I spend more time on the internet here than I do in the States. I really feel like it's my life-line -- for news and contact with people and getting business done, I really rely on the internet. We had been lucky at one time with two separate ways to access the internet, so one could be used as a back-up when the other was down. But since last fall, we couldn't hook-up to one of our systems. Since we were going to be gone for December, I decided not to bother the IT guy at the company because they were moving offices and he was swamped with work setting up the new office. He knew we needed some work done on it, but was happy to have me be patient about it. But last week most of the country was off line when the main telecommunications company, Nitel, went on strike. I heard from several people that many people working for the company hadn't been paid since last November. So I guess they had legitimate reasons for striking. I had also heard that the company had given money to the bank to meet payroll, but the bank was hanging on to the money to protect their interests. I don't know if that's true. There were lots of rumors flying and really nothing in the press about it that I heard. Brent said he thought that was because it was an embarrassment for the country -- and the press is not free here. I don't know. But I know if the entire US was without internet service for a week that there would be quite an outcry. I'm sure a national emergency would be declared and Al Gore, as inventor of the internet, would have a new cause to champion. I guess for most of the population here, internet access is not a reality. We had no internet service at home for 4 days until I finally got someone to the flat to fix our backup system. But the problem was that most of the country was also trying to use this backup satellite system, so it was extremely slow. Just sending an email was excruciating, and it was impossible to do any of the business I needed to do to plan for this trip we're about to take. I was especially worried because our daughter-in-law was in the hospital with problems with her pregnancy and I wanted to get news about how things were going. I was so glad over the weekend to have marginally faster service so I could do some trip reservations and pay some bills and catch up on things. But I did realize that I had been taking my relatively good internet service for granted and I really needed to appreciate it when I had it. Supposedly the strike is over -- our internet is still not back to what it was, but I'm hoping that we'll soon be back to speed. Our daughter-in-law is home after her second trip to the hospital and we're hoping that she'll be able to keep our new granddaughter growing inside her for at least a few more weeks. I'm awaiting news about my father, who was supposed to have surgery today, and I'm relieved that family again has a means to contact us through email.
I leave tomorrow (Thursday night) for London. Brent made it through the wait list for the Friday night flight, but I didn't. So I'll spend Friday doing something fun in London and stay in an airport hotel Friday night I don't feel too bad about that. Hopefully we'll all make our flights on schedule and Brent, Jordan and I will meet up in Heathrow Saturday morning and fly down to Lisbon. I'm excited about exploring that beautiful country and having an experienced Portuguese speaking guide with our returned missionary son!