LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) – For decades, Peggy and Danny Thornton have dedicated their lives to being missionaries overseas.
Traveling across the world, the couple have been everywhere from Peru to Guatemala, Paris to their most recent trip to Ecuador.
“We are missionaries, and we’re full time. So, we’re based here in Longview, but we go to different countries, mostly Latin America,” said Peggy. Every year, the two travels spreading the word, using miming and entertainment to teach to the word of Christ. The trip to Ecuador started as normally planned.
The goal of their missions is to help others “realize that they can do something to tell people about Christ,” said Danny.
Visiting the country three weeks before their religious mission as usual, packing for an extended stay, the Thornton’s family warned them of traveling, especially with the coronavirus on the rise. “We heard that a couple of people who had the virus there, but we knew it was just a couple, this was when it was just starting out,” explained Peggy.
Thinking nothing was wrong, the trip continued as normal. “I thought this is Latin America, and this virus is in China and its getting to the United States. How many people from China go to Latin America, they don’t so I thought no there’s not going to be any problem,” explained Danny.
Walking through the country, residents asked the couple how long they were planning on staying in Ecuador. At that moment, the Thornton’s plans changed.
“We were at the marketplace and someone came up to us and said did you know that the airport is closing on Monday, and we said what?” remembered Peggy.
Suddenly, they rushed to pack their bags.
“You got 20 minutes to get all your stuff together and go to the bus station,” remembered Danny, thinking about how quickly he and his wife had to go to catch a flight back home to Texas. However, home didn’t look the same way they left it.
“We were hearing all this stuff, people in hospitals, people dying, and supplies being gone off the shelves at grocery stores, and it was like coming back to a different country,” said Peggy.
Worried, the Thornton’s family insisted the two stay home and self-quarantine. With stay at home orders and travel suspended, those who cared about the couple wanted to insure their safety. At first, Peggy thought there was no need for isolation.
“We thought, that’s crazy, why, they are treating us like just because we are older? And we really didn’t want to do it, we thought it was over-kill,” remembered Peggy.
Now, looking back, they both agree it was the right decision. Back in Longview for just 2 days, when Danny came down with a fever. After calling their doctor, the two went to the hospital. Their recent out of the country travel a cause for concern.
Both Danny and Peggy were tested for Covid-19. Peggy’s result coming back first, as negative. Now, Peggy says it was a false positive. Danny’s result took much longer, coming back positive for the virus.
“I said I’m not going to have the virus, and then on the 12th day it came back and it said your positive and I went I am shocked because I only had fever two days,” said Danny.
By the time his results came in, Danny was feeling a lot better. Suffering from minor symptoms, a slight fever and a cough for a few days.
“He wasn’t really really sick, we weren’t that scared, and I wasn’t either, I was a little worse then him, we weren’t scared or anything, but we were really surprised,” said Peggy.
The Thorntons say local medical experts and Gregg County officials would call consistently to track the couple’s progress, and urge them to stay apart while at home.
“They would call everyday for a week, at the same time every day and see how your doing, did you go out today?” remembered Danny.
Both say the hardest part was being away from their family.
“We go away for three weeks, when we come back, we’re already urning for people we like to go see and we could not then, go see them,” said Danny.
Surrounded by family members, finding comfort in knowing it wouldn’t be long until they could see their loved ones in person again.
Now, cleared of COVID-19, Peggy says this journey has taught her not to live in fear. Both she and her husband eager to get back to Ecuador, and help with the coronavirus recovery efforts there.
Looking back knowing the risks now, both agree they would still go again.
“We are going down there for what we believe to be the work of the Lord,” continued Peggy, “it was still worth it. It still hurt…but it was worth it”