Souls on Board

Colin explains how the airplane is used as a tool to move more than just people and supplies but it brings saving grace and hope.

Tracking Caribou at 8000 feet, that is a sentence I never thought I would ever use; however, that is exactly where I found myself on a couple of flights last month. Our flight departed early on a cold fall morning, after a short 45 minute hop to the west, 10 minutes of which I was climbing to get to 8000 feet, we found ourselves over the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. I looked at the biologist sitting next to me, as she switched on her tracking radio to find an animal that defies the boundaries of flat land. As she searched for a signal I sat amazed at the mountain scenery in front of me, taking in God’s beautiful creation.

Prophet River Landing

Prophet River Landing

My job as a pilot gives me opportunities to see some spectacular views and experience some amazing things. Tracking caribou using an airplane was a new experience for me; I can’t help but think what an amazing tool an airplane is. It is essentially just a tin can with wings and using physics, that God has set in place, we can safely leave the earth. The uses of an airplane are numerous it can be used for so many things; saving lives as a medevac plane, carrying people across the world to foreign locations, and even tracking caribou. Yet, more than what it can do, I think of the people that climb aboard our tool in the aviation world they are referred to as “souls on board.” 

Missionary aviation is all about these “souls on board,” serving them any way we can using an airplane, whether that’s a family heading to the jungles of the Congo or the plains of South Sudan bringing the Gospel to those who have never heard, or pastors flying somewhere to receive valuable training, or sons and daughters leaving their families at a remote missionary post to go to boarding school, all of these “souls” are in desperate need of mission aviation. It is our desire, and has been for quite some time, to answer the call of this need.

War and Peace

This originally was included in one of our newsletters. We wanted to share it here for anyone that might have missed it!

Written by Colin Gilmore

War and peace, two words that are the opposite of each other but seem to be an accurate description of the history of the aircraft known as the Helio Courier. The Helio Courier is an amazing airplane in design and flight characteristics. It was designed for short takeoff and landing operations. It has huge flaps to help it fly at incredibly slow speeds, leading edge slats to be able to control it at these slow speeds and a Lycoming GO-480-G1D6 295 horsepower engine (cue the Tim “The Tool Man” Allen grunt here). All this to say that this airplane was designed to fly in some pretty adverse environments and touch down on some challenging runways, if you can call them that.

The Helio Courier landing at Townsend Airport in Waxhaw, North Carolina where JAARS trains their missionaries.

The Helio Courier landing at Townsend Airport in Waxhaw, North Carolina where JAARS trains their missionaries.

It was first flown on April 8, 1949 and was put into production in 1954.  The Hello Courier's storied career included flying for cargo operations, bush flying in the north and flying in the dense jungles in the south. The two operations it has been most heavily used in, and where the connection to “war and peace” comes from, is its use in the Vietnam War and on the mission field.

It was used in the Vietnam War primarily for supply drops and moving cargo. However, on occasion it was also used for psychological warfare, yelling out propaganda through an attached loudspeaker and dropping pamphlets over enemy territory.

Cameron Townsend, founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators, JAARS and SIL International, saw the amazing power an airplane like the Helio Courier could have in accessing some of the most remote places on the face of this earth. He had noted regarding his translation work, “Airplanes and radios don’t just make translation easier; they make it possible.” God placed a dream in his heart to reach these places and to share the good news of the Gospel with these long forgotten people... to bring peace not war. (The Hello Courier is now used by JAARS to train missionaries at Pre-Field Orientation.)

Shelby and I also see the value in this continued ministry of using an airplane to bring the saving grace that is offered through Jesus Christ to people who may not have the opportunity to hear. God placed this passion on my heart years ago while I was attending Prairie Bible College; it just amazed me how I can use my skills as a pilot and mechanic to serve the greater purpose of extending God’s Kingdom with those who are in need. The same passion that God placed in Cameron Townsend is the passion that He has placed in us and which motivates us to serve in the ministry of Aim Air in Kenya. 


Christmas Baking

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It is starting to smell like my mom’s house as my oven warms pretzels, shreddies, cheerios, peanuts, and butter into the most delicious Nuts and Bolts mix ever. When I was a girl I loved coming home from school in December to smell all the Christmas baking, or to go to bed to the smell of mom’s nuts and bolts cooking slow and low. 

 

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This year I am making my own batch (as I have every year since I got married) and I am shedding a few tears because it is hard to be away from family for extended periods of time; and I am currently living in the same country as them still!

 

I think this might be one of the most confusing things about our impending move to Kenya, leaving behind the people we love. We love serving the Lord and we want to be overseas where we know He wants our family but we will not go one day without missing the people here. Last year at this time I was mentally beginning to make lists to pack and purge our home in Cochrane and I took some time to go to counseling. I told her that it was hard because I know everyone is hurting that we are leaving but that we are hurting too. Instead of being left behind with our village around us, we are venturing out to make a new one. She told me that on both sides there is loss and that I need to respect other people’s loss of us but also my own loss of my people. 

 

Let me tell you respecting it does not make it easier. We want to move to Kenya, we are choosing to move to Kenya, and we are confident in our decision to do that but we are going to miss the precious moments with those we love. 

 

So this December while I am packing and purging and baking (despite not having the time for it) the smells will bring tears, bring memories, and bring a lot of love into my memory. I am grieving what and who we are leaving behind but I am also rejoicing in what God has prepared ahead for us! 

October Update

 

Isn’t there a famous saying about October? Something about not wanting to live in a world without Octobers? Something like that.

 

Fall recently (in the last five years) seems more colourful longer lasting, more full of something…I can’t put my finger on what it is, but it just seems better than when I was a kid. It was in Slave Lake, Ezra was just a babe and Eloise was toddling around; we lived on the fourth floor of an apartment building that backed onto a creek and forest like area. It was stunning in the fall. The colours made me swoon and ever since then it seems like each fall is better than the last.

 

Weird because I am not a lover of any particular season, I love that they all move and change, I love that they each have a unique characteristic, something to look forward to, something to dread. You know something…

 

Well here we are October, when the leaves started out stunning and driving into the Peace Valley could almost bring tears to your eyes; now it is ending brown and dull. Kind of almost like a layer of dirt is covering everything. The sun is shining though, the weather is nice the leaves are extra crunchy and I am thankful for a few extra nice days that don’t yet have snow in them. It is coming though I can feel it!

 

Well how is our family doing? We are great! Truly, not just great because I want you to think that and I don’t want to share the hard things with you but really great! We are enjoying our life right now. I (Shelby) have really learnt that we can settle even if we are unsure how long we will be living somewhere, it is worth making our house feel like a home and it is worth investing my time in getting to know people and really love on them.

 

Eloise is in her second month of Kindergarten and she LOVES it. She is making so many new friends and comes home sounding out every word you speak to her tell you what letter is at the beginning of this word and that. She loves to stop and visit at Nana’s house on the way home and then we come home and spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying each other.

 

Ezra is taking swimming lessons and I cannot believe how well he is doing. He loves the water but usually only the bath. The lessons are giving him the courage to get his face wet and he sure is a little fish.

 

Both Eloise and Ezra have joined Awana Clubs and seriously it brings them so much joy. Eloise is working hard to memorize verses and earn her badge rewards. And Ezra is learning them with her and impressing his teachers every week! 

 

Colin is working and working and working. He is flying way more than we expected and it is amazing! He is feeling more prepared for orientation in the New Year with every flight. The companies he has been blessed to work with during this season have been amazing to our family and are so flexible with our speaking and travel schedule.

Waiting

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I walked in out of the sun. The entrance held two doors I chose the one of the left because the lady behind the door on the right pointed me to do so. I grabbed my sons hand as a bit of a security blanket because there were already three people there. It was ladies prayer morning and my friend that had invited me was going to be a few more minutes. The worship music was loud and reverberated through me; I smiled awkwardly at two ladies who were fiddling with sound and then I walked past them quickly (as if I knew where I was going) I followed the sound of screaming children to find a nursery where I could deposit Ezra. I quickly made eye contact and smiled to the only adult in the room and Ezra left me running towards the kids not caring that he didn’t know anyone.

I returned to the dark room filled with music and busied myself with my bag and my phone so as to not look out of place. Then she came in and placed a coffee in my hand she dropped her bags and deposited her daughter in the nursery also. She came back and whispered instructions in my ear and I sat. I listened to the song I observed the other women each in their own space worshipping and praying. Moving with the music and wiping the tears of worship from their cheeks. I rested in the “quiet” and rested in the moment to sip my coffee and think. I opened my heart and asked God if there was anything I needed to be shown. Then it came and hit me like a ton of bricks:

“you are not waiting on me!” 


What of course I am. I am here in B.C. waiting for our support to come in. I can’t go anywhere till you say. 


But you are not waiting, you are pacing. 

I am?

You are. You must wait.  

How?

Are you willing to wait to leave till I say. Really ok?


Yes. I would wait it I have to.

Colin wants to wait on me, will you wait with him?

If I have to. 

Yes you have to but will you do it with grace and will you trust me to do what is best for you? 

I am trying. I will try.

Don’t try just do it. Shelby I want you to serve me where I plant you. And you don’t have to be somewhere long to be planted. So trust me. Rest in me. Be here with me. 


Can I do that? In a world of instant pots? Instant movies? Instant gratification  can I wait and trust. Trust that God will bring our support in when He is ready and trust that God will move our family when it is best for him not best for me?

I can do it. Will you pray for me as I wait?

Taking inventory

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Last September I took Eloise to pre-school and on the way home I cried, not because I was sad that she was growing up but because I was beginning to mourn our time in Cochrane. You see in September 2017 my mind was beginning to race with everything that needed to be done because we were leaving Cochrane and our family would be in North Carolina very soon. My mind would race and I would inventory the things in my life and decide what was going and what was staying. Every person in my life instantly became the most important one in the world and I felt the need to spend as much time as possible with them. So we packed our stuff, cleaned our house, and broke our hearts as we said goodbye to our community in Cochrane. 

Then we moved to Fort St. John determined not to be here for more than a few months and God changed our plans, twice. So we resisted truly settling into life here in Fort St. John.  And once again I took Eloise to her first day of school and began my inventory again. “What are we storing? What are we taking? What are we getting rid of? Who do we need to spend more time with? How are we going to say goodbye? Once again my brain is gong a hundred miles an hour to ensure that every detail is taken care of.

In February, of this year, when we left Cochrane Colin and I both really believed we were ready to put our stuff in boxes and leave for Kenya, little did we know that God was not ready for us to go and actually had bigger plans for us. Sitting and watching our support numbers do nothing for months on end was hard; but I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and get up and live my life again. I knew I needed to get back to a routine and stop waiting for our support to reach 100% and really be where God had put me. We traveled and spoke, we settled into a new rental home, and we developed a new routine. Basically we have gone back to our normal life. 

Yet, here we are again getting ready to go and trusting that God will direct our next steps and move us to the next place as He sees fit. We are preparing ourselves and God is working in our hearts. What is to come next? We have no idea but we are waiting excitedly for Him to reveal it to us!


Thanks for waiting with us! 


August Update and Some Pictures

August was a busy month for us. Colin is working two jobs, the kids and I are keeping house and working on Africa Inland Mission things and enjoying the sunshine as much as possible! Keep reading for individual updates.

Colin:

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Working for North Caribou Air as an Aircraft Mechanic and also flying part-time for Trek Air doing Areal surveys. These flights are hit and miss based on the weather conditions. Because the point of the flight is to take photos of Oil sites the photographer needs near perfect conditions. Colin’s flying job is an answer to our prayers. We have been praying that there would be a chance for Colin to regularly get into the air again. This will help him when he is doing his flight training in North Carolina. 

 

Shelby:

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I am busy trying to figure out how to homeschool our children. I am looking into curriculum, talking to schools, and keeping myself in check when it comes to purchasing items that will be helpful with homeschooling. I am also making lists of things to collect to bring to Kenya and a list of things that need to be done before we depart for North Carolina and then soon after Kenya.

I have also agreed to help run our churches annual Christmas party and I can’t wait! I love organizing things and I love being part of a church and helping them with outreach events.

 

Eloise

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Is basically bouncing off the walls because her first day of school is only one week away. However, it is not what you are thinking, we are not beginning homeschool just yet, through much prayer and conversation Colin and I have decided that while we are living in here in B.C. Eloise will attend the local elementary school for half of a kindergarten year.

She will attend until Christmas. There are many reasons for this and if you would like more information I would love to talk with you about this decision! 

 

Ezra:

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Is going to be my first child to attend swimming lessons! He has no idea yet and I am hoping he approaches it with as much enthusiasm as I had when I signed him up! He and I will be filling our days together and I love having my little sidekick around to keep me entertained and tell me that he loves me but also that I am “the best cooker in the world” when I fill his bowl again with pretzels. 

 

I also wanted to share with you and update of AIM AIR in Kenya. Our hearts desire to be in Kenya and we cannot wait to help these people as they use an airplane to serve the needs of others.  

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We recently received an email from our AIM AIR Canadian representative Ron Shaw and it stated “Due to our current low pilot numbers, and after the AA (AIM AIR) leadership and the team had deliberated and prayed about this for a couple of months, the decision has been formally made to “mothball” the Lokichoggio base at least until staffing levels increase enough to adequately staff three programs.  Arua has been understaffed for the last couple of years, and the team has been feeling the strain of trying to maintain three bases with marginal numbers.  Thus, the hard decision to close one base so they can staff both remaining bases at healthy levels where the pilots aren’t feeling the stress of keeping a flight schedule going without adequate personnel to do it well/safely.

Basically there is just not enough people to cover all of the flights and bases that AIM AIR operates. Their hearts are there and they want to serve as many people as they can! Please would you pray with us as we prepare to go? Pray that we would be diligent to finish all the tasks AIM has asked our family to complete before moving overseas (like getting a will, reading, support raising, and training at PFO) and that we would have more chances to share with others about our Journey. 

Only $40.00 a month from 59 people and we will be fully supported in our monthly amount!

Only $40.00 a month from 59 people and we will be fully supported in our monthly amount!

 

SUPPORT NUMBERS:

 

 

In July we began counting our way to 100% support in monthly donations through $40.00 Airplanes. Basically for every $40.00 people give we are that much closer to our goal of being 100% supported and leaving for Pre-Field Orientation in January 2019. When we began we needed to fill 77 airplanes however, now we only need 59 more people to support us at $40.00 a month! 

 

 

Our support is coming along and we have been so thankful to see the change in the numbers! 

If you would like more information on how to support us and what we need to raise please click the button below.

Thank you for your prayers and support!

July Update

July was such a wonderful month for our family, we were able to spend time together just the four of us and go on some adventures!

 

For many years, because we have not lived near family, we have always celebrated their birthdays in our hearts or with a phone call; but this year we were close enough to be at a celebration! On July 1stwe not only celebrated Canada day but we also celebrated Uncle Mike, Papa, and a few other family member’s with a giant party! The rain did not stop us from enjoying the company of so many that we love! 

 

We had no opportunities to share in July about our Journey however, we did have a lot of time to pray and encourage each other as we continue on in this journey! A few things have changed for us with AIM and we learnt about them in July.

 

If you know me and have asked me about schooling our children you might get one of three answers:

1.)  We are sending them to an International Christian School while we live in Nairobi.

2.)  We are homeschooling them

3.)  We have no idea yet.

The answer you got depended on the day, who had I recently been encouraged by, and what Colin and I were discussing at the time.

However, at the beginning of July I decided that this month we would make a final decision. Colin and I both spent time in prayer, we talked, then we talked some more, and then we prayed more. We have officially decided to homeschool our children! I feel great peace about this and also feel extremely supported in this decision. 

 

Financially this changes a lot and how much monthly support we need to raise! Our monthly support has dropped significantly because of this decision. We are now required to raise  $6407.00; this means that so far our support is at 50%. 

For only $40.00 a month you can colour in one of our airplanes!

For only $40.00 a month you can colour in one of our airplanes!

 

As you may have read in our newsletter we are looking for 100 people to support us at $40.00 a month. Since our numbers have lowered we are now looking for 80 people to come alongside our family at $40.00 a month. If you would like to support us please click below. 

 

Colin is working as an AME for North Caribou Air at the Fort Saint John Airport and enjoying himself! They have lots of work to keep him busy and it is always great for him to be able to use his skills and continue to be involved with aircraft.

We moved in our own apartment here in Taylor (Fort St. John is our nearest city centre at 10 minutes away). We are across the street from Nana and Papa and still use their backyard every day! We are enjoying having our own space and spending out again! Once we are ready to leave for North Carolina we will move our stuff back into storage and head out! 

Colin and I are both enjoying our time here and are getting involved in different things with the Peace Community Church here in Taylor. in June our family entered a flower barrel competition and at the end of July we won! This means that sometime in the future we get a bbq! Mostly we were just excited to participate. I (Shelby) have also been enjoying spending time with the ladies of the church at a book study in July we read Beth Moores "The Undoing of Saint Silvanus" I had a great time not only reading this book but also being able to get together and discuss it! If you know me you know I love fellowship with fellow women who can encourage and challenge me! 

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Thanks for reading our update and praying with our family! 

A Canadian Missionary

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Hearts that have been placed in both the Canadian snow and the Kenyan dust

We have hearts divided; they are separated between two places. We long to be with our family and our friends and we continue to long to be in Kenya. I am currently working through figuring out how to serve God here in Canada while yearning for nothing more than to be serving God in Kenya.

 

AIM has entrusted us to be part of their organization. They have allowed Colin and I to have this amazing opportunity to use an airplane to serve His servants. We get to go to a whole new place and learn new things and we get to ensure that God’s servants who are in the hardest to reach places are supported so they are able to bring God’s love to those who have not yet heard!

 

Our hearts thirst for this for this opportunity to serve; however, He has asked us to be here, here in Fort Saint John, here in Canada, here in North America and it is here that we are learning to serve Him. We are teaching our children and directing them to Christ. We are loving on those around us and serving them the best way we know how. We are sharing our hearts and desire to be in Kenya serving with anyone that will listen. We are waiting and trusting in God’s timing.

 

Recently we met with a friend of Colin’s and when I heard him speaking I was struck with all the amazing opportunities that God placed in front of him to share the love of Christ. He did this by giving, serving, speaking, and praying. This is what missions is; it is everyday service to all those people that God has created. That is what I am working on right now; everyday I want to be a missionary. One that serves God’s people, one that loves them, one that values them. Every interaction I have is an opportunity to serve. 

What Changes When A Pilot Stays?

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Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among the peoples. Psalm 96.3

As I write this, I am sitting on top of a hill, in a concrete room, on what is technically my mattress, with sweat coming out of more of my skin than I really know what to do with.  Lake Turkana is visible a couple kilometers away, and the sounds of the small town of Ileret bounce around the room.

 The team I am with is a group of 9 Kenyans from BTL and other ministries in Kenya that have partnered in the Jesus Film project.  One of them is a young missionary from Meru, who lives in Ileret with his wife and young kids and occasionally gets to travel down country.  He was telling us yesterday that it normally takes him and his family anywhere from a few days in dry season, up to 3 weeks in the rainy on whatever bus or lorry they can find.  Another of the team members is BTL's Language Program Manager for all of the language projects in Kenya (of which there are 19 at the moment).  He has been working with BTL for 30 years and has some of the craziest stories I have heard yet of life in Africa - most of them related to travelling by road to all of these remote places.  I have thought to myself listening to these stories "that's why you should fly with us!" but I already know the reason they don't.  Even with funds from western organizations, every dollar is critical and the scales rarely tip towards aviation because it is so expensive.  But that is why I am here this weekend, because they needed a flight, the cost savings for them drop tremendously if I stay, and AIM AIR is the only organization who will do that.

 A small portion of a letter written by an AIM AIR pilot; this, that right up there, that is why we want to give it all up here in Canada and move to Kenya! To serve people and bring them places they would not be able to go because of cost or time.

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 Colin spent a long time working toward becoming a pilot and fully licensed mechanic with AIM AIR and one of the biggest questions asked is why? Why would he spend the last 10 years making sure he had all the requirements in place? Well because lives are changed when a pilot stays! AIM AIR is going to get as many people as possible to the places they need to go as safely as possible. AIM AIR (Africa Inland Mission) operates six aircraft from three bases in east and central Africa. They serve over 50 Christian organizations and hundreds of missionaries.

 

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever.” 1Peter 4:10-11.

 

“The airplanes we fly are tools, moving missionaries, pastors, and cargo over some of the world’s most inhospitable terrain, to bring hope, and the Good News, to come of the world’s most forgotten peoples.” Such a powerful statement that simplifies exactly what it is the AIM air does. They are using their skills as pilots and mechanics to serve. This is what Colin is doing what he desires to do! We, as a family of four, want to pack up and move thousands of miles to unknown territory, to serve people with an airplane, people who have a love for Jesus and the work he is doing in this world. We are going to use the gifts that God has given us to ensure that his glory is known to all the people.

 

This is what happens when a pilot stays; lives are changed because money is a non-issue, relationships are built because there is no time crunch, and God is glorified because the people of the world hear His name.