Saturday, November 5, 2011

Departure Day (October 19) and Nairobi Arrival

Sometimes I dream of mission trips where we would all leave together on the same flight after spending a number of meetings all together.  Doesn't that seem like the way to do it?  This trip the first time we'll all actually be together will be when we are all at the hotel in Nairobi on the morning after (Friday).  Karley flies out from Dulles and will meet most of us before we board for our second leg in Amsterdam.  Gini and Georganne flew to Kenya a week early, taking advantage of Georganne's nearly-free standby (she's a flight attendant).  In fact, they are already at the hotel (Gracia Gardens) and although they've had a great time knocking around Nairobi, they've emailed us a warning about the early rains setting in.

So it's actually only 7 of our team planning to depart SFO this Wednesday for our 2pm flight to Amsterdam.  Expecting the unexpected I've asked the team to arrive at 11:25 so we have plenty of time for check-in (sometimes we have to repack to adjust weight, for one thing).  But what could possibly go wrong?

1. We could find ourselves at the wrong check-in counter.  Some of us are at KLM and some are at Delta (our tickets are with Delta but issued by KLM).  I'm wrong and Jimmy and Mary convince me to come to the KLM counter.  It takes a few runs to move our 3 bags apiece, but, hey, that wasn't a big problem.  Now that we know where we are, everything should be easy.

2. There's only 6 of us.  Although I brought one of Paige's bags for her, we can't find Paige.  A number of us start calling her home and cell -- no answer.  We check out the entire international check-in area--no Paige.  Wendi goes over to the domestic terminal -- not there either.  We have Paige paged (seems appropriate) -- but paging Paige does not bring Paige.  After an hour we finish check-in for the rest of us.  The check-in counter is closing in 15 minutes.  We have posted team members at a number of the entrances for first sight of Paige.  Finally, I get a call...from Paige..she's still at school and thought departure was tonight...and she has about 15 minutes to get home, finish packing and get a ride to the airport.  Otherwise, she'd have to book on a later flight that would take her alone all the way to Nairobi and would have to let us know her schedule so that after we get to Kenya we could arrange for her pickup after she takes herself through baggage, visa, customs, etc. at this strange African airport.  Her mother gets on the phone and asks me, "Would you suggest this for a 17-year-old girl?"  And I share my misgivings.

So with some real disappointment and sadness, I pay to check in Paige's bag (it's full of stuff for the school), and we proceed through security to our gate.  As we begin to line up for boarding, a small figure with a backpack races towards us with her father and her carry-on bag following her.  Incredibly, beyond all hope, Paige has made it!!  Her teacher parents left their classes (getting subs in record time!), met her at home as she quickly packed a few things, and dashed her at light-speed to the airport where they begged their way through check-in long after it was "too late."  It is a true miracle and answer to prayer!

And other than that, our departure is smooth and uneventful!

Well, we did lose track of Wendi and Sharon as we exited the plane at the Nairobi airport, but we soon found them at "the other" visa line and were eventually reunited.  Alex, Fredrick and Carlos, our agent and 2 drivers, met us promptly as we passed through customs and off we went, through Nairobi to our overnight at Garcia Gardens.  The next morning, breakfast finally brought the whole team together in one place at one time!   And our adventure began.

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