The first 24 hours of the trip have been quite a tumultuous turn of events. There have been so many highs and lows that my head is completely spinning. My family drove me to the airport around 5pm to see me off. We were pleasantly surprised at the check in to find out that we didn’t have to pay for our luggage (WHOOO HOOOO!) and the airline was going to check our bags all the way to Jamaica. What a blessing. But just as quickly the mood changed, as I looked over to see tears streaming down both of my girls’ faces. Despite feeling confident that this is what God had called me to do, I knew this was going to be one of the hardest departures of my life. My resolve crumbled as my oldest looked at me through tear-filled eyes and said, “please don’t leave me, mommy.” And just as quickly, I wasn’t so sure that I should make the trip. Thankfully, Fil was there to save us all from our emotional selves. He reminded all of us of the purpose of the trip and told the girls that I was going away for a short time to help other little girls who didn’t have a mommy. We all tried to stop our chins from quivering and put on a brave face as we parted ways.
By 6:00 pm, all 11 members of our team were gathered at the departure gate. There I was with 10 relative strangers getting ready to travel across the country on what was surely going to be a life changing adventure. Little did I know at the time that the travel itself would be it’s own adventure. We boarded the plane & I silently thanked the Lord when I realized that I had an aisle seat where I got stretch my recovering foot AND no one was sitting in the middle! That silent happy dance was cut short when the captain announced that there was a mechanical issue with the plane and we would be departing 15 minutes late. Fifteen minutes became 60 minutes and when we arrived in Phoenix we had missed our connecting flight to NYC. So, off we headed at 10:45 pm to Charlotte, North Carolina! From Charlotte, we caught the smallest, most uncomfortable plane I’ve ever had the displeasure of riding on to NYC. Except for being seated next to a 6’ 8’’gentlemen who took up so much space that we were shoulder to hip to knee the entire ride, the flight was pretty uneventful. Once in New York, we had a 3 hour lay-ever ‘til we boarded Air Jamaica!!
Even though I’m only Jamaican by marriage, there was something about boarding that plane that felt so familiar. It was like I was returning home, though I have never been to Jamaica before. Maybe it was being on the plane with so many people who looked and talked like my “family”, that brought on that feeling of familiarity. We landed in Jamaica at 4:00 pm (Jamaican time) – almost 20 hours after we left California. As we all exited the plane, we grabbed a few carts and skipped over to the baggage area. As the next few moments passed, we realized that we were the only travelers left at the carousel without our luggage. After an hour at the claim area, the only thing we knew for sure was that our luggage was not in Jamaica. Of course the natives kept telling us it was “no problem, mon” our luggage would arrive eventually. Customs was quite a short & easy process since we didn’t have any baggage to inspect and by 6:00 we were in the van and on our way up the hill to the City of Refuge! PHEW – what a busy 24 hours!!