The trouble with the whole missionary situation is that, by default, the mission field is always a zillion miles from home. Pastor’s Kids get it easy in this regard. Their dad drives to work. Ours took 5 separate flights of varying length and comfort (I take that back. The comfort was non-existent) over 12 different timezones and dragged us along for the ride. That first long plane trip was the worst. Those glitzy airline ads you see in magazines and on TV? Filthy Lies. My brother and sister slept on the floor of the jet underneath the seats. I can only presume the South American airline which shall remain nameless (but may rhyme with Berolineas Bargentinas) had no life support or floatation devices under there, since there was always plenty of room. Being taller, the only way I could sleep was snapping myself in half over the tray table and sticking my wafer-like pillow on it for support. In hindsight, I would have been more comfortable in the baggage compartment curled up in one of those big containers they ship spam in. The flight was only 18 hours long so I can’t really complain, and my legs regained their colour again several weeks later. I’d always dreamed of taking toy cars stuffed in my pockets so when the plane took off they’d shoot up and down the aisle and bring great tidings of joy to everyone. The pilots, seeing obvious potential, would invite me up to the cabin to learn about mechanical physics. One look from mum killed that idea. I sat there like an idiot with bulging, uncomfortable pockets for the rest of it. I guess everyone has horrific travel stories. We never lost any luggage or had missed flights, as far as I can remember.
For the duration, dad doped us up on doses of Phenergan, which was actually for the treatment of allergies. Which none of us had. Inside an airplane. With filtered air. It did however, contain powerful anti-histamines that had us out like lights. Looking back I can see the logic. Traveling for us sucked. Travel for them traveling with us must have sucked even harder. My sister puked halfway through the flight. I’m sure it was only a reaction to the overdose from Dad, since she was only 2. Even I, already 10 at the time, had trouble getting all 15 tablets to go down. The attendants were amazingly helpful. Although they didn’t understand our australian accents, they gave silent, unblinking stares that could have either said “I want nothing to do with that” or “Get that disgusting mess away from me.” Regardless, I remember mum being really thankful and expressing some thoughts under her breath that didn’t really belong to a missionary lady from Australia. If I had a penny for every hour of life i’d spent in airports… i’d still have bulging pockets like an idiot. Although i’d have a huge bag of pennies that i could use to fill socks and whack unsuspecting pensioners in the bank line. In the beginning, airports are really quite fun for kids. They’re huge, noisy and have all manner of large flying things. They also have an endless selection of overpriced food and gifts you’d never be allowed to get anyway. Thankfully for us lucky little travelers mum had brought plenty of raisins. Yay! After 8 hours of playing the “go (insert time-wasting menial task here) for mum” game, airports can start to be a little grating. We were perfect kids but Mum & Dad sure were annoying.