Last week I joined my husband on my first outreach flight with Mercy Air. Watching him wear the many “hats” of a missionary pilot gave me a much-needed fresh perspective of who he is and how Mercy Air seeks to serve.
From the age of 15, my husband dreamed of becoming a missionary bush pilot to provide support for mission work in remote locations – especially in Africa. After many years of training and preparation, in 2012, we (and our two daughters) were thrilled to see God open the doors for us to serve with Mercy Air in South Africa.
My husband was finally fulfilling his dream, and as his wife, I was excited for him and proud of him. However, due to our having small children to care for, I was unable to go along on any of the mission outreach trips. Over the next few years it was difficult for me to understand what he was experiencing on his trips and hard to relate to him when he came home from a week or so away. At times my perspective became self-focused and negative.
Last week, I finally had the opportunity, with our two-year-old son, to go along on my first mission outreach. On this flight, we took two Early Childhood Development educators to a very remote part of South Africa. Once a month they spend a week training preschool teachers in this area.
As we flew to pick up our passengers, I was impressed with my husband’s ability to not only fly the aircraft (making sense of the many gauges, levers, switches, dials, and lights), but also his ability to navigate our route and simultaneously communicate with the various air traffic controllers who seem to speak a completely different language. It was multi-tasking like I’ve never seen before!
When we landed and collected our passengers, I was impressed with his professionalism, friendliness, helpfulness, and the obvious respect these educators had for him. Soon he had loaded the supplies into the twin-engine aircraft, and we were on our way. As we approached the tiny, dirt air-strip, he flew over checking for animals or other obstacles that might prevent a safe landing. Satisfied that all was well, he landed smoothly. After unloading the aircraft, we piled into the pick-up truck and headed to the place that would be our home for the next six days.
Over the course of the next week, I watched my husband leave his “Pilot” had with the airplane and don various other hats to include his “Chauffer” hat while transporting educators, trainers and other and the “Mr. Fix It” hat while making repairs during his free time at the preschools.
Satisfied that he had done all the repairs he could, he took off his “Mr. Fix It” hat and just played with the kids, some of whom knew him by name. I watched him draw pictures for the children on the sandy ground. I saw them laugh with joy. I saw him smile with delight. He loved every moment of it.
God has been so faithful. This is what my husband always dreamed of doing and what Mercy Air is all about; making a difference in the lives of people in need by showing God’s love in practical ways – flying, driving, fixing, and encouraging. I am so proud of my husband. Getting to see him wear all these “hats” has given me a fresh perspective and an increasing admiration and respect for him and for the ministry of Mercy Air.