Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Leaving Home

Wednesday, August 9th (Day 1)
So began the God journey at 5:15am when a taxi pulled up to take us to the airport. Off we went, not knowing what to expect...I experienced something very different for the first time since I prayed through the decision to go to Sri Lanka...I was a bundle of nerves. I think a lot of things probably brought it on...we had left our kids a few days ago and it was already the longest we had been apart from them (so I was missing them), my mom had only been out of the hospital for a little over a week and it's hard to leave someone after they've went through all they did and then there was the whole aspect of meeting up with a portion of our team in a few hours. For me being introverted, that would be hard, putting myself out there, despite the fact I knew they would be awesome people to have this experience with!

When we arrived at the airport, we got into line and gave ourselves plenty of time to get our tickets and also to get up to where we would go through the "security check". We were met at the airport by Pastor Amigo, Mrs. Jolly, Mrs. Padwan and Tallman. Being the time of the day and how I was feeling inside, it was great to be met by some of our church family, but also nice to have it be a small group. The time for our departure came fast...Mrs. Jolly asked if she could pray with us...so our little group knelt down on the airport floor and prayed us off (we couldn't have fathomed at that point, how much those prayers and the ones lifted up after we were gone, would sustain us through the next few days). We then gave out hugs, said goodbye and made our way to the boarding gate and sat down on the first of many "steel birds" we would see on the trip.

The first couple legs of the trip were pretty uneventful...as we got closer to Toronto, the planes got bigger, but other than that, these legs of the trip were simply used as a time to catch some sleep. When we arrived in Toronto, we had quite a few hours to kill...Mr. Cinder talked about renting a car and going out and about, but because I wasn't really feeling well at all by this point, and we knew we would be sitting for a very long time once we got back on the "steel bird", we elected to stay at the airport and walk a lot of miles. We ended up eventually going and getting some supper at a little restaurant where they make pizzas and cooked 6-8 or them at a time in this huge pizza oven, right in front of you as you waited. After eating and talking a little more about life in general, we thought we should go and at least think about finding where we needed to be to check our luggage.

(What do you do when you are really tired and a little bored?? Take pictures and attempt to figure out how this modern piece of art functioned.)

When we arrived at the counter to check our luggage, we ran into some unexpected problems. The lady looked at us and asked if we had our visas to enter Sri Lanka (news to us that we would need a visa). That was an interesting conversation and a great lesson in humility at many levels. After having three friends go before you and a bunch from the team who have went repeatedly, you have this knowledge in your head that they would have told you if you needed a visa to get into the "little teardrop of the East". But in the same sense, you know she's only doing her job and you need to not look at her in a bad light or feel personally thumped yet again! As things progressed, she began to hesitate about whether or not she should even issue us boarding passes to go on the next leg of the trip. I have to admit that even though I put on a straight face, my blood was beginning to flow, my heart was beginning to pound and I found myself whispering "breath" prayers to God, in terms of me keeping my cool and also that this issue would be resolved. At this point, we truly felt He hadn't brought us this far to have things halted in their tracks! After reading more information about the visas, she did decide to allow us to have our boarding passes. It looked like if we did need visas, we could get them issued at the airport when we arrived...we did then sit there in a very crowded airport and receive a stern lecture about being completely prepared for all aspects of the trip, as depending on where we were traveling, we wouldn't have been able to leave without our visas in hand. After all this though, she all of a sudden became very cordial and said she was going to switch our seats on the plane, so that Mr. Cinder would have extra and ample leg room for the 6 hour plus flight. We thanked her very graciously, checked our bags through and made our way to the customs/security area.

This security check began the first of many "patdowns" - due to the thoroughness, I was glad they had a woman for any ladies who walked through the gate. I'm not usually bothered by such things, but let's face it...Mr. Cinder's the only one who gets to be that up close and personal (until you fly during a foiled terrorist plot that is)!

Once through security/customs, we made our way down towards the gates and shopping area. We had some time to kill, so we alternated between walking, shopping, resting and reading/listening to music. I found a huge Tim's and felt the incessant need to stand in line and get one last Ice Cap before making the overseas journey...continuing to fuel that bad cold coffee habit. It was really, really good and so was the blueberry fritter that went along with it (Pastor Jolly's story about the Sri Lankan donuts flashed in my mind as I was in line...I then felt a need to savor the taste of a sweet Canadian donut before I left).

(This was on the third floor and went from the floor to the ceiling. There was a pump which forced enough water to make all these glass squares fly around and when the water was pumped in, you saw nothing due to the force it came in.)

Pretty soon we saw a group of people come into the gate area, and from pictures of some of them see on Pastor Jolly's blog, we knew these were our teammates for the next 14 days. We came over, introduced ourselves and began to get acquainted. We continued to go for short walks and look around. Our plane ended up being a little delayed, but eventually the boarding call came and we lined up to show our tickets and passports. Up to this point, things had weren't pretty uneventful and considering the past couple of weeks, I was really glad for it and therefore was drinking it all in. We made our way down a small maze of ramps to the gate door and came to the quick realization that it was locked. (Little did we know, this would be the first of many glitches and roadblocks throughout the remainder of the trip). People tried to get the flight attendants' attention, but it was to no avail and then came the final boarding call over the hallway loudspeaker, which made everyone burst out into laughter. Finally a security person came, apologizing profusely and unlocked the door for us to continue on towards the plane.

Once on board, we settled ourselves in for the overnight trip over the Atlantic Ocean. Then the plane started up with a roar and there immediately was a really bad smell in the plane. Then the pilot came on and said the words you really don't want to hear when you are beginning a journey over a huge body of water..."We are sorry to inform you that there will be a short delay, as one of the engines is not functioning properly, so maintenance crews are on their way to look at the problem and fix it." Mr. Cinder and I looked at each other and began to laugh uncontrollably...having felt "spiritually attacked" on more than one occasion throughout the last little while, our in-house joke became, "If only they didn't have us traveling on the plane, maybe the trip would go smoother!" After about 10 minutes, the pilot came on and informed us that the engine had been fixed and we were cleared for take-off. Before we knew it, we were up in the air and on our way overseas, bringing us one step closer to the "little teardrop of the East".

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