Last Wednesday I left my wife and youngest daughter and headed for the airport. Check-in, normally a lengthy process, was a breeze. I was walking upstairs to enjoy a cup of coffee within 5 minutes of my arrival at the airport.
I walked down to the advertised gate--gate 19. As I looked out at our Boeing 767-300, I relished the idea of a daytime flight; we always travel at night. This was going to be delightful. But something was not quite right. The ground crew was lounging on the steps, not loading luggage, not readying the plane.
My suspicions were finally confirmed. That plane was not leaving for Miami. The dreaded words, "We're sorry to inform you that Flight 510 to Miami has been delayed," were announced to the chagrin of more than one hundred travellers. I meandered up to an agent and asked her how long of a delay. She told me she would let me know at 11. Eleven came and went. I went back. "Oh," she said. "I've been looking for you (I was no more than 20 feet away at any given time). You are one of 3 passengers who will miss their connections in Miami. We have to make other arrangements."
Now folks, I have always wanted to hear some of those words: "you are one of 3. . ." But I wanted it to end with ". . . winners, chosen at random for an all-expense paid trip around the world, culminating in box seats at next year's Super Bowl." Or, maybe, ". . .one of 3 winners of a new Lotus, plus five years of gasoline." But I did not want to hear that I was going to miss my connection.
I should have been more spiritual. I should have said, "Great! That means there is someone in Miami that needs to hear the gospel." But I was not so spiritual. I was not angry; after all, it was not that agent's fault that the plane had technical problems (to put it in her words). I was pretty glad I was not on that plane, in the air, only to discover that there was a mechanical failure that would mean we would get to discover the skill level of the pilot as he took us down into the cold Pacific Ocean. I really was not interested in seeing if my life vest would inflate.
But my mind was set. My course was set. I was ready to be in South[ern] America. It wasn't going to happen on my timetable. By the way, I said something about that a few weeks ago. The plans of the heart belong to man... Mine were interrupted and took one of those interesting turns.
The airline was good to me. They put me up in a nice hotel; they gave me a $20 supper ticket in a place where one course alone cost that much. But at least I got that. And I got a free ride to and from the airport.
So the next day, Thursday, I arrived quite early at the Miami Airport. Guess what? I was once again one of the specially chosen ones. This time it was for the full search of my person and my carry-ons. I let them know I knew the drill and that it happened every single time I had ever traveled through the Miami Airport. I was only glad I had come to the airport early. Those kinds of delays have been known to make one miss a flight.
I made it to my final destination with no more troubles. Except one: I bought a soft drink from a vending machine in Atlanta. Those bottles hold 20 ounces. How on earth does one manage to drink that much liquid at one time? And WHY?? It's one more evidence of the self-indulging nature of many Americans. As the man said in his movie, SUPER SIZE ME! Once you drink those things, you have to (please forgive!) get rid of it at some point in time. So guess what? The stewardess (or whatever they are now called) announced, "Sorry, ladies and gentlemen; the 'facilities' on this plane are out of order." Do you know what such announcements do for you? It's a pyschological thing; but they make you want to go use "the facilities." It's like running water.
Now I am in the process of settling in. There is much to be done. Pam and Melissa are still back in South America. I am here, tending to issues we have to face. I want things to be smooth when they arrive. Our host church has gone a long way in making that possible. The home we are going to live in is nice and very comfortable. I even cooked a meal there tonight. We will be blessed in that home and church, I have no doubt.
So now it begins; a new chapter in a new volume. For the next ten months, more or less, we are somewhere in South[ern] America.