Pack Everybody

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 Posted by Katie

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We were leaving, but it wasn’t on a jet plane. It was a double-propeller, rickety, last-minute-available, single-pilot, no-flight-attendants-except-our-moms, plane.  We were leaving for a year, and we had been given two hours to pack. We were being evacuated from Cartagena, Colombia.

It was September 26, 1989. We had just moved to Cartagena several months before. The violence from various drug cartels had been picking up in other major Colombian cities, but until the night of the 25th, had not yet touched ours. That was the night the Hilton Hotel in Cartagena was bombed.  

My Dad worked with Royal Dutch Shell and all of the families who were transferred from Houston down to Cartagena together had been living at either the Hotel Caribe or a couple of blocks away in the Hilton. Our family had just recently moved into our assigned apartment, but there were several families and coworkers who were still living in the hotels. Some of them lost their rooms, but thankfully not their lives, at the Hilton.

Sadly, however, several people were killed in the blast, and suddenly everyone knew it was a whole new ball game in our previously quiet, Caribbean vacation-destination city. Our private security team from Royal Dutch Shell was especially aware of the change. They would be unable to guarantee the safety of all of the families as they had been doing since we first arrived, a bunch of gringos fresh from Texas.

It was decided in a meeting first thing on the morning of the 26th. Cartagena was now unstable and dangerous. They would allow all of Royal Dutch Shell’s employees to stay, but their families would have to go. We had two hours to pack.

This week, as I meditated on our Daily Fast Fuel theme, my mind wandered to that memorable morning.  I remember watching fellow “HOCOL” kid, Greg Parker, try to pack his dog, Dudley, into his suitcase. Poor Greg’s plan was quickly foiled. I also remember, standing on the tarmac, numb and in shock, as my mom, siblings and I hugged our dad good-bye. I remember seeing all of the dads standing there, watching us, as we boarded the plane without them. None of us knew what the coming weeks or months would behold, but I think all of us had considered some frightening possibilities.

We should have packed everybody. We didn’t want to leave anyone behind. If there was any way we could have gotten everyone on that plane, we would have.

And this is just the kind of urgency I believe we all need to consider when it comes to offering the security, comfort, protection, hope and promise of the Kingdom to those around us. Our ticket has been freely given to us…and to everyone.

 “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish.” - 2 Peter 3:9

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