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Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Flexibility

Yesterday I took a trip to Johannesburg to pick up our latest group of visitors from the airport. We are hosting Ephraim Church of The Bible, from Ephraim UT, for the next two weeks. The "leaders" of this team are Chip & Jamie Thompson. They have served for many years as missionaries to Utah, and Amber & I were able to join them for a missions trip in the summer of 2004.

On the way home Chip happened to ask me "What does your typical day look like?" With no disrespect to Chip intended, I had to laugh. Those who read these posts know that no day here is routine. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out a few of these older editions: , , , ,

Yesterday was a classic example of this. Initially, I was to drive The Pines van up to Jo-burg, and Phil Carmichael would drive his SUV pulling a trailer for luggage. This team has 11 members so we needed two vehicles for the extra space. The abnormality actually began almost 3 full days ago, and two hemispheres away.

We recommend that teams travel together as much as possible. This team wasn't able to do that for a variety of reasons. There were six people in what we'll call Group A, and 5 people in Group B. For those scoring at home, this adds up to 11 and makes me 3-0 when doing math for these posts. Score one for homeschoolers.

Anyway, Group A, consisting of 6 people did not all travel together. Group A was divided into two sub-groups, which we'll call SG A1 and SG A2. SG A1 was two people, Nola and King Louie. Louie happens to be a flight attendant and was able to find a great deal on tickets, business class no less. SG A1 therefore left Phoenix at 6:30am on Friday morning, flew from Phoenix to San Francisco, then on to London where they were to meet up with SG A2. This portion of their trip was basically uneventful, except for Louie finding a coupon for a free massage during their layover in the first class lounge.

SG A2, consisting of two couples - Chip & Jamie and Greg & Brenda - was to leave Phoenix at 18:00 hours. Unfortunately one of the members of SG A2 wears bifocals and misread the itinerary, causing the whole sub-group to arrive at the airport 8 hours early. After spending these 8 hours in the airport, they boarded their flight to London to re-convene with SG A2.

Upon arrival in London, they realized with another 8 hour layover there would be sufficient time to see the sights of the city. Nola and Louie stayed behind at the airport, having already spent some time in London in the past. The members of SG A2 proceeded into the city to enjoy a few hours of fog. Without going into the details, I will sum it up to say their return to the airport was reminiscent of a bad Bill Murray movie, with the two sub-groups trailing each other all over the airport looking for one another, but never actually crossing paths. As the departure time neared things began to get more and more intense, culminating in the British Airways organization holding up an entire flight in order to bring this group back together.

They then proceeded to Johannesburg, arriving at 11:00am. Most people have a perception of Africa as a hot, dry place. Not always the case. Yesterday turned out to be the coldest day of our two winters, but unfortunately these cold days are so rare that buildings are not prepared for this sort of event. Therefore, the 6 members of Group A spent the greater part of August 1st shivering in the Johannesburg airport and huddling together for warmth.

Meanwhile, back in the US the members of Group B were having travel difficulty of their own. 3 members of Group B were departing from one of the western states, to meet with the other two members in Atlanta. The other 2 members then departed from Minnesota. Both flights, however, did not succeed in their attempts to land in Atlanta. Severe weather prompted one plane to land in Memphis, while the other diverted to Birmingham. Eventually all 5 did make it to Atlanta, but not before this team caused another international flight to be delayed. Obviously through no fault of their own.

So it is with this in mind that you are brought back to yours truly. Phil had left Welkom about an hour before me so that he could stop at a mall in Joburg with Kimmie and Okuhle. I was to bring Mpho, Gladys, and Maria and meet them at McDonalds before picking up the team at the airport. Just for fun, we'll call Phil's car Group Phil, and The Pines van Group Lou.

Group Lou receives a phone call from Uncle Brian informing us that the Atlanta flight is going to be delayed by two hours, thus prompting Group Lou to contact Group Phil and arrange to meet at the mall. Phil and Lou agreed that malls may not be the root of all evil but they are closely connected. However, two hours at the mall seemed more agreeable than two hours in the McDonald's Play Place.

On the way up, Group Phil had experienced severe rainfall, something totally unheard of in the month of August here. By time Group Lou traversed the same stretch of road, the rain had begun to mix with snowflakes. Let me clarify that statement by relating to you the time that our housemothers began to reminisce about the snowfalls they had experienced in their lifetimes. Our oldest housemother is 60 something and she remembered a grand total of 5 snowfalls. So yesterday was a bit unusual.

By the time Group Lou was almost to the mall, the rain/snowflakes had turned to pea-sized hail. We quickly found a parking space, then entered the mall to reunite with Group Phil. The kids then enjoyed a McValue meal, and from there we meandered around the mall, spending most of our time looking through books in the various book vender establishments.

Upon leaving the mall we discovered that The Pines van was completely dead. As in "No electrical spark whatsoever." We attempted to push-start it a couple times, with no apparent success. Eventually a couple emerged from the mall and offered their assistance. The boyfriend ran to his car to get his jumper cables (both Group Phil and Group Lou were missing their sets for various reasons), and said boyfriend quickly returned to say that he had just taken his car to the shop and had forgotten to put his tools/jumper cables back into said car. Fortunately he did have a tow rope, and using that he was able to pull Phil around the busy lot, gaining enough speed to eventually drop the clutch and get it started.

We goosed the engine a few times, then drove to the airport, making sure not to stall it out along the way. Once we arrived at the airport we decided to wander around until the team arrived. I must point out that we were not aware they were arriving in two separate groups, with one significantly earlier than the other. In the midst of our meandering through JNB, we discovered Group A shivering together in the food court. We spent the next hour+ enjoying some fellowship while waiting for the arrival of Group B.

I am happy to report that all were united in one happy team reunion, and no luggage was lost. The trip home, although quite late, was uneventful. Except that the dome light in the back of the van turned on all by itself about halfway home. So it is possible that propensity to turn itself on caused the dead battery. Doubtful, but possible.

And that is why Chip's question of "What does your typical day look like?" caused me such amusement.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, you could say that was a typical day.