November 14, 2005
We gave away most of the stuff we brought to Africa or accumulated
there; then we threw out anything of no value.
That left room in the suitcases for really critical stuff.
Our friendship with the young elders really paid off. There was a mission presidents' seminar in Cape Coast so all the regular rides to the airport were unavailable. No problem--the assistants to the president and the office missionaries wanted to do something for us. They were clearly the best choice because they do this all the time for young missionaries. They know the airport and are well known to the airport staff. Being with them was like VIP treatment. It started with them carrying our heavy suitcases right from our offices to their "Missionary Work is Divine" van. It was big enough to handle all of the luggage for the Markhams and the Armstrongs.
|Elder Hodges||Elder Wall|
|Elder Hill||Elder Wilson|
The expected gauntlet at the airport was a 15 minute breeze. These Elders knew exactly where to go for customs, baggage weigh-in and finally British Air check-in. It would have taken us an hour without help to learn the order and location of each step! The customs officer smiled at Elder Wilson and they struck up a conversation about her family. She marked all our bags with no questions or inspections and we were through. Then we moved to the notorious weigh-in of each suitcase. Our total weight was within limits, but we needed to move a few things between suitcases. The staff helped us do that while fully engaged in a Twi conversation with the Elders. Then they marked our bags for special handling. Finally we approached the actual check-in counter. Do you know why missionaries fly third class? It is because there is no fourth class. Elder Markham used to fly first class on business, but he has never been treated better than we all were that night in Accra. We felt like VIPs.
|Relaxed at Weigh-in||Pampered at Check-in|
We arrived at the airport with plenty of time, so we spent a few hours in the terminal before our 11:30 pm flight. We found a comfortable, air-conditioned transit lounge and relaxed and chatted. We were four senior missionaries on the verge of resuming the role of grandparenthood. It was interesting that the excitement and anticipation of seeing family and friends was enriched by the feeling of satisfaction from having done our best as missionaries in West Africa. Neither regret nor relief were in the set of emotions we felt that last night in Africa.
November 14, 2005
About 10pm the arrival of the British Air flight from London was announced.
This 767 was the aircraft that would take us out of Africa.
Sister Markham had a mild case of allergies about this time,
at least she used several tissues in a short span.
|Several hours later we were in Heathrow airport. Elder Markham was elated to find a highspeed wifi internet connection for his computer. Sister Armstrong found a sweet baby to fuss over. Sister Markham headed to the duty free shops to see if she remembered how to use a credit card---no worry, she did!|
From London we flew directly to Phoenix where we officially reentered the United States of America. How thankful we are to be citizens of this country! We arrived at our final destination, Salt Lake City, about 9 pm after over 30 hours of travel. Our daughter Corinne flew from Washington, DC to greet us. She arrived an hour before us and stayed inside security so she could greet us at the gate. Awesome experience---even Elder Markham's allergies acted up!
When we caught up with the Armstrongs at baggage claim, they were totally engulfed by family. It seems the compassion gene is dominate in the Armstrong family. Their two granddaughters held up a welcome sign for Elder and Sister Markham. Please visit our sign and shop of the month contest web page in this update and scroll down to the winner's circle to see how we felt about their greeting.
|Mark Poret, Elder Markham's former home teaching companion, met us at the airport in his large SUV. But there were no slogans or philosophies painted on the tailgate---we'll have to teach the folks in Utah about that. The ride to Provo was beautiful---smooth roads, law abiding drivers and street lights. For the first time in 18 months, we felt delightfully cold!|
|Our daughter Corinne is wonderful. Her presence at home with us for a few days was delightful. She was very helpful and knew many tidbits about family and friends to share with us. She also had a very sincere interest in Africa and our experiences with the people there. It was a perfect transition back to civilian life in Provo.|
Little Things Mean A Lot
Julie's (formerly Sister Markham) sister
Susan was at the airport to welcome us.
She knows her sister well and brought
homemade brownies. There were more
goodies on our doorstep from neighbors.
A loving note and a new rubber ducky
had been planted by our daughter-in-law
Laura in anticipation of Julie's long
awaited bubble bath.
The first week home was busy just reconnecting with life. On Sunday we reported to the stake high council and then spoke in Sacrament meeting. Many friends and family attended. These included Martha Boyer, a sister of our newest daughter-in-law Melissa (whom we have never met), her fiance Adam, and three of Elder and Sister Huff's children with one spouse. It was thrilling to meet children of people we love so much. Just one week earlier we had been in Sotad village with their parents. Steve and Glenda Wilson, our insurance agent and missionary with Ben in Japan and the parents of a missionary serving in the Ghana Accra Mission, the Youngs, also attended Sacrament Meeting. After the three hour block, many extended family members came to our home for soup and salad. As you scroll through these pictures, watch the smile on Julie's face. Inspired by two beloved nephews, Ben (formerly Elder Markham) took advantage of Julie's euphoria to get the buzz haircut he had wanted for years.
I am feeling light headed,
but it's not from medication or illness!
Three Cool Heads
Tom, Ben and James
Wonderful Extended Family
|Andie, Mandy and Andy Wilson||Alisha and David Owen|
|Uncle Bill and Aunt Marilyn Pratt||Annette and Charlie Haws|
James, Sam and Becky Jardine
James taped the last season of
Enterprise for Julie,
winning an eternal place in her heart!
Tom and Sally Cannon with
Zack, Sidney, Summer and Savannah
|Aunt Maydae Smith||Susan Forsberg|
Turn on the lights, the party's just beginning!
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