Saturday, July 5 - 5:30 a.m. I am supposed to already be on a motokar headed to the airport with the departing group to get them on their flight. Instead, I sit straight up in my bed upon hearing Nathan knocking, telling me to wake up. I won't tell you exactly what I muttered to myself when, through the fog of interrupted dreams, it registered with me that I had overslept. Not to worry, though. Nathan had already put the five people staying here at the Jardin on motokars and was headed to the hotel to get the others. I threw on some clothes, swished a little Listerine around in my mouth in an attempt to kill the worst part of my morning breath, spit it out on the ground as I went out the gate, and off to the airport I went.
Here is what was 'supposed' to happen: Nathan and I would drop off one group (wait for them to get their boarding passes and say our good-byes), then run outside to pick up the incoming group. We would deposit the 'newbies' at the hotel until lunch time and return to the Jardin for a little morning siesta ourselves.
Here is what 'actually' happened: The Huntington, WV group checked their luggage, received their boarding passes, and bid us farewell. Nathan and I watched them pass through the security gate. We went outside, awaiting the arrival of the Saxe-Gotha group from Columbia, SC (they were disembarking the plane the others were to return to Lima on). We heard the plane approaching, then we saw it pull up, circle around, and disappear; it was too foggy to land. Immediately we go back inside the airport to retrieve the group to whom we said 'adios' only moments earlier. After standing in line for what seemed like an eternity, we learned that they had been rebooked on the 9 p.m. flight. WHAT??? Tired and frustrated, we picked up their luggage, put them all on motokars, and headed back to the Jardin. All the while my anxiety level is escalating because I am worried for the four people who were supposed to get off the plane that never landed. None of them have been to Peru before and I panicked for them, hoping they would just follow the crowd once they were back in Lima, get rebooked, and make the best of an uncontrollable situation.
Meanwhile, no one has eaten breakfast and it is nearly 9:30 a.m. at this point. So most of the group headed out to a restaurant for brunch, while others opted for more sleep in any space deemed suitable for propping up at the Jardin. Ina and I began stripping the beds, collecting dirty towels, sweeping, mopping, and cleaning bathrooms. There were a million things to do and I was trying to figure out how to accomplish it all with 13 unanticipated people underfoot. Nathan and I went to the Lan Airlines office to find out what flight our Saxe-Gotha group was rescheduled on, I swung by the restaurant to pay the bill, and returned to the house to continue the day's work. Ashley, the Huntington group's translator, went back to the airport just prior to the 1 p.m. flight to try to bargain their way onto the outgoing plane. She was successful in getting one person on it. At 4:30, the rest of us return to the airport. Ashley is still bargaining and manages to get five more people on the 6 p.m. flight, leaving seven of them still here. Bill, their trip leader has my cell phone and is talking to every known American Airlines and Travelocity representative on the planet trying to get the seven of them rebooked, because they are going to miss their flight from Lima to the U.S. Nathan and I stand outside waiting for our S.C. group - only two of them emerge from the airport. As it would happen, the other two managed to get on an earlier flight, unbeknownst to us, and are already at the hotel. Nathan rides the van with the two S.C. ladies, and I stay at the airport with the final Huntington seven until it is time for them to board the plane, after which I race to the restaurant where Nathan has taken the current group for dinner. It is 9:17 p.m. After dinner, we get Tammy, Julie, Sylvia, and Ken settled for the evening, and Nathan and I finally head home. Nathan isn't feeling well, so he loads himself up with cold medicine and goes to bed. As a means of releasing some of the tension and anxiety of the day, I do a little more house cleaning, since I'm still too wound up to go to bed. The one thing I can say for the Huntington group is that they were troopers; in spite of their plans being totally interrupted, they endured the day and the constantly changing travel arrangements with grace and patience. If I had to be in limbo with anyone, I couldn't have asked for a better bunch.
Just minutes after 11 p.m. I am sitting on the edge of my bed, setting my alarm clock, when my cell phone rings. Margarita is on the other end and she is frantic. She is around the block at the Fanning house (one of our rental properties) and tells me I need to come immediately. With no time to get out of my pajamas and into regular clothes, I step into my flip-flops, grab my keys, and out the gate I go, traipsing into the middle of the raucous crowd of teenagers who hang out on the corner every night, drinking at the bodega across the street, hoping none of them decides to accost me. I round the corner past the church and see two large tree branches lying on the sidewalk. As I get closer, I can see enormous scrape marks down the front of the building and the sidewalk is further littered with chunks of stucco. As it would happen, a 15 year old kid (most likely drunk) lost control of his car and plowed into the front door of our rental property. Margarita and I stand there and talk with Mr. Meza before hopping a motokar to the police station where they've already impounded the wrecked car and arrested the driver. Let me tell you, now THAT'S an interesting place to be at midnight on a Saturday night! As for the Fanning house - I'll have to let you know after a trip to the lawyer's office.
The clock glows 1:12 a.m. as my head hits the pillow. I start laughing as I think back over the day that was doomed from the beginning. Three trips to the airport, two different groups in limbo, and a car through the front door. That's when it happened - I heard a voice speaking. In my head? Out loud? In my spirit? I don't know for sure, but it was an audible voice and I recognized it, because I've heard it before - always at major turning points in my life since I decided to follow Jesus. Two simple words were all I heard: "It's time." I've known for six years now that the Lord was calling me to serve here. When I've allowed myself to actually think about living in another country, I've become frozen with fear. Other missionaries I've talked to have always told me not to worry, because when the time was right - the Lord's time, that is - I would know and I would no longer be afraid. They were right. I still don't know the exact time table for when I will quit teaching and come to live here; it may be as soon as next summer. But the fear is gone, and I know that with the Lord's help, nothing is impossible. How ironic that my moment of clarity came at the end of a day of uncertainty, full of events that were completely and totally outside my realm of control.