Trip to Morogoro

“Come here, please, Mrs. Twing,” Charles Stafford, director of the Heri Mission Hospital School of Health, called out to Ethel as she dismissed the class she was teaching.

“You know, Pastor Jackson here just came from Morogoro. He tells me Dr. Twing wasn’t present for the committee meetings!”

“You must have missed him, Pastor Jackson,” Mrs. Twing replied. “Dr. Twing planned to leave two days ago at 10:00 a.m., but as paymaster, he had to take care of the hospital payroll before he left. It took much more time than he anticipated. Because of this, he carefully planned the trip, knowing he would not reach his destination in one day. Pastor Jackson must have left Morogoro before Dr. Twing arrived,” Mrs. Twing continued.

“No, Pastor Jackson left after the meetings were over,” Stafford replied. “Dr. Twing should have been there.”

“Well, I am not really worried. I am sure the Lord is taking care of him. Perhaps he has been detained because of bad weather, or maybe there was something he had to do with the plane,” she continued. She thanked the men for the information and made her way up the hill to her mission home.

“What should I do Should I be concerned?” she wondered. “We don’t have a telephone. We have a radio, but there is no way to get out on the radio on Sunday. There is no one at the other end to answer the call.” Convincing herself there was no need to worry, she decided to wait until the next morning, call out on the radio, and confirm her husband’s arrival for the meetings.

Search for a Telephone

A few minutes later, Chuck Stafford knocked at her door. “What are you going to do? Don’t you want to go into Kigoma to use the telephone?” he impatiently questioned her.

Mrs. Twing hesitated for a few minutes more, “Yes, I’ll go. If there is nothing wrong, it will be a relief to know it. If there is something wrong, we should be able to do something.”

The two hour trip dragged on slowly. Her thoughts were with the struggle and sacrifice they had made to do mission service. Certainly nothing had happened, how could it? Bringing the missionary wife back to reality, Stafford announced they were almost in Kigoma.

Tracing the Flight

Several calls were made. One individual answering the phone in Tabora, one of the places Dr. Twing was to stop, stated matter of factly, “Call back tomorrow.”

“No, we cannot wait until tomorrow,” Stafford insisted. “We are tracing a missing plane.” And, the airport personnel in Toroboro did what they thought they couldn’t do. Their records indicated Dr. Twing was there, took on additional fuel, and set out for Dodoma, where he planned to spend the night.

Stafford and Mrs. Twing went to the police station and told them what they knew. The officer on duty assured them he would do some checking. “It will be an hour before we know anything. Come back then,” he urged.

The Wait

Very good friends of the Baptist Mission president, it seemed natural to go there to wait out the hour. Thirty minutes later the phone rang. The call was from the conference office in Morogoro, where Dr. Twing was to attend meetings.

“She’s standing right here,” Mrs. Twing heard Stafford reply. She knew immediately who he was talking about.

Some Very Bad News

“Has this been confirmed?” he replied after a few minutes. Realizing the full impact of what he was saying, Mrs. Twing backed into the hall, leaned up against the wall, and waited until he had finished.

In a few minutes her dream had turned into a nightmare - her husband of 30 years was gone - his plane had crashed, and burned. She was now alone, in Africa with his ailing 90 year-old mother.