They're alive and well, that's the gist I got from the brief conversation; Lyle was on a borrowed satellite phone. He said that everything in the landscape is in shades of brown and red, that he went on a ten-mile run that morning, that the mayor of the town was letting them use a school as their temporary dental clinic, and that Lucy was energized and making friends.
It was too short, with kids yelling that they needed to say hi too. There were so many things I wanted to ask him, but no time. Before they left on their trip, I told Lucy that I was counting on her to write in her journal everyday and take as many pictures as her memory card could handle--I believe it's well over a thousand. I so wish they had internet access. My Lucy loves to wax poetic and I know I'll be able to see the African sunsets through her journals.
Lyle would be proud of the work we've done since they've been gone. I love the stories of early pioneer wives whose husbands go off into the mission field and come home months or years later to see their farms thriving and root cellars full. When asked by his son if he'd seen miracles on his mission, one father answered, "The greatest miracle I've ever seen is your mother." Service tends to be my love language, so when I'm missing Lyle, I obsess over long to-do lists. He does the same thing during the rare occasions when I'm away. Years ago when I went on a quick trip to Chicago, I came home to new planter beds, a porch swing still smelling of sawdust, and a freshly seeded lawn. There were 26 messages on our neglected answering machine. For those few days, he did nothing but work, hardly even sleeping, putting the last tool away as I was pulling in the driveway. That's the type of man I married.
He'd be proud of his son too. I have to wonder if he had a little sit-down talk with Bruder before he left. The "you are the man of the house now" type of talk, because Bruder has been particularly helpful and so patient with his little sisters. He spoke in church on Sunday, finished twelve plaques for younger scouts who earn their Arrow of Light awards, and has diligently done his homework with a minimum of nagging from his mother.
Rose has made more than one "surprise" for her big sister and has an elaborate scenario all laid out for their homecoming. It's like a detailed script, so I hope our poor unknowing travelers say the right things, enter the proper rooms at the proper times, and notice the things they're supposed to notice. Rose is a fairly unyielding director.
Cholita asked numerous times those first two days, "Isn't it time to pick up Lucy from school yet?" When it sunk in that they were in Africa, she moaned, "Oh, I'll miss them forever!" Obviously we're unaccustomed to long absences.
The sun is fully up now and my to-do list is calling. Nearly every one of our planting beds is now ready for spring, no small task in our yard. With Lyle throwing himself into a good work half a world away, any pioneer wife worth her weight can invest a little sweat into the homefront.