Us at the airport- all blurry eyed.
We did a trip down to Durban to say goodbye to Wilf and Val, Dave and Pete and their families. It was a hard one. For us, we were going on the adventure of our lives, and they were just wondering if they would ever see us again. We tried to give them assurance that we would be ok, but how could we know that? We let them into the details we did have, but those details opened up more questions we couldn’t answer. Nothing we said made them feel better about letting us all go.
Back in Johannesburg, we had an amazing send off from our church. There were so many tears but lots of promises of letters, calls and visits. During a conference in the Drakensberg, we were prayed for again. Dudley and Anne Daniel and Mike and Joan Hanchett were the first of the NCMI families to leave the shores of South Africa to go to “the nations”. We were the third. It was comforting to know, that while we were going alone we weren’t really alone. There were so many who loved us and were supportive of what we were doing. There were commitments from our church and a few friends to support us financially until we got on our feet. We weren’t quite sure what “On our feet” meant but we were hoping that wouldn’t take forever. At the same time, knowing that in a third world context, it might.
When we were on the stage surrounded by our friends, I got really tearful. I was trying hard to be brave. Every time I came undone, I hid my face in Tony’s chest. There was no way I could hide my smallness or my vulnerability. While all the words had been encouraging, I had a feeling that things weren’t going to be easy. When we got back to our room later on that evening, I expressed my concern to Tony. There wasn’t one mention about how tough it was going to be. We took the words and wrote them down in our big book of “Words for India.” There were some pretty big ones and there were also a lot of blank pages still to be filled up. We were very aware that any words no matter how great or profound, were just fantasies without hard work and obedience.
On 3 September 1991, we left South Africa. Tony was beyond excited. It was his fourth trip to India. It was so different from his first trip as an independent, messed up twenty one year old on the drug/hippy trail. This time he was going as a pioneer, a husband and father of two. This time he was hoping to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.
Going to the airport with our family and friends was hard. Some were crying as if they would never see us again. While we didn’t want to upset the girls, Sue and I were beside ourselves; especially when I saw her hugging Asha and Zoe goodbye. She was like a second mother to them.
We had bought a set of 4 new suitcases from medium all the way down to small; one for our clothes, one for the girl’s clothes, a bag for books and toys and then a small one for toiletries and extras. The girls each had a little back pack of goodies and special toys to keep them busy on the plane. We heard the final call and we had to go.
When we were thousands of kilometres up in the air, Tony and I independently had the same thought. “If this plane goes down it will be at the peak of my obedience to God.” We would have been happy to go to heaven right then. I was so happy I wasn’t giving much thought to how the “heaven” thing might have happened.
I hadn’t flown much since our around the world trip with Ash when she was 6 months old. Memories of our bad take offs and landings came back to me but I managed to calm my self down. The kids distracted me and I kept trying to imagine what it was going to be like landing in India. Our flight was great. Zoë kept us on our feet and got overtired and miserable. Ash was as good as gold. When the girls finally dozed off at the same time, I got out my journal and scribbled down some of my thoughts.
“Lord, if you want to take me now
At the peak of my obedience to you
You can do that
If not, please give me the grace
To be always at a peak
So I will be ready at any time
So, with all our bridges burnt, there was no going back. This was it. My heart was in a country I had never been to and I was following it. We were making plans to live there forever, not in the least bit concerned that all we had in our passports were six-month tourist visas.
From now on I will be sharing excerpts from my journals in quotation marks. That way I will stick to how I was really feeling at the time with no hindsight perspective.