Dear friends,

I woke up some weeks ago to a bowl of corn flakes and a spot on the couch next to Amelia. We turned on CNN and were greeted with a report of a blizzard in New York City – twenty something inches of snow – an amazing spectacle. Amelia followed the report with glee, and we chatted about how “Oma and Pop-Pop” were equally buried in the stuff over there in New Jersey. The pictures made me smile as I looked out the east windows to a bright morning sun rising up over Nairobi – promising another day in the upper 80’s. I completely forgot that it was winter back home. The seasons here are all so similar that we frequently lose track of what month it is. It was one of those moments when I could imagine the globe, and our place on it some fixed distance from North Jersey, seeming so big and so small all at once. We gave my mom a call on the phone, and I could almost hear how cold it was. After talking with the grandkids for awhile she said goodbye with a mix of joy and tears. Despite our technology, I guess the world is still too big some days.

Recently, while heading home from a 4-day trip in Sudan, I found myself cruising around thirteen thousand feet over the barren northern frontier of Kenya. The relentless dry weather provided unusually clear skies, and I could see for perhaps a hundred miles in all directions. I marveled at the vastness of the region, and reflected on the hundreds of thousands of miles we cover with the airplanes. To my left was a civil war, to my right a slow genocide, behind me was a country left in ruins after 20 years of fighting, and below me, the worst drought in decades. Ahead of me, only three hundred more miles, was home. For a moment I sat physically suspended between them all – between a chaotic world of profound need to which we are called, and a world of peace and love in the company of my family. And I realized how thankful I was for every direction the Lord takes me from day to day. My little airplane makes this big world smaller for the work of missions – making supplies and support only a few hours away instead of a few weeks. Sometimes I lose sight of how important aviation is out here, but I never tire of the thankful faces of the people I get to serve, no matter how far away. I wish I could tell you more of the stories. Stories about ordinary people living and serving in extraordinary lands – at the “tip of the spear” in the work of God’s redeeming love. You would be encouraged and amazed, as I often am. Some day I’ll find a way to bring these stories home beyond our simple newsletters.

Later this year our family will be heading back to America for a scheduled furlough. It will have been more than two years since we were there and we hope to spend four months (August through November) trying to visit as many of you as possible. Please begin to consider this and let us know if and when we can spend some time with you. Renee and I are really looking forward to this furlough, coming home maybe a little more tired than in times past. Please pray for us to finish this term well, and for me to hand off my administrative and flying responsibilities smoothly. Right now, this is a big challenge.

And thank you for the prayers over the past few months. Renee and I have been well, more at peace than before. The kids are also carrying on fine. Amelia is conquering her school work, growing smarter, but also sweeter. Renee and I both enjoy conversations with her on topics beyond her seven years. She’s a curious mixture of Barbie-lover and philosopher. Go figure. Zach is a supercharged bundle of joy who just loves everybody and continues to share a special bond with the dog. The kids are a tremendous gift from God to us. And so are you. Thanks for keeping us in your minds and hearts.

Mike and Renee