Saturday, June 03, 2006

Airport Chaos

June 2nd
11:05 am
I'm sitting in a hotel bed in New York City. I should be in Dakar.

Here's what happened...

I got off the plane at JFK and I knew I missed my flight to Dakar, Senegal. I had no idea how many flights go to Dakar so I was thinking I might not be able to catch another flight for a couple of days. Prepare for the worst, right?

There were about 15 or 20 of us who missed connecting flights because of the detour to Albany. They were going all over the world too. So we went with this lady to the Delta Domestic Check-In. I waited in line for 30 minutes or so and when I got to the counter I met Andrea. She will come back in the story later. She told me that I had to walk over to South African Airways to rebook my flight. Don't be deceived, this isn't some short little jog. The JFK Airport is HUGE! So I took the Airtrain (which I became very familiar with) to the right terminal and found South African Airways. I waited in line. Got to the front of the line and the people at the counter told me that they were from Virgin Airlines. The South African representatives had already left for the day.

Keep in mind, while I'm trying to find my way to the right place, I'm trying to call my parents, the travel agency, and the people in Dakar so they know that I won't be coming on time.

So I leave South African Airways and go back to the Delta Domestic Check-In. I get lost in the process. I got lost many times during the night. Luckily, I met some very nice people along the way who helped me a lot. All of the people in the airport were extremely nice! Surprising.

So I went back to talk to Andrea who felt VERY bad for me. This is probably about 45 minutes to an hour later. So she finished with her customer and started to help me. She was able to get me the same flight to Dakar the next day (that's today). Then she walked me to the hotel reservation area. Then $151 later, she pointed me in the right direction to go find my baggage. I gave her a big hug and said a huge thank you.

Oh, the baggage...more adventures.

By this time it's about 9 or 9:30 pm. So I went to go find my luggage. I looked in a pile of bags by the carousels. It wasn't there. I asked the Delta Baggage Services and they said they probably gave it to South African Airways. She told me to go see them. I asked if I was going back to the same place I went to before and she said it was different. So I go to South African Airways and what do you know, it's the same place and the South African reps are still gone.

Now, my plan was to just find the hotel shuttle and go home. On my way to find the hotel shuttle (by this time I have gotten lost and taken the Airtrain many times) I see a sign that says Baggage Services. I got excited and thought maybe they could help me. Maybe I got lost on my way to the hotel shuttle so I could pick up my bags.

So I go back there and there are just bags piled every where. It was kinda like baggage purgatory. I talked to a couple different people in there and they sent me to the Domestic Baggage Claim. The guy drew me a map because I told him I had gotten lost a lot already. I found Domestic Baggage Claim without a hitch but my bag was no where to be found. So I went back to Baggage Services and they sent someone out on "the ramp" to try to find my bags.

By now, it's about 10:30 or 10:45 and I have not eaten since the granola bar I had on the plane from Albany. So I went and got some grapes, water, and a crossaint. It felt good to eat. I realized that it had been 3 and a half hours since I had actually sat down for more than the 2 minutes on the train.

I went back to Baggage Services and waited. and waited. and waited. and waited. But the guys who worked there were my age and very nice so I had some people to talk to. And I laughed for the first time in a long time.

I am very proud of myself because through all of this, I have remained patient, calm, and I still have a sense of humor. If God made me go through all of that as a test to my patience, I passed with flying colors.

So finally a guy comes back, and he says that he couldn't find my bag. So all of that waiting was for nothing.

So I go to find the hotel shuttle and meet some people who are going to the same place as me. They missed their flight to Ireland. There were two high school girls and their parents. They were all very nice. I don't remember their names. They were going to Ireland for one of the girls graduation present.

I said good bye to them at the hotel shuttle station and waited for my shuttle. It came pretty quickly and I got to the hotel quickly. I checked in, went to my room, talked to my mom, and took a shower. I have not been that happy to take a shower in a long time. I had sweat a lot from running around the airport and it was REALLY humid since it was a rainy summer day in New York City. So the shower was very nice.

I went to sleep very frustrated and confused. I don't know why this has happened. Did I not pray enough? Did I not pray the right words? Did I do something wrong to deserve this? I cried a lot and told God that I didn't understand what was going on. But I still have faith. I know that Jesus is with me and that I'm safe and that He will take care of me in whatever situation I am in.

I think all of this has introduced me to being an adult. I definitely don't feel like a kid anymore. I'll be 20 in five days and this was kinda like my initiation into my 20's. It's been a stressful time, but I'm proud of the way I've handled it. But it's only with God's strength that I was able to get through all of it. I would have given up a long time ago if it wasn't for Him.

It's now 11:45 am and I have check out at 1pm.

Don't expect updates like this all the time. This is a rare event. Hopefully.

Please pray for me. I need it now more than ever.

Pray that...
-the rest of my flights would be safe and on time
-my baggage gets to Conakry
-God would give me strength through today and over the next 6 weeks
-I would be able to meet up with Sarah (she missed her flight last night too!)
-God would protect me spiritually and physically in everything I do

Thank you for reading all of this and supporting me through all of it. It means a lot to me that all of you are praying for me and thinking about me. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I love you! I miss you!


rbicker said...

Sarah, you are a strong person! What an amazing story you have already! It seems to me that Satan is really afraid of what you will be doing once you get to Africa! God has big things planned.

I am going to read your blogs to the Breakout Crew and to you class tomorrow morning.

Please know that we will all be praying for you!

We all love you so much and are so excited for what you get to do these next few weeks!


Zimmy1986 said...

You are a soldier my dear. Keep on keepin on because you have entered into a battleground and I can't wait to see the miracles that are going to happen.

Thank you for sharing this with us. Christ shines brighter through perseverence.
Somebody once said: Aint nobody gonna break my stride, nobody gonna slow me down, oh no, I got to keep on movin..

Peace and Love, Zim

joeldean said...

what up?? you are such a RADICAL person. God has nothing but LOVE shining through your eyes, and the words you speak. you are awesome and a GREAT leader. keep on with your life and follow jesus till the end.

god bless,

joel dean