Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Home at Last

              “Are you ready to go?” I looked up to see the smiling pilot standing at the door of the little room operating as the MAF terminal. The small airport was just outside Entebbe, Uganda, and this was the second time I was in the building. Just two days earlier I had brought three months of supplies to the hanger and crawled into a small plane, only to discover that there was a mechanical problem and that we could not fly.  To my great joy, the very next afternoon I was called and told that I would be able to fly on Thursday. So, here I was again, praying that I would be able to fly to Nagishot, South Sudan. After over a month of preparation in Kenya and Uganda and years of God directing, I was anxious to reach my new home.  I gathered my small bag and put away the cup that still held black coffee in it and followed the pilot. “Which one is ours?”  I asked, looking at the thee planes on the strip. The pilot pointed to the smallest, a 205, sitting a little distance away. I couldn't help but smile, this felt hard core missionary. (The Didiga people call it the mosquito and it fits quite well.) As I was climbing over the pilot's seat to get to the passenger side, I looked around the small cabin in great anticipation for the flight ahead. "It can get loud,” the pilot said simply as he handed me some large orange headphones. He prayed for safety and then we were off.

              As soon as we were in the sky I became utterly fascinated with the world underneath me. The rolling hills had so many different shades of green contrasting the red dirt that seem to get darker as it covered the earth. The tall acacia trees hiding the small medal buildings and huts as people went about their day. When we flew over Lake Victoria in all its glory, shimmering blue and silver as it reflected the clouds above it… I drew in a breath as I looked in awe. The hours went on as I continued looking below at all the beauty of God’s creation. We stopped in Juba to get my visa stamped and got a warm “Welcome to South Sudan” in a heavy accent. I grinned as I got back on the “mosquito,”  the next stop was Nagishot…my new home. The closer we to Nagishot the darker the clouds appeared, the small plane struggled through rain and clouds. Finally the pilot turned to me and said, “You see that over there?” His head nodded to a huge mass of dark clouds, then out through the darkness I saw the huge shadows of the Didiga mountains… it was beautiful and frightening! “That is where you are supposed to be…but I might have to drop you in Torit.” My heart sank…Torit.  It could mean still another three day delay from my destination, maybe even longer, since there is no transport except plane or hiking. I looked at the clouds, nodded and said, “Whatever you think” I have waited so long, what’s a few more days I thought.  All I could see around me was darkness, the plane was going up in down in turbulence. The pilot looked at me and asked, “You okay?" I put my thumbs up and looked out the window. In reality I was feeling nauseous and pretty frightened; I looked out the window at the threatening dark sky and I started speaking to God in my heart, “Okay, what if I die? What if I crash and die, then what? Am I not in Your hands even now? Do You not control the wind and the clouds? If I die, is that not even also a part of Your sovereign plan?” “Thank you Father for bringing me here, thank You that I am always in Your hands. It is Your hands that control this plane, and You have all power over demons, satan and this world. I trust You. Do whatever you wish, I am Yours and I trust You …I really do.” Such joy filled my heart that I could have laughed out loud.  Such peace, I felt more secure than the threatening mountains themselves. From that point on I was enjoying the ride but also trying to keep nausea to a minimum.

          “Let’s try to get around these mountains. There might be a way on the other side,” the pilot said. It was only about fifteen minutes later that pilot said without looking at me, “That’s it..”  I looked down at the runway that was really more of a trail on the edge of a ridge. We started down trying to land in the pouring rain, but we were unable to.  Rising up again, he tried from the other direction. Down we came again, this time splashing in the mud and coming to a rumbling stop. The pilot breathed a sigh of relief. I looked out the window and could see two of my teammates, Jonathan and Trey, waving franticly with huge smiles. I came over the seat out of the plane and into the pouring rain. “Welcome home,” where the first words out of Jonathan's mouth, and it really was… I was finally in Nagishot, my home!

Thank you for your prayers! I am here, praise God! I am home, home at last…