|By Carmelo Turdo
|(Manos de Compasion photo)
|(Manos de Compasion photo)
“Then this fellow that moved up to Ohio, he sent me an email that said, ‘Tom, God told me to give my 182 to you to use for your ministry.’ When I saw the email I just kind of laughed because I didn’t even have my pilot’s license. I was always interested in aviation, but we had just taken over – we had thirty-four kids – it was crazy…I talked to my wife and we kind of laughed about it…How can I say honestly that I’m going to use this for my ministry? So I called him up and I said, ‘This is really nice of you, but I can’t honestly tell you that I can use an airplane for my ministry. We just took all these kids in and it is twenty-four/seven with these kids.’"
But that was not the end of the story, and the issue of getting the airplane would not go away. Tom Stukenberg continued, “He says, ‘Oh, Tom, it’s nothing like that. God told me to give it to you. If you want it, I don’t care, you can sell it on eBay tomorrow and use the money for your mission. I don’t care. God told me to give it to you.’ So I said, ‘Well, if that’s the case, then yeah, I’ll take it.’ And so I took the airplane.
"He ended up flying it down to Guatemala with me before I even started my training. And then we found this Christian missionary that was also an instructor, and he said that he would give me training for free. So I did almost all of my training in Guatemala. I got my license and I flew that 182 for a couple of years down there – it was a good plane…I was kind of afraid of flying over the mountains with that single engine. A lot of times I’d be above the clouds and you couldn’t see anything, just white like you’re flying in the arctic. And I thought, ‘If I ever lose this engine, I’m going to go down through the cloud layer but I don’t have any idea where the mountains are and won’t have time to maneuver for any kind of a decent landing place.’ So I started looking for a twin.
“This other missionary had a twin-engine that someone had donated to his ministry, but he didn’t have the twin-engine rating. We made a deal where we just traded up. He preferred to have the single-engine and I wanted to have the twin, so we made an even trade. And I flew that Geronimo for three or four years down in Guatemala after that.” By then he had moved the children’s home from Guatemala City to its current location near the Bay of Santiago Atitlan.
Before Tom and Sue Stukenberg left for Wisconsin, David Reichard had visited with a church mission group. He picks up the story from there.
We hope that you will support the great work of Manos de Compasion by contributing directly to their ministry. Please consider visiting their website and making a generous donation to support their work as a foster family to these beautiful and wonderful children!