Journal of the People’s Pastor

“Writing The History I’ve Lived, Living The History I Write!”

DARFUR DIARY

Part XV: Darfur Diary – My Journey to Juba, South Sudan




Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My Ethiopian flight arrived late into Dulles Airport, Washington, DC. Still, I was able to make my connection on time. However, there were a number of obstacles I had to surmount, which almost made me miss my flight.

There was no ticket for me at the Delta desk. I was told reservations had been made for me. Time was wasted searching the computer, but to no avail. There was no ticket. I had to pay cash, $180. I was grateful I had the money. I started to give Sharon all my money and credit card when I left Ethiopia. She had decided she would stay in Ethiopia for another week. I didn’t like the idea, but when you have raised your children to be independent, what can a father do when they become grown and be and do what you have taught them?

My second obstacle was my bags were almost last coming off the plane. The third hurdle was security. After I got my ticket, I had to go through security again. I was back in the USA and the scrutinizing was more intense than all the other airports I had been in. The fourth obstacle – it must be at least a mile from the desk to the B Terminal. I ran over half of the way and walked swiftly the other half. I was quite proud of myself. In another month I will be 77 years old. I went through the airport like O.J. Simpson in the old Hertz commercial.

When I reach the B Terminal, I went left instead of right. (I was certain the receptionist said B21. She had a heavy accent and hardly spoke English, and she had to consult a supervisor about everything.) When I arrived at B21, I was told Delta was at the end of the terminal, in the opposite direction. I gathered myself, took a deep breath, picked up my bags and ran the other way, all the way to B52. There I was told Delta was back the other way – B46. When I reached B46, I was told Delta was further down. It was gate B42. Unbelievably, I made my connection. Maybe all the confusion was my fault. I admit I was eager to get home, and, usually, there is someone to help me.

I almost wished I had missed my flight. It was a rough plane ride. The plane, a small jet, trembled and bounced through the clouds. It seemed the plane was dancing to the music of the blowing winds. The pilot had told us it would be “choppy.” But, once we passed the clouds it would be better. There is a major difference between "choppy” and trembling, shaking, and bobbing up and down. There were times I wondered if we were going to make it.

I thought of all the other times I had been on nerve challenging flights. I thought to myself what an irony. I have traveled thousand of miles across the world, only to crash in the USA, somewhere between Washington, D.C. and New York. I remembered the prayer I always pray before a flight, “Oh God I am in your hands. If something is going to happens on this flight and I am not supposed to be on it, you can prevent my boarding, even at the last minute. Even if the plane goes down, you can save me, if it is not my time. If it is my time, take care of my family and friends. ‘Let the good I’ve done speak for me’ and my failures be forgiven. Bear me safely and peacefully to thee, and, grant I may hear you say ‘well done.’” True to the pilot’s words, once above the stormy clouds the ride did get smoother – and prettier. The higher we climbed the calmer it got. Now, the clouds were fluffy white, sprinkled with blue.

The little plane touched down at Kennedy Airport at 11:20am. God had brought me safely home. I was deeply, profoundly grateful. My wife, Dr. Karen and one of the faithful brothers of our church, Trustee James Simmons, were waiting for me. I walked out into the brisk air of New York City. On our way home, there was the usually road blockage and delays here and there, and traffic jams due to road construction. I remembered something my mother-in-law used to say, “New York is going to be a great place if they every get it fixed.” But the traffic jam didn’t bother me. I recalled the roads of Juba.
We pulled into our drive way. Everything looked lovely – even though the wind had blown over one of the flower pots. After picking up and putting the flower pot back in its place, I carried my two bags into the house. Again, I was struck by the beauty of it all. Occasionally, I used to say to my wife and children, “In my house I want cleanliness, order, fragrance and beauty.”

Yes, I was home again, “Maybe not for long, but home again.” And it is still true, “Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home.” It had been an unforgettable trip. I’m certain good things will follow.

Upcoming Events

Attend the Timbuktu Learning Center’s weekly Thursday Night Community Forums. All Forums are held at the House of the Lord Church from 7pm to 9pm.

Join Operation Life Line if you need assistance or know someone who needs assistance with their mortgages as it relates to foreclosures, predatory lending and/or sub prime lending.

Attend NRLAA’s monthly forum Focus on Africa the 2nd Saturday from 2pm to 4pm.

Organizing Meetings regarding Darfur every Thursday - 12noon @ the House of the Lord Church

Keep abreast of our Darfurian activities by checking our web page @ www.holnj.org.

Attend the Stop the Genocide in Darfur, Sudan Rally on Friday, April 4, 2008, assemblying