John and I recently traveled to Sebring, FL to take part in the Bible conference at the retirement village there. We were the "missionary presenters" and got to share about what God is doing in Niger. There was also a Bible teacher who was an encouragement to us. But one of the highlights of the week (beside the pool and getting away from winter for a week) was having lunch and dinner every day with one of the senior saints who invited us to their homes. We heard so many stories of how God had used them to start churches and to do his work all over the world.
This one is my favorite.
While we were at Penny and Rose Pinneo's, Penny showed us a booklet another missionary had put together. Tucked in the back of the book was this type-written story which I will re-tell in my own words. First let me explain that when my parents first went to Nigeria in the 1950's, they traveled by ship. So I assumed that until the 1960's all missionaries traveled by ship.
But I learned that in the late 1940's there were so many missionaries going to Nigeria that they chartered an Air France flight from New York City to Lagos, Nigeria. I don't know exactly what kind of plane it was, but it could very well have been a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, which was developed by Boeing at the end of WW II from the B-29.
The flight took off from New York City in the morning and, I believe, was to fly directly to the Azores. But shortly after take-off they hit a storm. In those days, they couldn't fly above the weather like airliners do now. So, for eight hours straight they flew through this storm. The airplane was bounced up and down and tossed back and forth and the majority of passengers were air-sick. The lady writing the story said she was not. Evening was coming on and their fuel was nearly gone, so they had to make an unplanned landing in the Bahamas. Air France put them up in a lovely hotel and during the night the storm cleared. They were given a complimentary continental breakfast and had time to take a stroll on the beach before re-boarding the plane.
On the 2nd day they took off and had beautiful weather and a much less stressful flight. They made their scheduled landing in the Azores, but when they landed a tire blew. I believe this was just a re-fueling stop, but there were no spare tires to be had, so they had to wait for a spare to be flown in from Paris! This night there was no nice hotel for them, so they had to stay in Army barracks (I'm not sure if they were American, British, or French). They slept in a dormitory on army cots with denim blankets.
The 3rd day saw them flying on from the Azores to Senegal, on the West Coast of Africa. But when they landed in Senegal, the brakes failed to work properly and they feared they were going to keep going right off the end of the runway and into the ocean. Because of the strain put on the tires, several of them blew and they were once again without any spare tires!! Once again they had to wait for spare tires to be flown in from Paris and for the brakes to be fixed. Another night was spent in Army barracks on uncomfortable cots with scratchy, stiff blankets.
Finally, on the 4th day, they flew on to Lagos, Nigeria. The flight was uneventful in every way and all were glad to have arrived safely.
Wow! That makes today's travel look dull in comparison. What's an 8-hour flight from New York to Paris, a 6-hour wait in Charles DeGaulle airport, and a 5-hour flight from Paris to Niamey? Sometimes there are delays, but I've never had the trip take 4 days!
These pictures are not of the exact plane that is in this story, but it would have been a similar aircraft. The travel posters are beautiful! I wish I could afford to buy one. Just to give credit where credit is due: they are available at http://www.posterclassics.com/Images-Air-France.