A Happy Reunion

Trip Start Jan 15, 2009
Trip End Feb 15, 2009

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Flag of Reunion  ,
Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This morning at 08:00 I had a visit with a lady who wants to be baptized. She came with her daughter who wanted to sit in on the visit. We started going through the scriptures and discussing the meaning and the importance of this fundamental rite. She read in French, her daughter in English and as we were all three bilingual, we sometimes compared phrases or words in the two translations of the Bible. It was a very positive and encouraging visit.

They left shortly before 09:30. I checked out and was on the road in just a few minutes. I stopped along the way to fill up the car and drove onto the departure level. This airport has some inconvenient aspects about it. One such is that if one returns a rental car to the rental car area, he must carry his suitcases quite a long way around and up a car ramp with no sidewalks to get to the departure level. The Avis agent had told me on arrival that I could just call him from the departure level and he would come get the car, which would save me a sweaty time of getting where I needed to go. But all that was before I realized my Cincinnati Bell Blackberry would have no signal in Mauritius.

I drove to the departure area and ask two people waiting by the door if I could pay them to call the agent downstairs. They very kindly offered to do so without accepting anything in return. He came up in a few
minutes and took the car away leaving me free to go straight in.

The Air Mauritius flight to Reunion was scheduled for 12:20. There were several successive delays. There was some problem with the equipment, and a new plane had to replace the scheduled aircraft. It was an Airbus 320, quite a large plane which required a different crew, which required them to come quickly from Port Louis or wherever they were. So we didn't leave until 2:00 pm. There were perhaps 40 passengers in a plane that can hold
hundreds. When we finally boarded we had to move all the way to the back of the aircraft. There was one fellow in business class, and then a great empty section of seats, and then a sprinkling of us at the very back of the plane.
Air Mauritius probably didn't make any money on that flight.

It's around 250 km or 150 miles to Reunion; a quick 30-minutes flight. During the wait in the departure lounge blue sky appeared, the first I had seen since I arrived. The cyclone was moving on and the weather clearing. We had lovely blue sky when we took off and the whole way on the flight. Even from thousands of feet up however I could distinguish individual waves on the ocean which meant they must have been very tall indeed.

Arrival in Saint Denis de la Réunion was brisk and efficient. We were in France now. This little island in the middle of the Indian Ocean is a department of France, like Hawaii is a US State. A customs agent stopped me and asked to see my passport. "American" he said in a noncommittal tone. He flipped through the pages of visas and stamps, and asked what my job was, and what I was doing on Reunion. When I answered, he let me pass without no expression on his face or in his voice.

Laval Prodigue, Jocelyn's brother was waiting for me in the arrival area. We shook hands and I said I was sorry I was so late. It wasn't a problem, he told me. From their home, the Prodigues have a clear view of the approach flight path to the airport runway and they know the planes to expect when visitors are coming. So they simply wait at home and watch until they see the plane on approach (in this case the Air Mauritius flight) and then drive
down to the airport in time to welcome visitors.

Thierry Prodigue, Laval's son brought the car around right away and we drove up from sea level to the heights overlooking Saint Denis, to their home. Thierry had kindly agreed to lend me his apartment just up the road,
and he will stay with his parents in his old bedroom for the two nights I'm to spend here.

It was after 3:00 pm by the time I arrived (4:00 pm Mauritius time) and we hadn't had lunch. Laval's wife Patricia had lunch ready so we had a meal shortly after I arrived. Mr. and Mrs. Prodigue are the only church members
on Reunion. They have been members for 20 years. I met them a few years ago in Mauritius, and had been intending to visit them ever since when I could make the time and this trip I could. We talked about many things, their history in the Church, what had happened in Reunion and in Mauritius over the past years, news from other parts of the world and so on. The time flew by. We finished the meal around 5:00, and my three hosts took me up to the apartment to let me unpack and settle in a little. Laval told me he'd be back to pick me up at 7:00 pm "for dinner."  I hung up my suit to let some wrinkles fall out, and was able to get online with a slow connection to catch up on some e-mails and send some travel blog posts. I couldn't connect my laptop to the Internet, but could only
go online on Thierry's desktop. It has a French keyboard. That means the A is where the Q should be, the Z is where the W should be, the M is where the semicolon should be, the apostrophe is up on the number 5 key and...you get the idea. Anything typed must be retyped and corrected several times to be legible. The process is slow and frustrating.

At 7:00 pm Laval came to get me. We eased into dinner with an aperitif and took our time, so we actually were able to have dinner even after such a recent lunch. I'm sure I'll regret that when I get back to my merciless
bathroom scale.... However the conversation was very interesting and encouraging. The Prodigues are very isolated members; they may visit Mauritius once a year, and they will see other church brethren during the Feast of
Tabernacles, but other than that their contact is at a distance, especially through video, audio and text posted on Church internet sites. They are experts on all that is posted, and feel very blessed to have it available.

We continued our free-flowing discussion of everything and anything until my eyelids were visibly drooping. I will not stay up late tonight.
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