Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Entry for July 14, 2007

Inside the airplane!So I'm pretty sure I love to fly.  Like seriously.

I've been flyin' for 4 years now (hard to believe!), and this weekend I had to go for another bi-annual review (every two years, pilots essentially must "re-certify" themselves to be in good standing as pilots!).  So this weekend I took the 100-minute drive over to Coles County Memorial Airport in Mattoon, IL for what they call a Wings Weekend...pilots and instructors bombard the airport to get their ratings checked!

More or less, the day went like this...about 10:30 A.M. I realized that the Wings Weekend started that day...yikes!  So I hurried up and figured out where the airport was, drove home, dropped off my truck for my dad to use the boat, picked up a car, grabbed my pilot gear, and then started drivin' to Mattoon...

I had called the airport to ask if an airplane was available for use, and they told me that they had a "light-sport aircraft..."  Not knowing what that meant, I asked if it would be good for my training.  Absolutely, she said.

How much?


ha!  A little bit more than what I was used to, but I needed my bi-annual, and I needed it this weekend!  I would be leaving in a month, and I needed to check this task off of the list...

(Plus...a good rule of thumb is that if a plane is more expensive to rent, then it means that it is a much sweeter airplane...so that excited me!).

Well, I arrived at the airport...went to a somewhat boring class on how to take care of your own aircraft, then went to meet my instructor...and the new airplane!

And new it was!  The airport had had the plane for only two weeks now...and she was a beauty.  Actually, the plane was pretty tiny, much like the 152 that I am used to, but she was sharp.  A brand-new 2007, low-wing, two-seater airplane...with a GLASS COCKPIT!!!

I was goin' to fly in a glass cockpit!  For those non-pilots out there, that means nothing to you!  For pilots, this is pretty much the cream of the crop.  Rather than have the normal "six-pack" of instruments, you now look at a computer screen with all of the information.  It's top-of-the-line, to say the least.

The pricetag on the airplane?  Over $100,000.  And I was going to fly it!

Well, I went through the pre-flight, then hopped in the aircraft, and started 'er up.  Just like a car.  No primin' or anything.  Just a turn of the key!  I loved it!  Not at all like what I'm used to with the one I fly back home!

Well, I spent 1.5 hours doin' some maneuvers in the sky.  Sharp turns (30 degrees, then 45 degrees)...absolutely awesome in this plane!  The "bubble" allows you to see all around you!  Then did some stalls...power on, then power off.  The aircraft simply wanted to fly.  Very easy to control, very easy to fly.

Then we did some landings.  Not hard at all, either.  We did touch-'n-go's, and the airplane was "squirrely" on the runway.  After I landed, I had a harder time controlling it on the ground than in the sky!  But I managed to keep it between the grass!

I had originally been signed up to fly 3 hours, but my instructor wanted to break that up into two days.  I wasn't ready to stay in Mattoon, but I had to honor his decision.  So we flew back to Mattoon, landed the plane, and I stayed around for supper.

Then I thought about headin' home.  It would cost me $20 to go back home, the hotel was $55, I would have to return in the morning if I drove home...so I called my sis.

"Do you know of anyone that lives in Mattoon?"

"Um, someone's dad does, but I haven't talked to her in four years."

Hmm...not exactly what I'm lookin' for...so I hung up, and started headin' through town.  Then it clicked...I called my sis again!

"I need you to find me a couch."  Couch-surfing would surely save my day.  I had just used this form of sleeping a couple of weeks earlier in Kansas City, and it worked out wonderfully.

But my sister found a problem.  4 couches in Mattoon, but no contact info outside of e-mail.  That would just take too long. 

So I started to head home.  But I was incredibly tired.  As in overly tired.  So I pulled off onto a dead-end road and laid back for a bit.

After some laying down and some hard thinking, I decided..."I'm not goin' home..."

So I turned the car back around and headed back into Mattoon.  I pulled into a hotel parking lot, dropped down the backseat, crawled into the trunk, and tried to sleep.

I used a t-shirt as a pillow.  I woke up what I thought was 4:00 A.M., only to find out it was 10:11 P.M.  I had slept just over an hour. 

Well, I decided the lights were too bright at the hotel parking lot, so I drove around a bit and ended up at Wal-Mart's parking lot.  I repeated the same procedure...ending up tucked away in the tiny Hyundai Elantra's trunk.  All to save some cold hard cash.  After all, I would be spending nearly $400 this weekend already...I needed to save all that I could!

I had a very hard time falling asleep at Wal-Mart.  I think I slept maybe an hour.  And I woke up incredibly thirsty.  Almost panic-thirsty.  So I made a bee-line path straight for a gas station.  I downed some Gatorade quickly.  But I was still tired.

"This is ridiculous...."

So I moved on.  This time out towards the country, back towards the airport.  An airport was across the way, so I went over and parked there.  Much darker.  I ended up sleepin' here until about 7:30 A.M.  I woke up and felt like I had just slept in a car.

And I needed to go fly an airplane!

Well, after some nice biscuits and gravy, and another class, I found myself sittin' in the hangar watchin' planes take off.

"I could sure get used to this..."

It's really kind of crazy.  I've been toyin' with the idea as of late.  Now that I'm closin' off a "season" of my life, I'm wonderin' where I'll be in a few months.  And all of a sudden, flying airplanes is sounding more and more like an option.

But I am taken back to four years ago when I first started flying.  I had wanted to be a pilot even before college, but I knew that I would not be content just flying.  I needed to be sharing the Gospel, too, or I just couldn't live with myself!  So after much prayer, I felt confident in going to Lincoln Christian College.

It just so turned out that I found myself with the opportunity to fly my sophomore year, and after much prayer and advice from my accountability group, I decided it would be a go!  And I have no regrets about any of it!  But I remember four years ago making myself a promise...wisely, I knew that the temptation would arise in the future, and maybe it's here!  But I had said that I would not let flying interfere with ministry.  That was as a 20-year-old student.  Whatever would happen down the road, I did not want to become so consumed with flying that I put ministry on the back-burner.

Well, that thought has stuck with me.  And it's as fresh as ever now.  I will admit that my view of ministry has changed quite a bit.  I always thought I would be in the church somehow someway...minister, youth minister, or missionary.  But after nearly six years of "church ministry," I am second-guessing that decision.

I still want to serve God, obey God, and teach about God, but "church ministry" just wasn't what I thought it was going to be.

So anyway, here is where I am currently at:  I love to fly, and I want to serve God.

And that's about it!  Of course, the logical conclusion is that I should be a missionary pilot.  Well, I'm not so convinced.  I'm more and more convinced that I want to be a "normal Joe" who loves God.  Whether working on motorcycles or flying airplanes, I just want to be in the mainstream again.

I'm eager to see what conclusions I draw from that when I travel, but that is just where I stand.  I finally reached the point where I would cringe when people would tell others that I was a youth minister.  All of a sudden, I had no influence (it seems).

Just last week when I was getting a haircut, I saw a girl behind the counter who knew me.  Of course, we greeted, blah blah blah.  Well, after a 10-minute wait, I walk back to the shearin' place, only to be greeted by a very loud and fun-loving girl....

"Hey, Preacher Man!"

I didn't know what to think!  I had never seen this girl in my life!  And, of course, as happens in a situation like this, all eyes instantly turned to me!

I guess word had got back in the 10 minutes I was there (hair salons really are notorious for rumor-spreadin'!) that I was a youth minister!  And all of  a sudden, I was the outsider.  About 20 minutes later, some girls are talking next to me...one using some nasty language...some crude comments...and her friend pipes up...

"Hey, don't be sayin' that!  He's a minister!"

Again, all eyes on me.  Of course, I do what I always do in that situation...

"Hey, it's not like I haven't heard it before" (or said it before)...."Just be yourselves."  Of course, that always falls on deaf ears.  Now that the "secret" is out, they will forever play the role of "cleaning up the act around the youth minister."  It's really one of the most popular dramas out there...a Broadway hit even.

Well, all that to say, I don't know what I'll be doin' in the future!  A preacher?!  Maybe not as people currently understand that word!  A pilot?!  I sure hope so!  For a major airline?  I don't know!  A youth minister?  I don't see it.  A missionary?  Aren't we all?!

I just know that I want to fly.  And I want to love God (I'm workin' on that one again....finally).

So anyway..."I sure could get used to this..."  I don't know what that is going to mean in the future, but I still uphold my promise from four years ago.  Granted, if you would ask me then and ask me now, the answers would differ.  I would view ministry in two different ways.  As a 20-year-old student, I knew ministry was broad, but I would probably see myself in a church setting somewhere.  Now, however, at 24-years-old, I still want to do ministry.  And do it well.  But I really don't know if that is going to be in the church setting.  Actually, I doubt that it will be.  I don't see myself hired by a church.

Maybe I'll be the tent maker that preaches throughout...or the pilot that teaches throughout...

I'd be very OK with that.  Very, very, OK with that.

Just my thoughts...

Well, I finished up the 3 hours on Saturday.  It was windy on Saturday, and the little plane was being bumped all around, but it made for some exciting landings!  Not too difficult as the wind was mainly down the runway (well, except for the cross-wind on the last one!), but I passed with flying colors.

I was a bit nervous going into the weekend, but I was confident now.  My confidence increased tenfold in just two days.  As a pilot, you really just need to fly the airplane.  Why worry about so much?!

I grabbed a burger for supper, then headed home.

And was invited to a sweet party at Buffalo Wild Wings.  25 people.  Mostly from camp.  Fellow brothers and sisters.  I had the time of my life.  I wondered why we didn't do that every week.  I absolutely loved it.

Times like these have been increasing over the past two months, and it's actually making leaving a bit more difficult.  (Ok, honestly, don't get too far ahead of me.  It's not difficult at all...just a bit more!  So...not at all + a bit = just a little tiny bit.  So it's just a little tiny bit difficult to leave.  But I'm still goin'!)  But this is what life should be like.  Friends gettin' together, livin' life with each other.

None of that sittin'-at-home-wantin'-someone-to-call junk.  That's hell.

And as I write, I just realized that this is the church, too!  No, it's not within the confines of a "church wall," but this is the church as I know it...maybe as God knows it.  Which makes me all the more passionate about not having to be in the "church" to do ministry!  If I could live life with brothers and sisters at Buffalo Wild Wings, then count me in!  That's the ministry I want to do (not for BWW's, but for the people!).  Give me a boat or a living room, for all I care!

Hmm...yes, that is me.  A pilot who wants to serve God.  Or maybe a servant of God who wants to fly.  Either way, I won't break my promise.  "For I am compelled to preach..."

2007-07-17 18:06:46 GMT

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