by Jim Stanley, Beaverton, OR
There it is . . . still smoking from a fiery crash! A blackened shell, the remains of a 727, lay in the center divider of two runways at the Venezuelan airport. Forty-nine people died!
The year was 1983. I was to report for a one-month United Nations hydrologic project in Caracas, Venezuela.
“I’m going, too!” my wife Arlene proclaimed upon learning of the assignment.
Preparations began, buying new luggage and summer clothes appropriate for the tropics, plus contacting our church secretary for names of missionaries in Venezuela. Much to our delight, the secretary informed us about a husband and wife team ministering in Caracas.
We prayed for travel protection, insight into my new job requirements, and also “hitting it off” with the missionaries.
The morning after we arrived at the Caracas International Airport, I went to the office of the Director of Venezuela’s Natural Resources for a briefing. As the briefing drew to a close, the officer surprised me by handing me a check for the entire thirty–day assignment.
After stopping by a local bank to cash the check, I returned to our hotel.
“Guess what I’ve got in my briefcase?” I said as I emptied the case, full of paper Bolivars on the bed. We both laughed as we exclaimed, “How rich we are!”
Our richness was short lived. The next day, headlines on the local newspaper declared:
BOLIVAR DEVALUED . . . 58 PERCENT!