First, thanks for signing up to receive my blog entries during my African journey. My hope is to give you a better idea of what I experience on a typical international trip—of which I take at least six each year— and to give you some insight into what goes on behind the scenes at Heaven’s Family. If I can find an internet connection, I’ll do my best to update you daily.
I’m writing this blog entry seven miles above the Sahara Desert, with just one hour and forty-nine minutes left in my final flight, from Paris to Nairobi, Kenya. This flight was preceded by a four-hour layover in Paris, a seven-and-a-half hour flight from Washington, D.C., a two-hour layover there, a one-hour flight from Pittsburgh, a one-hour wait there, and a thirty-minute drive from my house to the airport. When we land in Nairobi, I will have been in transit a little over twenty-four hours. I take heart knowing that if I had been traveling to Asia instead of Africa, my transit time would be at least thirty-six hours. Flying internationally is, in my opinion, a mild form of torture.
To mitigate that torture a little bit, there are things that frequent flyers like myself do. I always try to get seats with the most legroom, which is why I fly United Airlines whenever possible. As a frequent flyer, United always puts me in the “Economy Plus” section, which has five more inches of legroom than in regular Economy Class, and which less frequent flyers have to pay for. I not only enjoy more space for my long legs, but because I spend so much of my time working on my laptop, when the person in front of me reclines his seat, I can keep on working. In regular seating in the Sardine Section, that is next to impossible.
On other airlines, I always try to get seats in the emergency aisles, as they also provide more legroom, although sometimes those seats are found right by the bathrooms, of which there are always too few, and to which there is a steady stream of people. On this flight from Paris to Nairobi, I succeeded in getting an emergency aisle seat, and it wasn’t difficult as this huge 777 is almost empty. It almost feels like I’m flying in a “private” jet!
Those who have never flown in one of the larger jets don’t realize how huge they are. So I took a photo that shows just one-half of the rear-most part of the Economy Section. It also shows how empty my private jet is.
Fortunately, I had accrued a sleep deficit before embarking on this journey, making it easier to sleep upright in my seat off and on, which is part of the torture of flying internationally (unless you can afford Business or First Class, where the seats often fully recline). When I arrive in Nairobi, it will be about eight-o-clock in the evening there, but it will be about one-o-clock in the afternoon back home. My body seems to be in sort of a permanent state of jet lag from so much international travel, which enables me to handle these trips better than many who travel with me.
Speaking of fellow travelers, joining me on this trip is an old friend named John Carey, who was born again at the last church I pastored and who has spent the last seven years with his wife and four children as a missionary in Kyrgyzstan. Two more brothers in Christ from Louisiana will be meeting us in Nairobi whom I will tell you about later. This will be John’s first time to Africa. I have lost count of the number of trips I’ve made here over the past thirty years.
During my flights so far, I’ve composed sixty-six emails that are now in my outbox and written two day’s worth of HeavenWord Daily devotionals. I’ve also enjoyed reading some chapters of a fascinating book titled The China Study, which proves beyond all reasonable doubt from numerous scientific studies that the so-called “disease of affluence,” such as the three top killers of Americans—cancer, heart disease, and diabetes—are due primarily to our diets. In very poor places such as rural India and China, those diseases are practically non-existent. And when people move from those poor places to the wealthy western nations, they start getting our diseases at the same rate as we do. Interesting information! You can reverse heart disease, slow (and in some cases stop) cancer, and completely cure yourself of Type 2 diabetes by adopting a more nutritious diet.
The second-cutest baby in the world is being held by his African mother directly across the aisle from me, and he has kept me thinking about my new grandson, Liam, whom I’m not going to see for twelve days. Right now that baby across the aisle is not a happy camper, and I don’t blame him, as he just consumed some liquid that was designed by God for baby cows only! (See what reading The China Study will do to you?)
Being away from my family is something we’ve all just had to get used to over the years. In an attempt to cheer Becky during our quiet drives to the airport, I have sometimes said, “Remember, absence makes the heart grow fonder!” She has sometimes lightheartedly replied, “And sometimes it makes the heart forget!” In Liam’s case, I’m afraid that is going to be true of me, as we only got to be together a couple of times since he was born on Labor Day, and I don’t think I made an unforgettable impression on him. I hope he doesn’t start crawling or talking while I’m gone! I don’t want to miss anything! Because of my international travel, I didn’t meet my youngest daughter, Elisabeth, until she was eight-days-old. These are, however, small sacrifices compared to the sacrifice Jesus has made for us.
Thanks for reading. I hope to be back in touch tomorrow. — David