Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Intro – Flight delays, Cameras and Technology Stuff-Ups


So you’re wondering what lengths I would go to, to meet my Compassion kids? How far would I go? Try this: 5 separate flights, 36 hours sitting on planes and in airports. Ah, gotta love our First-World problems.

The journey started with a 3.30am wake-up call on Wednesday September 26 (Melbourne time). In our family we’ve always been drilled to be ready in plenty of time – and I was. Kindly chauffeured by my parents, I was checked in at 5 for a 6.30 flight to Sydney. The reward for my extra-earliness was an empty flight lounge and a staggering sunrise. I know the word “breath-taking” gets bandied around a bit, but I promise you, this was breath-taking. Now, I’m not the best describer of sunrises, but here goes: There were splashes of red, pink and orange were everywhere, creating a wondrous translucent-metallurgic-esque-ish glow. Ah, I’ll cut the crap - it was spectacular!!

Everything ran smoothly, except the second, fourth and fifth flights, which were delayed. At Santiago I stood in a non-moving line for 20 minutes, as my departure time ticked closer. From Santiago we flew to Rio, then Brasilia, then finally Fortaleza, with a stopover at Teresina thrown in. I only had 45 minutes between my Rio and Brasilia flights, then I watched in disbelief as we sat on the tarmac in a line of six airplanes for…you guessed it…45 MINUTES!!! It turned out, much to my relief, that the flight crew for both flights was the same, so it didn’t matter if we arrived late at Brasilia.

Finally got into Fortaleza at 2am, checked into the hotel at 2.30 and was asleep by 4.00am - on the morning I was to meet my first kids!

Another obstacle/speed hump/hurdle that popped up, due largely to my own stupidity and forgetfulness, was technology-related. I neglected to bring a power adapter with me to Brazil, maybe naively thinking I could pick one up when I got here. When I was in Colombia, the hotel gave me one to use, but it turned out this hotel didn’t have any. So after a couple of hours I had a flat laptop battery, and the phone battery went dead late on the first visit day.

I also brought a camera and 10 batteries, but for some reason these particular batteries and this particular camera did not want to cooperate, and went flat within 5 minutes. I then turned to my phone for back-up, and because of all the photos and video I was taking, the battery lasted maybe an hour.

Unfortunately my annoyance and preoccupation with my failing technology affected how I engaged with the home visits on that first day. Looking back I probably even seemed downright rude as I fiddled with my phone trying to switch the camera settings to “memory card” so I could take some more pics. Thankfully I was able to retain a lot of the information.

Isabela did most of the talking, which was good. I had imagined this wonderful, deep two-way conversation, but it didn’t happen that way. I gave gifts, prayed for the family, took a couple of photos (with Isabela’s camera). I was hoping to get more pics of their house and living conditions, but was unable to.

My translator Isabela proved to be a God-send. She is the Trips and Visits Specialist for Compassion Brazil, and made my visit a great experience. She relates really well to the kids, and takes lots of photos. She also went the extra mile by hunting around town for a power adapter, and by Friday night (day 2) I was up and running. 

Lesson learned today: God is a God who answers prayer, whether or not it is in the form we hope or expect it to be. I repeatedly asked God to help me rely completely on him and trust him to provide. He did this on the first two days through delayed flights and technology stuff-ups.

Frankly, I wasn’t surprised at all the little hiccups. I had HOPED things would run smoothly, but didn’t really expect it. The point is this. There was a time when delayed flights and waiting in stinkin’ lines would have driven me up the wall and derailed my perspective and attitude for the whole trip. Sure, I got mildly annoyed, but God has given me discernment and perspective so that I was able to recognise the little speed humps as they appeared, throw up a little prayer, and give it to God. He’s had his hand on this trip for a long time, and I trusted Him to get me there, even if I was bug-eyed and slightly stinky. Let the adventure begin…

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