Sunday, July 31, 2011

Busy in Nampa

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 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.

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


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
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 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!

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!