The taxi arrived at 4:20 AM and whisked us away to the Valencia airport for our TAP Portugal flights to Lisbon and Newark. In New Jersey we boarded a United flight for Cincinnati. Our layover in Lisbon was an unreasonable five-plus hours—unreasonable, that is, if you had set your alarm for 3:00 AM. Seemed to me that with just a little planning they (whoever the “they” are who govern such things) could have let us sleep a little longer by scheduling, say, a 45-minute layover before we headed across the Atlantic. Airline departure times seem so arbitrary, don’t they? The schedulers never seem to take into consideration the sleep requirements of their geriatric passengers.
We’re not ones to complain, though, so we set our alarms, wrestled our luggage down from the sixth to the ground floor (thankful the elevator’s recent repair job was still holding), and gave more thanks for our trouble-free flights. Trouble-free, that is, until we arrived in Cincinnati. That’s when we discovered my suitcase had stayed behind in Newark. Wouldn’t you know—we had had no problems until we transferred from the Portuguese to the American airline. United has had a string of mishaps lately.
But at least we could celebrate the fact that we were not dragged bruised and bleeding off the United flight like the Kentucky doctor who refused to give up his seat so some airline employee could have it. He contended that because he’d paid for it and needed to get home to his patients he should not be ejected. Seems reasonable. Nor were we like Lucie Bahetoukilae, the non-English-speaking passenger who showed her ticket to Paris when she boarded her United flight in Newark (our transfer airport!) on April 24 but was surprised to step off her the plane in San Francisco. “Our bad,” said the embarrassed airline. Then there were the recent fistfights on other airlines. We feel lucky we got off at our planned destination with only one lost suitcase. And no bruises.
We enjoyed three days in Cincinnati at the home of Mark and Evelyn Taylor. They showered us with every kindness but one. They did a lousy job with the weather. It was beastly—hard winds, heavy rainstorms, unseasonably cold temperatures. But warm friendship conquers all. Joy was especially grateful for the two trips they gave us to a Graeter’s Ice Cream store. Sin comes in various packages.
The Taylors drove us on to Indianapolis, the second stop on this brief return to the States. On May 7 Dr. Doug Priest retired after 20 years as Christian Missionary Fellowship’s Executive Director and 43 years in total with CMF. I got to speak for his retirement party, elegantly dressed in the national attire the Lalls gave me in India. We were happily surprised to discover that our Seattle daughter Kim was also in town. She didn’t know we were coming, either. We’re a very close family. Kim was there to attend a CHE (Community Health Evangelism) workshop. She and husband Ed were in Nairobi, Kenya, last month for short-term mission work in that city’s notorious slums. She was in Cincinnati to enhance her skills in serving the poor.
It was an honor to honor Doug. I’ve known him since his parents (Doug, Sr. and Marge) resigned their Oregon ministry and prepared to go to Ethiopia as missionaries in the 1960s. Doug’s been associated with CMF his entire life, first as MK (missionary’s kid), then as a university student in America preparing to return to Africa, then with his wife Robyn as a missionary in Kenya, Tanzania, and Singapore before being called to head CMF twenty years ago. His strong commitment to serve the poor and marginalized has left its mark on the whole organization, now at work in 23 countries. My own long-term association began as a staff member in 1964, so you can imagine what it meant to me to say a good word about both the CMF and its long-time leader.
In addition to the unexpected reunion with daughter Kim, Joy and I also enjoyed staying with Velcro daughter Carolyn and her husband Jim. Carolyn came into our life in the 1970s during our ministry with East 38th Street (now Post Road) Christian Church when, during a bout with her health, we invited her to stay with us for awhile. We’ve never let her go.
CMF board meetings in recent years have provided the opportunity for other reunions. Julie Ronde serves on the board. She and her husband Darrin, pastor of Pike’s Peak Christian Church in Security, Colorado, have been part of our family since the 1980s. Darrin was our Children’s Pastor in Mesa when he married Julie, who with her little daughter Stephanie was already “ours.”
Our next post will introduce you to Chelmsford, Massachusetts, our home since May 10.
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