Charles Plumb was a US Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience!
One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, "You're Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!"
"How in the world did you know that?" asked Plumb.
"I packed your parachute," the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, "I guess it worked!" Plumb assured him, "It sure did. If your chute hadn't worked, I wouldn't be here today."
Plumb couldn't sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, "I kept wondering what he had looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat; a bib in the back; and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said 'Good morning, how are you?' or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor." Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent at a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn't know.
Now, Plumb asks his audience, "Who's packing your parachute?" Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. He also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory - he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety.
Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say hello, please, or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason. As you go through this week, this month, this year, recognize people who pack your parachutes.
(Above photo and story credit: great-inspirational-quotes.com)
And so, the thought of the week has been, "Make sure that you put your best effort into any contribution you make, even if it seems small and insignificant, because the impact could be someone's life."
This was a very timely encouragement for me this week especially since I was hobbling around on a sore knee, had a nasty cold, and was trying to focus on preparing health information to share during the upcoming monitor's seminar.
And I'm sure it was a timely encouragement for the guys going to all the work of unpacking and setting up tents for the monitors to sleep in.
(Note the stack of firewood in the background. Like I said, it's cold right now. Let's trust the monitors will also be encouraged as they rough it this week that in doing so, they are also investing their lives in packing parachutes right now!)
Unpacking a tent and figuring out which way is up.
Ah, easy as 1-2-3 when you've done it countless times before!
Voila, what a pretty camp!
Back in the mission office, other "parachute packing" activities took place.
Matthew and Dwight show one of the things Matthew has been working on: course certificates.
Joao has been busy preparing course exams, booklets, etc.
And the rest of us have been doing similar jobs in our respective work corners. Seminar time is always a busy time.
A few more photos of the week.
Andy "packing parachutes" on a tractor, plowing a corner of the field for planting beans that will be used in the school feeding program.
Mariano "packing parachutes" through actively engaging in
teaching life-building lessons to orphan children.
And with this last photo, I will close for this time.