She was only 18, our first-born daughter, when she flew alone for the first time. Her destination wasn’t Florida or even California. It was farther. Much.
She’d cross the equator and continue on to the Southern Hemisphere, to Peru where she’d teach English for three months in a small school located in Huancayo. It was the first leg of her 12-month gap-year.
First she’d fly from Pittsburgh to Miami, then Miami to Lima. From the Lima airport she’d hail a taxi to transport her to a bus station. The bus ride to Huancayo would take seven hours. Her host, Tino, of Tinkuy Peru planned to meet her at the bus station. That was her itinerary, what was supposed to happen. Lord willing.
The year was 2010. Our family did not yet own smart phones. There was texting but not international texting plans. Our family wasn’t on Facebook. SnapChat didn’t exist.
The morning after we hugged her goodbye, I sent our two other children to school, had my quiet time, then settled into my daily routine. Really, it was like any other day except for the fact that I literally “prayed without ceasing.”
I had faith. I did. But still, I worried.
I tried not to picture my daughter’s slender form on a bench in the bus station, napping. Would her luxurious dark blonde curls broadcast to the locals she was a foreigner, an easy target? I hadn’t seen the movie “Taken,” but I knew its premise, and it scared me.
And what of the seven-hour bus ride? Would they drive along a mountain with a sheer drop-off to one side? The box lunch on the bus concerned me too. Would it be food-safe? If she contracted food poisoning, what then?
At five o’clock in the afternoon, close to 24 hours after her flight departed, I pulled into a parking space at the grocery store. “Please, God. Please, please, please let her be okay!”
I reached to turn off the radio but stopped when I heard my favorite song. David Crowder was singing, “How He Loves.”
With a creek of tears flowing down each cheek, I listened to the entire song. Afterward, a still, small voice spoke to my mother’s heart.
“As much as you love her, I love her infinitely more. As safe as you can keep her, I am so much better equipped to do so. Trust me, she is fine.”
In the store, I was tempted to skip with my cart up and down the aisles. The God of the universe whispered to me. He made things well with my soul.
Back in the car, as I buckled my seat belt, my cell phone pinged with a text. It was my husband. “Just got an email from her. She’s there. She’s fine.”
For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
–Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)