Airports have played a significant role in my life and the life of CSC. I was thinking of that the other day when I was sitting in the Cebu airport waiting to catch a plane that would lead me to another plane and another airport, which would get me home to be a part of my dad's memorial service. Sitting there and thinking, wondering what the next few days would hold. I've done a lot of deep thinking in airports. Once I get on the plane it is pure misery, as they are not made for people my height. But airport chairs, while not being luxurious, are okay for sitting and thinking.
I've been in many, many airports in my lifetime, as many as 75. Several of them are in the Philippines. I have spent the most time in the Cebu and Manila airports, waiting for flights to attend matching meetings or meeting to address problems with ICAB, or getting ready to go home to Cebu and report to the staff. Since most Philippine Airlines flights out of Manila are late in leaving, there has been much time to think and reflect on things. Sometimes my thoughts were discouraging ones, my having been disappointed with the outcome of matching conferences or meetings with officials. Other times they were joyous thoughts, and I couldn’t wait to get back to Cebu to share the outcomes with the rest of the staff.
I can remember several times when I needed to make a quick trip to the US to be with my family when my dad had a bad accident, or when he eventually passed away. Airports can be sad places for missionaries in these situations, wondering what it will be like to get home and join a grieving family or to visit someone who recently had to go into a nursing home. I have experienced a lot of heavy thinking in airports around the world.
But there have been lighter times, and joyous ones. I remember times when Marlys and I were traveling to visit former CSC kids in their adoptive families, or going to visit supporting churches with good news about what God was doing at CSC. I remember traveling to different parts of the Philippines, to some of the dinkiest airports that you could imagine, checking up on referrals of children, or, in the days before we had a social worker, to do case management work. Often, those airport visits were far more enjoyable, and thoughts were expectant rather than worrisome.
And for every hour spent waiting to take a flight there was one at the Cebu airport waiting for an arrival. Hundreds of hours have been spent waiting for adoptive parents, family, staff, board members and other visitors. While waiting our thoughts would be all over the map. Would they like Cebu? Would they be good adoptive parents for our child? Would they fit in on our staff? Would they ever arrive?
On the whole, I have not enjoyed sitting and waiting in airports. But those airports, and the planes that they service, have allowed us to go and do the work that God called us to do for the children of CSC. For them, every waiting hour has been worth it.