Sunday, September 4, 2016

4 September, 2016 Adventures and Insights

As we mentioned last week, I was asked to accompany a missionary with a broken leg from Accra to Salt Lake.  Due to the injuries of others in the accident, the Area Medical Advisor and the Area Presidency were very busy communicating, managing care, and making arrangements to take care of the injured.  It made good sense that I would accompany the elder home who was in good shape other than his leg.  

We boarded a BA flight Saturday evening and traveled 1st class to London and then after a layover we caught a direct flight on Delta, business class, to Salt Lake.  The patient couldn’t have been more upbeat or positive.  He had a posterior splint on his leg from ankle to mid-thigh with lots of wrap.  The leg wasn’t quite as stable as I would have liked but we took great care in transferring and it went quite well.  He wasn’t in a lot of pain, thank goodness, although we had a supply of pain killers with us.  Airports don’t generally have the kind of wheelchair that he needed - one with a straight leg adjustment with a pad that could be placed under his lower leg.  They were able to find one that worked in London after much searching and it was very helpful because we had so far to go to change terminals.  Tip: if you need anything other than a chair on wheels, better take your own when you travel, if possible.

The airline attendants and transport staff were outstanding.  We couldn’t have had better attention and kindness.  Flying first or business class makes traveling overnight a tolerable experience, maybe even pleasant.  The food was fabulous and we both slept some.  The young missionary continued to engage everyone on the trip about the church and his mission to Sierra Leone in positive ways and it was inspiring to see.  His extended family met us in SLC and were happy to see his big smile.  We arrived Sunday evening, he had surgery on Tuesday, and I have heard he is doing well. The other missionary who suffered a depressed skull fracture had surgery here and was starting to recover. He was flown home separately this week.

The church booked a room at the Marriott for me.  I had expected to turn around the next morning but was pleasantly surprised to have an extra day in SLC.  Sue had sent me with a shopping list (canned tuna, crunchy PB, nuts, some chocolate, etc.) and after taking care of that I spent the day with my brother and his wife in Saratoga Springs.  They just returned home from their mission six weeks ago so we compared notes, ate out, and generally had a great time together.  The trip home (economy class, of course) was uneventful and as I had tried to stay on an early schedule the jet lag wasn’t bad.  

I noticed new things in Utah: it appeared generally manicured and pristine (!).  I missed the motorbikes zooming past on either side as I drove and also the vendors selling the wares from on top of their heads as they walked between the cars at intersections.  What do those people do for a living in the states?  And when it came time to return I felt like I was “going home”.  Of course, home is where Sue is but it was more than that.  I suppose we have adjusted to living in Ghana, and despite the few challenges that exist, we like it here.

We had a great conversation about expectations at a birthday celebration this weekend for one of the other seniors here.  He and his wife are both in a recent second marriage (2 years) - previous spouses passed away from cancer.  She commented that after they married she had tried to put her new husband into her old husband’s “box”, but that he kept throwing out an arm or a leg - he just wouldn’t stay in that box!  It took a while but they adjusted, as all couples must do.  I remember a couple who many years ago adopted a child.  Because they had so little information about the biological parents, they felt like their new infant was a black box and that they had no idea what the child would be like - no expectations.  Their parenting approach was to expose the child to many different things and find out what he liked, could do, natural abilities etc.  Perhaps we would be better off in most new situations to have minimal expectations, take what comes, and make the best of it.  

Just a couple of sentences from me, Sue.  A personal first— working with 17 first time patrons on one shift. Two patrons were especially memorable: their spirits were so strong. We each had tears in our eyes and hugged at the conclusion of the ordinance.  The chance of us seeing each other again in this life is pretty slim but we shared an unforgettable experience. Tom and I are trying to be Christlike in all our interactions. Sometimes it is a real challenge, but the Lord always gives us an opportunity to try again. We are grateful for His mercy, His grace, His forgiveness, and His patience.


  1. Thanks for the update! Too bad no one broke their leg on the way back to Ghana, or you could have flown first class that way too ;)

  2. Eileen and I just spent some time going through your blog. We can so relate to your experiences as they are very similar to what we are enjoying here in Honduras, except we don't have any medical responsibilities. Love your blog - ours is
    Phil Matkin