While still in Ecuador, a late afternoon sun burned white. Good weather over the jungle allowed one more flight. I taxied to the runway, passengers eager for home.
Before that, Pancho and helpers moved and gassed my airplane. They loaded cargo and seated passengers. They answered my radioed position reports. After each flight they unloaded and cleaned filthy interiors. At day’s end they washed airplanes covered in jungle mud.
Before that, Maintenance Specialist John and team inspected the airplane for cracks, leaks, and loose things. They changed engine oil, measured compression, adjusted valves, and confirmed proper operation. They reviewed all documents to ensure legal and safety compliance, then updated the aircraft’s logs.
Before that, Instructor Pilot Fred gave me a 6-month check—oral and written knowledge exams, a flight check confirming I flew the airplane to MAF standards, and a line check observing how I operated in our environment.
Before that, Program Manager Gene arranged family housing. He also oriented us to the kids’ school, how to buy food, travel around the area, and find a church.
Before that, teachers in Costa Rica taught us Spanish for eight months.
Before that, MAF taught us to thrive as believers in a foreign culture.
Before that, MAF trained me how to throw 3,600 pounds of aluminum airplane at crummy mud airstrips—safely.
But before any of that could happen, an eclectic mix of family, friends, and visionary believers responded to God’s call. “Yes,” they said, “we see Jesus sending you. He asked us to sustain you physically with our finances, and spiritually with our prayers. Thanks for the privilege of joining you!”
As I climbed over the Amazon, I could see their faces, those who sent us. I already knew I couldn’t fly without them. But then I realized the truth. I only appeared to sit alone in the pilot’s seat. Spiritual eyes saw more.