Back to the hut on the hill
On 30 March, 2015, Jane Marie Strugnell was born. As expected, she became the focus of our lives from the moment she was born. We spent all our time and energy learning how to look after her, how to change our normal routines to fit around this new and infinitely important being in our lives.
It’s recommended, for good reason, that you shouldn’t enter the mission field immediately after you get married. We took this to heart, knowing that Emily and I needed to work on our relationship and life together before we started thinking how our lives would reach outward into the world. We felt very strongly that the same should be true after having a child, specifically a first child. We needed to focus on her, and the rest of our lives just kind of rolled on by as we grew and adapted to life as a family.
By mid 2016, however, we started to feel something changing. I was still a trustee of the charity that ran Pulane Children’s Centre, and knew that Jill, the director, was getting to a stage where she wanted to retire and start taking things a little more easy. With that in mind, and being at a point where I was growing weary of working in a corporate flight training setting, we began to feel more open to what might be next.
After suggesting to Jill that we would be willing to move to Lesotho for a few months, (I should have learned by now), she was supportive and happy to have the help. Our idea of being there to support her soon changed when she announced that she was stepping-down so that I could take over as director. Huh, Maybe I should have seen that coming.
We were excited by this, rather than afraid. The chance to step-in and keep PCC going strong was energizing. The idea, still, was to do this for a set amount of time. We wanted to make sure that when Jane needed formal schooling, we were in a place that could happen.
One night, laying awake in our hut on the mountain, thinking deep thoughts about life, I found myself thinking again about MAF. And if I was honest with myself, that was what I really wanted to do in the long-term. The way I understood things, MAF USA and MAF South Africa were part of the same overall company, but they were responsible for different projects. Years before this, I had assumed that as I would have to go through MAF SA, that meant I wouldn’t be able to work at the Lesotho base. This, coupled with my desire to serve in Lesotho, meant that I had just about pushed all possibility of MAF out of mind.
But, I thought, why not just send them and e mail and see if it would be possible to at least try apply to the Lesotho project.
The e mail I got in response essentially said Sure, why not? The HR department in SA spoke with the fine folks in the US HR department, and said that theres no reason why MAF SA couldn’t lend me to MAF US.
This changed everything
Having worked in Lesotho so long, I had developed a love for the country, the mountains, and the people. I had seen firsthand the struggles they faced. I wanted to do something to help, in a practical and lasting way. Pulane Children’s Centre was part of that, but the dream of using my flying to help others, and specifically in Lesotho, was an opportunity I couldn’t turn away from. As a family, we chose, instead, to run toward it.
We started the MAF application process in December 2016, about 11 years after I first applied. In September 2017 we heard that we were accepted! And that’s were we are today.
The path ahead
One thing we want to make sure is clear, is that we are committed to Pulane Children’s Centre, and the move to MAF is made even more perfect in that we will be able to remain as the directors of the work at PCC, even if we are not living on-site. We have been working at PCC to set things up to run smoothly with the local Basotho managers in charge. They do a great job and fill us with more and more confidence each day. We know they can keep PCC going strong, with us providing them with the tools they need to do that. We are also moving forward with MAF preparations. This involves support-raising and training. Support-raising starts now, and training is scheduled for January 2018 in the USA.
The road for me to get to MAF has been a long one, requiring lots of patience. Looking back, I know that when I was 20 years-old, I wasn’t ready for that. But now, with Emily standing strong at my side, and Jane helping us keep perspective on what’s important, we are ready and excited for life with MAF Lesotho!