I was MAF’s Ecuador Program Manager stationed in the Andean mountain city of Quito when a mission director asked for a special flight. Two days earlier he sent a large team down into Ecuador’s costal jungle to minister in a small town. “But,” he explained, “a government official summoned us to a critical meeting tomorrow morning. I need three of the men on that team for this meeting and there’s no way they can get back here in time. Could you fly there today, spend the night, and bring them back as soon as possible in the morning?”
“Of course.” I said, hanging up the phone, then thought, Bummer. I was the only pilot not already flying that day. I’d have to do it. Trouble was, it would wreck my agenda, the carefully crafted agenda I’d guarded for weeks.
I flew to the town and watched the team do God’s work. I played spiritual missionary, but my internal grumbler stewed over wasted hours and undone to-do lists. That night a clerk led us to a small, windowless concrete room. A single ceiling bulb cast more shadow than light. Cots cluttered corners and walls. Thin cloth of uncertain color hung in the bathroom doorway. A toilet and sink filled the tiny space, but no shower. Dank, cement smell pressed in closer while memories of breathing open, jungle village air taunted me, twisting the gall of my trashed plans.
Next morning, still dark, but with game face firmly in place, it was my turn to work. We took off at first legal light, climbing east into graying sky. In a few minutes we reached our cruising altitude of 17,000 feet in clear air on top of a lower cloud layer thrust through by snow covered Andes peaks.
My passengers dozed, so I sat alone, facing a crimson horizon turning gold. Suddenly, brilliant white flashed as sun crested the cloud layer. Dawn. It came, arrived and passed. The line between night and day continued on its way around the globe, dispelling darkness with morning, never tiring, never slowing, never stopping. Just like God’s mercies, I thought. They’re not only new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23), they’re continuously new—even for resentful, selfish hearts like mine.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” — Lamentations 3:22-23
Read Call for News – Reflections of a Missionary Pilot also written by former MAF jungle pilot Jim Manley. Visit the MAF online store to purchase his book for $7.50 plus shipping and handling.