Well, so much for wanting to write something every month. The transition from PNG to the US was not difficult, but it was distracting. In late October I closed up the clinic and took the sensitive equipment to hibernate in my house. On October 27 I left my house in the afternoon and spent the night at the lodge in town. Then about 5 am a small group of us left for the port city of Lae. Because of recent road improvements, it only took a little over 3 hours to get there. That was wonderful! After running a few errands, I left my vehicle at the dealership panel shop in order to get some work done on the body while I am away. From Lae I flew to the capital city of Port Moresby. Although I got a good price on the ticket, I was a bit disappointed in the shabby condition of the “airport terminal.” I spent Saturday and Sunday in Port Moresby, then flew out to Sydney early Monday morning. I then spent all of Monday afternoon and early evening with a dear friend.
A little after noon on Tuesday (Nov 1), I took off for the nearly 16-hour flight to San Francisco: landing 6 hours before I took off from Sydney. Gotta love the international date line. The flight from San Francisco to Chicago was delayed because of bad weather in SF, so I missed my connecting flight from Chicago to Greenville. But my sister had been tracking flights, and found that there was a flight to Asheville, NC leaving in about 2 hours. So the Lord provided before we hardly had a chance to ask! We also discovered that we like both the Asheville airport and the drive better. It may be more miles, but only about a 10 minute difference in travel. I got home a little after midnight (early morning of the 2nd). It was something like a 36-hour day. I’m glad we don’t have many of those in life!
Our family celebrated Mom’s 80th birthday together by taking an overnight trip to TN, and I was blessed to enjoy Thanksgiving with my family (in case you haven’t thought about it, that is a uniquely American holiday). Then came all the wonderful traditions of Christmas time with family in friends. On January 4th my Mom got a new hip installed, and the Lord answered prayers in some amazing ways. She had very little pain, and was nearly back to normal in about 4 weeks. On Feb 1st I began my furlough travels. I am trying to visit all of my supporting churches and get home by April 3, because Mom is already scheduled to get a new knee installed on the 6th. So I am jokingly referring to this as my “femur furlough,” because the femur is the bone that has a hip joint at the top and a knee joint at the bottom. After 9 weeks of traversing a good bit of the USA, I am looking forward to staying at home with Mom during her recovery. At this point I have tickets to return to PNG about May 10th.
My furlough has been wonderfully blessed by the Lord. When I arrived in the USA I had no access to a vehicle, and no idea what I would do about that. With the help of the mission board, the word got out to a man in my home church, who graciously offered the use of his 2018 Ford Escape. I am very much enjoying the vehicle. The GPS in my phone connects to the car, and makes navigation so easy. When I think back to the days of driving around the country with an atlas stuck between the seats I just shake my head in wonder at the blessings of the Lord.
My supporting churches have all been so kind and gracious and accommodating to my strained schedule. The Lord has provided housing and fuel. More than that, He is arranging the weather so that I arrive on the heels of one storm, or have no need to travel on a stormy day, or I am able to take off ahead of the next storm. The Lord is even providing ways to keep me warm (I like to refer to myself as a ‘tropical plant’). At the moment I am in Kansas, and head for Indiana tomorrow. But I am delaying my departure because it’s supposed to snow all night, and I want to be sure the roads are good and clear before I head out. I am praying that the Lord’s grace will continue to grant prudence and faith and divine protection. Come to think of it; I always need that!