It’s funny, but when that song (Leaving on a jet plane) was such a massive hit in the 60’s, I was then sub-teens in a family that had neither the inclination, but more importantly, didn’t have the money, to go anywhere…. holidays for my family then were a week in Cornwall in May half-term break, and the last week of August, (both when the holidays were cheaper!), in self-catering accommodation…. that was partly, again, due to financial restraints, but perhaps more that it meant my mum could organise the first few hours like a military exercise.
We’d take with us all our own sheets, pillow cases, towels, etc., and we’d have to strip our beds of the holiday homes’ stuff, and re-make them with ours. Then to the loo, bath, and basin, with bleach and disinfectant, then to the kitchen, to wash all the crockery and cutlery. It was only after my dad died that mum ventured anywhere exotic – Jersey – to a VERY Christian hotel, but it did mean I got on a plane…..
…..and so the die was cast! I liked planes, I decided. BEA was the company – I proudly spent most of my holiday money on a BEA holdall (lol – held nothing: you want to see my luggage now!). A BAC111 plane. Neither exist anymore: I think BEA was swallowed up by British Caledonian was swallowed up by British Overseas Airways Corporation, which morphed into our beloved (??!!) British Airways.
Tuesday, at about 6.45 am, I’ll be on my way to the airport again: ok, this time it’s only for Rhinos, out Tuesday morning and back Thursday night, for two days of vital friendship, fellowship, laughter, wine, and farting (we’re all mature full-time Christian ministers, you understand of course?!), but then…a week later… Friday 25th, I meet up with the lovely Brian Louden, a micro-biologist (I know all about micro-biology, so our plane conversation will be awesome!), but more importantly, a radical, spirit-filled adventurer, at Heathrow, to fly to Madrid ready for the long-haul to Cali, Colombia…. we’re like the ‘advance’ party, as the fantastic Robert Hall, from Melbourne, Australia, arrives 5 days later after – what I guess will be – another 60 hour journey (my long-haul is NOTHING compared to his!), another spirit-filled miracle believing Aussie…. then a few days later, lovely mates Simon Allaby (currently being blown away by what he’s seeing, and seeing God do, in Lahore, Pakistan), and Nick Harding, a recent 2nd time dad (Ralph Bennison Harding, you might recall!) and ripping the guts out of a dilapidated house, but still finding time and money to go and blow people away, and more importantly be blown away by God – what a fantastic team….
Importantly, and to make my translating life easier, Nick speaks Spanish…. phew!
So, leaving on a jet plane, 28 years ago, quite unexpectedly, and totally against anything I wanted to do, became my life. I look back now, and thought it’d only be about a year or so before God realised he must have been so out of his mind sending off on this lifestyle, and he’d see sense…. Hmm. Dream on: now, I wouldn’t (couldn’t) do anything else. I wish I’d known then, as I boarded a plane for Accra, Ghana (what a virgin I was in the 80’s – who THEN would have flown Ghana Airways?), what I know now: and I’d have kept all my boarding passes. I tried to work out, a while back, how many miles I’d flown – with no income, no money, and initially no desire(!) – and reckoned it wasn’t far short of 4-5 million….that’s why ‘dem Gold Cards you get when you fly a lot are so useful….
Cali, Cali, Cali….mi tierra, mi pais, mi ciudad, mi amigos, mi hermanos…. ok, ok….my land, my country, my city, my friends, my brothers…. visit 51 in 17 and a half years…still some way to catching up Romania (127 times) and the USA (over 100, despite the last 4-5 years!). DOES God meet all of our needs, according to his riches in Christ Jesus???? Too right he does, afer all those flights, and I hardly pass for anorexic, either….