Over the past few months, I've spent five weeks helping to bring our second airplane project to completion. The airplane came to us disassembled in a shipping container, and it has taken more than a year to completely clean, strip, repaint, and rebuild it. Many people have contributed financially and of their time to help us prepare this ministry tool that will help us reach remote communities in Bolivia. Dave, one of our volunteers, has donated a full year, and this is what we have to show for it: a beautifully refurbished airplane ready for service in Bolivia!
Except for one small detail: the airplane can't enter Bolivia. In October, a law was passed prohibiting the importation of airplanes older than 25 years. Since our airplane is a 1981 model, we cannot take it to Bolivia under the new law.
This was just one more bit of discouraging news for us. I had been looking forward to getting some flight hours in the airplane prior to our return to Bolivia. More importantly, it was going to be a valuable tool for our ministry, especially since our primary aircraft is currently down for repairs.
From our perspective, it doesn't make sense why God would provide the resources to purchase and refurbish the airplane, only to bring us to this point. Although ministry can still take place without aviation, having an airplane multiplies our effectiveness and enables us to reach isolated communities that otherwise are very difficult to get to. Yet, we know that He sees the big picture, and trust that He has a reason for allowing this to happen.
We are praying that the law will be repealed (which, if it happens, will probably take several months), or that we will be able to sell this airplane and put the resources toward a newer aircraft. The Cessna 206 is a very good option for us, but there are other airplanes that will do the job. However, from a worldly perspective, the cost of those aircraft is prohibitive. That said, we would love to see the Lord provide a newer, capable aircraft for the ministry! We still believe that aviation is an important tool for reaching the unreached of Bolivia, and we pray that God will provide just the right airplane.
Please pray for wisdom as we determine how to proceed, and that the Lord will provide just what we need!