Chapter 50: Portugal Trip, Part 2

While in Lisbon, we decided to get a few gifts for some of our friends. One was for a dear friend from Enrile who had made the quilt for Nancy and Terry we brought in our luggage. She also had specially prepared some peanuts for them that were delicious. One day while we were out breakfasting in one of the pasterllerias and croissanterias, I noticed the tiny cups and saucers in which they served espresso and cappuccino drinks. I suddenly realized that for our quilting friend these would be the perfect gift. In the Itawes area they use those same kinds of cups for serving their sukalate. We didn’t get any for us, but found the perfect one for her. After we got back to the Philippines, we decided to send some money to Nancy and Terry to have them buy a whole set with coffee server, sugar bowl and creamer pitcher, and twelve tiny cups and saucers with tiny spoons for us, too. We decided that these tiny cups, demitasse cups, would be just the right gift for some other friends in the States, too, so we bought some and sent them to them also.

One place in Alges, Lisbon, where Nancy lived, had a lot of baby sweaters, pants and caps. They were on a table in front of a little shop near where we had previously gotten some lovely pop-up Christmas cards from a street vendor. The baby clothing items were beautifully knitted and were at a good price, so we got a set for Brandon, Nancy’s baby, and another for our other new grandson, Taylor, born September 10th to Ken and Cathryn in California. Later that day, we went back with a lot more money and got more outfits to give to babies in Enrile. What nice buys. We got about 20 sweaters, 20 pairs of pants and caps, and some little dresses, too, all knits. Probably all were seconds and that was why they were so reasonably priced, but that wouldn’t keep them from being nice and warm for some child, so we got them. In our baggage these took the place of the things we had taken to Nancy from the Philippines, so we ended up with heavy bags again on the trip home.

Later on in Paris, we got little tiny replicas of the Eiffel Tower to send to our children and give to Mari, the lady who had been so good to us at the Manila Singapore Airlines office. Other than that, we got postcards in Paris and Singapore.

While Nancy was in the hospital, she had many visitors. Most of them were missionaries who lived and worked in Lisbon. Some were from the mission that she and Terry would be working with when they got to Angola. One lady was wonderful, coming just about every day, and bringing things she knew Nancy or the baby would need. She and another lady wanted to give Nancy a baby shower.

Since they knew I would be there for only a few weeks, they decided to have it while I could be there. A few days before we left, they had the shower. In fact, the lady called me the day before the shower and invited me to give the devotions of the afternoon, and tell a little something about Nancy when she was a baby. I had no idea what I would say but prayed the Lord would help me and agreed to do it.

The baby shower was very nice. First of all, Nancy’s friend who hosted the shower, kept her apartment nice and warm, relatively speaking. Most of the homes there weren’t warmed, and Nancy and Terry didn’t warm theirs. Instead, they all wear warm clothing, so they are able to go without artificial heating. However, when you are from the Philippines and used to warmer weather, it is NICE to be in a warm room. There were about twelve women at the shower, and Terry, who stayed in the back room with a computer, working.

Throughout the whole shower, Brandon was sound asleep in a nice baby carrier Nancy had for him which was often useful when they traveled outside the apartment. That made for an easy baby shower, because he didn’t interrupt the proceedings with lots of crying. When everyone was there that was supposed to be, they called on me to speak. I told about the night before Nancy was born, and the misadventures I caused that evening, (see chapter 14). Because it was such a crazy story, they all seemed to enjoy it immensely.

I also told the story of Brandon’s birth which was very frustrating, as Nancy’s was for us. You remember how badly we felt for Terry because he was so frustrated. He was all set to participate in the whole event from beginning to end, having taken the Lamaze classes with Nancy, but that was not to be. He had lost control of the situation so he became frustrated.

The main thought of my devotions I have sort of forgotten, but what I see now is, no matter what, God is in control, and we can praise Him for that. Nancy, Terry and Brandon would be having many experiences in Angola, many of them very frustrating, I’m sure. But if they continued to depend on the Lord, they couldn’t go wrong. The Lord would be with them, and He is always with us. He is here, and He is in ultimate control.

Nancy got many very nice things that day. The main thing was a stroller that had the feature that it could be folded up, and like an umbrella, it took as little space as possible when not in use. It was very versatile and could be used in conjunction with his other carrier to form many configurations, even into a baby buggy. Very nice! Chuck and I gave her a Bathinette, only we gave it to her before the shower as she needed to use it every day after she came home from the hospital.

It was almost exactly like the one I used with our kids, and I loved mine. It had a shelf underneath to hold clothing, diapers or anything else one might want to put there, and it had little pockets along the front of it for smaller things. Nancy was thrilled about the Bathinette, the stroller and all the other thoughtful gifts she got that day.

We spent almost three weeks with Nancy and Terry. Nancy had recovered from her Caesarean operation and was in good physical condition, and she and Terry seemed able to handle anything that came up. So Chuck decided we would leave on November 24th, a Sunday afternoon. After going to church that morning where they attended, we went out for dinner. Immediately thereafter, we went to the train depot and got our tickets. This time we got first class accommodations because we did not want to share our stateroom with anyone else. We had all of ten minutes left to get on the train, quite a rush, as per usual with us. Nancy gave us some delicious pastries as our going away gift, and what a marvelous reminder that we had really been there as we settled down later to eat them.

We had a delightful trip on the trains from Lisbon to Paris. We had prepared food for our dinner and for lunch the next day, and got breakfast in the dining car. We had to go separately because we were afraid someone would come into our compartment and take something. We met a young American man who warned us not to leave our stuff alone as he had had his camera stolen two weeks previously in Spain when he was on a train. He left his stuff with us in our compartment when he went to another car to party. Much later in the evening we heard him outside in the walkway area, and he was with some guys who had had too much to drink. One of them opened our door and tried to get into our compartment, but we wouldn’t let him stay there. Then the Americano told them to quit bothering us and go somewhere else.

We had paid for first class tickets, so we thought we should be able to have just two of us in there. We didn’t know there were supposed to be six people to a compartment. We were lying across the three seats on both sides of the compartment trying to sleep. Every time the train stopped in Spain, more people would get on, and they would try to come into our compartment. Finally Chuck got upset enough about it he put a rope that went from around the back of the seat to the handle of the door so that no one could get in. When the conductor came along and saw it there, he waved his finger at us saying we couldn’t do that. He came in when Chuck took it down, and we told him people kept trying to come in to our compartment. Then he told us there were six seats, and that meant six people were allowed to be in there. Wow, were we ever humbled by that. Here we had buffaloed all those people into not coming into OUR compartment as we had paid for these seats ourselves. He asked if we wanted to pay for the other seats, but we quickly said no, and he left us alone. It was late enough by that time that the people who had tried to get in had already found other places, and no one else bothered us after that.

When it was morning, I looked out the windows and saw snow on the mountains to the right of us, and there was even snow right near the tracks. I thought we must be in the foothills of the Pyrenees. It was nice and warm inside, so we didn’t have to worry about being cold. Later when we were in Paris we saw snow again, though it didn’t snow where we were.

At the French border we changed trains. Before going to the French train, we walked around town a few blocks from the station and got some stuff to eat. Finally we got on, and had a nice compartment. Eventually several others got on and our compartment was full.

One of our compartment mates was an interesting Frenchman who spoke English very well, so we were able to talk with him about a multitude of things. We found out the political picture of France according to him. He was a former French Air Force man and had been trained in the States at various air force bases, so he knew a lot about Americans and America. He was very definitely pro-Reagan and against Ford and Carter. Chuck said later he thought if they had a John Birch Society in France, he would probably have been a member of it.

He was a well informed man. He told us by all means that I should buy some clothing in Paris because they were having big sales at that time. However, what he didn’t realize was that for one day only we would be in cold weather but after that, no more for several years, and it wouldn’t make sense to buy something under those circumstances. He insisted that it did make sense, just to say we had gotten something there, but we passed. He also said we should go to see a certain movie because he thought it was the answer to all the problems of the world, or almost. And we didn’t do that either, although we would have liked to, but it just didn’t work out that way. He gave us two tickets for the subway so we could get right to our hotel and then go to the movie.

At 7:15 PM exactly we arrived at Paris. The man had said you could set your watch by the trains in Paris. Everyone got off, and we labored long and hard to carry our heavy luggage to the place where we could put the extra pieces in a storage locker and Chuck could call a hotel and make reservations. We had met a young American lady on the train who had a book of places to stay at different cities in different countries throughout Europe. She had given us the name of several hotels which were fairly cheap and yet listed by this book to be clean and good. So Chuck called one of those. By the time we had gone around Lisbon, we got to feel like pros, so we figured we could manage Paris, too. He had gotten instructions on how to get to the hotel. He asked what direction to go when we got out of the subway. The man at the hotel said, “You will turn north and walk about three blocks or so. You’ll see the Sorbonne University and it’s right near there.” We found the subway, got to the right station, and found where we were to turn north.

First thing off the bat we saw a Burger King, so we stopped before going any further to have our dinner. We had a Double Whopper, which was absolutely delicious. (They had seven Burger Kings in Paris, and right across the street and around the corner from that one, they were putting up a McDonald’s, too.)

We proceeded on our way, walking over the Seine River. We saw only huge tall buildings that looked quite official in that direction, and no hotels of the type we sought. Thinking we were lost, we got courage to ask three men who were coming our direction if they spoke English. We had heard that Frenchmen don’t like it when Americans cannot speak their language. However, these were very gracious men, and when Chuck asked if they knew where this certain street was, they really didn’t know. However, one of the men just happened to have a street map book of Paris. Talk about the Lord’s perfect timing. We found we should have turned south when exiting the subway rather than north. But then we wouldn’t have found the Burger King nor seen the Notre Dame Cathedral which was where we talked to the three men.

It happened that whenever we needed help, the Lord always had someone who could speak English right handy wherever we were—in Lisbon or Paris. Chuck would ask, “Is there anyone here who can speak English?” and sure enough, someone would pipe up that he knew a little English. Then we would be directed to where we wanted to go or find out what we wanted to know. The French people weren’t at all persnickety about our not being able to speak French.

We finally got to our destination with Chuck’s carrying our two heavy bags which weighed increasingly more with every step. Our hotel was in the St. Michele district of town near the Sorbonne University. As we were signing up at the front desk, Chuck asked the clerk if he were the man who had given him the instructions as to how to get to the hotel. At first he said no, but when Chuck told him about the misdirection business, he admitted it was he who had told him that. Then he said, “If you had told me you had a compass, I would have told you to go south, but you didn’t tell me that.” He then acted out what he had pictured the directions to be, and when he said to turn north, he turned south. Chuck was so frustrated. We found out this guy wasn’t French at all. He was Polish. Now when Chuck tells the story, he says everything he has ever heard about Polish people in jokes, he can certainly believe now.

When we went up to the room, we found it to be almost uninhabitable. It had a very dirty rug, the paper on the walls was peeling in various places, the beds were single beds and very soft, and the window wouldn’t close. There was dirty linen in the closet which had only one hanger. When Chuck pulled the sheet back to get into bed, he found the sheet didn’t reach the bottom, so I took the bed apart and redid it. It had a doubled sheet on it which didn’t tuck in at the bottom, so I made it single and fixed it up right. The one blanket was wool. Then I looked at my bed, and found it was the same way, with a couple of bloody spots on the sheet. So I took off that sheet, opened up the other bed, as there were three beds in the room, and took the sheet off that one. It looked like it had already been used once, but I used it anyhow, and removed the wool blanket. I am allergic to wool. I got the bedspreads from both of the beds and used them, and put my robe over as extra warmth. The curtains at the window were filthy. Fortunately, the clean bathroom was a redeeming feature. Also, we were so tired, we read our Bible, and had prayer for our kids, and fell fast asleep. Those soft beds didn’t bother us at all. The Lord was with us.

In the morning, we had breakfast in our room: figs, milk, and some bread, Then we went to see the Notre Dame Cathedral. It was just as fabulous as we had always heard it was. As we approached it, we saw it dimly through a drizzle or a low fog. We arrived and went inside, investigating both the inside, and later, the outside, thoroughly. We tried to take some pictures, but the lighting was sometimes uncooperative. Those flying buttresses were all that people said they would be, and it was an extremely beautiful edifice.

We had to get our baggage out of the hotel by noon, so we went back and took it to the train depot, storing it in one of the rental lockers there. Then we went to the Eiffel Tower, and it was absolutely amazing. We went to the observation deck in an elevator, and it was all enclosed up there so it wasn’t scary, Although Chuck is usually afraid of heights, he got along fine up there. We saw such a tremendous view of the whole city of Paris, but of course, in the fog, we could only see about a mile or so around the tower. They had panoramic pictures under the windows that showed exactly the scene you were looking at from that window. On the pictures were numbers over certain buildings, and at the side of these pictures was a list of the numbers and names of the buildings, so you could know exactly what you were seeing. Then, on the wall above the windows were listed points with names of faraway places on them and the distance that place was from the Eiffel Tower (like Venice, Italy: 525 miles or 846 kilometers). We thought that was quite interesting, too.

Soon it was time to go back and get our stuff and proceed to the airport, as our flight was leaving that day. We got to Orly International Airport all right, but we got out at the wrong terminal, the domestic flight terminal. We had wanted to go to the international terminal, but couldn’t read the sign. So after much frustration there (and we were just about to be late for our flight, as usual), we found out there would be another bus in five minutes to take us to the other terminal. Praise the Lord.

We were the last ones to get checked in. We hurried to the waiting lounge by the gate, and got in panting from our hurrying. ONLY TO HAVE TO WAIT FOUR HOURS! Our plane was held up first by something in the plane that wasn’t right, and later, because of fog that had set in and taken more than an hour to lift. In any case, we got there in time, and had sandwiches and something to drink in the waiting lounge. Later, on the plane, they served a lovely dinner.

Our first stop was Rome, but no one could get off the plane because they wanted to have a quick turn-around and get out as soon as possible. We took off more than an hour late, because the air space over Athens, our next stop, was too busy at that time of night so we would have to wait for that to clear up.

We stopped at Dubai and Colombo again, but couldn’t get off the plane at either place in order to save more time. We finally reached Singapore at 11:25 P.M. Wednesday night, five and a half hours late. That meant it was too late for us to call the missionary guest house in which we had planned to stay that night, so we just slept as well as we could stretching out on the seats in the waiting lounge.

In the morning we had a nice breakfast in the airport and went around looking at stuff in the stores they had in there, buying some post cards, chocolate candy, etc. and finally got our flight to Manila. It took off on time, served a nice lunch, and we got to Manila in perfect time. The transportation from the Manila airport is probably different from anything you have ever experienced anywhere else. This is what I mean! The first taxi we got into wouldn’t put his meter down, so we had to change taxis. If they put their meter down, you would get the fair fare to wherever you’re going. But some taxis don’t want to be paid the fair fare, they want to charge you about twice as much as it should be. Therefore, they do not like to put down their meter. However, the next one we got into was really nice, and he put his meter down right away.

So we got to our bank in good time, and then went on to the place where we planned to stay that night, the New Tribes Guest House, which we had wanted to try out because we had heard from other missionaries that it was so great. Well, it was nice, but we like SIL better, and besides, SIL is closer to Magnolia’s ice cream parlor. That night we got a good sleep and really appreciated that. The bed was nice and hard, but not too hard. Everything was lovely.

We had heard that the missionaries in Aparri were having their traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday at 1 PM, so we decided to go there. We flew to Tuguegarao Saturday at 6 AM, went immediately to Enrile, picked up our stuff for helping with the dinner, went to Tuguegarao again, waited for the Pantranco bus, and waited, and waited, and waited. We waited for that bus for 3 1/2 hours. Of course, we missed the dinner, and we missed their prayer time afterwards, and whatever else they had had. At four o’clock just as they were saying their last prayer, we knocked at the door. They had a microwave oven, so they warmed up some leftovers for us, so we feasted on a Butterball turkey and all the fixin’s. It was delicious.

We stayed overnight there, went to church with them in the morning, ate lunch, stopped at Lallo Christian Children’s Home for about five minutes on our way home, then got a bus to Tuguegarao. We arrived there just in time to get the last jeepney going to Enrile. It was surely good to be on that jeep, surely good to get home, and surely good to get into our own bed that night. It was quite an adventure for us, and we were glad to have been there for Nancy and Terry. But we were also glad we didn’t have any more travel plans in the near future.

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