After the first year of living in South Caicos, my grandmother realized that my mom and her older brother needed a better education than she could provide. So she and my grandfather made the difficult decision to send their kids back to the States for boarding school.
But how to get them home was an issue. In the early ’60′s, Caicos was hardly a booming tourist hot spot. There were no major airports, and even if there had been, they had little money transport the children back and forth.
So my grandparents took a gigantic leap of faith. It’s something that I couldn’t fully appreciate until I became a mother myself.
On occasion, small planes would land on a small, beach landing strip in S. Caicos. When it came time for the kids to head back to school, they had to pack their suitcases and be ready at all times. If a small plane landed on the beach, Poppy Jim would race to meet the pilot and ask him where he was going, and if he had room for two young children. If the pilot said yes, my grandfather would zoom back to the house, blaring his horn, which was his signal for the kids to grab their bags and leave.
One does not do that unless he has full faith in God to keep his children safe. My mom was only 11/12 and her brother is two years older. They were very small.
When the kids arrived in Miami, they would get word to their parents that they made it, then they left to live with grandparents for the school year.
The deal they had with their parents was that they could come home at Christmas and for summer break. But, in 1962, it looked like the funds would not be there to bring the kids home. On December 10, 1962, after realizing that the supply ship with the food was not going to arrive on time once again, my grandmother wrote:
I can see why many missionaries give up and go home. The discouragements and disappointments that come all at one are more sometimes than we can take. I thank the Lord for His sustaining Hand. Hellp me, O Lord, to be more thankful and more patient!
Poppy Jim was in the States at this point, with Mimi under the impression that he was picking up a few supplies and going to see the kids. He was scheduled to return on December 14, but, as was always possible in the Caribbean, there was a possibility that he would miss his flight or his flight would be cancelled. And Mimi feared this disappointment dreadfully. December 14, 1962 she wrote:
Breakfast is over and I’ve washed my hair and I’m trying to dry it so I’ll look nice to meet the plane. I’m almost afriad to get out of the truck for fear he won’t be on the plane. I wouldan’t want the villagers to see how disappointed I’d be!! I may sit in the truck and then I could cry if I like.
What she didn’t know is that Poppy Jim had scraped together enough funds to bring her kids home as a surprise. Here is what she wrote in the next entry:
He brought my kids home! My baby brought my kids home! My Dusty and my own Candy. Thank you, Lord – Thank you for the best Christmas present ever. My kids and food, too! Food for all of us – we’ll have a party!
That last part always makes me cry…