Saturday, September 11, 2010

Where were you on that day?

I remember that day. We were in the jungle and had just completed a very intense medical clinic among the indians, both Ye'kwana and Sanema. We were hosting, in our jungle hut, two missionary families as well as 8 medical missionaries who had come from the US on a short missions trip. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists and dentists. Just regular Christian folk trying to do some good for the poor and underprivileged of this world, as taught by our Lord.

The clinic ended on September 10th, and the 11th was travel day for the Americans to return, via 3 mission planes, to the town of Puerto Ayacucho where they would catch a flight to Caracas and then on to the US.

We awoke and had breakfast as planned and began the job of weighing everyone and their luggage to decide how best to disburse the weight among the three Cessna planes as we could only take off from our short airstrip with a limited payload.

The first MAF plane arrived early, as planned and the pilot came up to the house where we talked over the planned flights for the day. He and my husband then began to prep the plane for a cargo only flight. As he taxied to the end of our airstrip to prepare for take off, he placed his radio call into the mission base at Puerto Ayacucho for flight following. He slowly taxied back and began to walk up the hill towards our house.

He entered the house where we were all laughing and joking about our week. He was white and shaky and said, "The US is under attack! Two planes have hit the Twin Towers and one has hit the Pentagon!"

We all stared at him in disbelief! How could this be? He said he needed to sit and get himself together before he tried to take off.

We all began talking. We had no TV, no radio, except the short wave radio, no way to find out any information. We called Puerto Ayacucho by radio to see if they had more news for us and were told of the plane crash in Pennsylvania. They also told us that all air traffic was closed down into and out of the states. Our American friends became very uncomfortable when as they realized they could not get home!

I remember wondering how I could continue to feed so many people indefinitely. There are no grocery stores in the jungle and we had a LOT of stomachs to feed. I put water on to boil for some pasta not knowing how many people I would need to feed or for how long.

The visitors became very upset at not being able to communicate with their family and friends and we decided to continue with the plan to fly them all to Puerto Ayacucho where they would at least be able to phone home and view cable news.

As we waited for all the flights, one of the visiting doctors, a Lebanese-American, listening to all of our consternation at this vile attack on our country, said, "Welcome to the real world!" Her comment was not well received by all at the table, but she had a point. She told us how as a child growing up in Lebanon, her family said good bye every morning not knowing if they would ever see one another again. She was raised as a Christian in Lebanon and terror was a part of her daily life. She said we Americans, needed to ,"Grow up!" She was right and on that day many of us did.

We ended up having 5 planes land and take off from our strip that September day in the Amazon jungle. I remember Clint looking at me as the last one took off and saying, "Do you realize we just had more flights here than in the entire US today?"

We would not see video of the towers falling for 2 more weeks.


Dawn said...

Wow, that was an amazing experience for you. It definitely changed all of us. My story is definitely not so dramatic. I was dropping my step grandson off at preschool and taking my daughter and myself to work at the university. I could not believe what I was hearing on the radio.

Brooke said...

We must never forget.

Linda said...

I had just sent my hubs out the door to go to work when ABC cut in with a special report. I saw what happened with the 1st plane, and then watched in horror as the 2nd plane hit the other tower. I watched all day long, and into the night. It was a very sad day in America.

Susan said...

Very interesting Rita. It's good to get an "away from American soil" view of that horrific event. I don't think any of us will ever forget the moment we saw (via TV) and realized what was happening. The moment I saw that 2nd plane hit I knew it was terriost. I just "knew".

Susan said...

P.S. Forgot to tell where...I was at work at the CPA office where I worked. One of the CPA's came in and told us what she'd just heard on the radio. We rushed to one of the bosses offices that had a TV and turned it on just in time to see the second plane hit. As I said, I knew instantly it was a terrorist attack and said so. All the others in the room were shocked and wanted to know how I knew that. No work was done that day as we all stayed in that one office watching and watching and talking. I also remember the day JFK was shot when I was 25 I was at work that day, too, and had just walked into the cafeteria when I heard the news and did not believe it.

Carrie said...

I has just sat down in the rocker to nurse my three week old baby when I turned on the Today Show. One tower had already been hit. I sat there for about a week, glued to the TV, hoping, no, praying that it wasn't real!

Thursday's Child said...

I was teaching high school Spanish when the superintendent got on the PA. Teachers were connected to the internet but I couldn't open any of the news networks' webpages. Too much traffic. For the rest of the day we just went to the library to watch the news. No way we were going to be able to concentrate on school work.