We’re in the countdown of the final days before my wife and youngest daughter return from their mission to a distant and mysterious land. Email communications had been regular since they arrived until this past weekend when they moved to a new place where we thought the connection might not be so readily available. By Tuesday evening they should be back in “range” and I eagerly await word of what has gone on since the last cliff-hanger message.
It’s kind of like the days of the Apollo missions when Houston would lose contact with the spacecraft while it orbited the dark side of the moon, leaving the guys in Mission Control to stand vigil, watching the clock tick down until the ship came back into radio contact.
I calculate 12 hours, 15 minutes from now before I can first expect word.
Of course those crew-cut guys in their white shirts and dark ties in Mission Control were cool, calm veterans, relying on their technology and their elaborate testing, knowing the communications blackout was a natural, expected part of the plan, nothing to worry about and thank god they can smoke on the job and watching the clock gave them something to do to relieve the boredom. Really, what could go wrong?
T-minus 12 hours, 11 minutes.
We are operating under the assumption that emails in and out of the country where they are staying are being monitored, and we know certain words can lead to problems. Therefore, for example, we refer to prayer as “thinking.” This part of their trip was scheduled to include a sight-seeing boat ride that would take them within view of the land of an elevator-shoe-wearing tyrant with bad hair and an even worse temper. My wife said they were planning to think deeply about this man and this country while they were that close.
Six years ago my wife went to the Philippines with a group to help train pastors and leaders of several churches that we are connected with over there. They were also going to conduct a three-night long children’s crusade and my oldest daughter, then 10 or 11, was part of the team. That time I was left behind with our youngest, who was about five. In those days you could go right to the departure gate at the airport to see people off and everyone was holding up well until my wife disappeared down the jetway – where she fortunately couldn’t hear our youngest begin to wail, “I want my mommy! I want my mommy!” This continued without let-up all the way back through the concourse as I carried her in my arms and waited for airport security to tackle me for attempted child abduction.
This time it’s the little one who got to go, and the oldest daughter doesn’t seem to be on the brink of a meltdown. We’ve hung out, sipped lattes, made a quick trip up to Duluth, and had some good talks. She’s also found things to do to keep busy. I’m just not nearly as cuddly as her mom, however, and I know she misses curling up next to her to ask for help in figuring me out – at least that’s what I figure they’re giggling about since they get quiet and just grin at me if I walk into the room.
Just four more days and we’ll all be back together to hear in detail about their adventures, the food, the people, the markets, the dead body that was left all day behind the place where they’ve been working…
T-minus 11 hours, 43 minutes.
Contact! Sounds as if it was a bit of a trip through the dark side, but what’s a mission trip without some good stories about the conditions?
“…so glad to be back in this hotel. It’s a palace compared to what we had to endure in xxx. Moldy ceilings, dried feces on the toilet, a floor that is never vacuumed, overflowing toilets, rock hard beds, not enough light and on and on….”
Hmmm. Sounds like my bachelor days. Mental note: clean bathroom before they get back.