To Bamako

To Bamako

2/3/2009

 

He lay sprawled on the flat-back seat with a newspaper on his chest. The seats were far enough apart that Morgan could barely reach the front page.

John’s eyes opened as she unfolded the paper. “The engines put me to sleep. Did they serve breakfast yet?”

“Whenever you want it. Just press the button.”

John yawned and pulled himself to a sitting position. His Hawaiian shirt was wrinkled at the shoulders. “Bamako. Bamako. I can’t wait to dip my feet into the ocean. Or get a frosty pina colada on the beach.”

She turned to the World section of the Globe. “Look at this. Crippling poverty in Mali; the Red Cross is running low on volunteers.”

“Well, at least we’re not going there on vacation.” John shook his head. “Say, great price on the seats. I didn’t know Air France flew to Bamako for this cheap. Seaside cities are usually expensive.”

“And what else… water shortages have become a problem.” Morgan scanned the article. “Their HDI is one of the lowest in the world.”

He pushed a button above his seat. “I’m sorry to hear that. Honestly. But Bamako is thousands of miles away from that sort of thing. We can worry about countries like Mali once we’re back from vacation.”

A flight attendant approached their seat in a sharp blue dress. “Your continental breakfast, sir.”

“Oh, looks excellent.” John set the plate onto his tray. “Say, what is the temperature at Bamako? I don’t want to go swimming in the cold.”

The flight attendant laughed. “You Americans and your humor. It’s 104 Fahrenheit at our destination.”

John’s eyes widened. He thanked the attendant and looked back at Morgan.

“They say that all Mali needs are a few good volunteers,” Morgan said. “Money isn’t enough. They need people through whom God can answer prayers.”

“But God has plenty of people.” He stuck a fork into a wedge of melon. “And that’s why we can go to the ocean in peace. Did you bring a bathing suit?”

Morgan looked into him. John bit into the melon and blinked.

“Do you care about them?”

“About the folks in Mali? Sure. If you’d like, I can get you a bathing suit there. The tropics always—”

“If you care, look outside.”

John pulled up the plastic covering, allowing a shaft of light into the cabin. He glanced down, then frowned and pressed his head to the glass.

“Where is the ocean?”

He turned back at her. His elbow bumped against the plate.

“As I was planning the trip, God seemed to be putting the same image in my mind. Pictures of ashes. starving children. And I kept saying what you said: ‘I can worry about Mali later.’ But the Lord wasn’t impressed. So I decided that, for once in my life, I would throw away the vacation brochures and listen to God. Actually serve Him.”

John held a piece of pineapple in his mouth. A drop of juice fell onto his Hawaiian shirt.

He reached into the magazine bin to his right and pulled out a route map. His finger traced South America, then moved over to the Caribbean, then swung over to the Indian Ocean. He set the map down and looked at his wife.

“Morgan, where is Bamako?”

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