I know, I know, I should have written long back …
my time in America has been good, real good …first I spent some time at Bethel church in Redding (it was a blessing to meet all of you my new Bethel friends :-)), saw friends I haven’t seen for a long time, I got to visit and speak at diffrent churches all over the US, enjoyed the western lifestyle and I got my pilot license!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What an adventure this has been, I felt like the Isrealites must have felt when they were on the way to the promised land, lots of obstacles and battles needed to be fought and won … a journey believing in God Almighty … read for yourself …
My plan had been to leave America the beginning of november, go to South Africa and get my pilot license there (in the nice warm summer), but God had a diffrent plan …
When I was in Kansas City I got a phone call from the pastor of the church in Chicago that I was planning to visit next, him telling me to be open for God to change my plans … hmmm … I was not really up for that thinking of the fact I needed to be out of the country by december 9th, winter coming, who’d be paying for that … .
When I got to Chicago I had a good time with the River of life church and Jeff (who’s a member of the church here, but also a flight instructor) gave me what is called a discovery flight … after he showed me once he immidiately made me do a take-off and a landing of the plane …, then he offered to teach me (for free). I still need to pay for the plane (from the club) though, but God will take of that … .
A couple days later I flew to Philadelphia, visiting another friend. Besides some ministry I spent as much time with the Lord as I could. I needed to know what He wanted me to do.
From there we went together to Baltimore, to the VOA (Voice of the Apostles Conference) – what a treat! I got to stay at the Hilton Hotel (for the first time of my life :-)), good & inspirational, prophetic preachings & teachings, meeting more wonderful people … . I prayed God’d give me chance to speak to Rolland (Baker), as leader of Iris Ministries and a pilot at the same time. He was very clear about doing it in the US ‚cause it’s much better training and better recognized internationaly. Another confirmation to what I already felt the Holy Spirit was drawing me to do.
So I applied for the „Alien Flight Programm“ – yes, it is really called like that. First my flight instructor needed to get his name on the list of their website as a licensed instructor who offers flight training. That was miraculously done within a few hours (usually government offices don’t do anything quickly, not even in America). I filled out the application (8-10 pages! I don’t remember exactly) and paid the fee once I got permission for that the next day. Then I just wouldn’t hear from them anymore.
When I was in New York I needed to make a final decision ‚cause my flight back to Germany was the next day. Against all logic I felt I needed to go back to Chicago. So that’s what I did. By doing so I lost my return ticket ‚cause I couldn’t change it. Also, about 20 minutes before I had to go to the airport I got this really discouraging email from the Alien Flight Program telling me they take several weeks to process my application and there was no quicker way. Nice.
Back in Chicago I did what I could in faith everything would work out. I started to study for the knowledge test (the theory test) – once I got the material. I wasn’t able to fly yet ‚cause as an „alien“ (a foreigner) I need permission first. After about 8 days of studying I passed the knowledge test with 92 percent – praise God! It was kinda supernatural. I needed to study lots of books, lots and lots of information and pretty much everything I read I memorized immidiately. Usually people go to class and they need 6 months of studying. Also I’d have needed an endorsement of my instructor before, but thank God they exceptionally allowed me to go ahead and let him sign afterwards. It was their first time, but there is always a first time. The other challenge was to proof to them that I really live where I say I live ‚cause (our) passports don’t have adresses. God even thought of that though. Right before I left Germany I wrote a letter of authorization to one of my friends so she could go and get my new german ID I had just applied for. She went to get it and another friend sent it (via dhl – so it’d only take 2 days) to me – just on time – thank God! They sometimes keep documents at the border, but they didn’t with mine as we asked God for.
Then (after exactly 2 weeks) I finally got the email that I could go and give them my fingerprints to proof to them that I am not a criminal. Easier said than done. I immidiately printed it out and we went to O’Hare (Chicago’s International Airport). They once hadfingerprinting equipment, but not anymore. They directed me to Midway Airport (which is way smaller). I also tried the FBI, but they also don’t have it anymore. They told me to go to my local police station. Now as someone who is just visiting here you don’t have a local police station ‚cause you don’t really live here. Most of the other fingerprinting places you can’t use ‚cause they are not TSA approved locations. So this is pretty much an impossible job they’re asking you to do ‚cause they don’t really want you to do it seemed. When I was at Midway the next day with a friend it was like being in the game where each place you get to you find a clou to get to the next place and after some hours I finally ended up at midway buisness center (which is not at the airport), where the TSA does the fingerprinting for their employees. When I explained to the receptionist what I wanted she didn’t really know what to do with me so she called the number on the email. The lady on the other end of the line said she knows they normally don’t do them (but they tell you to go there), but it was up to them. So the receptionist gets back to me telling me they only do fingerprinting for their employees here, they’ve ner done it for anyone else. I proclaimed in the spirit ‚you are going to do them today‘,.I found favor with her and she was really trying to help me. She told me to sit down and wait, the person in charge of fingerprinting hadgone for lunch. I don’t mind waiting, I am used to that from Africa (only that here usually your waiting comes to an end quite quickly). Eventually a man who’s face looked familar walked in the door. At first I couldn’t figure out where I had seen him before, but then I remembered, I had talked to him the day before at O’Hare, when I was trying to find out where to do fingerprinting there (what he was doing there I don’t know though ‚cause he doesn’t work there).. He walked in, looked over, recognized me and made the comment „oh, I know that lady, she’s an alien“. I love to be called an alien, but whatever. It turned out he was the only person authorized to do the fingerprinting in that office. The secretary explained to him what I wanted, but he already knew. So it wasn’t even for nothing that we had been to O’Hare the day before. It was good that he already knew me. He needed to change the computer setup a bit, but he was willing to do that. The good thing was that since this was the proper TSA their system was electronically linked to the clearing house where my fingerprints needed to be „checked“ so I didn’t even need to send them in; they got them right away and they couldn’t get lost in the mail. Besides that I didn’t even pay. Praise God. The secretary gave me some discouraging news as I sat down and waited there which got us to pray, telling me that it takes at least 6 weeks to get cleared, but more likely 3 months. I was telling God we really don’t have time for that. The next was a public holiday. They must have cleared me on friday (the day after) ‚cause monday morning first thing I got an email from them that I was approved by the FAA to take flying lessons, go for a pilot license. That was an answer to prayer.
The next challenge was the medical test (which I wouldn’t have thought to be another problem). Even though I can see good enough with both eyes at first my right eye didn’t measure up to their standards. This could have been the end again if God had not intervened. We prayed and when I got retested I got a diffrent result, a way better result even though I could see worse. I didn’t understand but I thought I better not ask too many questions. What mattered was to get the medical certificate. The doctor had given me a form to fill out and an envelope with an adress in Oklahoma City I needed to send it to, then they’d send the medical certificate to Germany. Something needed to be done, that would have taken weeks again. We called the doctor and he was willing to give it a try calling them if they’d make an exception that we’d not have to send it in, but he could just give me the medical certificate – and they accepted! Halleluja!
It wasn’t my great idea to get this pilot’s license, but God’s, so He had to take care of all of that.
Then I needed permission flying „solo“ which wasn’t easy either. But by the grace of God we can do all things. As soon as I had permission I went flying solo the next day, then cross country solo the day after that. Jesus was with me and I felt perfectly safe. I was trying to get back asap ‚cause it was supposed to snow later on that afternoon which it did, but only after I got back. It was interesting though ‚cause the sky became darker and darker as I was flying from one airport to the next. The following day I couldn’t fly due to bad weather, but I still needed to do more flying to finish of my 10 hours of solo flight that are required for a private pilot license. We needed to pray again and the sky cleared enough for me to go. When I came back I had exactly 10,1 hours, which is 6 minutes more than necessary. I had a flat tire so I couldn’t go up anymore (even though it was a nice soft landing – I am glad Jeff watched me land otherwise he might not have believed me). I felt angels protecting me as I landed, going perfectly straight down the runway.. I hadn’t watched the time ( I don’t even have a watch), but I came back exactly when I needed to. God knows all things.
The Oral Exam (which is part of the practical test) is the craziest exam I’ve ever done. There are about 15-20 (I think) diffrent areas and you get questioned in each area. If there is a little thing you don’t know you might get away with it, but if there is one question you can’t answer you are done; so this is pretty much a hundred percent test. Besides, I only found out about this exam 5 days before. Nevertheless I passed that – thank you, Jesus!
Now my 3 months I was allowed to stay in the US were up. The immigrations laws are clear – you cannot go to Canada or Mexico or the Carribean and come back in wanting to spend more time in the US. The final decision though is with the custom’s official at the border as I found out after spending lots of time on the internet doing research, calling places, asking around everywhere. In that case I figured I could give it a try, before I fly to Germany and come back (and even then there is no guarantee that they let you reenter). The day my visa expired I went to Canada with a friend from the church here. It’s only 6 hours to the border. We didn’t exactly know where we were going yet. The question was who’d take us in for the night. Just on time (as always), before we needed to turn unto another hinghway, about an hour and a half before the border we got a call we could spend the night at friends of friends of friends in a town called Sarnia, which is the border town on the canadian side, so not very far. God always takes care of us. A lovely couple, pastors of the Vinyard church there. They invited me to preach since they had a service on friday night in one of their daughter churches (about 70 people). God was present and His Spirit moved. So it wasn’t for nothing that we went to Canada. On the way back God gave me favor with the custom’s official and wisdom to answer the many questions. So I’ve got another entry stamp valid for 3 months in my passport – praise God! During this whole process I kept on thinking God could have told me to apply for a 6 months visa while I was in Germany but He chose not to, so there must have been a reason for it; maybe we needed to go to Canada or God just wanted to show His power one more time … ..
The weather for the coming week didn’t look too good, but God kept his hand on it. On thursday it was the most obvious. It snowed everywhere around us. We could even see it snowing. But it didn’t snow where we were. As soon as we were done for the day, had parked and secured the plane in the evening it started to snow though. God is faithful. He knew I needed the day to practise those difficult maneuvers you have to know how to do to pass the checkride some more. Maybe to explain to you … when it snows you can’t see anything which is kinda dangerous … .
Also God kept the plane „going“, no problems there so we could keep flying …. .
Yesterday (sat dec 18th) was my „checkride“ (the practical test) and I passed!!
The night before my examiner called me telling me, he doesn’t think we could fly tomorrow, the weather forecast showing ceilings of only 1500feet (we needed at least 4000), low visibility, to sum it up weather that doesn’t permit visual flying (I’m not instrument rated yet). I told him, we’d pray. The next morning ALL clouds had completely dissapeared, there was sun and a beautiful clear sky. Glory to God! Ususally those weather forecast are pretty accurate, but obviously they don’t count on God shifting the weather for his purposes. The examiner’s comment was that God must really be with me – and He was!!
I could write more, but let’s leave it there for now …
The bettles have been many, but the victory is ours! Now may this license be used for the kingdom of God and His eternal glory, that many will have the chance to hear the good news about Jesus, get food & medicine, churches being planted, visited and strengthened … .. I’m lookin forward to the plane God will give me …
I’d like to enourage you, no matter what, keep believing, the One who called you is faithful, He will always keep His promises!! Do not be afraid, just believe (Mk 5:36). With God all things are possible (Mat 19:26)!
I will fly to Germany on december 23rd, spend christmas there, get a few things done and fly back to Africa on december 30th …
Have a blessed christmas, celebretating the birth of Jesus and meeting Jesus coming to you …
God is real …!!
P.S.: Thank you everyone who welcomed me into their home, fed me, gave me rides, helped out in one way or another, gave financially, prayed this through with me … !! I can only say thank you – may God reward you richly!