Always, at the end of an amazing trip, the journey home can seem interminable. For my poor French friends, Gerard, Elisa, and Lydie, it WAS interminable – well, almost! They were on a different flight to me back to Madrid – for them, then on to Paris: 8 hours before mine. So they left the apartment at 11 am: I left at 6pm, but made a very important stop on the way, and got to the airport at 8 pm – only to be greeted first by Lydie, and then the others. There had been a massive storm – and Andes storms can be unbelievable – over Bogota, and all flights in and out had been cancelled. It was obviously a long storm, too, as there was no chance of them leaving Cali that night, and had been given hotel accommodation by the airline. I need to call them today to find out if they’re home yet!
I was much more fortunate, in that I was going direct from Cali to Madrid, and we left on time. Better still, I was upgraded to ‘Clase Ejecutiva’ (Avianca Airlines’ Business Class) to Madrid, about a 10 hour journey, and that, mercifully, includes seats that go flat into a bed….I never can sleep sitting up in planes, so to get a few hours, plus good food, is such a blessing, and one of the ‘perks’ of flying regularly with the same network of airlines.
But the sadness at leaving behind such an outstanding trip was immense, especially to go to the airport with Wilmar, Marlene, and their lovely daughters, Sophie and Sara, and to leave them there….still, it was lovely to see the French folk unexpectedly (for me – not them, as they’d rather have been en route from Bogota to Paris!), and ‘Subway’ had a good few minutes as we stuffed ourselves with their great food….
About 5pm Tuesday afternoon, I had a call from Wilmar to say that my friend, Dario, had come round from the anesthetic, and I so wanted to see him again before I flew out, we made a detour via the hospital, and spent a lovely 20 minutes or so with him, his mum Lileana, and his brother, Stephen. I still find this deepening friendship so, so amazing, it has to be a ‘God’ thing, and most clearly is. Dario and his mum were so happy that I’d even think of going to see him so close to leaving, and God was clearly in that short time we had together too. I’ve heard from Wilmar today that our prayers for rapid recovery from the surgery for his hernia were answered, and he was home the next evening. I’d love to be able to tell more of the story, but, because of who he is, it would – honestly, no exaggeration – endanger him terribly….
When I got home, I felt pretty good, but then as the day went on, I think the impact of the trip, the journey, the busy-ness of the trip, the drop in adrenaline – all kicked in, and I went from ok to totally exhausted in a short space of time! I desperately tried not to sleep during the day (failed!), tried not to sleep watching football on TV in the evening (failed!), and was then concerned, having slept when I didn’t want to, wouldn’t be able to sleep when I ought to! No worries on that front – I tried to read a bit before I slept – I nearly always HAVE to read for about 30 minutes at least before sleeping – but I don’t remember much after picking up a magazine… until mid-day today! I think I really WAS tired….!!
Thank you – ALL – for your prayers for this trip. They were answered – and then some. I think it’s all too much of a ‘blur’ still to try and do a summary, so I’ll perhaps attempt that tomorrow. I am so grateful to you all who have prayed, shown more than passing interest, in the team I had with me – the biggest team (7) that I’ve taken there for about 8 or 9 years. The guys all gelled together so well, and it was a joy to have them there.
My thanks to the wonderful Rev Dr William Castaño, my great, great friend Pastor Wilmar Gomez, for organising such a well planned, stress-free trip, and to all the wonderful churches and their Pastors, whom we had the privilege of being with. And thank you, Lord, last but by no means least, for hundreds and hundreds of miracles and healings over the 3 weeks….it is totally humbling to see God do what ONLY God can do – through you….
So, now the mundane – I still haven’t unpacked – that’s so unlike me, as it’s always the first thing I have to do when I get home, and catch up with a stack of mail, emails, and the ever-present and much loved dirty laundry….