a Day in the Life of Flying with Andrew

4:42 AM Andrew’s first alarm startles us both out of la la land.

4:50 AM  After 3 more alarms go off, Andrew starts looking up the weather on his phone, while I try to keep dreaming.

5:00 AM I force myself to get out of bed, throw on some clothes, go into the kitchen where Andrew’s instant oatmeal water is already boiling, while he takes a 2 minute shower and gathers everything set out the night before

5:10 AM Andrew pops a piece of chocolate into his mouth and mine (to fortify us for our journey?) as we zip up our jackets. and,  careful to be quiet closing the screen door, juggle oatmeal and tea and flightbags and all my stuff without enough cold hands as we walk in the dark to our already warming car. Andrew passes me his oatmeal every time he needs to change gears as we speed out of Didsbury. I look out at the starry night and sip my tea, holding Andrew’s warm hand, but trying not to talk too much as he concentrates on the job ahead.

5:55 AM Andrew files a flight plan by phone while driving on the highway just inside of Calgary, firing off numbers like nobody’s business as we take the exit to the airport.

6:00 AM We grab everything from the car and run to the heated hangar, where we greet the other pilots. There’s an air of camaraderie born out of lack of sleep, being cold, and flying old airplanes with weird quirks. I try to act cool to maintain Andrew’s reputation by extension.

6:10 AM We walk out into the frigid air where the airplane is waiting for us in the dark, like a frozen whale with a bad paint job. Andrew and his co-pilot wonder if the heater will work this time, if not, “we’re turning around”. Apparently it’s -25 in Edson, our first destination. The duffel bags of bank mail are already waiting in the shell of the aircraft, loaded earlier by the copilot. Mysterious bags, we’ll never know exactly what was in there. We all crawl over the bags to get to the front. Sometimes I worry about crushing the precious paperwork, but I guess it doesn’t matter too much. There’s one mismatched seat behind the pilots for me. I settle in with my blanket over my legs. After a run up and warm up and whatever they do (although my frozen feet seemed to miss the warm up part), we taxi out and take off. I faintly hear Andrew muttering under his breath on the radio before I find some earplugs in my pocket to block out the deafening roar of the double engines. After racing over the sprawling yellow glow that is Calgary, I follow the clustered lights of Airdrie and Crossfield and Carstairs and Didsbury and Olds and Sundre as we retrace our steps in the car an hour earlier – except this time much faster.

6:30 AM As we leave the communities near Calgary the lights below become more sparse, I imagine farms and acreages with a yard light, sometimes a car shining down a road. Soon the dark night turns grey as the sun shows sign of arising.

7:15 AM Land in Edson in the morning dusk. Andrew instructs us to file out of the airplane as fast as possible, all together, in order to not lose any warm air inside the airplane. What warm air? I ask. The heater is working, but not well. True to the forecast, it is -25 outside. I wave to the bag guy driving up in his SUV as I run across the ramp to the little pilot lounge building, entering the code to get in by memory. The bag guy here gave Andrew chocolates once, so he’s a legend somehow. I always wish he’d give Andrew chocolates when I come along. Andrew quickly sends some pertinent emails to dispatch on his phone, and after a quick bathroom break, we run back out to the plane. Andrew runs around the plane in a fast version of a ‘walkaround’ – a safe routine he never disregards, practiced from his trucker days. Today its the ‘runaround.’

7:30 AM As we fly out of Edson I borrow Andrew’s phone to text my parents for pick up in the next destination: Grande Prairie. I do it quickly before we lose cell service. There’s a beautiful sunrise happening outside my window. Andrew and his copilot are laughing at some joke I can’t hear, but I smile along.

8:30 AM I pay close attention to Grande Prairie in the early daylight as we fly over it, picking out landmarks from the air. Landing, I see the familiar hangars of my childhood as we taxi past them, and I see my mom in her big coat waiting at the gate outside the ramp to welcome us. The airplane gets fuel here, so Andrew and his copilot have time to greet my mom in the pilot’s lounge and have a little conversation as the bag drivers lug the bags out to their cars. The copilot makes some free hot chocolate for himself as Andrew and I hug goodbye for the day. They will continue on to Peace River, while I drive out for a nice day spent with my mom.

______

5:10 PM My mom drives me to Tim Hortons to pick up some treats, then on to the airport to meet up with Andrew on his flight back. My Dad, who was also just flying an airplane with his friend, walks over from a different hangar to see us all. After Andrew and his copilot fly in from Peace River, park the airplane, and shut down the engines, I peak through the window blinds as Andrew runs from the cold to the heated pilot’s lounge where we all wait. It’s a regular old party when they come inside, complete with donuts. The men talk airplanes while my mom asks the copilot about his family. Soon its time to leave, and after hugs all around, I accompany Andrew out to the freshly fueled plane. Back through Edson and on to Calgary. As it gets dark Andrew tells me he see spectacular Northern Lights sometimes. I keep and eye out. But no luck this time.

7:30 PM All is quiet on the flight deck as the copilot flies and Andrew does paperwork and fills out the log book. This will save time when we land. I pass out chocolate before the beginning of the approach in to Calgary, sometimes a slightly stressful time as we need to land at an exact time.

8:30 PM Land in Calgary. This time Andrew and I can just walk away while the co-pilot does Andrew’s normal duties – fueling the plane, entering paperwork in the computer, etc.

8:45 PM We stop at a fast food place for a little calorie intake to keep us going on the drive home.

9:40 PM HOME!! To sleep as quickly as possible so that Andrew can do the same thing tomorrow!FullSizeRender

 

 

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Marriage.

marriage is a nice thing. Especially when in my case I am married to Andrew. Thanks God for setting us up.

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Poems of my mother

Decided to share some poems written by my mom. Thanks, Barb Propst Toews, for graciously agreeing to be my guest blogger!

Unending
Choices, choices
Always choices
to make…
Always figuring out
which way
to take
and for what
or whose sake
without ever being
unfair or fake…
sometimes
I get weary
of choices to make
but I guess
they keep me…
alive and awake!

bpt, 1981

 

His Decision
A good-looking
red caterpillar
was making his way
across a hot wilderness
of pavement today
He couldn’t see that
over the curb…
was a green garden
with shade and flower
and pleasant herb
“poor fellow”
I thought…
“he’s caught
in a bind
and cannot find
the best.”
So I rescued him
upon a leaf –
and transported him
over to cool relief –
thinking he would
certainly rather be
in the shade of
the pleasant tree
but surprisingly
he crawled back
immediately
to where it was
he used to be,
and this thing
puzzled me….

bpt, 1981


One

Thank You
God –
that when
You sent
Jesus…
You actually
came
Yourself

bpt, 1985

 

Courage
perhaps
it feels safe
and easier
to just sit back
and let
someone else
sail
or drive
or dive
but does it
help me
to strive?

bpt, 1983

 

Progress
you never can tell
what’s over
the next hill
until you climb it
and see

bpt, 1985

Survival
Sometimes
I feel like
I need direction
and protection
from the strife
of life,
And I’d like to
crawl in a hole
like a mole
or sometimes
like a zebra
or leopard
I’d like to be…
with spots
or stripes
to camouflage me!

bpt, 1983

Help!

I don’t have
much strength
or might –
I’m not strong enough
to win the fight
I don’t feel like
a bright shining knight
in this battle
of wrong and right
I need You – God –
to free from the fight
to give in-sight
to lead with light
to scale the height

bpt, 1985

 

 

31 Reasons Why Genius Garold is Great AKA Proverbs 31 MY DAD!!

1. his name is Garold, and he hasn’t changed it
2. he hung out with me and my brother when we were little, and he still hangs out with us
3. he makes jokes that aren’t funny, but are actually kind of funny
4. he builds stuff
5. he always thinks before he acts
6. he fixes stuff
7. he literally figures out how to fix everything, even if everyone else says it’s unfixable
8. he is cheap (frugal for the high brows)
9. he asks God for help
10. he is humble
11. he quits his job in order to spend quality time with his grown kids, ie. cruise the Mediterranean, etc., in other words, family is more important than money … WHAAAattt???
12. he flies airplanes
13. sometimes he changes his mind about fundamental issues, based on what he learns
14. he is loyal, even when others are not loyal back
15. he thinks out of the box
16. he asks God for help
17. he reuses “if you see something good in the garbage, don’t leave it there” – Garold Toews
18. he reads up on stuff, but doesn’t believe everything he reads
19. as my mother would say, he is ‘steady’
20. he’s always coming up with new ideas
21. he never gives up (even when we all think he should, cough cough)
22. he thinks about things
23. he prays about everyday issues
24. he married my mom, duh!
25. he has this amazing ability to be quiet in groups and never get any ‘guff’ about it
26. he is creative
27. he is calm
28. he never freaks out
29. he draws diagrams on napkins
30. he is wise, and shares with those willing to listen
31. he always takes one day at a time

Dreamy Idealist March 2015

Here’s another update of my life: I have accepted a position of being a youth pastor in a small town in Northern Alberta! I feel like this is completely random, but I am excited! Here’s the story:

Some of you know that in the last few months I had applied to get my masters in counselling. I made it to final interviews, but was not accepted into the program. The day I was rejected (and feeling a little rejected), I decided to look up my career personality on the internet. Found out I’m a ‘dreamy idealist’ – the BEST thing a potential employer wants to hear! And it said I would make a good clergyman. And I thought, ‘duh, of course that would the ideal job.’ So then I looked up church-y jobs on the internet. And I randomly found a youth pastor position in Athabasca (8 hours north of Medicine Hat, 1 1/2 hours north of Edmonton, small town in the middle of nowhere – where I also lived as a small child). I clicked on the job description and felt like it was describing a lot of things I would LOVE to do. So I applied, even though I am a female (cough cough) and don’t really have formal training in that area. But I’m a Christian – I promise! And a few weeks later I heard back from them, and last weekend I went to visit Athabasca, and it seems as though the church is willing to hire me!

I am very grateful for this opportunity for multiple reasons:

-I’ve been having some issues figuring out what to do with my life, and this job at the very least will help me feel fulfilled and useful, and give me some freedom to do my own thing, which I really appreciate. And I can talk about God for my job, which is somewhat of a luxury.

-Half of the job includes working an hour away from Athabasca at a native reserve (Calling Lake). I am quite excited about this because I’ve often wanted to work with indigenous people in Canada, but it’s not usually conducive for a white girl to just move to a reserve in the middle of nowhere and do that.  This is one of those things that I’m kind of amazed how God worked it out. Cool.

-I used to live in Athabasca when I was 0 -4 years old, and I have happy memories of the place, albeit strangely convoluted from a four year old’s mind. So I have random family friends who remember me – some element of connectedness. The Athabasca River conveniently runs through Athabasca, and there are really nice trees in that area of the country. I love Alberta.

-The church I will be working for recently moved in to an abandoned old folks home, so they will let me stay in a room there for free, and I can meet other random people who also rent rooms. We will share a kitchen, etc. I move in around Easter time.

24 Reason Excuses Why I’m 25 and Not Married [yet]

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1. I made the life altering mistake of going to a Christian college. Oops. My bad.

2. I don’t talk to boys. And when I do, I ask them questions. And that’s kind of invasive these days.

3. I never got into Pokemon. And it’s been a downward spiral ever since.

4. I’m like not very encouraging. Like maybe I should’ve been like more supportive of like all my guy friends, you know?

5. Crap, it’s because I don’t have an iphone, or a samsung galaxy.

6. In fact, I don’t even have a cellphone. And we all know I will not receive any proposals if I can’t give out my number.

7. When I was 13, my soccer coach told me that I lacked aggression.

8. Sometimes I do things on my own, which is way too intimidating.

9. Haven’t brushed my hair in seven years. I don’t see how that could be a problem though.

10. Back in Kindergarten when every single girl had a crush on a certain boy, I didn’t even talk to him out of spite.

11. Probably haven’t read enough self help books about this topic. Especially by Christian authors about pursuing, or should I say being pursued. At least I definitely know it would be a big no-no to be more wild at heart.

12. I am not a teacher nor a nurse, or even a secretary for that matter.

13. And I don’t have a puppy. Which would presumably be cute.

14. Genetics.

15. I’ve been accidently focusing on other things too much. Like buying groceries and trying to develop my talents, and not going broke and trying to have friends.

16. Too much pressure. So much pressure it exploded and now there isn’t any pressure.

17. I’ve never made a highly successful casserole.

18. Travel too much. Wanderlust: key words being wander and lust. Eww. Totally unfeminine.

19. In Canada I don’t have a Lulu Lemon anything, and in ‘Merica I never owned a Northface sweater

20. and I didn’t wear Uggs with tights when I was young and had a chance.

21. But we all know the real reason is I only wear mascara around 20% of the time. And that might be a high estimate.

22. I like to talk to middle-aged ladies, and we all know that middle-aged ladies and that elusive demographic of future husbands will never go hand in hand. Alas.

23. Probably my cynicism has just burned a hole in my pheromones.

 

Disclaimer: This post is not meant to be offensive. I also highly respect most nurses, teachers, and secretaries. And I’ve met a few nice people who wear Northface sweaters.

My Trip to Africa (the whole continent)

-began by visiting Josephine, my friend from Messiah College, who is living the über professional life in Nairobi at this time. Somewhat surreal to meet ‘on the other side’ and see Josephine’s life. She is quite literally an über professional, and at the beginning of the work week I rode the bus downtown with her so she could do her professional duties in her professional business building, and I wandered around downtown Nairobi, alone, with a large bag made out of African fabrics full of water and other necessities, which Josephine told me would look too touristy for downtown Nairobi, and as usual, Josephine was correct. I should also mention that I am white. I was approached in succession by 8 men. Two of whom had very good stories to tell me, about East African immigration woes and the need for bus money to go to Rwanda/South Africa to hook up with a ‘Christian Organization’ that will fund their education in a Western country so that they can return to their respective countries with an education. First man told me he was in a ‘catch 22,’ which is apparently code word for something, because later, the second man also told me he was in a ‘catch 22.’ There was awkward silence when I didn’t monetarily help out anyone with their ‘catch 22’s’, but I did give out 2 of my samosas from lunch, and the third man who asked me for something unfortunately only received a small lecture that I already gave out all my samosas so too bad. One man had a full leg cast from a matatu accident, and in his words, he definitely “wasn’t making it up.” I talked my way out of another encounter by accepting the man’s email address and leaving it at that. Another man was all set to buy me an icecream from the icecream guy at the park, but that seemed a little fishy, so I said I didn’t want an icecream to ruin my lunch. In hindsight maybe I should’ve gone for it.

From Nairobi flew to Uganda, to visit my cousin Julie, who lives in Kampala, who does things, as well as quite notably speaks African English with a perfect accent, as well as perfect Luganda according to my ears. Some of the things I did with her:

-checked out quite a few schools for children with disabilities, and talked to the teachers, and got tours of places, and found out what the teachers didn’t like, and were told about the ‘challenges’ and financial woes and need for supplies, and said ‘sorry that sounds tough’ (paraphrased by Maria) and then sometimes there was an awkward silence. And we saw a lot of Ugandan MEN working with kids with disabilities because they want to help even though they don’t receive a high status or high salary, which was cool. And some places all the kids were happy despite the fact that they didn’t have enough diapers. And some places there was strange tension even though all the kids did have diapers and were well fed. Speaking of diapers, or lack thereof, one time I sat in a plastic chair full of pooled pee. Oops. And then I wore that skirt for two more days.

 

-met some rich white missionaries who don’t do much. Except complain. You wouldn’t believe how liberating it is to say that. Also met many rich white missionaries who are doing lovely things.

-ate all the chickens in Uganda

-hung out with Julie’s co workers, including Sue, who does physical therapy, and Sue sucked us in to her social vortex of newly made acquaintances who spring up wherever she goes.

-sat in traffic in Kampala. Sat some more in traffic. Texted on Julie’s phone in traffic.

-ate Rolex’s for breakfast. Which means eggs in chapatis inside of tasty grease.

-crashed an expat American thanksgiving extravaganza complete with smoked turkey and an exuberant American electric guitar player straight out of the 80s. And no one talked to us the whole evening.

-drove to Karamoja land (eastern Uganda, otherwise known as Moroto) on a bumpy red road which was a bumpy MUDDY red road on the way out, and there was some worry about even making it on the way out, because buses were stuck on the way in. Karamajong people, stereotypically, are continuously drinking sorghum beer, they even feed it to their children, and they used to be nomadic cattle people, but a few years ago, the Ugandan government ‘de-armed’ them, which means they took away all their guns, so now the Karamajong people don’t have any cattle anymore (because guns = cattle, obviously), so they are sad, and are confused about their identity. And the area used to be considered very dangerous because of all the guns, but not anymore. Although word on the street is that all the guns are still there, just buried in plastic in the ground, waiting to come out during the 2016 elections (in Uganda).

-‘listened’ to a class of smiling Karamoja children who couldn’t hear ‘sing’ to us in sign language. Beautiful.

-got super sick right after crossing the border into Kenya. So saw the beautiful highlands of Kenya through a wave of nausea. Since I was too self conscious to throw up in front of a vegetable lady on the side of the road, I just suffered for another 5 hours. A lesson for the future.

-and then we arrived back in Nairobi, just in time for our family reunion…. … … …