Let me start by saying that I am not by nature a worrier. I know worriers. I have lived with worriers. But that is not how I live. Part of it is my faith, for sure. But it is also that I consciously prefer not to spend time in the great state of Worry. It is a waste of energy that can be better spent in my other activities.
Now with that out of the way, let me tell you that our younger son has a way of pushing my no-worries limits. Like the time he went as a teen to the back country of Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and we did not hear from him for about a month. These were pre-cell phone days, for sure, but I'm pretty certain that postcards could be mailed from the base camp. Then there was the time he went winter backpacking in snow drifts in North Carolina. He ended up caring for a girl with hypothermia. In high school, he had an externship where he helped feed panthers and bald eagles-- teeth, talons and all.
So now, he has been in South Africa for the last three weeks and we have been watching Flightaware.com to track his progress back to the U.S. ---all 16 hours and 14 minutes of it. Most of the trip is over the Atlantic Ocean. His research work there required that he have an armed game guard to watch out for charging rhinos, elephants and lions and such. But it is the long, long flight that makes me the most uncomfortable.
He has been to Africa before as an undergraduate a few years ago. During that first long flight, we were also tracking him when the plane did an unscheduled U-turn, landing on an island off the north African coast. After quite a while, I called Delta to see what was up. Their answer of, "Well, they were not supposed to do that!" was not all that reassuring. Eventually, we learned that the place they were supposed to refuel was fogged in and they could not land. So they were redirected to an island. But of course, no one had a passport for that country, so everyone was kept onboard until the fog lifted and they were able to go to the refueling place and continue on to South Africa. And once we knew, we started breathing again.
Furthermore, his previous trip was ultimately to Namibia, where many wild animals live. But perhaps the greater risk was the war left-overs: ordinances left in place with grass growing over the top in the fields where he was conducting research. That, and the not-well-marked border with Angola.
So here is his track home:
He left Johannesburg at 2:25 our time.
The gap between these two pictures is when I went to sleep for the night. No worries. (mostly).
Lots of prayers, though.
He arrived in Atlanta at 6:25 A.M and, eventually, back to Columbia, Missouri by 2:30 Eastern Time.
As an after note: we talked to him every weekend and could text most any time. And his postcard arrived in today's mail! We are so thankful for this amazing opportunity for him and so thankful he is back safely.
Here is the link to his blog that he wrote while he was gone:
It is full of wildlife photographs!
I was sent this a few years ago and I thought it was so fascinating I have kept it and feel it is appropriate to share it now. Africa is HUGE!