John and I had the same conversation throughout the year 2018.
The topic: what are we going to do after the army? The answer? Oh gosh, our future plans might as well be an Etch-A-Sketch. Our hopes for transitioning to the Coast Guard fell through. After that, John’s career changed from pilot to commercial airliner, to contractor to firefighter, to forest ranger pilot to physicians assistant, to police officer to warrant officer…on a weekly basis. John can map out our next twenty years together while my mind can only envision next month–and that’s a stretch.
But we were both wrestling with God in our own ways. John had always planned on leaving the U.S. Army for the mission field yet as his final year in the military drew near, he was like the biblical seed choked by thorns of worry (Matt 13:22). He wasn’t single anymore. He was a husband and someday father thinking about 401k plans and medical care for our future babies. John understood that God would provide in any circumstance but he could not ignore his responsibilities as the head of the house. In response, he printed out military retirement plans as well as scripture on anxiety and money. There were two voices going on. The world promises us a cash reward after a calculated number of years. And God, well, how can one compare to the Almighty?
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
I cried a lot. I tried to listen and engage in our conversations about the future. I tried to stay positive when I was really grumpy. There were so many ideas floating in the air, I just wanted one plan to be real. I met God with a list of concerns until there was nothing left and the bottom line was Lord, I trust you. I trust that you are guiding my husband and establishing our next step.
John’s alternative career choices were eventually set aside and our discussions of the future changed direction. Joy, plentiful joy returned to my husband’s face. He started researching missionary aviation organizations and ministries such as Ethnos360, MAF (Missionary Aviation Fellowship) and Samaritan’s Purse in Alaska. We figured we would stay in the States for a few years and attend Ethnos360 Bible Institute, but John felt an urgency in his heart to serve right away. He’d stare at the timeline posted on our refrigerator and sigh, “Babe, I just feel ready.” He had the flight hours, top military training, and had flown in war-torn countries before. In addition, John and I are young and have zero kids which makes the transition and travels easier now than later.
So here’s how we got to Entebbe, Uganda. John emailed SP (Samaritan’s Purse) about a position in Africa. A month of crickets passes until John opens an email that instructs him to call SP in Kenya. He then calls this point of contact and chats with him for 45 minutes. They go through his list of questions…Is Uganda safe? Can we have children and establish a life there? What ministry opportunities are there? How’s the fellowship? Can I apply even though I don’t reach the required flight hours?
The guy encourages John to submit his application and to notify him when it’s been sent. Turns out, the voice on the other end of the Skype call belonged to the Program Director. Four phone interviews and one video interview later, John accepts a missionary pilot position in Entebbe, Uganda. He’ll be flying humanitarian aid to South Sudan and other countries in Jesus’ name. The plan is to attend orientation in March and then depart for Uganda mid-April. God moves, my friend!
I’ve filled this blog with people who have prayed over us and uplifted our spirits when the sky seemed all too quiet. Others were oceans away; you know who you are. Thank you, a zillion times over, thank you.