Our first missionary assignment was in the Pacific Islands of Micronesia where Todd was a pilot for Pacific Missionary Aviation and I was Mom to a very active 2 year old and helped out in the office as needed taking position reports and such. When the Chief Pilot was out of the country and Todd had to make a flight to an outer island, he had engine trouble and ended up taking the engine apart on the coral runway and putting it back together. It was then that I made up my mind that I was going to get my pilots license, so I could at least fly a part to him if needed!
When we returned to the US after our 3 years there, God worked it out for us to join a flying club and get an incredible deal on renting the airplane. I got 42 hours in that month!!!! Had just one night landing and one other item to check off the list in order to take my test to be a private pilot. On my last solo cross country, with forest fires blazing, thunder clouds building and Borade Bombers flying across my windshield, I decided I had reached my goal and did not need the sign off. I was flying solo, but not alone! I was scared, but calm, nervous, but a weird sense of peace filled the plane. I believe God sent an angel to help encourage me. The voice of an older pilot came on my radio – as I was trying desperately to contact flight following, without any luck because I was over a ridge to avoid the heavy metal airplanes that were fighting the fires. He asked me if I knew where I was and I assured him I did. He asked a few other questions and then said he would relay for me. He did so and with a calm reassuring voice coached me along.
Because of the weather, I was hitting up and down drafts that were taking me beyond the 50’ +/- allowed by my husband instructor who insisted I follow airline standards because he did not want me flying if I was not proficient as he did not want to raise our four kids alone!
Solo but not alone…..I think that one of the reasons I didn’t feel alone in that plane was an experience I had while living on the island. When our youngest daughter was about to be born, Todd had to make an emergency medical evacuation of an 18 year old boy who would have died had Todd not been able to get him to the trauma center on Guam. I was solo then, had another missionary wife and a lady lawyer friend I had made, but no husband, mom or sister there….. God helped me through that in a miraculous way. With a smile on my face, and a peace in my heart, God was there in that delivery room as our daughter entered the world. I asked my friend Dawn to take pictures with my camera as I wanted Todd to know that I was OK through it even though he was not able to be there. Not something I could have done on my own, but God gave me the strength when I needed it, to get through what I had to.
When we were stationed in the Ivory Coast and the civil war was really heating up, a decision was made to send the wives and children to South Africa for safety. Three moms and 11 kids got on the plane that night. Flying solo again…..but not alone. Once again, God gave me a peace and although it was not easy for our family, we made it our goal to help the other two families with smaller children make the most of the experience. When we arrived, we were escorted to apartments for each family and I was given the keys to an 18 passenger van and a map book of Johannesburg, South Africa. I was elected to be the chauffeur because I didn’t have any accidents on my record. South African vehicles have the steering wheel on the right side, and one drives on the left side of the road! I took a solo flight before I trusted myself with all those people. One of my sons went with me and one stayed with the girls. Our first trip around the block we got a flat tire!!!! But again, God gave me the peace and assurance that He was with me and we got it fixed and I was able to drive the families all around Johannesburg safely.
Now we are in the Philippines. In the past 21 days I have been Solo 17, and the couple of days Todd was home, were a whirlwind of preparations for the next trip to Indonesia. Solo but not alone…. I am so thankful that God is here with me, giving me that weird peace, blessing me with beautiful sunsets, and good friends to chat with. Even though the monsoon rains, caused by a typhoon sitting offshore, increased the mosquito population. And since we do not have any screens on our house, they swarmed around me eating me alive. After I stopped counting at 44 bites on one leg, I started to get the tale tell symptoms of sickness. I am so thankful that it was not a bad case, headache behind the eyes, fevers and nausea, but not so bad I had to seek medical attention. I had my down days where I didn’t feel good and was frustrated with being solo again. But through it all I am reminded that I am Solo, but not alone!
Gospel music is what fills me back up. Not just listening, but singing along. So the solo times make that a little easier… Poor Todd and our kids have had to put up with this for years! When I have a good internet connection, I can watch You Tube videos of Gaither concerts. But when that is not working, I listen to the few CD’s I have over and over and never get tired of singing to my Lord. I am transported to the presence of the King when I lift my voice in song, and I’m Forever Grateful!