PNG, Here I Come!
So…. The taxi came right on time and I got to the airport by about 8:40. I went to the self-help machine and everything seemed to be going smoothly, my passport scanned nicely, and I got my Boarding Pass and luggage tag printed out. Then I looked at the Boarding Pass and it said that boarding would start at 4:20 p.m YIKES!!! Did I get my information mixed up??
So I quickly went over to the ticket counter and got the attention of an Agent. I asked, “What happened to my ticket? I sure hope this printed wrong!”
“Oh,” he says. “Yes, there is a mechanical problem with the plane and it will be about 6 hours before we get a replacement plane flown in.” YIKES AGAIN!!
So as calmly as I could, although my bass voice may have been closer to soprano… :) I explained that I had five flights to catch over the next 65 hours and I really couldn’t afford to get bumped off schedule on the first flight.
“Oh,” he says. “Well, there is a plane going to Los Angeles right now. In fact, if I hurry up here, I have two minutes to get you rebooked before we get locked out and I can’t process any more passengers.”
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So I said, “Oh, ok. Sounds good. Can you do that?” (Meanwhile, prayers are fervently going up to the One who is really in charge.)
So there we were, trying to beat the clock and not get locked out. And without even breaking a sweat, and smiling the whole time, he did it. I was in the system. Of course there was no time to ask for wheelchair assistance. And so off we went at a trot, the agent with a limp (he looked about 65 years old) pushing the cart to get me through Customs, and me hobbling/bouncing along on my two arm crutches.
The Agent was not able to go any further than the last security scan station, so I hoisted my laptop strap up over one shoulder, and my carry-on duffle strap over the other shoulder. And you can guess where the Gate was for my plane. Yup, it was number 25, the very last one on the concourse wing. :) I got there, checked in to make sure I was still in the system, confirmed that, sat down in a nearby wheelchair, and off we went to get me boarded on the plane.
And so started my first leg of my three day journey to Papua New Guinea.
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It was kind of unfortunate that we didn’t have another 60 seconds at the check-in counter at Calgary, as I might have been able to ask Air Canada to tag my big suitcase all the way to Brisbane. But I figured that God would help get me and all my luggage from Terminal 2 to Terminal 7 in Los Angeles. No problem! After all, He got me on to that ready-to-fly plane in Calgary.
Now the young man who was my wheelchair attendant at LA was not so positively inclined as I was. Actually, he had trouble figuring out how to push me with one hand and pull my suitcase with the other hand. We managed to go down, up and out of the Terminal without too much difficulty. And guess what vehicle was just pulling up to the curb as we got out the door. Yup! It was the Handi-Van Shuttle bus. I knew they have some here in LA, but you usually have to wait about 20 minutes. But it was not this day! :D
And off I went around the horseshoe airport and over to Terminal 7. The woman driver was so helpful. She even turned off the vehicle, and helped me get my luggage all the way in to the ticket counter area. But she felt bad that I was there so early (being 12 Noon) and my next flight to Sydney wasn’t until 10 p.m. She told me I’d have to wait in this chair for a few hours until they could help check me in.
But by now, I’m thinking, “Hey, this day is going pretty good. I think I’ll see if I can be blessed again with a nice surprise.”
So I walked over to a nearby United Agent and asked when early check in would begin. “Well,” she said, “you can start checking in 10 hours before flight time.” So guess what time it is? Yup! It’s 12:10, and I can go check in now. Yippee!! :)
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Checking in went real smooth. I got my suitcase tagged all the way to Brisbane, via Sydney. He then told me to go take a seat and a wheel chair person would come for me at some point. So I figured, “I’ve got some time until they come. I think I’ll have a little Yoghurt.” And guess what? By the time I had found the yoghurt, my spoon, and sat down, I looked up and “Presto” there was the wheelchair person. Gulp, gulp, gulp. That is definitely the fastest I’ve ever eaten yoghurt, and not regretted it later. ;)
And zooommm!! We were through Security and on to the other side. She asked me what my gate number was, but it didn’t even have it printed on the Boarding Pass, because I was so early and there was no way to know what gate the plane might actually arrive at. But that’s okay. I told the woman that I wanted to go sit in the “United Club Lounge” where it is comfortable, you can do email, and often get food and snacks there.
“Oh,” she says, “but you’re not a First Class passenger. I don’t think they’ll let you in.” And I’m thinking, “Hey, I’m on a roll here. Let’s go ask them and find out.”
So we went over to the Lounge and I asked if I could buy a Day Pass, and he said, “Sure! Come right on in.” Yippee!!
And so began my journey back to PNG where we learn to expect the unexpected. But isn’t that where God shows up the best? Especially for those who trust in Him.
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