Spooktacular!

Hey, you guys! This is Callene writing. ūüôā

Fall is my absolute favorite season. I love the changing leaves, the smell of snow on the horizon, the chill in the air. Well, in Tucson we don’t have those! But we can pretend. It does get colder, and I am extremely thankful for that. We needed a break from the oppressive heat.

A lot happened this month, and we have really exciting news! After four years of praying and waiting for the right time, we finally made the decision to get a kitten. And in the month of October, my favorite month of the year! He’s orange, too, which fits with October’s theme.

His name is Tumi, short for Turmeric, the spice. As it turns out, he was conceived around the time we found out about Justin’s medical issues, which means the Lord had us in mind while He was knitting Tumi together in his mama’s womb. He is such a precious kitten and has brought so much joy to the Ross household. He¬†loves¬†playing, sprinting and jumping around (with a crazed look in his eye) at around 9 PM, and cuddling on laps. He is such a special kitty!

We also had a fiasco with carving pumpkins this year! Trying to be proactive, we bought pumpkins about three days before Halloween. We went all out and even bought a $3 carving kit. They were, without a doubt, the most artistic pieces of pumpkin carving we ever attempted. All to no avail, as the pumpkins rotted in two days and we were without pumpkins for decoration! So we bought another as a last minute resort, quickly poked a few holes in it, and threw it out on the driveway to let the kids know we were offering treats. It worked! We must have handed out over 200 pieces of candy that night. It was so exciting because we have never lived in a place that gets trick-or-treaters!

Other than that, Justin is continuing to work in the shop while accomplishing administrative tasks for Wings of the Way, while I work in the office as a bookkeeper for UIM Aviation. I cannot wait for the holidays to come around!

How can we pray for you guys?

Blessings,

Callene

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Craving Clouds

Summer in the desert seems to never end. Since we have lived here, we have become skilled at killing plants in the scorching heat. More than ever, I long for the gradual change to cooler nights, crisp mornings, and grey skies. I didn’t used to desire a change in weather. I was fine with endless days of sunshine. Growing up next to the ocean, the more temperate climate yielded pleasant summers and mild winters.

Despite the endless heat, change is inevitable. At some point, the days will grow shorter and cooler, the ground will harden and the desert life will retreat into the ground. Change is constant, isn’t it? As it has been said, “the only thing constant in life is change.” How is one to process this ever changing world? If you are like me, it is easy to be bombarded and overwhelmed with the changing world. Loved ones pass on, friends move away, difficult trials arise. I used to fear change. I probably still do. But somehow, going through challenges in life gives us a new perspective, possibly a more realistic one. The perspective shift that I have experienced in the past few months has left me with a lot of questions about life, and the mysteries of our Creator. Naturally, I’d imagine any normal person would do the same if they experienced a similar disruption of normalcy and trajectory of their life. But what I’ve noticed is I’ve started to care less about having it all figured out.

There is a lot to be thankful for. My situation, though difficult to describe to those who don’t understand, is not fun. However, there are many worse things that could happen. I’ve found myself slowing down each day to appreciate the small things and thanking God for all the amazing blessings I have each and every day.

Though there is a long journey ahead to figure out all my medical issues, the Lord has still allowed me to be involved in aviation. As a Certificated Flight Instructor, I can still use my experience to train others. It is the only way I can still have an active role in flying. Recently, the Lord brought a new pilot to our hangar in Tucson. He is retiring soon from the airlines and wants to help do some of the flying that I previously did in Mexico. This is a huge answer to prayer. Not only does it fill a need, but it helps me to stay involved with my flying skills by helping train this pilot to our standards.

It seems that change isn’t all that bad after all. There is good in it. We just have to know where to look for it while praising our great Savior “all the day long.” Thank you God for the recent change of weather, bringing widespread rain and clouds to the desert, and for allowing me to still have a part in aviation ministry.

In His Hands

It has been far too long since we posted a blog. We can make all sorts of excuses, but the reality is, the analytics show that only 5 people read it. For those of you who have been wondering what has been going on with my (Justin) medical problems, this post is going to summarize what has happened in the last few months and how it has brought us to where we are today. We appreciate those of you who have reached out, concerned. There are still a lot of details yet to be determined so we ask as we wait for answers, you join us in prayer. The reality is, despite anything that doctors or non-doctors say, one of our biggest hurdles is the FAA. They have the final authority on my ability to fly. We ask then, that you pray for healing and for a favorable decision, and that no matter what the outcome and how long it takes to reach a final decision, that we will trust God through it all.

In March, I went to the doctor’s office for a routine physical exam with blood work. I’ve never had a problem drawing blood, at least not more than anyone else. I can’t say that I like having my blood drawn, but it was never a problem before this incident. After having 8 vials drawn, I passed out. While to some, this would seem normal, it rocked my world. Since then, I have had vivid flashbacks brought on by physiological and mental triggers in which some were closely associated with the passing out experience, and others seemingly far from it. At the time, my doctor thought it was a normal reaction (though it had never happened in my life) and that I shouldn’t worry about it. However, out of an abundance of caution, the doctor ordered a series of tests. Two of the three tests came back normal. The third, a 72 hour EEG monitor of my brain, did not. The neurologist at the time said I had an “underlying seizure disorder,” and offered little explanation as to what this means, practically. They told me I needed to start anti-seizure medication, and stay away from water and other high risk activities. Having never knowingly had a seizure before, this came as a surprise.

What came as even more of a surprise was the FAA’s stance on anyone with neurological conditions like seizures. Essentially, if it was an isolated incident (occurring once) and a distinct cause could be identified, I could attempt to apply for my medical certificate (which is required to fly) in 2 years. If it was not an isolated incident and/or no cause could be found, I was looking at a mandatory 10-year waiting period before attempting a medical certificate. If I had another recorded “episode” in 9.9 years, the 10 years would start over again. So, as you can imagine, upon hearing that news, I essentially saw my flying career as over. The more I read about seizures and how the FAA handles them, the more I realized this could be a permanent life change.

The advice I got after learning about all of this was to find a doctor who could be an advocate on my behalf, especially one who understands even a little about working with pilots. The neurologist I had seen was not an advocate of mine. In addition, a second and third opinion from a neurologist would be useful. One problem I ran into, however, was a severe issue with anxiety. I had never dealt with anxiety of this level in my entire life. In my feeble mind and understanding of this world and the the One who made it, all I could see, initially, was the 8 years of training to be a missionary pilot being completely wasted. I knew that wasn’t the case, but it was hard to keep my thoughts from going to those dark places. Why would I go through all of that just to have it taken away from me? This and many more questions plagued my mind.

Essentially, my anxiety, namely my anxiety of visiting the doctor again (because bad things happen when I go to the doctor), has prevented me from seeking a second opinion. As a result, the last few months has been spent dealing with the anxiety through a series of in-depth counseling sessions and therapies. If I’m honest, I used to look at people dealing with the stuff that I am dealing with and be baffled at why they couldn’t just fix themselves. I think the Lord has used my situation to humble me, among other things. I have realized that you can’t really understand unless you have been there. For the survivors of human trafficking that we work with, we never try to understand the situation that they are leaving. How could we? Why then would I try to understand any other issue someone has been through if I haven’t myself been through that situation? We might be able to sympathize, but could we understand?

All that to say, I’m doing better, and getting closer to being able to visit a doctor again. With the focus on my mental health making significant progress, I can now start to think about working towards understanding my physical health. However, finding the right doctor is still something we are praying about. We have several leads that we are going to follow and are praying for guidance as we do that. This could take a few weeks, months, or years to work through the bureaucracy required by the FAA, we just don’t know.

This is what we know: we know the Lord is good. We know He is in control. We know he loves us. We know that even if I can’t fly anymore, the Lord is not done with me. This is what we don’t know: we don’t know if I’ll ever fly again. We don’t know if this “underlying seizure disorder” is an anomaly or a serious condition. We don’t know how long it will take to get answers.

So, as many of you read this, you might be wondering what this means for our ministry. First, it is His ministry. It has always been His ministry. I have might have lost that perspective a little over the 8 years of training and preparation. It is easy for me to look back and see how God provided over those years. It is also easy for me (my ego) to look back and think that I got through tough times on my own strength; though I cannot truly say that. This season is about Him refining who I am. It is about turning my heart towards repentance. It is about trusting Him. It is about having a deeper more secure understanding of my identity in Christ. It is about removing myself from the equation. It is about humbly accepting my circumstances. It is about seeing Him work in spite of my inability to fly.

The Lord can restore my ability to fly. He can continue to grow the ministry without me. He can continue to rescue survivors of trafficking. He can continue to advance the gospel in isolated areas. He can do way more than I can even imagine. Right now, I am learning to trust Him. Please be praying for the upcoming weeks, months, and years: for wisdom, patience, trust, and a closer walk with Jesus.

If you do have more questions about this, please send me an email. I’d be happy to answer any questions: justin@wingsoftheway.org.

 

Happy Thanksgiving

Wow! I haven’t updated this since July. I am so sorry for those of you who continually check our blogging platform. I think it goes without saying that things have been busy for us since the summer!

I am so excited to announce that Wings of the Way did its first relocation back in late August! After four years of continually educating, networking, and raising support, it was incredible and deeply encouraging to see the ministry finally come to fruition. Truly, it could not have happened without the help of the Lord and our numerous volunteers. The amount of work it takes to make one relocation happen astounds me every time. Since then, we have completed a total of four rescue flights. Praise the Lord!

Since the summer, Justin has also made many flights to Mexico and back. I had the privilege of joining him on a flight to one of UIM Aviation’s bases as far south as Tepic, Nayarit. I enjoyed every minute of it. Seeing the pilots function in their element (and landing on remote, mountainous airstrips) was, without a doubt, one of the coolest things I have ever experienced. It was inspiring to witness the expert flying taking place, and to see firsthand how our pilots deliver souls and cargo to their destinations over rugged terrain. We spent five days in Mexico as we visited our staff and fellowshipped with them.

I also had the opportunity to organize a fundraising dinner for UIM Aviation on November 11th, where the Lord supplied $15,000 for the ministry! It was exhausting but equally satisfying to watch God provide, even in my weakness as a planner. Truly. Throughout the process, I continually wondered how we were going to pull off an event on short notice, but the Lord took our efforts and multiplied it more than I ever imagined. He is good, isn’t He?

Be looking for our Fall Newsletter soon! If you do not already receive them, you can sign up clicking on the tab on the top of this blog page. I pray and trust everyone is well and had a joyful Thanksgiving. Thank you for your patience!

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A Fly-In where we represented UIM Aviation with Bryon Brock, the program director
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Fundraising dinner at the hangar, where a total of 117 people attended (including volunteers)
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Family vacation over Thanksgiving
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At a remote village in Mexico in October

Catching Up

There are so many things to catch up on!

So far, we have travelled to a UIM Aviation staff conference at the end of May, and also travelled to California for the annual Global Enrichment event Whittier Area Church Community (our sending church) puts on for their Global Partners. The UIM staff conference was a little hard for me to relax at (being the event coordinator and sharing responsibilities with one other person), but I learned so much in that time. That was the first big event I’ve ever planned—besides my wedding—and it went on without a hitch! The time we spent at the Global Enrichment was much more relaxing and rejuvenating for me, and that took place the following week.

After that, we were back for about two days before heading off for a family reunion in Oregon. It was great to see family members that I hadn’t met on Justin’s side before! We had a lot of fun playing baseball on the beach and doing puzzles.

Upon returning, Justin was only in Arizona for about 12 hours before catching another flight, this time to Indiana. He and another member of our staff transported an aircraft to a maintenance hub for UIM aviation. I think it goes without saying that when things finally settled down and we were both back in Tucson, it felt amazing to take a few days of rest before heading back to work.

An update about the car fundraiser: we are so incredibly blessed and humbled to announce that the car we purchased (a 2017 Toyota Camry) is completely paid off, thanks to our generous donors! I can’t express how much of a blessing this is to us. Thank you to everyone who prayed and contributed in regards to our car situation. Again, we don’t consider the car to be ‘ours,’ but rather ‘God’s car.’ It is completely through His provision that we were able to purchase one at all. Thank you, Lord!

After having a birthday on June 26 and celebrating the Fourth of July, we are completely rested up! While we are back in the office, Justin is helping the maintenance crew with a 100 Hr Inspection for one of our aircraft, and I am catching up on paperwork from being gone for so long!

Please pray for our last and longest trip of the summer. We will be traveling to Oshkosh, Wisconsin starting on July 19th, and pray that we will stay healthy and safe along our journey.

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Justin working on a clay project during Global Enrichment
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Our booth at Global Enrichment, chatting with our wonderful volunteers
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All of the parts from the engine taken off for a 100 Hr Inspection and organized on a table

Midnight Adventures

“I think we need to go to the hospital.”

Those are the worst words to hear from a loved one in the middle of the night. When I felt Justin shivering on the other side of the bed, I knew we were due for a rough one. This happened in the beginning of April, when he came down with a serious case of Strep. We took him to the emergency room, had a CT done to check for Appendicitis (because he originally went in for abdominal pain)–the results came back negative–and the doctor gave him Penicillin for the Strep.

Well, when it rains, it pours. He developed hives from the serum antibiotic. It took two weeks to fully recover. He is feeling one hundred percent himself now, though, praise God. Thank you for all the prayers and the encouraging words after we sent the email update. We were so blessed by them!

Since then, he has flown to Mexico and did the first ministry flight in the Four Corners! We were incredibly excited for the development in ministry, as this was partially why we joined UIM Aviation.

Please be praying for our health, though. Satan enjoys compromising our bodies, especially while we travel. So, as we move forward with summer months approaching, please keep us in your prayers for safety and health. We will be traveling a lot for staff conferences and speaking in churches.

Speaking of which, another thing to pray about is our car situation. Considering our history with cars, it seems we have a bit of bad luck. The Golf that was gifted to us went out of commission a few months back, and our Subaru, which has over 200,000 miles,  leaks oil. We have been raising support for a car since the weekend, and have raised over  $2,300 so far! Praise the Lord for this! $10,000 is our goal. We will be using the car for:

– Traveling cross country for the Oshkosh airshow every summer (to represent UIMA)
– Driving to and from the hangar
– Driving on dirt roads in the Four Corners (in the possible future)
– Using it as a ministry tool in whatever way we can

We look at the situation as being the Lord’s car, not ours. If you feel led to donate, here is the link: https://donorbox.org/car-fund

Alright, that is pretty much it for now! Blessings. ‚̧

A Day in the Life

We were given the opportunity to represent UIM Aviation and UIM International at Liberty University during their Global Week in February. Global Week is an interactive event that connects the student body with Mission Organizations from all over the world. We enjoyed ourselves while speaking with different students who were interested in ministry, and we were even invited to speak in a few classrooms! Justin had a blast chatting with other aviation experts and like-minded individuals.

  • Please pray for Liberty’s student body as a whole, and where the Lord directs them
  • Pray for UIM’s staff needs, as that was the purpose for¬†recruiting

Right after Global Week, we drove to Washington D.C. and had a phenomenal time checking out historical landmarks and memorials. I had never been before, so it was truly eye-opening for me to experience our nation’s history firsthand. So cool!

Every week presents a new challenge here in the hangar, but we have found a lovely team in UIM Aviation. The fellowship has been a nourishment to our souls. I work in the office every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and Justin is in the hangar every business day.¬†Sometimes he works in his office, other times he’s taking trips down to Mexico, and he also works in the maintenance shop with the mechanics a few times a week. Both of us have learned a lot in this short three-month period.

What a typical day looks like for us:

  • 8:00 – 8:30: Arrive at the hangar. If Justin has a flight to Mexico, we arrive at 6:00.
  • 10:00: Prayer time with team.
  • 12:00-1:00: Lunch
  • 5:00: Go home.

Sometimes we come in on the weekend to prep the airplane for a flight in the coming week. We have gotten into a routine, and we love it. Pray for us as we continue looking for ways to fundraise and develop ministry.

Liberty University:

 

Cool picture of The White House:

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