Our arrival in Venzuela for the first time was quite an event in itself. We had informed the missionaries in Maracaibo, the city where TEAM had its field office, that we would be arriving on Wednesday the 23rd of August, 1979. When we arrived at the airport in Miami, we had some problems with our tickets, because we arrived on Wednesday, but the 23rd was on a Thursday. We were a day early!
Nevertheless, the airline company (a Colombian airline) found room for us and we were on our way. When we got to Baranquilla, Colombia, we were to make a connection for Maracaibo, Venezuela, but the connection was for Thursday. On Wednesdays the schedule was different. Fortunately for us, the plane that day was running late and was still at the terminal. The airport workers rushed us through all the check in lines and we were on our way.
Arriving in Maracaibo, we were happy to see some of our fellow missionaries (Elton Dresselhaus, Curt and Emelia Friebel, and Tania Alexander) waiting for us. They had also noticed the discrepancy in what I had said would be our arrival day, and decided that if I were to make a mistake, I would probably get the day of the week right, rather than the day of the month. So they thought they had better show up on Wednesday, just in case. Whew!
Maracaibo is a very hot city because it is at sea level and just a few hundred miles north of the equator. We enjoyed the hospitality of the missionaries who showed us some of the sights around the missionary complex building. There was a bookstore, and a printing shop where christian books and tracts were produced. Outside were colorfully painted houses, and narrow streets with vendors selling fruit and vegetables, some using donkey carts.
The next day we headed for the airport again and were off to the mountains. We touched down at the town of San Antonio, which is a border town with Colombia. It was also quite hot there. Glenn Felty, the director of Christiansen Academy, met us to give us a ride to our new ministry destination. The trip up the twisting mountain highway was very memorable. I was amazed at the dangerous drop-offs with no guard rails. The higher we went, the cooler it got.
Finally we arrived in Rubio, a pretty little town with about 30,000 inhabitants. It was there in 1952 that Norman and Jeanette Chugg had started the school for the children of the missionaries working in that area of Venezuela and Colombia. After a nice meal at the Felty's home, we were shown to the boys' dorm, which we were to make our home for the next two years.