Thursday, October 07, 2010

Back in Africa

This may come as a surprise to those of you that heard we were just back in Canada! We want to thank all of you that so willing hosted us, feed us and encourage us while we were home. To the rest of you our sincerest apologies for not being able to catch up with you, we would have loved to see and hear what is going on in your lives. There truly wasn't enough hours in the days we were in Canada to accomplish all that we wanted to. In the future we hope to be a little more faithful in keeping all of you up to date in the comings and goings of the Goertzens in Angola!

Our first story starts even before we got back to Africa. It is a saga of trust misplaced and redemption unwarranted. Of a man, his wallet...and an airport. It all started on a cold rainy Friday afternoon in the English countryside in a tiny Renault Cleo, that's a car, from Europe, more specifically...France. It was loaded to the brim with the luggage of two weary travels heading out from a conference that had been fraught with intrigue. (Sounds better then saying it was just a program managers meeting for MAF, don't ya think? ) The negotiations had been exhausting but had yielded several excellent contacts and opportunities. The trip to the airport was uneventful as they drove through the ever present rain and even managed to negotiate that parking lot known as the M25 highway in relatively good time. My driving partner, we'll call him Steve, cause that's his name, pulled up in front of terminal 5 at Heathrow airport where we proceeded to unloaded my luggage, 3- 25 kilo bags, one carry-on and a computer bag that could have doubled as a steamer trunk. What can I say, I like to pack light. I said good bye to Steve, cause that's his name, and pushed my trolley into the terminal to get out of the rain, amongst other things. As I approached the check in counter I reached for my wallet and passport. It was to be a memorable moment as time slowed, the lights seemed to dim and the voices of my follow airport dwellers became strangely muted. It was like my hand was moving in slow motion from pocket to pocket searching for that black folio containing my travel documents and identification. The search was to prove to be in vain, for the wallet was no where to be found. The terminal began to spin crazily as I came to grips with the situation. No wallet, no passport... I quickly spun the trolley around and headed outside to see if Steve, cause that's his name, was still outside. The Cleo was gone, having beat a hasty path to Terminal 4 to catch a flight to Entebbe, Uganda. I whirled the trolley around as deftly as Barishnikov twirling a prima ballerina from the Bolshoi and headed inside to make a plan. I decided to give Steve a call, cause that's his name, but in the best twists of the cold war we hadn't exchanged contact information to minimize our traceability. It was looking like that had been a mistake. I had no way to contact Steve. I spun around and headed outside the terminal and into the rain again to see if Steve had returned in the Cleo to pronounce, "Good thing you aren't in charge of the Maltese Falcon, or the Royal Jewels or something important. Here's your wallet go catch your flight!" It was only a fleeting fantasy, I was not to see Steve or the little french Cleo again. I spun the trolley around and made for the terminal. The porters were beginning to wonder if I had developed a case of vertigo with all the trolley spinning that was going on. The stench of panic was becoming unmistakable, my mouth was dry, my palms were sweaty and my heart was racing. PULL yourself together man! This is no worse then the time you arrived in Luanda with the trots and there was no paper in the stall. THINK MAN, THINK!! Once again I whirled the trolley around to head outside and assess the situation. The trolley was beginning to protest like a bull at a rodeo desperate to throw its rider to the mud, but I wasn't letting go, there was too much at steak...or stake. Once again outside in the rain I gazed over to where we had loaded my bags onto the trolley. There was something laying on the ground. Flaunting all airport regulations I abandoned my luggage and headed across the road, making sure that I first looked to the right so as not to get clobbered by a London cabby. My heart raced as I approached what could turn out to be somebodies trash. It WAS somebodies trash...MY TRASH, MY WALLET, face down on the soaking pavement having been completely ignored by countless people and driven over by who knows how many cars? Everything was inside, Id, credit cards, passport with the all important Angolan residency visa. As I recounted this tale to my wife she had these words for me, "I worry more about you when you travel then the kids!" I have to admit she has reason to be that way, but I pray a lot and that helps. I prayed a lot that day. I really believe that God protected my wallet that day, cause He cares about even the little things.


Peter and Lorraine said...

He is so good!

Bruno the bass guy said...

Great story Gary. You could be a mystery writer. You included all the key elements of the genre! I laughed, I cried. It moved me!

Dale said...

It must be a guy thing. My wife says similar things about me!