As our nation takes time to reflect on the past decade and how life has changed since September 11, 2001, I thought I would share where I was when I heard the terrible news and how it affected me and my family in the days to follow.
On September 11, I awoke to a chilly morning in the mountain city of Puebla, Mexico. I had been there for several days.
I was there with a mission group of about 20 men, building a church in a poor neighborhood of the city. Protestant churches are a rare sight in this nation that is dominated by Roman Catholicism. The people of Puebla were gracious hosts and they were most appreciative that we gave our time and toil to their little church. It was a joy to be there.
Several of us had gotten very sick by then and we were told to stay at the hotel and rest. Shortly after I had fallen back to sleep there was a loud and relentless pounding on my door. My friend Kevin barged in as I opened the door and he ran to the television and turned in on. He was ranting about a plane hitting the Trade Tower in New York. Just as we turned back to the screen, the second plane hit the other tower. We were aghast.
We were thousands of miles from home and family, and in this grief and uncertainty we were also cut off from our fellow travelers, as they were a half-hour across the city working on the church. We sat there isolated from all we knew and we prayed for our nation and we prayed for our wives and kids who were so far away and out of communication as phone lines were jammed up.
Later the gang returned from the mission and got cleaned up. They told us that they didn’t get much work done. When the news spread, all the locals rushed to the church to pray for and pray with the American Missionaries who had come to minister to them.
After everyone was refreshed we all went back to the church for a wonderful worship service. We all sang hymns in Spanish and the Mexican neighbors fed us and comforted us.
All planes were grounded, so our departure was delayed several days. We flew from Mexico City to Dallas and we were the only people at the airport, we were one of the first flights to land there after the skies were open to travel. When we arrived at Logan in the late night, the terminal was empty except for the passengers disembarking from our plane. The airport was swarming with State Police wearing fatigues, armed with AR-15 rifles. There were no cabs outside. No buses either. We stood there in the night with no traffic, no hustle, no bustle, as we waited for our limo to take us back home.
Though it was wonderful to get home and be reunited with Sue, I returned to a different country than the one I had left. That country I left is but a memory.
Where were you?