville Christian School! How ironic/convenient they are on this incredible section in Matthew where Jesus sent out His twelve apostles to "preach to the lost sheep". It is amazing how God can find a way to renew and refocus our spirits at just the right time! We have recently returned from over a month on the road and will soon depart again on a new adventure during and after the Thanksgiving holiday!  We were in great need of this revitalizing lesson ourselves!

I have read through this section many times but never focusing on the symbolism the author Matthew places in this book. The first thing I noticed was that the chapter really begins with the section before, in Matthew 9: 35-38. Here Jesus sees the harassed and helpless people in the crowd and makes a beautiful statement: "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field" (37-38). This is a great explanation/analogy for the great need of servants to spread God's word and I feel blessed to be called to do this great work in His name!

The section then goes on to describe the many things expected of the apostles: do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey or extra tunic, no sandals or a staff, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons, etc. I know God has asked Kevin and me as missionaries to rely on the people around us for support, but not to the extent of leaving everything behind! This is a humbling section for me! Can I be faithful enough to trust that God will provide everything for me or will I continue in my ways and try to plan, plan, plan?

The final part I wanted to mention is my favorite - Matthew 10:19-20, "When they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." At our meetings, Kevin and I are asked to explain why we feel called to missions and how do we know this is where God is calling us. My personal prayer before every meeting is what Matthew 10:19-20 clearly states. I ask God to speak through me so those with me can clearly see the work we are called to is an obvious calling from God. It is very reassuring to know Jesus told his apostles how God will speak through them. I know through faith, God will speak through us as well.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Funding Our Ministry

We have officially been fundraising for five weeks now and boy is it an adventure! This time has been both challenging and rewarding for both of us. Our first obstacle was our personal views on what it means to fundraise. Here we were, picturing ourselves as sleazy TV evangelists, begging for money. So, what does fundraising really look like? Fundraising is not begging for money and it is not a worldly charity. It is about relationship building and vertical giving. A wonderful Bible study that we did is “Funding Your Ministry” by Scott Morton who uses the example of Luke 8:2 -3 to show how Jesus was supported in His ministry by “Mary, who was called Magdalene…and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.” Jesus did not work an outside job other than His ministry. It is very humbling to be dependent on others but at the same time, we must realize that God provides the money through the relationships we build.
Our next obstacle we had to tackle was our energy level. We started this process with what I can describe as an “energetic high.” This did not last very long! Just this past Monday, we had six appointments! We left the house at 8 AM and did not get home until 11 PM! I don’t know about you but I have personally never worked such a long day! No, we did not do manual labor for that time, but we went to one appointment after another, had a luncheon followed by a meeting, and ended the day with an interview and a dinner. Talking is very exhausting! Our “energy high” plummeted like an airplane after a vulture flies into your jet engine. Needless to say, Kevin and I have learned the meaning of taking a day off, which we are happy to do…tomorrow…
On the rewarding side, we have received support in so many unique ways:
-          Attorney services (will, living will, power of attorney, etc.)
-          Website set up and maintenance
-          Rosetta Stone (in French)
-          A trip to Dollywood
-          House/dog sitter services
-          Home remodeling services (volunteers are still being accepted)  
-          Radio spot
-          5K fundraiser in our name
-          Meals
-          A place to stay when away from home
-          Books (Bible studies, Congolese history, self-helps, etc.)
-          Things we need when we leave the country (i.e. water filter, etc.)

One of our most treasured supports has come from the Knoxville Christian School. Our minister’s wife is a teacher there. Each class is assigned with taking on a service project and their yearly goal is to fund them both financially and prayerfully. I don’t know about you, but having the heart of a child pray for your ministry is so powerful!  Well, the 4th & 5th grade classes took us on as their project! They will be doing bake sales, making handmade cards, and keeping a loose change bucket. Having these children doing something like this for us is humbling. It reminds me of the story of the widow’s mite. It might not appear that these children are giving a lot of money, but they are giving all they can and from their heart.  I know that this means more to God than all the extravagant donations of a rich person, just as it means so much to us.

We are currently at 12% of our fundraising goal. We would like to be at 20% by the first of October. If you would like to sit down with us anytime, we would be happy to make the arrangements! Please contact us!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Good and the Bad...

Job 2:10 "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"

Most of us know the story of Job and how he was tested in his faith. In the beginning after he loses everything but his life and his wife, his wife tells him to give up and curse the name of God, to which he replies, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"

How easy life would be if God gave us everything that we wanted and we could sit back in our nice expensive recliners in an air-conditioned home and praise his name with little effort. But we all know that if we had everything we wanted we would only want more. How like us to complain when things do not go our way:

-my mom has health issues
-my dog broke her femur
-Mamaw Hale lost her eye in an accident
-my step-brother's girlfriend is pregnant while we have been trying hard
-we can only afford one car
-our income is less than what it once was


It is easy to forget that God gives us these things in life for a reason. The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Job kept those fruits no matter what challenges were presented to him. If I stop and think of my woes in a positive manner, I have much to be grateful for:

-my mom has been diagnosed by doctors as to why she is in pain and they can now work towards a common goal to manage her pain
-my dog is still alive and kicking because she is a fighter
-Mamaw Hale's surgery was successful and will hopefully receive a prosthetic eye in a few weeks
-my step-brother's girlfriend is holding a new life in her
-God will grant us children we He sees fit
-we own a car and can pay for the insurance
-we have a stipend and can focus on funding our ministry full time

We have much to be grateful for in life as long as we remember to thank God for every blessing. Just because you see something as a woe in your life does not mean that it cannot be a blessing. It is easy to accept the good but can we accept the not so good in our lives? The best advice I can give is something I learned from my favorite movie "Evan Almighty":

"If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience? Or does He give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does He give him the opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for their family to be closer, do you thinkg God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does He give them opportunities to love each other?"

Romans 5:3-5 says "we rejoice in our present sufferings, because we know that suffering brings perseverance; and perseverance brings character; and character brings hope; and hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

Friday, August 12, 2011

On the road again...

We did it!!! After an AMAZING five weeks, we have finished all of our necessary training! Not only are we official Pre-Field Missionaries and employees of Mission Aviation Fellowship, but we are ready to begin our Ministry Partnership Adventure!!!



We have made many life-long friends; we have spent countless hours preparing for speeches and presentations; we have probably done more homework these past two weeks than we did the entire time we took our Bible classes; we have all laughed and we have all cried; we have done weekly Friday night bar-b-ques together; and we have prayed together. We have accomplished so much during this time of training and I would like to thank God and the wonderful coaches in our Ministry Partnership Department.



What is all of this talk about "Ministry Partnership"? Well, that is an excellent question and I am glad you asked! The Ministry Partnership Department provides accountability and encouragement by sharing in our ministry through their prayers and personal involvement in our funding adventures. Philippians 1:3 says, "I thank God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now..."

We have been blessed to have Darryl Cedergren as our MP Coach. He has taken on the task with much eagerness! We both feel that he was definitely God appointed for this task! He matches our personalities and sense of humor while managing to provide Kevin with all the tough love lessons he needs! He seems to know exactly what to say to encourage us in this process! 

So now, Kevin and I have the task of fundraising ahead of us and we feel this will be an adventure for us! We only ask right now that you begin to pray that we will take on this challenge with humility and a Christ focused heart.

If you have any questions in the meantime, feel free to contact us:

Kevin & Tasha Spann
  


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Busy in Nampa

Training
We have now finished two thirds of our training here in Nampa. The first phase was candidacy where we learned about who MAF was, where they serve, and their different ministries. Then we took some classes on handling stress in the field. The bible study we did was centered on these verses (which I think apply to any christian, not just missionaries):

Deuteronomy 31:6 " Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you"

Ephesians 4:1-6     "...I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to one hope when you were called-one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Romans 8:35-39     "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine of nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written, For your sake we face death all day long: we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord

Colossians 3:15-17     "Let  the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

As you can see, a strong emphasis is placed on unity and strength in the love of God.

Specific Assignment
Thursday, we received a call from our program director in Africa. We talked for about 20 minutes on Skype discussing some details on the different ministries in Africa and came to a conclusion on our specific placement in Africa. We have been assigned to the (West) Democratic Republic of Congo, in the city of Kinshasa! At first this made us a little nervous, but after talking with those who have been living there and seeing their faces light up, we are excited and can't wait to go! Our language school will be in Quebec City, Canada and starts next September (2012). Here we go!

In Other News This Week
This past Friday was our 5th wedding anniversary.We went for lunch at the Olive Garden (thanks Mark and Debby for the gift card) and then we treated ourselves to an hour long massage. It was wonderful! I thank God for the wonderful relationship we have, and that only by the grace of God we are united and excited about the opportunity to go Africa to share the Gospel, minister to those in need, and do much humanitarian work.

This Monday begins our Ministry Partnership training. We met for a bit on Thursday with our newly assigned ministry partnership coach, Darryl Cedergren. He served as a Pilot/Mechanic in Venezuela for a number of years and then came back to the states to work at the headquarters. The seminar will last for about two weeks and will cover the biblical basis for fundraising and how MAF wants us to approach our ministry.

Thank you for all the prayers, thoughts and cards. We (Tasha, Myself, and the other candidates.... well, no longer candidates, MAF PRE-FIELD STAFF!!!!) truly appreciate them.

In Christ,
Kevin and Tasha Spann

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Rest Of The Story

As class began today, I don't think anyone could really pay attention to what was being said.
First, we had our Unveiled class, which is study about Gods heart for his people,  Regardless of nationality, color, race or gender.
It seemed as though the time for our meeting would never come. We gathered in the lunch room at 1 as a
Class to support each other and waited. Finally, it came time for our turn with the committee and our
Assignment was given.

Okay, if you haven't figured it out by the cheesy intro, we received our final acceptance today. We are finally on staff with Mission Aviation Fellowship! When we sat down, the committee exchanged pleasantries with us and gave us some small talk run around, just to keep us on our toes. Finally, they said we had been accepted and wanted us to join their team in Africa. My jaw hit the table! Praise God! I was prepared to hear Indonesia, Haiti, possibly Central Asia, but Africa? That was not one I had even thought of considering! (Tasha promptly covered my mouth with her hand and began thanking the committee) They explained the reasoning behind their decision and everything added up - why hadn't we thought of it before? The majority of week seemed to be based around Indonesia and therefore we assumed that was our destination. Are we upset? NO!!! We are SO excited to be a part of MAF and to have this wonderful opportunity. We do not know where we are going in the continent yet, as MAF is in four countries in the continent and has multiple bases in some countries, so there are still many possibilities.

THE CALL
The next big thing we have to do for Candidacy is "THE CALL". This ominous title in our schedule has captivated us for the majority of our time here, and never knew what it was until yesterday. Our instructor informed us it was a cultural simulation involving 50+ MAF staff who had spent extensive time overseas. The objective was to put us together in a large group and simulate how stressful and different traveling to a third world country can be. They told us to bring a back pack and fill it with what we think we will need. We are still not entirely sure what to expect, but they said it could run anywhere from  in the afternoon until 7, or 8 or 9 or midnight. It will be interesting for sure. More details later.

Chapel
Tomorrow the  newly minted career staff will lead Wednesday chapel, introducing our class in a game show format. It should be fun. Yours truly is going to lead two hymns and do the closing prayer and then we will go back to class.

This is about it for big news of the day, Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. We could not be where we are today without all of you, but most of all, without the Lord God Almighty leading us (and pushing us). Glory to God the Father, The Son, and Holy Spirit, as it was in the Beginning, Now and Forever More. Amen

Monday, July 18, 2011

Survey Says.........

Where In The World????
Well, Tomorrow is the big day. It has been a lot of work to get here, and it would have been impossible without the providence and grace of a loving God. Bible Classes, FAA Checkrides, Technical Evaluations, not to mention all the On The Job Training we have received to prepare us, and that is just to get to here and now! We will have so much more training to come! But for now, we are focused on tomorrow.Our meeting is scheduled for 3:00 PM, Mountain time, but we are all gathering as a candidate class for some fellowship and prayer time at 1 in the lunch room. This is the big meeting. We finally have a direction we are heading. Please pray for all of us. All day long members of the candidate committee have been taunting us because they have already decided, they already know, but wont tell us. We feel confident that each couple there has been accepted. I am having a hard time coming up with a cohesive and well written blog tonight, just because there are no words to describe how it feels. It has been a massive amount of work and stress to get here, and even if somehow we weren't in the program, God has given us tools that will benefit us the rest of our lives. This is going to be a crazy week, and we will blog more then, but for now, we are going to try and get some sleep. Again, please pray for: Pete and Ashley Greenwald, Pete and Joy Neal, Eric and Kristine Reed, Matt and Ellie Scheer, Rich and Megan Harrell, and of course us Kevin and Tasha.

By the way, Thanks to the Women's Small Group at Highland View, we received your card today and it brought us great joy! We have a wonderful church family!

So the big question is -Where in the world are we going? The Survey Says..............................!!

May the Most Holy God, the Alpha and Omega, the Great I AM bless each and every one of you.
Kevin and Tasha

Friday, July 15, 2011

WE GOT MAIL!!!

Candidate Committee Meeting
Today, we met with the candidate committee at 11 AM and discussed all of our preferences and concerns for specific locations. The candidate committee will keep these in mind while they continue to pray regarding our placement. Kevin and I won't exactly be in Hawaii, but we do understand that we want to be placed where God wants us to be. A few of our requests were: a location with reasonable access to medical care; a warm climate; family friendly; close community ties; and a place we could utilize as many of our skills as possible. All of the following regions are taking as many people as they can: Latin America, Eurasia, Asia, Africa, and Haiti. At this moment, we have no idea where they will assign us, but we do know they will place us where we will be served best and can best serve.

Cross Cultural Living
After meeting with the candidate committee, the next speaker was with John Karetji, an Indonesian who has served with MAF over the last 40 years. He grew up in Papua and began working for MAF in 1968 and began doing office work. By the providence of God he worked his way up to program manager! He learned to speak Dutch, French, English, and Spanish! Not only that but he has been to 35 different countries! He was a wonderful guest speaker and kept us on our toes the entire time! We enjoyed his "true stories" about the different "shocking" things that occur in other cultures. Whether it was a word mispronounced (changing the meaning of the sentence), to hand gestures, to the different ways we eat, and even our idea of affection.
A great example of this was a story one of Kevin’s co-workers told him. While serving in the Air Force in Iraq, he noticed a lot of the Iraqi men holding hands. He then assumed many of them were homosexual. In actuality, it is a totally non sexual practice-even common place for male friends to hold hands. He observed another culture from the American context. The big point was for us to realize other cultures are not superior, or inferior, just different. In order to share with a new culture, we have to learn it. When Paul went to the city of Athens, he appealed to them on the basis of their culture, much like we learned about today (Acts 17).

 We’ve Got Mail
On a happy note, WE GOT MAIL!!! It was the best feeling to walk by our "mail box" in the hall and see something in our box. Our friends in the class with us were all talking about it and were so excited! We took our coveted letter to the classroom. It was a word of encouragement from Carolyn & Nels Walker! Thank you SO much!!! You don't understand how excited everyone in the classroom was to see someone get mail! They were rejoicing with us! I wanted everyone back home to understand how much a little card or note means to us here on base. In fact, if you have some free time and a few stamps, I would like to encourage you to also send some letters to our friends as encouragement as well! We would also like to thank those who respond to our blogs. It truly means a lot.

It is the same address as ours:

Mission Aviation Fellowship
Atttn: FAMILY NAME
P.O. Box 47
Nampa, ID  83653

Laura Cahill - Maintenance intern for Oaxaca, Mexico
Pete & Ashley Greenwald, and baby Cade (5 mo) - pilot/mechanic Career Staff
Rich & Megan Harrell, Alex (8), Aden (5), Aron (4), Abe (3) - pilot/mechanic Career Staff
Matt & Lisa Lind, Levi (2), & one due in 8 weeks - Base Maintenance, DRC, Short Term Staff
Miles & Dion McClure - Aircraft Mechanic/Teacher for Papua, Indonesia, Short Term Staff
Pete & Joy Neal, baby Anders (6 mo) - pilot/mechanic Career Staff
Eric & Kristine Reed, baby Jennavieve (10 mo) - Pilot/IT - the GOLDEN JOB!!! Career Staff
Matt & Ellis Scheer, Blake (2 yrs), baby Callie (2 mo) - Pilot/mechanic Career Staff

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Another Day of Training

What a glorious blessing to have the opportunity to have Candidacy. We are making many friends, learning more about MAF as well as the countries that they serve, and how MAF serves the Lord by doing the works they do. Thus far, we have learned about the opportunities to serve in Africa, Eurasia, and Indonesia. Tomorrow we will learn about Latin America and Haiti. We have had two program directors Skype talk with us via internet video connection and one from Indonesia here on furlough. MAF truly cares about laying eveything out on the table for us to see. We asked alot of questions - some about positive things and some negative. And based on their honesty, they didn't sugar coat any of the answers. I really appreciate having this time to ask questions about each program. Today, we were given a booklet with a few of the opportunities the wives have with MAF. For example, they can perform standard tasks such as flight operations to help the base run smoothly; they can perform Bible studies and encourage church ministries; they can perform humanitarian aid such as visiting the orphans and widows; or they can even teach an arts and crafts class! There are so many opportunities for the wives so that our new lives are enriched by our everyday ministries!

Each time we hear from a different program, there are so many appealing qualites that we are having a hard time discerning which one would be the best fit for us! Ephesians 2:10 talks about good works prepared in advance for us by God. Please pray so we can see God's will and which works He would have us do!

As a candidate class, we got a chance to close the doors and just vent our fears and expectations about what our new lives will be like. We wrote them on all out on a flip chart so that everyone could have them in the open to see. There were many heads nodding in agreement to the things being said. One common fear was that we will be so willing to serve the people as missionaries that we will forget time with ourselves and our families. It is a reasonable fear for anyone but seeing it out in the open helped everyone to realize we all have the same fears. The same goes for the expectations. How can we expect to take care of others if we don't take care of ourselves. Just like in an airplane, they explain that whent the oxygen mask drops, take care of yourself first so that you can take care of others. We must be focused on God first (our spiritual lives) so that we can be missionaries who aid others. This intense session lasted about 45 minutes, and then we spent about another 45 minutes praying together over all the things we had listed. Our prayer was that God would hear our fears and expectations and help to ease our hearts.

We also had a chance to learn about one of the newer ministries of MAF, Learning Technologies.  What learning technologies does is figure out how to get "the right technology to the right location, with the right information." This technology is not necessarily the latest and greatest, for example, one of their most effective tools is a little solar powered audio device that speaks the Bible translated in their own language. After analysis, they determined that although the Christain numbers are growing, sometimes by as much as 4,000 per week in some areas, there is no one to nurture them. The presenter made the point that many nationals who feel the call to ministry leave thier villiage to go to seminary school, but only 10% actually return to their village to minister to their people. The rest learn the gospel, but it is so out of context to what would make sense to their people that their efforts are largely innefective. So using the most appropriate technology, they can teach local leaders the gospel within the context of their community. She also made the sales pitch that most technology oriented organizations are more focused on the latest, greatest gadgets with the most gizmos. Which is fine and dandy, but little Bobby in Oom-papa-mow-mow doesn't have electricity or internet. What happens to a cell phone? The battery dies. How do you recharge it with no electricity. How does a computer hook to the internet, when none is available (for that matter, how do you use it with no electricity anyway). Instead of trying to solve everyones problems from the inside out, L.T. engages the people in need, and collaborates together to find out what can help them the most. What an incredible organization.

Finally today, we found out we are in charge of next Wednesday morning's chapel service. Kevin will be leading a couple of songs, then we were to come up with a creative way of introducing the class. Needless to say, we are all very excited about what we came up with and can't wait to present it. No spoilers, but hopefully Tasha can get it on video camera!

God Bless,

Kevin & Tasha Spann

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Favor for My Friend

One of the many ways the Lord has directed us to missions was the availability of multiple mentors at church. The United States has approximately 300 million people. Roughly 600,000 of whom are pilots. The pilot to non pilot ratio is roughly 1 pilot for every 500 people. When I was growing up, Highland view had roughly 300 members, 10 of whom were pilots and most had mentored me in some way or another. For you math majors, thats a ratio of  1 pilot for every 30 people. What are the odds?
One of my favorite mentors was a gentleman named Gordon Brady. I must have been 11 or 12 when I began talking with him about aviation, and to the best of my recollection, he had been involved with airplanes nearly all his life. He had built several of his own, worked as an avionics technician for some time with military airplanes, and was a member of the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) and AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association). He was unable to get a medical certificate after around age 85. For his 90th birthday, he went skydiving. He was the oldest person this company had taken skydiving until his 93 year old sister looked up and said, "Hey, that looks like fun, I think I'll try it". For his 93rd birthday, he went hang gliding. He was the oldest person that company had taken hang gliding until his 96 year old sister said, "Hey that looks like fun, I think I'll try it".
He was a great Christian mentor and friend. For his 95th birthday, his children bought him an ultra light. He didnt get to fly it very often due to his health, but it was my great privelidge to take him flying several years ago.

This was his last flight in an airplane while he was alive. He moved to Texas to be with his children not long before he passed. He donated his body to the medical industry and was then cremated. One of his last requests was for his ashes to be sprinked over an airport (the name of the airport is being withheld to protect the innocent......in this case maybe the not so innocent........ me!) His daughter contacted my Dad, who contacted me. We got in the airplane and flew to met Gordon's daughter Pat at the above "non-mentioned" airport.


 Gordons daughter Pat, Me, and Dad

 There are a plethora of stories out there about pilots who improperly attempted to scatter ashes out of an airplane and ended up covered in the very person they were trying to honor. What tends to happen is the pilot will open one window, which due to Bernouli's principle and other aerodynamic factors, creates an area of lower air pressure inside the cabin. Since air flows from high pressure to low pressure, anything with very little mass attempting to be jettisoned outside the airplane comes right back in and all over everything. I was determined not to be on this list. My dad and I did some thinking and after talking to other pilots who had done this, we came up with a rig (specifics withheld, again to avoid self incrimination...... I also feel like I need to add a disclaimer. Do not try this at home, I am an aviation professional with years of training. For all the FAA employess reading the page, 14 CFR 91.15 which states "No pilot in command of a civil aircraft may allow any object to be dropped from that aircraft in flight that creates a hazard to persons or property. However, this section does not prohibit the dropping of any object if reasonable precautions are taken to avoid injury or damage to persons or property" was followed) and with a little in flight configuration experimentation, i.e. airspeed and flap placement, we finally found a configuration that created a slight amount of suction through our apparatus and overboard! It worked perfectly! 

As we flew over the runway at approximately 65 knots, we passed Gordon's family and Dad placed the ashes into the funnel. It was an honor not only to be the last person to take Gordon flying while he was alive, but it was indeed a priviledge to be the last person to take him flying and help fulfill his last request.



Thanks for all your help Gordon.  See you on the other side.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Settling Into our New Apartment

We arrived at the MAF site in Nampa, ID at 2 AM (after changing airplanes twice in Minneapolis St. Paul.....)this morning and boy are we exhausted! So I thought I would post some pictures of our studio apartment that we will be living in for the next five weeks and also let you in on our itinerary for tomorrow. So enjoy the rest of your Sunday while we review our orientation/Candidacy manuals!

The room when you first walk in

The bed looking into the bathroom

Looking at the "kitchen" from the bed


The table and fireplace with the TV








Monday, July 11th, 2011

8 – 9 AM              Welcome
9 – 9:30                 Getting to Know You
9:30 – 10:30        Welcome & Mission Statement
10:30 – 10:45      BREAK
10:45 – 11:30      MAF's Beginnings
11:30 – 12            Email/Network Policy
12 – 1 PM            LUNCH
1 – 2:30                 Structure, Strategy & Philosophy of Ministry
2:30 – 2:45           BREAK
2:45 – 3                 Video
3 – 4:15                 Africa










Sunday, July 3, 2011

Plans for the Future

As some of you may know, Kevin & I experienced a miscarriage a little over six weeks ago.  It has been difficult for many reasons (physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.) But we have gotten through it together with God, prayer, and many, many friends. But on Sunday, I had a bit of a breakdown.
At the end of church, I sat in a pew holding my friend’s little boy. He is perfect baby, sitting patiently in my lap cooing and I mumble whispers of how adorable he is. I just stared at him on my lap and before I realized it, I uttered “You are exactly what I want.” I did not think before I spoke, so the realization of what I said hit me hard. Tears immediately began to pour and I handed the sweet baby to Kevin and pouted on my way to the bathroom. I just sat on the lounge in the bathroom and let the tears fall. As soon as I stood up to wash my face, a wise friend walks in and marches up to me and immediately hugs me. She saw everything that had happened. She patiently held me close as I cried a few minutes and then she pulls away. I was not prepared at this moment to hear “the speech” again. Anyone who has experienced any loss gets “the speech”: I know how you feel; everything will be okay; a lesson has been learned; it happens for a reason; blah, blah, blah! Instead, she looked me directly in the eyes and told me that it was not God’s plan.
Not. God’s. Plan.
She continued with her comforting words explaining that we have many events going on in our lives right now and we need to focus on what is in front of us now. I couldn’t get the words out of my head – not God’s plan. I have heard many things and have made up quite a few excuses myself – God made a decision I could not make; it was not the right time; the baby wasn’t perfect; we are young and healthy and can try again; etc. But up until that moment, no one has ever told me that it was not God’s plan.
As a woman, I am a planner, an organizer, someone who strives to put everything into charts and graphs and file them away in my perfect file folders. So, why was it so hard for me to realize that it was not God’s plan? These past few days, weeks, and months have been all about planning and preparing ourselves for our new journey; but at some point it went from God’s plan to mine.
Too many times in our lives we plan everything out and we forget that our lives are not our own. We are taught at a young age to be independent and self-serving and we are encouraged to build lifelong plans and goals. But as Christians we have to realize that these plans we build so creatively are not toys to be tinkered with – we are God’s children! James 4:13-16 is a harsh reminder of this: “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes (verse 14)!” These are not our plans for life, they are God’s!
My goal for this week is to pray and ask God to help me focus on HIS plans!
God Bless and Happy 4th!
Tasha

Acts of the Apostles, Done.

Greetings to all!

We just keep checking things off our "Stuff to do before we go" list. Earlier this week we finished our papers, (see last post) and the college formerly known as Johnson Bible College, now known as Johnson University was really on the ball and got our tests mailed to the church on Friday. We took our test today and so now all we have to do is wait for our grade. It was a very, very, very tough test. Curtis took one look and said, "If I had to take this test, I think I could do it and feel OK about it, but I'm also a teacher for the Master's Program." Johnson University has been consistently tough, but thats ok. It's this kind of struggling and difficulty that teaches us to perservere. In Romans 5, verses 3-5 the apostle Paul writes "we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverence character; and character, hope. And hope does not dissapoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us."

I am not comparing our suffering at Johnson to that which Paul or the other apostles suffered (although look at the picture in Tasha's last post - I was suffering pretty good there.....very, very tongue in cheek), but bare with me, I think I can make a pretty cool analogy with this. We are struggling at Johnson, but because they set the bar so high, we have learned alot. This has taught us how to persevere and finish a job God has given us-not to mention the biblical knowledge we recieved in the process. This is a great character builder. Because we already believe in the Risen One, and have confessed in His Holy name, we already have hope. But, now that we have persevered through our other requirements for MAF, we can continue in our ministry with them and bring hope to those who could not otherwise be reached!
Tomorrow I have to work a half day, and then we are going to Cookeville to visit with some friends for the 4th of July. This week I will finish up work as well. My replacement began working with us full time about two weeks ago. This as been a very surreal time for the both of us. Tasha and I were training our replacements and it was fun to come home at the end of the day and share our experiences together, but made this process more real. We HAVE put in our notice. We ARE quitting our jobs. We ARE stepping in a direction that some people have called crazy. Oddly enough, we feel a calmness that can be described as none other than Gods Hand. This week we will be finishing the books "Expert Expatriot and "Funding your Ministry". Please pray for safe travels for us and the other MAF candidates that will be heading to Nampa. Pray that each couple at Candidacy will clearly see Gods Will and the direction He wants us to go in. May the Most Holy God and Creator bless each and every one of you!

Kevin

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Good News!

Ah! Today is glorious new day! Why am I so chipper? Kevin and I worked really hard last night to finish our papers! 2,000 – 3,000 words later for each of us and we feel that a burden has been lifted off of our shoulders! I am proud that I finished but I am not ready to start partying yet – we still have a test to do!!! One, I must add, is going to be REALLY hard (unless you are our minister/proctor Dr. Curtis McClane, the man who has more degrees than a thermometer)! J


As Kevin and I were grunting and groaning over our papers last night, I was reminded (humbly) that this class is not a punishment but is a tool to prepare us for our lives as missionaries. Isaiah 40:3 (can’t you tell I like the book of Isaiah) foretold of John the Baptist saying “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way …prepare the way for the Lord” - the keyword being “prepare.” (This always brings to mind the song “Days of Elijah”.)
 As a frequent procrastinator, this is an often a humble lesson in my life! I don’t clean my house until someone is coming over, I don’t start dinner until I know Kevin is 5 minutes away, and I definitely haven’t done my homework on time (my paper being a great example!) So here I am “preparing” to be a missionary. This reminds me of the Redneck phrase “fixin’ to.” I am not doing it yet, but I am “fixin’ to.” My goal for the next few days is to remember that I learning so that I can prepare the way for the Lord and my prayer is that God will keep me focused on this task!

Tasha

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Preparing for Orientation

Good morning! While Kevin is off working today, I thought that I would share some of the things that Kevin and I are doing to prepare for our orientation with MAF. Orientation with MAF is two weeks long and it is held in Nampa, ID. It will begin July 11th (Kevin's birthday). After orientation, there will be a security training the following week. Finally, there will be a two week long fundraising training. So, what are we doing to prepare ourselves for this 5 week journey?

First and foremost - prayer! Isaiah 58:11 says, "The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." This has become our current prayer that God will help us on our journey. We will need His strength and His guidance. We would not be where we are today without Him.

Next, study time! MAF has asked that we read a book called "Funding Your Ministry" by Scott Morton and to do a study guide on it. The book has been a real eye opener as to how to think about fundraising. Thus far, my favorite part has to be the explanation about how fundraising is a spiritual ministry, not begging! It gives the example of how a man acted during a flood. He sat on the roof of his home during a flood and a boat came by for help. He told the would-be rescuer, "No thanks, God will save me." The boat came by three times in total before the man finally succumbed to the water and drowned. When he went to heaven he asked the Lord why He did not save him from the flood. The Lord said, "I sent you three boats!" During fundraising, our jobs are very clear and God's job is very clear and we have to realize the difference!  I am looking forward to the fundraising with my new point of view!

Third, homework! Kevin and I lack one class before we can go back. All we have to do is finish our paper for our class in Acts and take the test. This would be simple, except Kevin has been putting in double time at work. Kevin is the only person licensed to check off the planes and will be gone 5 weeks. Kevin does have a replacement, but he does not have everything needed to be Kevin's complete replacement. So, Kevin is working very hard to make sure that all of the planes on the charter will not need their annuals while he is gone. Where does that leave Kevin on his paper? No time! Bless his heart!

Finally, physically preparation! We have two cats and two dogs and a house that need to be taken care of while we are gone. We have friends Seth and Kelsey who are going to stay in our house. While I am not concerned about the care of the cats (if you own you, you understand they are independent), but I am concerned for my elderly dog Maggie. She requires medication twice a day and frequent attention. I know my friends will take care of her, but as a "mommy" I still feel bad about "leaving them."

So, as Kevin and I prepare for our journey, I am constantly praying Isaiah 26:8, that the Lord will make our path we travel a smooth one and that our journey is not a rough one! Please keep us in your prayers as we continue to finish the things here that need to be done before our next step in our journey!

Tasha

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

About Us

Special Scripture Verse: "How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!'" Romans 10:14-15 (NIV)

Moved by the thought of bringing the Good News, we are thrilled to begin a new chapter in our lives by serving the One True God through Mission Aviation Fellowship. Although beautiful feet will not be the mode of transportation, wings and prayer will be! Kevin says “Even though I can’t preach like Paul, on wings like eagles (or Cessna’s) I can bring those who can!” Kevin realizes as a pilot and mechanic the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:31 ("Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God") definitely apply. By using the talents given to him, God is glorified. Through his efforts with MAF, unreached people can be reached, unloved people can be loved and the Good News can be spread - and God is glorified! He will be joined by his wife who brings even more God given talent to their team. Tasha looks forward to the opportunity to minister to children and adults alike; whether it will be through adult education or teaching biblical stories to children, she is very excited about all the possibilities. Her favorite verse has always been Psalms 30:5 (NIV) “Everyone has struggles in their lives and this ‘universal’ verse relates to many different situations, but the verse also reminds me that even though our joy might not come soon, we are promised a life of joy in our eternity in Heaven.”
Kevin grew up on a small farm in rural East Tennessee and remained there from birth through his senior year in high school. He attended Middle Tennessee State University where he earned his A&P and private licenses, and received a B.S. in Aerospace Maintenance Management. By the time he and Tasha had graduated college, they were engaged and married shortly after. He worked as an aviation maintenance technician and became the director of maintenance at an aircraft charter company but felt a calling to something more. Through opportunities given by the grace of God, he continued to earn his Inspection Authorization, multi engine, instrument and commercial license.
            Tasha grew up in the same area as Kevin and though she was 2 years ahead of him in school they got to spend a lot of time together in high school band. She grew up in a Christian home but it took the passing of her grandmother to understand the teachings of the true love of Christ to fully understand the meaning of having the Lord Jesus as her savior. She went to several colleges in the area, picking up bible credits, an associates in biology, and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Tennessee. Once married, she worked as an executive assistant but felt a calling to something more.
Through a mentor at his church, Kevin learned of Mission Aviation Fellowship. After telling Tasha, and a lot of divine intervention, they both realized how God had pointed their lives in this direction and have embraced the role God has called them to. They picked up their remaining bible credits through correspondence with Johnson Bible College in Knoxville and look forward to beginning their service with MAF.