Monday, June 13, 2011

6 weeks, 6 days, 6 hours

6 weeks, 6 days, and 6 hours ago DJ and I were sitting on an airliner somewhere over the jungles of Brazil headed North to Miami, FL. We had spent exactly 3 months in Bolivia and were headed back to the States for a series of family graduations and for the annual inspection, repairs, and a weight loss campaign on GMI's Piper Aerostar Twin.

We spent portions of our first day back in the basement waiting out the tornadoes which were forming in the Tennessee area. The next day as we headed out the door to drive to Michigan, my dad informed us that a few of our friends' houses had been hit by a tornado that touched down about 6 miles from our house the evening before. We are very thankful that our friends are okay and since then we've been over to help them in the long cleaning/clearing process.
Our first weekend back in the States, we spent at Andrews University in Michigan. Though I had finished my degree in Elementary Education in December, I wanted to attend the education department's special pinning ceremony and march for graduation. Also graduating were DJ's younger sister, Emily (English, secondary education) and my cousin, Sara (animal science, pre-vet). We had a lovely long weekend at Andrews visiting with friends and family and spending some time with our old church family at the Eau Claire Spanish Church.

From there we drove back to Tennessee so that DJ could begin the Aerostar annual. DJ and Jeff Sutton spent about a week on it and then split ways for other trips. Jeff went to Belize for a week to work on a GMI project that he is helping get started there and DJ and I drove out to Colorado for DJ's older sister, Rachel's, graduation from CSU with her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine. We had a great time with family, hiking in the Rockies, and seeing a little bit of Rachel's life. We stayed with my aunt and uncle nearby and enjoyed seeing them again too.

After the flurry of another graduation weekend was over, DJ flew up to Spokane, WA, where Stephen Lingenfelter, a fellow mission volunteer mechanic, picked him up and drove him to Coeur d'Alene, ID. There DJ spent a few days removing a long-range fuel tank system from a mission Cessna 182 that had headed to Mongolia, but had been unable to go. We understand that the Chinese government set high restrictions and would not allow the plane to fly over the country to get to Mongolia. The 182 and the accompanying missionaries, Beaver & Rebecca Eller, are in the States waiting/working on the process of obtaining permission while getting further medical training. The Ellers had offered to lend their project's airplane for a few months to the GMI project in Guyana because the Guyana project is currently down a plane. The 182 would be used in place of the other plane in its daily duties as well as to transport mechanics to the jungle to remedy the situation with the other plane. The plan was to bring the 182 down to Collegedale, TN to have it available to go down to Guyana. DJ flew the plane to Wyoming, where I had driven to meet him and dropped off a car, and together we continued flying to TN.
We thought about making a stop by Andrews for DJ to get some additional flight training but bad weather kept us from making it there. Instead, we headed back to TN because we wanted to be there for Jodi's brother, Ivan's, 8th grade graduation. One particular highlight of this flight from ID to TN was the stop we made in Illinois to re-fuel. We arrived at the airport after the FBO had close and were unable to reach anyone to help us pump gas (not a self-serve pump). Through an error on the fuel guages ... We didn't have enough fuel to make it to the nearby airport which had fuel and still have DJ's required minimum reserve. God sent us a wonderful Christian family who took us to their house, picked up their gas can, drove us to a bunch of different gas stations looking for non-ethanol car gas (this particular airplane can handle this type of gas), and drove us back to the airport where we were able to put in enough fuel to make it to the next airport safely.

We arrived in TN the next afternoon, went to Ivan's evening graduation, and got me unpacked and re-packed in order to take off the next morning with my parents and brother on their road trip to California. We were headed to CA to go to my sister, Noelle's, graduation from Loma Linda's dental hygiene program.

The next week I spent with my family driving West, looking at dinosaur tracks in Texas, 'caving' at Carlsbad in New Mexico, visiting my grandparents in Arizona, and finally arriving in California. We spent the weekend attending Noelle's pinning ceremony and graduation events and seeing family who I hadn't seen in many years.

The following week I spent driving East with my family, visiting Zion & Bryce, dropping my dad and brother off in Wyoming to dig dinosaur bones, picking up our car, and driving to TN with my mom, super excited to see DJ.

Meanwhile, DJ was and continues to be very busy working in TN on various aiplane projects, the biggest of which is the Aerostar. DJ, Jeff Sutton, and Steve Wilson worked together on the annual as well as on the airplane's "weight loss campaign." The goal of the campaign? you ask: To increase the amount of weight the airplane can legally carry. Long days were spent removing wires, pieces of broken equipment, antennas that no longer belonged to anything, and the left-overs from the air conditioning and propeller de-ice systems. The guys still talk excitedly about the box of removed junk that now weighs nearly 60 lbs. They also are re-weighing the airplane and doing the paperwork for installing extended wing-tips.

DJ has also spent lots of time working with other GMI missionaries in finding solutions to the plane situation in Guyana.

We are now both in Tennessee looking forward to whatever may come next. We have a few weeks left before the Aerostar is completely finished. At this point we are not sure how soon we'll return to Bolivia, but we know that at the latest, it will be by the middle of July. In the meantime, we are doing the projects that we have at hand and waiting to see what God has in mind next.

Thanks for your support and prayers!

Jodi (& DJ)

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