Nostalgia and Tradition (second dose): Trains and Boats and Planes

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sunday, we put the newlyweds on an airplane back to Brazil, where they will make their life together.

In 1984, when I was getting ready to take my family to South America for a two-year hitch, God impressed upon me the fact that if it was a good experience, I would spend my life putting my children on airplanes and saying goodbye. Colombia was a good experience. The two years stretched to nine, and each of my children caught the bug. Once, several summers ago, I had one or more of my children on each of four continents, simultaneously, and each child involved in something good. But airports, and saying goodbye, are always hard.

In helping to put together a video for the wedding, I found this picture of the future bride, at nine, when I put her on a plane to go back to the States for her grandmother’s funeral.
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On flight days, the tradition at our little airport was for the whole community to come down to the hangar for goodbyes. Then, once the passengers had boarded, a contingent of well-wishers would hop on our motorcycles and race to the end of the airstrip to wave a final goodbye as the plane lifted off. Lomalinda was a Bible-translation center, an intensely close community, but its members rotated in and away on a constant basis.

Saturday, we had all five of our chicks together at my son and daughter-in-law’s apartment for the evening, along with our grandson and our new son-in-law. My daughter-in-law had prepared a scrumptious meal. It took expanding their dining-room table, adding a card table, and then whopper-jawing the combination diagonally across the living-room, but we got all ten of us seated for a meal. Throughout this six-week Christmas-and-wedding season, we have had them together often, in various combinations. We are an intensely close family, but our members rotate in and away on a constant basis.

At LAX, we hugged the newlyweds goodbye outside the Transportation Safety Administration checkpoint, a full hour before their flight. We could see one portion of the TSA room if we stood in just the right place, but the newlyweds were directed into the line just out of our view. Eldest Daughter gave us a quick, furtive wave. We walked back to the car and attempted to drive to the end of the runway, the same beach to which we went on our first date, almost thirty-seven years ago. Getting around the airport was easier in the pre-9-11 days, but a major storm was also coming in and we had 200 miles to drive home. Three days earlier, the previous storm had closed the pass with snow. Giant waves crashed against the beach, and big drops began to splat against the windshield. Because of the storm, airplanes had reversed their approach and take-off patterns, so that now they were landing over our heads and taking off at the other end. We headed for home.

With a twelve-hour layover in Rio, the newlyweds took thirty-six hours to arrive, but they got home safely. We did, too. For the last hundred miles, we were even out in front of the storm.

I’m proud of what my children are doing with their lives, but the goodbyes are never easy. I’m glad that twenty-four years ago, God gave me a glimpse of the future, and had me make a decision. In choosing to be obedient to Him then, this was the price I was willing to pay. I’m still willing. I am proud of what my children are doing with their lives.
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Posted by Brian at 9:22 AM  


Good pics. And great memories.

Matthew Carroll said...
February 2, 2008 at 12:57 AM  

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