Post-War Uganda, East Africa Part 3 - Crossing the Equator
LAX to NYC to Paris to Nairobi
A Long Journey
As our plane departed from LAX, I became increasingly excited about this adventure. It is so easy to imagine making a difference in our world when your vision is enlarged. I had no real idea, on just how true that would become, but I welcomed the change.
As my seat was distanced from my other travel companions, I at first felt strangely alienated, then realized that it gave me the possibility of rest. I was wrong, there was a small active child behind me who was to make it very noisy. Of course, this was long before the world of isolation and solitude afforded by Ipods, so I was reduced to distraction by way of reading.
My choice was a small paperback, I felt compelled to take along because it was lightweight. "Under His Wings" by author O. Hallesby of Norway, was to become the theme of my entire trip as I experienced miracle after miracle by God's grace.
Missionaries all have stories like these, of "unexplainable" interventions in dangerous situations in their daily lives and ministry. The explanations to these events are inevitably the result of God's care and provision, afforded by His grace, and delivered by way of prayers gone before.
I know this is truth, for I experienced the same on this journey as I have throughout my life. I am sure of one thing, those who choose service to God, are never reduced to begging for bread. Their needs are met, they may go through hardship, but all difficulty points us to our need - dependence upon the Creator and Sustainer of all things.
After a warm short stay in the New York Airport, gathering up our last dose of junk food and stamps, we boarded an Air France flight to Paris. Now this in itself was a miracle, because we were rerouted at the last minute. We were given the option to be put another flight due to a flight delay that would cause us to miss a connection to Nairobi, Kenya.
Our leader made the decision, and I happily followed to the gate change. God and I had a little secret. You see, he knew my life's dream was to go to Paris...even just a glimpse would have been sufficient to me. Ecstatic, I jumped on the plane, only to discover that once again I had been separated from my friends.
I was sad for my friend Bo, whose mom was headed to the airport to meet with him for a moment, and who did not have that opportunity because we were departing on an earlier flight. Shortly thereafter, a flight attendant delivered a note to him from his mother that had been forwarded from the terminal personnel, it simple read, "sorry I missed you, got stuck in traffic, I love you son!"
The treatment we received on Air France was remarkable, however, and when I commented on it to the gentleman next to me, he said that was indicative of the national airlines, they had better service. I enjoyed the time, it was refreshing, and I meditated on what I had read until I heard the announcement in French that we had arrived.
Once we landed, we freshened up, and we were given another welcome surprise. Our next flight would not depart for 10 hours. So we had time! We hustled out of Charles DeGaulle Airport and reveled in the streets of Paris! We walked, and we negotiated with street vendors who shrewdly exacted more francs than appropriate as we realized later.
I spotted the Arc d'Triomphe, and quickened my pace. Slight disappointment set in as I observed that it was veiled for resurfacing so you couldn't stand under it for a picture. The picture that we did take was overexposed and we were undistiguishable from the other tourists.
I found myself slowing down to peek into the alleys to see the cute little homes hidden down their entrances. Then suddenly, my attention quickly turned to the Eiffel Tower, in all its' splendor, and the beautiful buildings, and Notre Dame, and the Louvre. I only dreamed of this reality, now I wanted to see it all.
We took a riverboat tour along the Seine, and Bo and I were the only ones who stayed awake. It apparently afforded the others fresh air and a time off their feet, which was to serve them well in refreshing.
We decided to hop on a train to eat at a famous restaurant we were directed to, only to discover we had mistaken the name of the town that we were headed to. I jumped off the train, hungry and anxious to see this place,
We were almost separated, as the doors began to close. Jim and I realized no one else got off becaused Tom discover the mistake at the last minute, and thought it had been communicated. It had not, and this incident was to become a point of humor throughout the trip at our sorry expense.
Our sense of exhaustion overtook us at the last minute, and we decided after eight and a half hours that we should begin our trek back to the airport for checkin. We walked slowly and then caught a bus for the rest of the journey, which was a welcome relief.
I had my memories, although I regretted not climbing the Eiffel Tower after seeing the pictures post-trip. I was too tired, and the long line and crowds were not inviting me to that experience. I may not get that chance again, but at least I saw it.
I watched people in the interim, and was quite enamored with what I saw. Mostly love, expressed openly by people holding hands everywhere, and stopping to kiss and families enjoying picnics and such. It made for a warmth of heart I took with me.
Arrival at the airport, was disappointing. Our flight was delayed, possibly another 6 hours. The food in the airport was minimal, expensive, and I allowed myself disappointment that all I ate in Paris was a baguette and some water. I was sure there was so much more!
Sue and I opted to wash our hair in the restaurant, as being on the streets had left a variety of residue and odors we were ready to part with. We shared openly during this time, about our perceptions, and fears and I was so grateful for her tender heart.
The delay was not as long as expected, and soon we were boarded on Pan Am Airways and on our way to Nairobi. I was slightly nervous about the mechanical issues they told us were resolved, so I slept and soon the flight was over before I awoke.
(Continue to Post-War Uganda Part 4).