Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Forgive Us Our Sins

The other day I was thinking of the passage in Luke 11 where Jesus prayed. When he finished praying, one of his disciples asked for Jesus to teach them how to pray. So Jesus responded, “When you pray, say this,” and he recites the Lord’s Prayer.  I thought it might be fun to come up with my own prayer using the main ideas from each line. So I tried it out, paraphrasing the concepts to learn better how to pray. But I stopped when I came to this line:
“Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us” (Luke 11:4, NLT).
A thought suddenly came to me - what if God had not given us the gift of Jesus, who died to forgive us of all of our sins? What if, each day, we were only forgiven as many times as we forgave others? Harsh reality! I am just thankful that the Lord’s forgiveness is not limited to my acts of grace.

Nearly each Saturday, Kevin and I have the same little “spat.” Kevin wakes up bright and early and is ready to tackle his “Honey-Do List.” I wake up and want Kevin to make up for all the hours he missed out with our little girl during the week but was at work. We say the same words, playing the same cards in our pile of trumps, and always conclude the “discussion” the same way, with a frustrating draw. Kevin resenting the fact that at the end of the weekend there will still be things that need to be done, and only he can do them, and me begrudgingly realizing there aren't enough hours in the day to spend together as a family.

But what about forgiveness; what if at the end of the day God only forgave me of my transgressions as long as I had practiced mercy to others? I certainly didn't apologize and neither did Kevin, our stubbornness adding to our pile of stresses (let’s face it, life here isn't easy). There are many adages and sayings about people wishing they had just one more day or if they had just said sorry or if they could have done things differently. Maybe we should practice more clemency and hold less grudges. Maybe we should open our hearts to generosity and let in the Lord’s will for our lives instead of holding onto our own.

“The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no partiality and is always sincere.” (James 3:17, NLT).

Monday, March 17, 2014

Goat + Missing Passenger + Weather = Another Day at the Office

One of the last blogs I wrote, I went to Djolu. I went there again several Saturdays ago.The traffic was very light on the way to the airport, which gave me a bit of time to study the clouds. There was a high, thin overcast with low, scattered rain clouds. Not a problem, and the satellite image looked good too. Here is a link to our only weather resource here, for those interested in how we get our weather.

Because it is such a long flight, the timing is critical or else we cannot make it back before sunset. So I got to the airport early and prepared the airplane. While I was filing the flight plan, I got a call that weather was great at my fuel stop, but my first passenger hadn't showed up yet; nor could he be reached by telephone. The check-in process for passengers can take an hour, or longer, and it was already 7 so this was a problem. He was just going to be along for the ride and the true purpose of the flight was the passengers in Djolu waiting to come back. So we made the decision to leave without him and arrange something in the future.

I was able to get out of Kinshasa in a very timely fashion, breezed through my first fuel stop, and then on to Djolu. After landing, checking the fuel and a few other things, I turned my attention to my 3 passengers and their growing stack of bags. On the way, I was able to find a great tailwind and landed about 20 minutes ahead of schedule. The problem is the engine burned 20 minutes less fuel. Therefore I landed with more fuel than I had originally anticipated and thus had less available weight. Either way, it should not have matter. I had 250 kilograms (550 lbs) available. Unfortunately, they brought 280 kg (620 lbs). An hour later (now 40 minutes behind schedule) we got the weight down and then came the puzzle of where to put it in the airplane.

Finally we were loaded, started it up, finished the checklists and radio calls and proceeded to add power for takeoff. As I continued the takeoff roll, I noticed the goat who was grazing at the edge of the runway was now in the middle of the runway. I hoped he would move when he heard me coming, but nope. As part of our training in Nampa, we spent a whole day practicing takeoff aborts which are trickier than they sound. So I got to do my first aborted takeoff with passengers...fully loaded....on a hot day. We stopped quickly, turned around and taxied back. Someone started to chase after the goat on foot. Then another guy going to help the first guy. Then a guy on a motorcycle...then 50 other guys running down to chase 1 goat off the runway. So 10 minutes later, after the goat was long gone, everyone else finally cleared the runway and we were able to take off (1 hour and 10 minutes behind schedule).

After a long slow climb to 10,000 feet I was able to find another great tailwind and started making up significant time. I noticed some clouds building just on the horizon. The closer we got, the bigger they grew and the darker they became. I began deviating around them hoping they wouldn't put me too far off course, but alas no matter how I weaved, I had to go several miles out of the way to safely navigate around them. Even the most experienced seamstress would have admired at the weaving I had to do for the next 75 miles. Finally with all the clouds and rain behind me, the race to sunset was back on. I called back to base on the HF radio, and we determined a very quick fuel stop in Semendua would get me back with about 30 minutes of sunlight remaining.

After an incredibly quick re-fueling and bathroom break, we were back in the air. Air traffic Control was able to help out, and I actually ended up landing with about 40 minutes to spare. Add up another 9 hours of flying and 1050 miles to the log book.

Did I mention I love my job?