So during part 2, I related that I had moved to Colorado Springs to coordinate a mission located in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. I managed to do OK at my job. The first several times I had to speak at churches were pretty nerve-wracking (I won't even tell you what I blurted out by accident at the first one), but I soon got more comfortable with my speech, myself, and my job and had a lot of fun meeting people and visiting beautiful places. (Also, I had no idea that so many people slept during the sermon at church. You hear about it, but it's a much different thing to see it from the front!)
One of my favorite visits was to Leadville, Colorado. On the twisty, windy drive there, I endured road construction and people in RVs with no agenda and certainly not my sense of urgency. About halfway into my trip, I realized I was NOT going to make it on time. I left a message for the priest, and got there as soon as I could, "sneaking" into the front row once I made it. (Yeah, try doing THAT sometime.) The Gospel reading was on Mary and Martha (Luke 10:39-42). I tossed parts of my carefully-written speech out the proverbial window, and spoke about how I really had Martha's heart that day. I then connected it back with the missioners' work and how they helped me see countless ways to be more like Mary - and it ended up being one of my best talks ever.
Then came September 10, 2001. I don't remember where I was when I received the call; I don't even remember all of the details now. Two of our missioners were in a car accident while attending a funeral. Miraculously, no one else was hurt aside from bumps and bruises, but for a bit, we weren't sure how badly our ladies were injured. I woke up the morning of September 11th with my bags packed, intending to get a plane ticket and travel to Hermosillo as soon as possible. As I was getting ready for work, the morning radio show indicated that something weird had happened in New York. The news kept getting worse and worse with regards to travel and more importantly, with regards to what was happening to our country. I spent many hours over the next several days with our travel agent, but there wasn't anything she could do. We finally put the adult son of one of the missioners on a bus so he could be with his mother.
It seems like forever now, but I think it was sometime within the next day or two that we learned one missioner ruptured her spleen, and after surgery and receiving blood donated by a parishioner, she was stable. The other missioner broke her collarbone and a few teeth. Once air restrictions were lifted, one of my bosses flew down to help sort things out.
I have never felt so inadequate, so unqualified, so ineffective as I did during that time. My seven years of high school and college Spanish didn't go far at all while talking on the phone to hospital staff. I didn't know how to deal with pretty much anything that had happened, let alone help the missioners. Plus there were so many things going on in our country at that time - I remember waking up in the middle of the night and hearing the National Guard planes patrolling the city while the flight ban was still in place. I didn't know at the time that it was the good guys and I was *terrified*.
The two injured missioners returned home, and I did some this-and-that stuff to help them re-acclimate to life here and recuperate from their injuries. I actually managed to recruit one missioner to serve, but with only him and one other female missioner there, the dangers of our neighborhood really began to surface. Again, I don't remember the specifics, but I seem to remember they had some close calls with people trying to break in, likely high on drugs. Around Christmastime, it became clear that it was no longer safe for them to remain in Hermosillo.
Personally, I was so shaken by my inability to perform my job after the accident, I decided it was time for me to move on. I was homesick, and tired of living in a "big city" where I didn't know very many people. (Though I was part of a very wonderful young adults group there . . . I think they are now called Gravity, since they are "grounded in Christ" - very cool!)
Anyway. I found a job about an hour from my hometown back in Nebraska and jumped at the chance to go back home. The teaser for next time - at this point, I was six months away from meeting a certain handsome Lutheran cow farmer. Stay tuned! :>)
Also, please leave a comment - where were you when you learned what was happening on September 11, 2001? How did it affect you?