Day 13 – May 24 – Back home safe and sound.

In the San Pedro Sula Airport:
You know how it feels when you leave something or someone that you love? You don’t want your time there (or your time together) to end? That is how it feels as I journey back to the states. I am left with a little bit of a disappointed feeling in my chest as I sit here in the San Pedro Sula airport. Yes, I’m thrilled at the prospect of seeing my family – but I’m not ready for this ride to end yet. I think that one skill a missionary has to learn is the art of coming and going. There is plenty of both in this business and nothing, nothing is permanent. You’d have thought that we’d be good at it by now. Those of you who know me know that we tend to roll around the states like a tumbleweed in a stiff wind. This has been different. This is kind of like the first time I left Mississippi after our initial visit. The experience was so intense, that there is almost a fatigue associated with it. And a let down.
This morning I was, once again, the recipient of the servant-hood of Ian Mackenzie (missionary from Scotland) who got up and left his family and home at 6am to take me to the airport. This was just another day for Ian – many, many miles on the road between the hospital and La Ceiba. Pick up this and drop off that, Ian defines what it means to serve amongst a community of servants. Thank you Ian. You are a true inspiration of how the Christian life is to be lived.
The flight from La Ceiba wasn’t nearly as adventurous as I’d been lead to believe. Actually it was rather “ho-hum”. I did not get to “roll the window” down on the plane. I was so close to the pilot that I probably could have reached over and touched him on the shoulder. He did have a window that opened, but I didn’t feel lead to ask him to open it.
I now sit in the San Pedro Sula airport trying desperately to listen to all of the announcements to hear when they are to begin boarding my flight. The funny thing is that they give the announcements in English and Spanish and they sound almost exactly the same! “Blah blah blah blah, Houston, blah blah blah blah”. The airport is filled with blue shirted Baptist returning home from their short term mission. In the Body of Christ, can there be any more imposable force than the Baptist short term missionaries? They are everywhere – the “Borg” of Christianity. I seem to be sitting next to a door in the airport that used to be a bathroom door sometime in the past. It is now the “Office de Immagracion”, closed for the weekend, with a dark tint in the window. People creep up to the door, peeking in – trying to see past the dark tint – wondering why in the world the bathroom would be locked and why it would have a tinted window at all. I say to the anglos “over there” and to the locals “por aya” and point to where the new bathrooms are. I say it smugly, as if I have been here hundreds of times before. I have become the bathroom director for this portion of the airport.
I’ll soon be back in the states, where the bathrooms have toilet paper in them (and you are allowed to flush the toilet paper), where air conditioners rule, and where (according to Hillary) we all have a right to have access to health care. As I reflect a little bit on the last two weeks, I realize how much better it is to leave works of compassion to private, faith-based entities. The government has failed the people of Honduras a hundred times over in terms of health care and many other “cares”. Yet, God’s people go to this country (and to so many others) to provide services in His name. What if the Christian community in the states provided health care to the poor? I realize that we are called first and foremost to preach the gospel, to be His witnesses, but as I have seen – providing health care to a sick person who sinking in poverty is a pretty good vehicle in which to deliver the gospel.
Hint: when they say “final boarding call” here – they do not mean it. They continue to call out “Continental Airlines to Newark” as if they were pleading for just one more person to please decide to come to Newark. I wonder if that flight will ever take off?

In the air between Atlanta and Gulfport:
The flight from San Pedro Sula to Atlanta went very well. When I arrived in Atlanta at the international arrivals I was awed by the difference flying into the USA and flying into Honduras. It is like the difference in going to the ballgame at the local little league ballpark and going to Yankee Stadium. Honduras (San Pedro Sula) has a small little concrete customs area, hot and a little dirty. They have a dozen registration lines at best and those aren’t terribly full. Atlanta must have several hundred lines in a beautiful, air conditioned auditorium that could easily hold several football fields. I think that one thing that happens to you when you travel to an underdeveloped country like Honduras is that you are a little awestruck at how big and perfectly everything is constructed here in the USA. The difference is astounding.
After making it through one customs line, we went to get out bags at baggage claim. Remember all of those Baptist that I mentioned at San Pedro Sula? Well, they were all going to Atlanta. I was literally surrounded by blue shirted Baptist on the plane. I couldn’t have ordered a beer even if I had wanted one just for the sheer guilt of it! At baggage claim I met a quiet lady, obviously Honduran, and began conversing with her in my limited Spanish and her limited English. Once I told her that I was a missionary and that I had been working in a hospital in Honduras, her tears started flowing. She was from Honduras, living in Canada, and had just spent two months in Honduras. She had returned home to bury her 25 year old son who had been murdered in Honduras. As she now returned to her home in Canada, she was returning as an empty, heartbroken mother. “You must not move your family to Honduras, it is too dangerous”, she said. “I understand, but it is God that has called us and He will protect us. People are murdered in ‘Estados Unidos’ (The United States) too”, I said “But in Honduras”, she replied, “there is no justice. I know who keel my son, but the polica do nothing.” This wasn’t the first time I’d heard this about the polica in Honduras. “There will be a day of justice for your son’s killer, God will avenge”, I said. I prayed for Suzy that God would give her comfort and peace. As she cried quietly, I prayed that God would convict the killer of his wrongdoing and that she would find forgiveness in her heart for him. As we pulled ourselves together and got our luggage, we discovered that her suitcase had arrived with a broken zipper, clothes hanging out of it, disheveled. God, why would something like this happen to this poor lady at a time like this? I got her over to the ticket counter, where it turns out they have large bags for such a problem as this and left her there, still trying to pull it together. Please join me in praying that Suzy will find God in the midst of all of her pain.

Finally at home!
My flight from Atlanta to Gulfport was delayed a bit, but otherwise uneventful. As I write this last paragraph for today, I am so thankful to be back home and yet melancholy too. I’m overwhelmed, to say the least, at the events of the last two weeks. The tornado hitting our house in Colorado has really magnified the emotion of this whole experience the last several days. There is a concept called “re-entry” that we talk about after coming home from a life-changing short term mission experience. It refers to the difficulty of coming back home and resuming normal life after having such an earth-shattering experience. I am definitely going through re-entry right now. I can’t imagine what it must be like for the ones that have been in the field for a long time when they come home. I look forward to sharing my re-entry experience over the next few days and weeks with those that are reading this blog. I also look forward to sharing the journey together that we are about to embark on. Stay tuned; the adventure is only just beginning!
God Bless and good night.