Dani's Niche

Family history. A novel idea.


Fifty years ago – off to Africa

It was Sunday, December 29, 1968.

Dec 29, 1968 DanitoKenya

Checking my bags at SFO

My parents stood on the viewing deck at San Francisco Airport watching the United Airlines jet taxi down the runway and lift off. I never saw their hands waving to me or mother’s tears. Excited about my first ever airplane ride and the place where the Lord was calling me to serve, I tried to relax. On went the headphones to listen to an airline playlist. What a surprise to hear Born Free, a popular song from a movie about Kenya’s lions.

During the flight I discovered Daddy had sneaked a hastily written note into my purse. It’s a treasure I still have.

Dad's Note 1968

My parents must have been apprehensive. Their daughter, a recent college graduate, was going far away on her own. We would not see or hear each other for more than three years, our only communication through letters.

I spent several days at mission headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. Determined to see the tourist sights on my first visit to New York City, I navigated the maze of subways and streets alone. It was cold. I had no winter clothes, except a coat borrowed from the daughter of a mission leader. One morning, while waiting for the tour bus in a small, crowded station, I found a place to get warm in front of a wall heater. At the end of the day, when I took off the polyester coat to return it, I was shocked and embarrassed (and relieved for what could have been). A big hole had burnt clear through the back of it.

On Friday, January 3, 1969 I departed the U.S.A. on a TWA flight from NYC (via Geneva, Switzerland and Entebbe, Uganda) to Nairobi, Kenya.

The director of the mission sent this letter to my parents: “We received word by way of “Ham” radio transmission on Sunday afternoon that Danyce had arrived safely at Nairobi, Kenya on Sunday, January 5th at 1 A.M.  . .  We shall be joining you in prayer that the Lord will bless Danyce’s ministry in Kenya and give her much joy in His service there.”

My first air letter from Africa arrived in my parent’s mailbox in California on January 14, 1969. Mother saved and numbered all my letters for over twenty years. I didn’t write about everything because she worried, and I didn’t want her to get anxious reading about snakes and wild animals and diseases. They were just part of living in Africa.

I’ve forgotten many of my experiences. One day, when I have time to read my letters, perhaps I will remember. And tears will flow.

Dani parents SFO 1969266

My parents (and my sister and brother) watched my flight take-off,  probably wondering if they would ever see me again.