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By the time this paper hits most mailboxes in Bedford, I’ll be high above the skies en route to the Philippines as part of a medical missions team.
It’s been awhile since I’ve been on a plane — the last time was when I flew to Roanoke from Kansas when I was interviewing for the job here at the Bulletin. That flight was an easy one. I can’t even remember what city I flew into from Kansas City to catch my plane into the Star City. There weren’t any direct flights in. At various times I had flown to Pittsburgh, Chicago and Charlotte as my connecting city before arriving here. Most of those flights lasted from one to two hours. You’d just reach cruising altitude and find yourself heading back down for landing. Stewardesses barely had enough time to get you a drink and hand out a bag of peanuts before the flight was over.
But this week’s flight will be quite different.
The longest amount of time I’ve ever spent on a plane at one time is around seven hours, as best as I recall. Those were usually flights across the Atlantic that landed in England or Germany. From there, I would catch another flight to my final destination of either Kenya or Romania.
On Thursday, our group — 18 of us in all — leave Roanoke for Detroit. From there we’ll catch our next plane which, the best I can figure, is a 22 ½ hour ride to Manila. We’ll arrive there, assuming all goes well, at about 11:45 p.m. Friday night. We’ll then have a 3 ½ hour ride to our initial destination.
That flight should be interesting.
I’m told that flights of that length still serve meals. That’s always an important aspect of flying for me. I know during my flights across the Atlantic we usually ate two or three times, with some snacks in between.
Now you might be thinking, “Tom, I thought you were trying to lose weight for this trip, so why are you so interested in food.” You would be right. I did write in a previous column about my desire to lose some lbs. prior to leaving because we’ll be doing some hiking on the trip. And I did try to do that, though somewhat unsuccessfully. I did some hiking with a backpack as well. My last attempt at that was a trip around The Loop here in Bedford. Judy and I went out with two of our children and one of our dogs. I put on my backpack, which I filled with weights.
On the positive side, I made it, though Judy was quite annoyed that I was more interested in trying to catch my breath than chatting along the way. On the negative side, I’m afraid the walk had little resemblance to the hikes we’ll be taking in the hills of the Philippines. I’m not expecting sidewalks when we get there.
At this point, I’m as ready as I’m going to be for the hiking. My focus has now turned to the flight itself. I’m told I can expect my legs to swell quite a bit on a flight of that length so I’ve given up soft drinks for water and I guess I won’t eat any more popcorn loaded with salt either. I’m also told it will be good practice to get up frequently and walk around while on the flight. I’m also hoping I can take some fresh fruit with me on the flight. I’m addicted to tangelos these days.
Though there have been a couple of issues with planes the past couple of weeks, flying has never bothered me and I don’t expect it to this time either. But for those of you who are praying folk, I certainly wouldn’t mind it if you sent up a thought or two for our team, both for the flight and for our work there.
Our trip runs from Feb. 19 through March 3. We will be visiting areas in the mountains that can only be reached on foot in some cases. Our mission will consist of providing medical assistance to many who don’t have any access to that (we have several doctors and nurses who are part of the team). Also during the day we will be ministering to the children as well as having prayer, etc., with the sick. We expect to see some 350 patients at each of the different sites we will be visiting, some seven in all.
We will be serving under the direction of a missionary family there who live in the village of Caramutan near the town of Villasis in the Pangasinan province. They are 100 miles north of Manila. We will be going to Baguio.
I will be helping with the medical aspect of the trip the best I can and will also help with children’s ministry. I’m also putting together a drama team for the trip.
There have already been numerous miracles as this trip has been planned, not the least of which has been the finances coming together to fund the trip. I’m looking forward to what is going to happen the next two weeks and certainly would appreciate any who would to lift it up in prayer.
Have a good couple of weeks. I’m told winter might give its last blast here while I’m gone. I won’t mind missing that. It’ll be summer where I’m going.