Missions Trips Chapter 25: Farewell, Brother

To read this story from the beginning, click here.

Wednesday, Day 12

These ten days in Trinidad flew by incredibly fast. I was sorry to have to say goodbye to our dear friend, but home was calling, and I wished (Pat too) that we could just go straight there, non-stop. But today is Mom’s birthday, and a promise is a promise.

Leaving Trinidad was not quite as simple as coming had been, but it certainly could have been worse. The lines were longer, and we had not had the luxury of pre-check. But we left one suitcase behind, so at least we had no extra luggage to check. (Each of us got one free checked bag, one free carry-on, and a personal bag.) We also had to fill out forms for customs, and we had to go through airport security.

Before too long we boarded the plane and prepared for take-off. I sat by the window this time, and found the view fascinating at both take-off and arrival. While riding through Trinidad, I had noticed the buildings and people, but from the air it became obvious that vast areas of that small island are completely wooded. I won’t say they are uninhabited, for I don’t know. There could be people living in the forests, but no clearings were visible from my window. I waved goodbye to the mountains, which we never got to see up close, then settled in to read my book and wait for breakfast.

The flight itself was uneventful. Sure, there was a little turbulence toward the end, but it wasn’t bad. The hot breakfast they served was delicious: scrambled eggs and hash browns.

There is something about flying that invites introspection, so after a while I put my book away and just looked out the window at the clouds. When we had been flying about three hours, I saw that the water was so shallow I could see the sand under its surface. It reminded me of the Emerald Coast near home in northwest Florida, so named because the water appears green near the shore. It looks the same here too. As near as I could figure, I was seeing the Florida Keys. Only the southernmost key is inhabited, Key West. I lived there as a young girl, and went to kindergarten there. First grade too, I think. I don’t really remember first grade.

One thing I did not see was the interstate highway that ties all the keys together. Perhaps I didn’t look out the window at the right time. I may have missed it while studying the flight plan to try to determine where we were. I saw no vegetation, but we were still at a pretty good altitude, so if there were some small bushes, they may have appeared to be rocks from that height. (I wonder if we could drive to Key West someday. It would take 13 hours from our house, not including stops. The state of Florida is huge. You could fit 33 Trinidads into the nearly 66,000 square miles that comprise the state of Florida, with room to spare….) As I looked at the beautiful but barren beaches, it was easy to see why no one lived there, but I had to wonder why it seemed no one even went there for leisure. I think I would. Unless the locals know something I don’t, like maybe the water is infested with sharks or man ‘o war jellyfish, or some such thing. I do remember horseshoe crabs from my childhood. They could sting the tar out of you, but apparently they were also easy to capture, for people hung their shells on the outside of their homes for decoration.

We landed in Miami right on time, taxied to the terminal, and disembarked. Customs was right in front of us. The line was long at customs, but it moved surprisingly quickly. We stopped first at a kiosk and answered questions about our travel and things we were bringing back with us. The questionnaire asked if we brought food. I answered “yes” to be safe, since the penalty for not declaring listed items can be up to $20,000. Because I answered “yes,” we had to wait in another line to speak to a real person and show them our food. It was all packaged goods, so we were free to go. After all that time, we still had to wait another 15 minutes or so before we saw our luggage come around at baggage claim. While we stood there waiting, Pat struck up a conversation with a Trinidadian who had been on the flight with us. It turns out that he knows Kawal, or at least has heard of him. “Kawal Rampersad,” the man said, “is a well known and well respected man in the islands.” It made my heart swell to hear a good word being spoken of our friend, and inwardly I praised God for the testimony and influence he has given to this veteran preacher over the years.

The next hurdle of the day was to figure out which elevator to take to the second floor, where we would meet the shuttle to return to where the truck was parked. For some reason, not all the elevators stopped at the second floor. We stepped out of the building just in time to see our shuttle drive away, so we stood there and waited 15 minutes for the next one.

Back at the truck, we agreed that Pat would be the one to take us away from the busy streets of Miami. So we loaded our things into the truck and took off down the road. We stopped briefly, when necessary, for gas, food, and bathroom breaks, and arrived at Mom and Mike’s house at around 7:00 p.m. It was good to be there and see them again. We wished Mom a Happy Birthday, then took our overnight bags in to our room and visited with them in the living room until bedtime.

A penny for your thoughts...

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