|This picture is unrelated to the post. I just couldn't resist. Look at that puppy.|
Even though the circumstances were much more auspicious, I was still nervous for one part: the moment when you walk out of the Port-au-Prince airport. Even though the airport has (three years later) finally repaired the passenger terminal and created an actual baggage claim area that keeps the throng farther back from the exit, there are still dozens of men I don't know crowding around the exit. Frequently approaching and speaking to me. Looking at me. I'll never recover from having seen Taken.
Anyway, God sent me two extra moments of grace. I was waiting to board the plane from MIA to PAP when I spotted Mrs. R, one of my favorite parents. Not only that, but I was seated directly next to her and her 5th grade daughter. I talked to the 5th grader a long time, sharing Jolly Rancher lollypops and talking about clouds. I felt a weight lifted. Even if my pickup forgot about me, they would help me. Then, settled into my seat, I was surprised to see my coworker Nathaniel scoot down the aisle. Another relief. Nathaniel is 1) a big, young man, 2) a fluent French speaker, and 3) my next door neighbor. I knew I would be safe.
Two more grace moments awaited me.
I knew that my house had no food, and, let's get real, Ben cooks the meals in this little family. I kept back part of my in-flight snack, not knowing if I would need it for dinner. I knew I had a dusty, empty, hot apartment awaiting me. Further, two visitors had stayed there over Christmas- friends of my other next door neighbor. For all I knew, they could have left the place a mess. I was not looking forward to it.
Yet the moment I dragged my bags, dog, and self through the door, my eyes landed on our kitchen table: a Hershey's bar and a beautiful envelope. A thank you note! The house was spotless. They even refilled the water pitcher in the fridge.
I took the puppy out, restless from twelve hours stuck in a mesh bag. On a whim, I walked across the street to let him scamper a bit on campus. On another whim, I decided to walk by Irene and Robbie's apartment to say hello. Wafting out of their door..... heavenly pasta sauce smells! I felt a little downcast- they were about to finish making dinner for other friends, so of course I'd have to leave to avoid rudely intruding.
And then Irene says, "It's for you! You're invited too! Didn't you get my email?"
Huzzah! Happy day!
So I started the day before dawn in frozen Dallas. I lugged and trudged all day by myself. Check-in line, security line, lunch line, boarding line, customs line. I feared the airport and the lonely apartment and bare cupboards.
And then God gave me a safe friend, and another safe friend, and a gracious guest, and a warm dinner with dear friends.
Thank you, Dad. You're a really good Dad.