February 6, 2021
Mission Trip Report FEB 2021
A quick check of my passport reveals the last time I exited The Republic of Malawi, 1 March 2019. That is two years ago as I write. I had other trips in the works, but then I had medical issues and my wife had medical issues, both of which required surgeries. We traded off each having three surgical adventures. Then came Queen Rona of the Covid clan. She put a damper on the whole world.
There simply was not much, and still is not much, which her unholy and evil doing hand has not touched. She touched me with a significant case of her attempts at murder. I got over her and thought she was done with me. Another friend spent more than a month in a hospital bed, much of which included induced coma and intubation with a ventilator attached. He survived and is again on the road with his ministry work much to her dismay. And yet another who was a part of our ministry team from the first day, spent his last days on earth in a hospital bed, his life complicated by and finally succumbing to her homicidal rage. He was allowed, and I’m a bit jealous, to finally rest and know the power of God clearly for the first time. She just thinks she won.
Her ugly edicts kept us all home. We probably could not have traveled to our mission field if we had our own plane and enough fuel for the journey. So, we stayed home. But now, it has been a year since the hateful Queen made her appearance. Some things have settled, and it appeared travel might just be in the works again. But, since I had been stung by the Queen bee herself, there were some hurdles which must be overcome.
We studied up for the test. It was harder than it should have been because there were too many people writing the material and none of them seem to agree. What constitutes an actual infection from her slimy highness? What does it take to counter her sting? Who is qualified to determine whether her effects have worn off? At what point is a person not a risk to others? Which preventative measures are enough, and which are just for show? Then, when you put the where into it the whole thing gets so muddy that not even the worker bees writing the rules know what is really going on. We were not sure from the beginning if we would be allowed to get where we intended. Nor were there assurances we would be welcome when we return to where we started. But we did our best.
We wrote the embassy. We contacted people in Africa to ask what they required. Airport people were asked questions. Medical tests were run, and reports printed. We were ready. Or we thought we were. Tickets were purchased and materials gathered. Scheduled gatherings were finalized, and the team was set to let Queen Rona know she had nothing more to say. We were wrong of course.
By 9:30, we were dropped off at the airport that Monday morning. My lovely wife left us at the curb, and we got busy with the check in chores. We dutifully jumped through all the hoops presented. Boarding passes were issued, and luggage was checked. We made it through security with no real issues. The plane came and we were off. By the end of the first day, we were in Washington DC and had our rooms for the night. The next day, we planned to cross the Atlantic at around 32 thousand feet above her cold winter waters and to be in Malawi sleeping in one of our home spots there before the next day began.
Exceedingly early, at least for me, the next day, we met in the hotel lobby and loaded the Uber for the next leg of the journey – seven trunks, two big suitcases plus six carry on pieces along with 3 not so small men (the driver took two trips).
At the airport, we met our skycap for the morning as we had so much luggage we would have struggled without help. God sent this faithful helper who got our stuff loaded onto his cart and we were off to the check in lines. He led us to the first counter, which said they could not get us on the plane because of Queen Rona. So, the awesome helper God sent began to lead us to another counter to see if they would help us. On the way, we stopped and prayed for success. He joined in.
At the next counter, we were greeted with basically the same story – you can’t go – but then Sam, the counter clerk, told us to wait a minute. The skycap just waited, and waited and waited and w……… The team at the airline counter got busier than they should have or had to. Prayer answers beginning. After a lot of digging and reading, the lead guy from the second airline walked us back across the airport check in area to the first airline counter. Huge lines were there by now. Our dutiful skycap followed.
I need to stop here and say that I want to use the term servant for this man who was moving and guarding our luggage. But today’s readers have no idea what that word means. They hear slave talk and racist talk. But, for me to use the term, I send honor to the man who was a servant to us. He did not have to stick around and cross the entire length of the area twice. But he did. He did not have to join in our prayer time. But he did. He could have dumped our stuff off at the first stop and went on about his day. But he didn’t. He served us above and beyond any reasonable expectation. That is being a servant, and that is honorable. I am grateful for the care this man gave us. To call him a servant is a great compliment, at least that is how I mean it. I only wish he had given us his name. He is a great man. He made me think of the over-the-top servanthood of Jesus.
God’s answer to our prayer there in the check-in hall looked like this. Craig and Ryan, whose Covid reports were not what the airline wanted and which they had previously refused, were finally allowed to fly on to Malawi. However, my case would not even get me to Maui – pun intended, but Sam did say I could not even get to Hawaii with my documents. So, instead of going to Africa, I headed back to Tulsa. Our airline helpers who got Craig and Ryan on their way made the money right on my tickets and comped me back to Tulsa, saying they should have not let me fly from there. They also gave me a voucher for some lunch, and I was headed home and with a full belly. This is not what we wanted the answer to be, but it is what the answer was. So, the answer was good and in time we’ll know why God worked it out that way.
That morning, after all the details were in place (at least for the moment) I got on my way to the gate. At Washington Dulles (IHD) there are underground trains to the different areas. Mine had two cars and one passenger – me. When I got to the train stop and got off the train, in that huge, cavernous space, there was just one pedestrian – me. There was not a security person nor a janitor. I should have taken a picture. I went up one of the two escalators that spanned what must have been about three or four stories. The entire ride had only one individual onboard – me. Then there was a huge tunnel, big enough for two massive busses to drive in side by side and about as long as a football field. I had no company the entire walk through the tunnel. It was kind of surreal.
Now, I am one who always enjoys solitude. I am extremely comfortable with my own company, conversing with myself about, and solving to my own satisfaction all the worlds troubles. But for those ten or fifteen minutes, there was something more than solitude. I was lonely. I do not recall ever feeling that alone in all my life. It was neither scarry nor even a bad feeling. But, for a place which should be loud and full of people, hurrying and focused on their own journeys, the emptiness was somewhat overwhelming. Just for a moment though as it did not take long before I wanted that nice quiet escalator ride all to myself again.
Thus, began my journey back home. I was a little rejected, and maybe even a little relieved to know the questions were answered. A delayed flight departure from IHD caused a missed flight and another wait at another noisy airport, but it gets me to Tulsa at 9:30 PM Tuesday. 36 hours had passed almost to the minute and my wonderful wife was again at the airport where she had left me the day before. This journey was done.
Oh – Our new friend who stood by us the whole time got two big tips. He got to see the marvelous hand of God taking care of his missionaries, and he got the second biggest amount of money I have ever given for such a thing as a tip. I hope this Christian man recognized it was all from God.
When Craig and Ryan got to Malawi, they learned the rules had changed. The airline was correct, and they should have been turned away too. The rules were changed Friday before we left on Monday. I’m not sure how we would have known in time to get what they wanted, and I still would have been out. But God overruled and the fire keeps burning.
See You SONday
© 2021 Dr. SF Gallagher