We're not in Chile yet, but as of today we have the best hope that we've had in the past six days. American Airlines has rescheduled us several times onto their nightly flight from DFW to Santiago. Then that flight gets cancelled and we get bumped a day or two. The problem is that, because of earthquake damage to the passenger terminal, the Santiago airport has only been able to operate at about 30 % of capacity, but that's gone to 50% as of today. They only handle domestic flights by day and only international ones by night, from what I've gleaned. The scheduled AA flights were supposed to arrive at Santiago around 10:00 AM, so that wasn't working. The airline has altered their schedule so that flights from DFW now arrive in Chile at 7:00 AM. We are now confirmed for the Saturday night departure ( AA # 9222, 6:20 PM ) that will put us into Santiago on Sunday morning ( March 7th ) at 7:00 AM. We are confident that the Lord is in charge, and He'll get us there when it fits His plan.
We've been staying at a La Quinta Inn in Irving, not far from the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. From here we've been able to get to church meetings, Wal Mart, a commuter rail station, the airport, and any number of - too many - fine restaurants. There's an excercise room, laundry, etc. On Tuesday we took the train into Fort Worth, as we hadn't seen it before. We spent the afternoon at the historic Stock Yards, and learned a lot about the history of Fort Worth, including the Chisholm Trail and other cowboy lore. You probably know that that city calls itself 'Cow Town, USA'. We saw several museums along that theme. Unfortunately (tongue-in-cheek), we didn't have enough time to go across town to visit the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame. This amazing cart was made in Europe in the 1600's and passed down in the family. It has amazing art on it which is still preserved somewhat.
The highlight of the week was re-connecting with an old friend, Charla Hays. We've known her and her husband, Vernon, since the eighties, when they lived in Delta and Charla worked as an RN at the Fillmore Hospital. They now live in Kingsland, TX, a little north of Austin. Bless her heart, Charla drove up to Dallas, and we were able to spend parts of two days with her, visiting and reminiscing.
We've been able to spend time in worthwhile pursuits such as studying Spanish and reading. We've also had a number of phone calls and emails from many of you who are concerned about our whereabouts and our welfare. An interesting thing is that three of you have each sent to us a copy of an email from the matron of the Santiago Temple, wherein she writes, concerning the immediate aftermath of the earthquake: "Our new missionary doctor was supposed to arrive this morning and we don't know what has happened to him and his wife." We are very grateful for the concern and the prayers of each one of you.
Another letter that has been circulated to us via email tells the story of President and Sister Laycock of the Santiago East Mission, and how two weeks before the earthquake they were warned, by revelation, that they should prepare all of their missionaries for the coming disaster, which they did. You can read that account on line by going to MeridianMagazine.com.
We are anxious to be of service as much and as soon as we can. We knew that this mission was going to be exciting, and now we are starting to see the adventure unfold. How many missionary couples get within three hours of landing when their flight is turned around because of an earthquake that damages the destination airport? We're not sure what experiences await us after we arrive, but they are not going to be boring, that's certain. Stay tuned....