Today's entry comes to you straight from 10,326 meters above sea level. Today began at 2:25 AM, and it's been 11 hours of nonstop travelling since then. If all goes smoothly, we should touch down in Bogotá close to midnight. After that, we'll be driving for x amount of hours before arriving at our home for the night.
It should come as no surprise when I say that today held many blessings, challenges, laughs, and groans. It should come as no surprise when I say that today has been unexpected, at the least. I'm sitting here, wedged between a sleeping Latina woman and a teammate, peeking through the window at the Gulf of Mexico that we are soaring over. The sunset is fiery red to my right, and the ships on the ocean to my left are slowly fading out of sight as the waters become dark.
I want to spend each evening unpacking my day, so here it goes.
My peaceful alarm (Jack Johnson's acoustic Better Together) pulled me out of my dreams at the nice, even time of 2:23 AM. Running around on 1.5 hours of sleep, my fellow dormie and I were laughing and grimacing at our awkward attempts to get going. Stuffing bundles of forgotten clothing and other miscellaneous items under our arms, we charged out of the dorms at promptly 2:47, just in time to load up the bus with our suitcases. My socks were blessed right off when I saw the number of parents and other supporters who came out at 3 AM to pray for us and send us off.
Spirits were high. The hour-and-a-half drive to the Calgary Airport was over in a flash. I had spent the entire time chatting and laughing hysterically with other teammates in our drunken-like, sleep-deprived state. As it says in the old Proverb: Make friends with those with whom you must travel for the next 20+ hours. Good friendships cover a multitude of sleepy mishaps in a never-ending day.
For the first time since I used to fly with my parents, I went through customs without a single confiscation. *Pats Back* The airport stress was low, smiles were big, jokes were hearty, and there was a noticeable warmth in our interactions with each other. Things were off to a brilliant beginning. Of course, nothing has truly started off right without the necessary caffeine dosage. On finishing up with security, the smarter half of the group naturally sped off in search of the nearest Starbucks.
Obviously, being a part of this smarter half, I tagged along. However, as I was a bit behind due to a bag fastening fiasco, I arrived to find myself at the very back of a long coffee line-up. No big deal. I'm a patient person. It takes a lot to aggravate me. As the line shuffled forward and I became absorbed in studying the elaborate hairstyle on the lady ahead of me... I didn't question the fact that once I got to the front of the line, I was being asked for my boarding pass. I fumbled to take our my passport and boarding ticket, only to realize that these are not the usual payment methods for a grande americano at Starbs. Looking up, I discovered that I was about to board a plane leaving for Seattle. Looking to my right, I see the actual Starbucks line. I was on the wrong side of the barrier. Typical. I turned on a dime, proclaiming, "I am in the absolute wrong line-up."
Hustling through the chuckles and shaking heads, I again found myself at the back of the very long, but very correct line-up, and began to converse with the lady ahead of me. We slowly made our way forward, when we heard the announcement: "All passengers should be aboard the flight to Seattle." Hearing a small intake of breath, I turned and caught a glimpse of the man who had been standing behind me for the past seven minutes... in the Starbucks line-up. Grinning sheepishly, he too turned and made his way around to the actual line-up.
Life is funny, and life is awkward. It's the awkward moments that induce the largest grins, and the cringe moments that give us the biggest cases of the giggles. Here's to being the loser, and loving it! (I'm sending a virtual fist-bump to the dude who barely made it onto his coffee-less flight.)
There's not much to report from the flight to Houston, except perhaps for the unbelievable sunrise that we got to look at from above. It was incredible to observe Montana's mountain ranges from a bird's eye view. It was beautiful to see the miles and miles of snowy plains of the Western states give way to fields, grass, trees, and bright and sunny Texas. I don't know that I could ever lose my fascination with flying. My mouth still gapes, my eyes still bug out, my face is still pressed up against the window, even though this should be routine by now.
I was reminded of the plane that I saw soaring through the black sky last night, and God impressed upon my heart once more the significance of my insignificance. This became more apparent as our group's patience was tested after our 3 hour layover in Houston. Ready to get going to Bogota, we boarded the plane, got cozy, sat back... and received the announcement, "Attention, passengers: There is an emergency situation with the door system. Unfortunately, we will be de-planing the aircraft. Please return to the airport with your belongings and await further notice."
Hearing the immediate groans all around me, I had to choke to fight back my own. Who am I to complain? What would make me gripe over the fact that the crew found the malfunction before takeoff? If anything, this is a blessing. This is God's hand of protection. We were spared the unpleasant surprise of an incident during the flight.
Not to mention, if a flight is to be delayed, there is no better group of people than this Colombia Team to spend the time with. There was more than a little dancing, ukulele learning, and song-singing that helped us pass the time in the airport for another 2.5 hours. God is good. He provided us with safety, tight friendships, strong leadership, a beautiful day, kind strangers, and high spirits to deal with the little inconveniences that came our way.
The brain's a little fuzzy and the eyes are stinging from a lack of blinkage, but hey. We're alive. We're together. We're still laughing. Still grinning. Still pumped. Yeah, it's later than expected, but we're on our way. Yeah, we'll get to bed late, but when did God ever promise a perfectly comfortable schedule? Yeah, we'll be tired, but nobody said that serving God would be easy. It's been a long day, but every time we chose joy over anger today, we chose Jesus. Every time we chose peace and patience over stress and frustration, we grew just a smidge stronger.
If we can't remain faithful in the littlest circumstances, how do we stand a chance in the catastrophes? God, thanks for coaching us today. Thanks for working on us, and improving us. Thank you for moulding us into a team that is slowly resembling you more and more.
I'm signing off for now in favour of some deep breaths, a bite to eat, Jon Foreman tunes, and maybe even a moment of shuteye. Thanks for choosing to experience all this with me.