Saturday, September 15, 2012

What Makes an Airport?

We in America take our airports for granted. Many of us live within an hour drive of an airport that has at least a half a dozen different airlines (O’Hare has 55) flying in and out of it on multiple runways that are long enough to land a variety of large planes. Our airports are full of shops, eateries, and usually at least enough chairs for half of the people waiting for your flight to sit down. The buildings are massive structures, and most airport terminals are so large and so spread out that they have trains to link them. If you have ever been to DFW, you understand that you usually spend more time commuting between terminals than you do actually flying on an airplane. 

Airports here in the mountains are a little bit different. Actually the only thing they have in common with airports in the US is that occasionally airplanes land and take off at the place called the “airport.” Here are a list of things you may find surprising if you visited the mountain airport that we frequently fly to:

  1. The “road” to the airport is a single lane road. What I mean by “single lane” is that one person can walk at a time. In the case of someone coming the other way, you have to climb up on the side of the hill to allow that person to pass. No car, truck, or even motorcycle has ever visited the airport.
  2. The airport building is a rough wooden structure that is approximately 12 feet wide by 20 feet deep. It has no roof. The “wall” facing the runway is chain link. It is a very, very dusty place. 
  3. The runway is dirt, and it is far from flat. Apart from the pits and bumps, it runs uphill at about a 5% grade. When the airplanes start their taxi they are heading away from the “terminal” that has a chain link wall. And the runway is dirt. Loose dirt. If you don’t turn away, your mouth, nose, and eyes will be filled with a pound of dust. Tasty. Since there is no Cinnabon, this is the only way to grab a bite before your flight. 
  4. During take off and landing there are usually 20-30 people hanging out on the side of the runway. About five of them work for the airline, and another five are police or military. Everyone else just wants to see the airplane or are trying to fetch their luggage. 
  5. After a plane lands the luggage is unceremoniously flopped out of the cargo hold onto the dirt. After the plane takes off again you can go pick it up. 
  6. There are two airlines that fly in and out. One flies nine-seat planes, and the other flies 16-seaters. There is no beverage service, but there are three point harnesses for every seat. 
  7. There are no chairs in the “terminal.” Or free wifi. 

So what makes an airport. Well, I guess very little. The important thing seems to be that a plane occasionally lands or takes off. That’s about it. 

Airport Terminal 1A

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Three months ago my two ministry partners and I visited a village high in the himalayas and heard that a friend of ours, for the fifth year in a row, was facing the death of a loved one. In the past four years, he lost his father, his only son, and two other relatives. This year his wife had just given birth to another son, but the pregnancy had caused complications to her own health. When we arrived in the smoke filled home, we saw a woman covered in blankets and barely alive lying in the corner. As we sat down on the dirty floor, we heard a small sound come from a nearby basket. I searched through the layers of sheep skins to find a tiny, malnourished baby boy no more than six pounds, but already six weeks old. His mother seemed to be suffering from congestive heart failure, or some other heart condition, and was barely able to move. There was nothing we could do. We had no medicines. We told the husband that we believed in a God that could heal and told him the story of Jairus and the healing/resurrection of his daughter in Mark 5. He invited us to pray for his family, and we called out to God to have mercy on this family. An hour later we were in tears and had yet to see God move mightily in this woman’s life. With heavy hearts, we moved on to the next house we needed to visit. Two days later, we received word that the woman had died, and the family’s neighbors suspected the baby boy would be next. For three months, we heard no news, and the village they live in has no phone connection whatsoever. This past month we were attending a festival, and a little girl ran up to me. I recognized her as the little baby’s older sister. She told us her little brother was still alive! Among the people we work with 1 in 17 mothers die in child birth, and the infant mortality rate is at 50%! The fact that this little baby made it to 6 months old is an absolute miracle. Our prayer is that this miracle would swing the door of his father’s heart wide-open to receive the God of miracles.