On June 24th, we left from Kilimanjaro Airport for a visit home. The first two parts of our trip were on Qatar Airlines by way of Doha, Qatar and Frankfurt, Germany. The final leg was on US Air from Frankfurt to Philadelphia. Because of our almost 13 hours in layovers, we saved half the cost of the trip. To us, this was well worth it and also gave us a chance to see Kenya, Somalia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain out the plane windows. We have never seen so much sand in our lives!
Qatar Airport is very nice, with lots of shopping and two cordoned off areas to nap in lounge chairs. There is even a men’s mosque and a women’s mosque in it. Most of the people working in the airport are from somewhere else…..India, Korea, the Philippines and probably many other places. The departures board listed flights to places we never heard of.
We were so happy to reach Philadelphia and be back on US soil. Of course, there was still a bit of culture shock with all of the traffic, sights and sounds of Philly.
The high points of our trip were spending time with our family and friends and being home for the Fourth of July. Anyone who has not enjoyed the down home America experience of July 4th in Riverton, NJ just doesn’t know what they are missing!
When we came home in November, we did not get to see everyone we wanted to. This time, we did much better. We enjoyed many meals out with friends and family, and visits at their homes. It was a great chance to re-connect with those we miss so much when we are here.
We enjoyed being at our home congregation, St John’s Lutheran Church in the Mayfair section of Philadelphia. It was wonderful to hear the Word in English and to receive Holy Communion with our brothers and sisters there.
July 14th we went to speak at August Lutheran Church in Trappe, PA. Augustus was organized in 1730 and was the church of Henry Muhlenburg, first Lutheran pastor in America. During summer months, they worship in the old building, which was built ibetween 1743 and 1745. It was incredible to stand in the place where Muhlenburg stood so many years ago. It was very nice meeting the people of Augustus, whose mission includes care of such a remarkable piece of history.
Another high point was a day spent at Hospitality Creek Campground in Monroe Township, NJ. We had a trailer there before we came here and loved going there most weekends during the camping season. We spent the day with two of our children and their spouses and four of our grandchildren. We played in the lake, pool and the children’s activity pool. We also had a chance to visit with friends at the campground.
Also, while we were in America, we attended the Summer Missionary Conference of the ELCA held in Kenosha, Wisconsin. We decided to drive there in order to see some of the country (and to save some money, too). The trip was beautiful and we also enjoyed a couple of days in Chicago before the conference. We will write more about this in a separate blog posting.
All in all, our visit was great. It gave us so many wonderful memories to think back on now that we are here again in Irente. We were so warmly welcomed when we returned. When we arrived at our house, we were greeted with bouquets of flowers and songs of welcome. No one could ask for a better reception.
We thank God for the opportunity to be in America and for a safe return to Tanzania.