Monday, September 24, 2012

Bats, Cockroaches, Justice and Mercy

This has absolutely nothing to do with what I'm thinking about writing in this post, but sometimes the fact that we live in the tropics kind of comes home...I'm sitting in our living room listening to the drumming wing beats of a fruit bat in full hover outside our window...while the cat chases a cockroach around the room for sport.  Life is good. (The cockroach may differ on that.)

I assume that Micah 6:8 was as beautiful in Hebrew as it is in English:

...what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly
and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

The prose can wander around my head for days just because it is so beautiful.

But it seems that it has been wandering around my head without my head getting a clear picture of what the prose actually means.

Justice and mercy are a bit at odds with each other, aren't they?  I mean, justice means making sure that a wrong doesn't go unpunished and mercy means that, well, a wrong goes unpunished.  So how do the two concepts end up right next to each other in Micah 6:8?

Not that these are foreign concepts to me.  I know about justice and mercy, and it goes like this:

When I've done wrong, I want mercy.

When I've been wronged, I want justice.  

Like so much else I learn from the Master, I think that the freedom and beauty lies in finding that my natural instincts are backwards.

The stress in Micah's words seems to be for a one way justice--from me to others.  Act Justly.  I think of Zacchaeus paying back those he'd cheated four times the amount he had taken from them.  This is acting justly.

I think about Jesus having his beard ripped out by the roots while someone else's hot, hate-filled saliva dribbles down his face.  Love Mercy.  He utters not a word...when he could have uttered words to terminate his tormentors' existence on the spot.  This is loving mercy.

Taking the prose to heart then, for me, means that it needs to go like this:

When I've done wrong, I will act justly.

When I've been wronged, I will give mercy.

When I step back and look at the broad strokes of how justice is portrayed throughout the riches of scripture, from Micah to Jesus, it seems safe to say that we are to fight for justice for others and allow God to sort out justice for ourselves.  My exposure to Christian culture often seems to be pushing in the other direction--we fight for justice for us and our own and let God sort everyone else out.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Becoming Nothing

I've heard myself say that I want to be like Christ.  The way those words roll easily off my tongue is indicative of the fact that, whatever my vague picture of being like Christ might look like, I'm probably thinking it's something I can pull off without breaking much of a sweat.  If I'm honest, my concept of becoming more like Christ probably amounts to not much more than becoming a nicer person.

Put that way, it sounds like an easily forgotten New Years resolution.  And it is.

Poking around in the letter that Paul wrote to the Philippian followers of Jesus, I start to feel like my stated desire to be more like Christ is actually a bit more like Peter's naive assertions that he would never deny his Master.  Words spoken in good faith...he simply did not know what he was talking about.  And when I say that I want to be like Christ, I've not really grasped what is going to be required of me.

But fortunately the Apostle Paul puts the cookies on the lower shelf in Philippians 2.  With words inspired by the Creator, he tells me that my attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.  He then goes on to describe Jesus' attitude for me very clearly.  And when I look at the description of what will actually be required of me to be like Christ I realize that I've had no clue what I've been talking about.  My words have been empty and hollow.  Like Peter, while my Master is laying down his life, I'm diligently trying to preserve my own, all the while thinking that I'm doing the right thing.

I don't come close to being like Christ because I've underestimated how different this Christ is from me and my culture.

Here's just one item from Paul's description of Christ: he tells us that Jesus

made himself nothing

It's one thing to find yourself in lowly circumstances due to events beyond your control, or to end up in that spot as a consequence of your own actions--both of which most of us have probably experienced.  Having been taken lower, it's not uncommon for Jesus' followers to find the good in the humility of a downgraded place in life.

But if we want to have the same attitude as that of Christ, we are instructed to follow his example and

make ourselves nothing

This is another thing entirely.  This means I am to actively seek the lower state...get there under my own power.  Dude, that's really, really hard.  I can't remember ever doing that.  In a world where doing what's right for yourself is not only the norm, it is a noble and honored virtue, the concept of making intentional choices to go the other direction is beyond foreign.

And yet, there's this glimmer of the hint of tremendous treasure, hidden and waiting for the one who is willing to step off the path and actually try to be like Christ making himself nothing.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Two Porters In Four Days

It's been almost a year of  watching God work to make this airplane a reality...a long journey.  To see the fruit of that journey today was a wonderful lift to all of our spirits.

Dani and Dominic's journey from Switzerland was also a long one--they left their homeland almost three weeks ago.  After 80 hours of flight time and 10,000 miles, at 4:00 this afternoon they delivered soon-to-be PK-UCJ to Yajasi's doorstep.                                          photos Tim Harold

The whole team was there to meet her and we once again gave thanks for God's provision.

As I reveled in this amazing moment, I heard that little voice in my head--or maybe it was my heart--reminding me again...

Love Me.

Love people. 

Use tools.

Don't ever get that mixed up.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Kathmandu - Sentani Post 9: Langgur and...Home!

Sorry I wasn't able to get anything off yesterday evening...wasn't able to find WiFi in the immediate environs of our hotel.

The Maumere to Langgur leg was beautiful and uneventful.  On arrival at the airport in the morning, it took a bit of back and forth with the fueling crew to get some gas into our airplane.  Brad used the time to give our bird a much needed bath.

We soon had Jet-A in our tanks, air beneath our wheels...and more gunung api (Indonesian for volcano; literally: fire mountain) filling our horizon.  More than once we wondered whether the Ring of Fire more vividly described the volcanoes passing beneath our wings...or the state of our backsides after 35 hours of sitting in the Porter's seats (a nod here to Barry McFarlane for creative inspiration).

We did most of the route looking like a couple of intensive care patients with oxygen cannulas sticking up our noses.  We maintained 15,000 feet most of the way and climbed to 19,000 for the last 60 mile stretch of volcano-free water.

93% blood oxygen saturation at 19,000 feet.
The hotel in Langgur gave the place in Bangladesh a run for its money in terms of simplicity, but one of the great things about Indonesia is that you are rarely far from a great meal.  A quick wander down the street found us in front of a streetside grilled fish vendor and we soon had platefuls of grilled red snapper in front of us...and Brad introduced me to grilled squid (16 years in Indonesia and I've never tried the stuff).  Both the fish and the squid were fantastic.

Dinner in Langgur.
Grilled really was good. 
After a great night sleep, we were soon airborne again off of Langgur.  The islands between Langgur and the Papuan mainland were stunning in their remoteness, pristine white beaches, clear water and beautiful reefs.

Tailwinds mercifully turned our final day's 4.5 hour leg into an even 4 hours and we were quickly back in our home airspace.  Great fun to be greeted and congratulated by a number of other pilot friends on the frequency.

Thank you so much for praying.  The entire trip was without question held together by the hand of God.  We saw this in ways too numerous to recount, but the fact that we arrived in Sentani exactly on schedule is a huge testimony to how the Lord paved every step of the way for us.

Please continue to pray for Swiss ferry pilot Dani and Porter #4 which is scheduled to arrive here in 3 days...and for final customs clearance on both aircraft which can take some time.  Be great to have these aircraft online and serving as soon as we can.

Thank you, Lord, for bringing this Porter to Papua.

I'll leave you with a number of pictures of the arrival.  

Short final to...home!
photo Tim Harold
The first of what we pray will be
many happy touchdowns on Sentani's runway 12.
photo Tim Harold
The home stretch.
photo Caleb Harold
The final turn...
                                                                                                         photo Caleb Harold 
The first handshakes from Yajasi's faithful Ground Ops crew.
photo Caleb Harold

The hug I'd been waiting for.    
photo Caleb Harold
Brad is welcomed home by fellow pilot and
Yajasi Board Member Darsono Widjatmiko.
photo Tim Harold
Gathering for a prayer of thanksgiving.
photo Tim Harold

Monday, September 3, 2012

Kathmandu - Sentani Post 8: The Ring of Fire

We're in Maumere, on the island of Flores.  Tired after a very long day--seven and half hours of posterior-numbing flying.  The fuel stop in Lombok was very smooth--on and off in one hour.

A real treat to fly along a long section of the ring of fire--the ring of volcanoes that form a long stretch of the southern part of the Indonesian archipelago.

After a dinner of fried rice and fried noodles on the beach, we're heading to bed early.  I'll leave you with more of Brad's great pix (beyond holding the communal camera, he actually does his fair share of the flying :)

Volcanoes just kept emerging out of the undercast...
...another one...
...they're everywhere!
Mount Agung 's cratered summit (Bali)
Over Lombok
Komodo Island looks pre-historic even on the GPS
Maumere on last.
Put to bed for the night.
Day's end on Flores.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Kathmandu - Sentani Post 7: Crossing the Equator

The early Saturday morning buffet at the hotel spared Brad any more breakfast travails and soon we were zipping through light Singapore traffic to the airport.  Departure went smoothly and we got off very close to our target schedule.

With the morning sun on our left wing, it felt good to be heading south for Jakarta and Indonesian soil.

After a while I saw a funny little line come into view on the iPad display and wondered what kind of airspace it denoted.  Putting my literacy skills to good use, I read the word next to the line: Equator.  We realized that neither Brad nor I had ever crossed the line at the controls of an airplane. Fun to watch it slide by on the map.

A little more than four hours after we left Singapore we landed at Jakarta's Halim airport in a stiff crosswind. Two of Yajasi's Jakarta team, Pak Yoso and Pak Sendy, met us at the airport and walked us through all the formalities and paperwork.  So thankful for their great help (all told it took us six hours to clear everything.)  Praise God, we're through customs (final customs clearance will happen in Sentani) and should be good to go on Monday morning.

Really grateful for the day off to rest today here in Jakarta.

By the Lord's grace, we've got three days of flying to make it home to Sentani.  Tomorrow will be a fairly long day: Jakarta to Mataram on Lombok Island for fuel and then on to Maumere (Wai Oti) on the island of Flores for the night.

Again, you can follow the satellite track of the flight on our Spidertracks Page.  Click on the Public Tracks to see the entire path of the flight...remember that the satellites sometimes take a coffee break and gaps in the track occasionally happen :)

Yesterday's pictures:

On climb out from Singapore's Selatar Airport
Over Singapore's Changi Airport

Setting feet back on Indonesian soil.  Good to be home!

Pak Yoso, Brad, Pak Sendy

For the never-a-dull-moment file: remember the stiff crosswind we landed in?
Just to keep things interesting, while Sendy and I were sorting out landing and parking fees,
Brad and Yoso got to witness a minor landing accident involving a light aircraft doing training.

Things were a bit more self-service at Halim.
We had to borrow wheel chocks from a kind-hearted commercial operator.