This blog is a little different in some ways, but much the same in others. The first draft was written whilst we were apart. Craig is sitting on a plane at 39,000 feet up half way between Lima and Bogota, Colombia. He is seated next to an unwell missionary who needed to return home urgently. Perhaps we should flashback a little, like they love to do in television programs just to confuse you.
The first of the last two weeks was reasonably quiet, with a few phone calls from mission presidents and to missionaries for Craig and music lessons for Lesley who is preparing her students for the end of year concert that she said she was not going to do. She has also been actively preparing the senior missionary choir she directs for a number of engagements for Christmas.
On Saturday 28th November we joined with the other senior missionaries to celebrate their Thanksgiving Day (which was actually Thursday but we were all working that day). We had turkey with all the trimmings, some of which were searched for, for weeks. It is really hard to get cranberries here, let alone 17th century pilgrims. We had a great meal with the large group of senior missionaries who serve in the area office and out and about in Lima. (see picture in from of the area office).
So, in true thanksgiving fashion here are some of the things for which we are most thankful: faith, family, food, friends, fulfilling a call to serve, fisical health, a fine flat, Facetime to family (Lesley says we have run out of “f” words..??)…and many other fabulous things in life.
Last week was more interesting. Remember the old saying "the calm before the storm". We were both busier, although Craig managed a good game of tennis Monday lunch time, but that is of no interest to anyone but him! On Tuesday he was made aware of a sister missionary who was unwell and needed to return home and needed to be accompanied. It is worth noting again that almost all missionaries are in excellent physical and mental health, certainly better on average than same aged young people at home. A small percentage experience accidents, injuries, or illness. Craig mostly deals with missionaries struggling with stress, or depression, or anxiety symptoms and gives them counsel on how to deal with this. If a condition needs treatment at home most missionaries are well enough to return home on their own. An even smaller proportion need to be accompanied to make sure they arrive home safe and sound.
Because this missionary was a young woman it was not appropriate for Craig to accompany her on his own and so Lesley got her first taste of short notice international air travel. It was quickly organized on Tuesday afternoon whilst she was teaching music classes and we flew out Wednesday afternoon for Iquitos to pick up the missionary.
Now, for all you Paddington Bear fans, Iquitos is in the deepest darkest jungles of Perú, on the north east corner where the Amazon River descends from the Andes Mountains into Brazil. It is hot and humid in the middle of tropical jungle. We did not see any old bears or eat marmalade. We were taken from the airport in the back of a moto-taxi, basically a motor bike with a two wheel cabin on the back. That would have been interesting enough, in the midst of hundreds of others just like it on the road, if we did not get a flat tyre. So we had to stop whilst it was repaired at one of the many roadside repair places dedicated to these vehicles (at 10pm). We arrived at the mission office and then spent the night at the mission president's home.
Thursday morning morning we were all up early and headed to the airport from where we accompanied the missionary back to the international airport in Lima, then to Los Angeles, then to Seattle arriving at 12:30 Friday morning. After safely delivering our young charge to the waiting arms of her parents we turned around and headed back into the airport, not before briefly stepping outside to remind ourselves of what it felt like to be cold. Inexplicably it was not raining (which Seattle is renowned for) but later we saw the rain outside the window, the first since we left home.
Big airports are a scary place in the middle of the night in which they are virtually empty, apart from a Starbucks mainly to cater to the workers who clean and do maintenance, as well as the sparse security staff. Isolated passengers were scattered in corner seats trying to grab some sleep, looking like homeless hobos. Perhaps they were? We found a spot and unsuccessfully tried to even doze a bit until it was time to board a 6:50 am flight back to Lima via Los Angeles. We arrived home at 2 am Saturday morning. Fortunately, despite the noise from the Lima traffic we slept in until 10 am.
By Saturday afternoon Craig was contacted about a missionary in Lima who was quite unwell and need to return home to Bogota as soon as possible. That turned out to be Sunday afternoon and he was on another flight. Fortunately the flights were only a couple of hours, but he didn't get back home until 3:00 am Monday and was back in the office at 8:00 am to make the calls that didn't get done whilst traveling at the end of last week.
We feel grateful to be here and to be able to serve. Needless to say that such travel is very physically demanding. At least we have the ability to do it.
Bring on Christmas!