Here I am. I’m ready to leave the town of Lynden, the school of Lynden Christian, my family, my friends, and my home to pursue a future where nothing is guaranteed but everything is attainable. It’s as if I’m an airplane, sitting at the end of the runway, ready to accelerate. But in order to take off, everything on the airplane must be in fully operational condition. The structural design must be up to the stress of takeoff because even the smallest fault will lead to disaster. The electronics need to be providing accurate readouts, the controls working in proper order. It is only when every component works to its intended purpose that it can fly.
But why this analogy?
Well, one thing you should know about me: I’m an engineering fanatic—more specifically, one of airplanes and flight. In 5th grade, I invented a device that would begin wheel rotation using fins on a plane’s undercarriage, preventing the rubber loss caused by repeated landings. Since then, I’ve been furthering my passion for engineering. As someone with a strength of Innovation, I’ve built turbochargers, engines, compressors, and even designed test airframes that function for different aerodynamic purposes. I enjoy working on cars, especially my BMW and dad’s ’68 Mustang Fastback. I yearned to understand, even from a young age, how things work. My dad can testify to the probably hundreds of thousands of questions I have asked him over the years.
As I now move from what is familiar to study Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Washington, I find myself reflecting on my time here at Lynden Christian. Was it worth it? How did it help me as a Christian? These are questions that I find myself thinking about often, as I look retrospectively at my overall experience. I like to think of LC as a vital component in my path through life, in the analogy of an airplane: the wings, the fuselage, the engines, and the tail fin as well as horizontal stabilizers.
Foremost, my experience at LC serves as my wings. The school has always stressed that education is paramount. Its teachers, leaders, and church connections greatly developed an overarching integration of God within all pursuits. Without wings, a plane would never get off the ground. It would be useless. Likewise, I need these aerodynamic surfaces in my life as education, the tool which grants me ability to progress forward based on what I already know. LC gave me that knowledge, through the lens of a Christian perspective, in every discipline.
Here’s a short reflection on how I found God in the core subjects taught here at LC:
In Mathematics, I was taught to see beauty in order and intricacy. I can remember being a freshman in Mrs. Kaemingk’s classroom, looking around at all the scripture verses and artwork that all pointed to God’s intelligent design. In the more advanced math classes I took this year and last, I was able to extend new knowledge and apply it to the world, getting to the point where I can now find mathematical evidence to make sense of data, and manipulate theorems and equations in order to understand how complex machines work, as well as find solutions to practical problems. Through Language, the underlying themes of our world were exposed and analyzed. Mr. Thomas, in particular, pushed me to write with a holistic signature formula that will pay dividends to my academic future. Through his classes we covered literature from many different times and contexts, studying and deconstructing it in a way which strengthened how I now view the world as flawed, but beautiful. It’s something worth spending a life to contribute towards. Three years of Spanish with the extraordinary Sra. Hagedorn and Sra. Senti have allowed me to become reasonably proficient with communication abilities that have benefitted me greatly, especially in the workplace where English is seldom spoken. For Christianity, ethical, principle, and worldview questions were answered in depth by Mr. Van Hulzen, a master of his courses and a great seeker of truth. His classes led me to understand the world that I am a part of—and how to maximize a Christian influence and become, as, to quote from LC’s school mission, “a perceptive and caring Christian who will have a transforming influence in the world.” Viewing everything through an objective lens, such as world religion, cultures, and mentality allowed me to develop my own sense of what it means to be a caring citizen who doesn’t judge others for their differences or unfamiliarity, but is willing to understand and learn from their uniqueness. Finally, in the crucial Sciences, I found awe in the way which our world can be explored, understood, and explained. For example, when good ‘ol Mr. C deftly taught Einstein’s theory of Relativity, I was blown away at the way that mathematics could support such a seemingly illogical notion, that time, distance, and mass were not constants—but rather variables, all functioning to maintain God’s specific laws in movement, direction, and gravity.
As a whole, I owe a part of my future to these teachers. I saw their dedication to what they taught. That dedication resulted in a pursuit of knowledge that wasn’t always easy, but nearly always rewarding in itself. From the very beginning of high school, they had my own future in mind, and constructed a runway fit for takeoff, as the flight of my life is ready for departure from Lynden, Washington.
Secondly, the fuselage serves as a container for my priorities. In a passenger aircraft, this is where the most valuable things go—human beings. Everything else in the aircraft can be replaced or retrofitted, but it’s in the fuselage where I hold those who are the most important parts of my life—the invaluable people who have greatly enriched and blessed me. My parents Doug and Terry are here, along with my brother, Ben, and my close relatives and friends. In terms of influence I owe everything to them. It is because of their support that I have completed an education at Lynden Christian, and beyond. My parents in particular have demonstrated through their lives how living for the Creator holds life’s greatest fulfillment. Through God’s provision for my family in times of trial, I see that there is no boundary to His blessing. My father, through his successful career as a Vice President and project manager for a multinational company, constantly affirms that he owes everything to God. There is nothing that my parents will take as their own, everything is God’s in their eyes. I have to say, this idea troubles me at times, as I tend to be a very materialistic person. But, nonetheless, their view has impressed truth upon me, that in everything my future holds, contentment is in giving all the glory to none other than our Creator.
Now, take a look at these engines. Each one of these GE90’s produces more energy than the Mercury 7 rocket and The Titanic—combined. That makes sense, considering it has to accelerate this 388-ton machine to speeds over 600 miles per hour, for distances up to 12,000 miles. Without these incredible powerhouses, the plane wouldn’t budge. The power of the engines has to match the size and weight of the aircraft. No other jet engine in the world can allow this 777 to perform like it does with the GE90. Now, take this analogy and apply it to my motivation and drive. A weak desire to complete the rigorous coursework before me will never yield a degree. I need a motivation to match the power of the GE90—something that has the ability to bring every ounce of who I am off the ground of complacency to become the best that I can be. So far, I have put great effort into my schoolwork at LC, not only because the school demands it, but because I am driven to pursue knowledge in light of the future. I know that an AE degree has an immense workload. I have so much math, science, and logic study ahead of me that at times, I admit it’s overwhelming. But, with the perspective of a student who diligently strives to learn and question, I see no limit to what I can achieve beyond this place. I have three strengths which correspond with my motivation to succeed: Focus, Futuristic, and Competition. Some might say I have my head in the clouds—literally—when I’m rambling off about technology that hasn’t developed yet or planning a career that hasn’t even started yet. But I have a vision for the way the future will be, and I can focus on the present work and trials that are necessary to reach that vision. At LC, I was regularly challenged to be aware of my peers and how I can contribute to both in and outside of the classroom. For example, Mr. Thomas had us evaluate each other’s writing and use it as a way to improve our own writing strategies, in healthy competition with the goal of everyone writing to their highest potential. Activities like this developed my strength of Competition, as I understand my place in groups of peers and co-workers, and how to become the best I possibly can. It is in these ways that I believe I’ll be successful in the Aeronautics field, since airplanes have become such a vital component in today’s world and its progression towards the infinite horizon.
Finally, we have the airplane’s tail and horizontal stabilizers. It doesn’t take an aeronautical engineer to understand that without these, a plane would have absolutely no ability to travel in any desired direction, if it could theoretically take off in the first place. To follow with the analogy, these fins are God’s directions, which are freely given to me. He is the provider of the right and true direction. In an aircraft, these stabilizers and this rudder allow the plane to avoid dangerous areas like storms, high winds, and ground obstacles that would pose to cause a crash. Now, without the maneuverability God provides for me, I have no hope of avoiding these unwanted places. I will fly right into the storms of life: times of failure, addiction, and deviation from what is best for myself. However, I can find hope in God’s holy Word and the flight plan that our daily relationship creates. Like any flight path, there will be turbulence. People will change, things will fall apart, and plans will be ruined. But such is life. With the immovable Christian foundation provided for me through LC, I can avoid the ultimate destruction that a Christ-devoid lifestyle brings about, and embrace the sometimes jarring turbulence of life’s troubles as simple trials in strengthening who I am for Christ, allowing me to arrive at my final destination in one piece.
Now, moving onto the next chapter of my life, I feel as though I’m bearing down that runway, approaching what pilots would call “V1,” which is the last possible time to abort takeoff and stop with enough room left on the runway. In setting my sights and drive towards an end career as an aerospace engineer, I know that I won’t be slowing down. The only way I can get into the air is if every component is functioning to its purpose: the wings must be producing lift, the fuselage has to be pressurized and sealed, engines churning through oxygen at full power, and the horizontal stabilizers ready to direct the nose up towards the boundless sky, while the tail will allow me to stay on the planned course. Each component depends on the other for flight to occur. I know that all parts on this plane are working perfectly. As I prepare to leave the ground of familiarity, I’m going to rise to a calling where, like at LC, I’ll be challenged to make something out of the circumstances I’ve been given—something that will make my Creator proud, to eventually arrive at a destination that will require every God-given gift, experience, and knowledge to reach.