While I was visiting, the weather was unseasonably warm--record-breaking, actually--and mild. (The northwest corner of the state has had snow since then!) I didn't do anything "exciting" by most people's standards. But I spent quality time with my parents, two of my sisters, and a few of my nieces and my nephew. I reconnected with friends and church family from my formative years. I breathed fresh Kansas air and saw AMAZING views of the harvest moon over the cornfields. I saw cotton fields for the first time in my life. Yeah, it was a great trip.
On my journey west, I experienced one of the best Veteran's Days ever. At every point of my journey, we were applauding the veterans in our midst. The airline (Delta--giving credit where credit is due) handed out blue and red wrapped chocolates at the end of each flight to honor the veterans. A group of young sailors, who were about to board their flight, were surrounded by well-wishers and words of thanks for their willingness to serve. My lunch at Popeye's was shared with a Vietnam Vet from Arkansas. It was awesome!
I also witnessed the kindness of Americans toward one another. A young mom was traveling with her 8 month old son to visit relatives. As she was navigating the first airport, she realized she had forgotten her son's pacifier. A complete stranger, who happened to have a brand-new one in her diaper bag, offered it to this young woman. The gentleman sitting next to her on our flight took over the role of "grandpa" so she could attend to her son's needs. Every time the pacifier hit the floor, the stewardesses were there in a moment to rinse it. Then someone on the flight produced a lanyard. Three adults (including myself) figured out a way to hook it to the pacifier, so that mommy wouldn't have to keep searching the floor for it. There was applause for successful moments and laughter at the sweet little guy's antics. We became a family on that flight. When we began to disembark, all those seated near her were helping to gather blankets, etc. People of every size, shape, and color united to keep a baby happy for 1 1/2 hours. It was beautiful!
On my next flight, I sat next to a gentleman from New Jersey, who was on his way to join in the beginning of pheasant season in Kansas. "I'm going to a place called 'Greensburg'. Have you ever heard of it?" I laughed. "Yes! That's where I'm going, too!" He peppered me with questions, and entertained me and our seatmate with his hunting stories. I hope he had fun. It was a hoot!
On my return yesterday, I had a brand new experience. I met a family of immigrants. In the interest of their safety and privacy, I cannot tell you their names, their country of origin, or their destination. What I can tell you is that I was drawn to them. Imagine for a moment needing to uproot your entire family from the only home they have ever known, and having to trust complete strangers for safe passage to a new country...only to be surrounded by people whose language you cannot understand and whose customs are totally other than anything you have ever known. A busy airport. Tired children. I did my best to converse with them (thank you, Google Translate!) and express American hospitality to these newcomers. I hope I was successful. My prayers are with them as they begin their new life here and that the adjustments to our country will be aided by loving, caring people. It was life-changing for me!
My heart is full.
My heart is full.