Sunday, November 06, 2011

Ghana: Night 1: "Altitude, 0m"

Previous Updates:
Day 1

Nov 5th, 2011

When we arrived in Washington D.C. on Saturday afternoon, after the *adventures* in Portland, Maine, we were greeted by Tia with the news that Debra's flight had been delayed by several hours due to the mechanical failure of the plane's hydraulic system. We were praying that she would not only arrive on time to catch the flight, but also that her checked-in luggage would still have time to make the connection.

We may have prayed a little too hard.



Debra arrives at Gate C14.


Boarding call for Flight 990 to Accra, Ghana. Departure scheduled for 10:48pm.


Attention passengers, we are experiencing mechanical failure in the plane's hydraulic system. At this time, we ask that you exit the aircraft. Please take all your belongings with you. Your checked-in luggage will remain on board. Please proceed to Gate C14 and await further updates. United Airlines thanks you for your patience.

All throughout the plane, groans could be heard. I rolled my eyes and thought of having an ice cream party with my Small Group ladies!


Attention passengers, Flight 990 will now be departing at 4pm, Sunday, November 6th. At this time, we ask that you proceed to the boarding desk to receive accomodation vouchers.

12:30am, Nov 6th:

Forty five minutes later, vouchers in hand, we proceed to walk the half marathon it takes to reach the shuttle area, with all our carry-on luggage in tow. By this point, I've been awake for 19 hours, and running on 3 hours of sleep. Tia is equally tired. Joshua is getting his second wind and using the structure above the shuttles waiting area as monkey bars, swinging around and doing pull-ups while Debra chats with people in the crowd.


It's cold. We're standing outside on the sidewalk waiting in the shuttles area for the one shuttle that will take us to the Sheraton, for which we've been given vouchers.

We see the Marriott shuttle pass by.

Then the Hilton.

And the Westin.

And the Marriott. Again.

Another Hilton shuttle...

No sign of the Sheraton shuttle.


Every ten minutes, it seems another hotel's shuttle arrives, but not the Sheraton's. We are getting increasingly cold. Our saving grace is 3 fleece blankets we have received from our church to give to our Compassion children (the 4th blanket is in checked luggage).

A lady with a newborn baby is near us, and the baby only has a thin blanket. We offer one of ours to keep mom and baby warm as they wait. Minutes later, they leave in a taxi, and so does our blanket. The twins can share one blanket, right? Right.

While we wait, Debra is on the phone with the Sheraton, advising them that we still haven't seen a shuttle, and since there are 40+ people waiting wtih us, they may want to consider sending more than one shuttle.


The Sheraton advises that the shuttle is on the way. It arrives ten minutes later, and takes the first load of passengers. We wait for the next shuttle, our minds on the scriptures on being last being a great thing. We're experiencing great things tonight!!

A group of men from Ghana are waiting with us, and they know four languages: English, Twi, Fante, and Flirting. In less than five minutes, they've sung me happy birthday, read my emails over my shoulder, given me their phone numbers, asking us to drop by when we're driving through their area this coming week. Even though it's a little awkward, they are jovial and entertaining, and the time seems to pass a little less painfully as we fall in love with the Ghanaian accents and the expressive flow of conversation.


We finally board the second shuttle, and make our way to the Sheraton. When we arrive, we realize that there are at least 40 people lined up in the lobby waiting for rooms. There is no free WiFi for soon-to-be (or not) guests, so we can not update our family members on the situation.

Josh falls asleep on a bench with our luggage while we continue to freeze even though we're indoors, because we're lined up past the automatic doors and each time someone moves, the doors open and the cold air blasts in.

At this point, Tia's silent from semi-slumber, I'm at a loss for words (stranger things have happened, in fact, they've been happening all day long!), and I'm convinced that Debra runs on an Energizer Cell Pack.


"Attention, this hotel is now full. Please proceed to the Westin, the shuttle is waiting outside the lobby doors."


We're in the Westin lobby, again without internet access to provide updates to our friends back home. The line is moving faster than it was at the Sheraton, and we're warm. There are roughly 20-25 people ahead of us. We realize that the food vouchers that United gave us, each at a 15 dollar value to be used at the hotel or at the airport, can not be used since they indicate "Dinner" rather than breakfast or lunch. The hotel will not be honoring them.

A lady ahead of us, in an attempt to move forward with the line as we approach the front desk, drops her Duty Free bags on the floor, cracking open the two bottles of wine she had bought. The spilled wine creates a pool on the floor that resembles blood. The sight of it is unsettling, the smell of it not much more pleasant. It missed the carpet by roughly 8 inches. We watch it spread as we wait.


People are arguing with the hotel clerk about the vouchers, and we're wondering why this can't be dealt with in the morning.


Hotel key and toothbrushes in hand, we head to the elevators. Joshua, standing by the buttons to select the floors, tries to select floor 4 for Debra, and floor 5 for us. We're so sleep deprived it takes us a while to realize that in this elevator, you need to insert your room key in order to activate the floor selection.


Joshua leaps into the bed and immediately falls asleep. We follow not too much further behind. The last thing I remember hearing was Tia telling me that Stephen said "Don't worry, God has this all under control, He has a plan" and her responding to him with something like "I know but right now that all sounds like a bunch of hoooey."

In my experience, the worse it seems like "hoooey" (what is that anyway?), the better the outcome. Imagine something better than our plane departing on time and being in Ghana today? I can't wait to see what God has in store for us!


I head downstairs to the internet kiosk to make arrangements to get our accomodations and travel arrangements changed, and I try to call the room from the internet kiosk, and the hotel lobby tells me that I am not registered for my room. In fact, there is no one by the name of Kollar or Richardson there. Apparently, United took our identity too. Nice. The adventure continues, read here!...

In the wise words of my beloved brother Sebastien, "Just be content
that the mechanical failure was discovered at an altitude of 0 meters!


My birthday gift this year -- the adventure of a lifetime!

Prayers: Please pray that the flight later today goes smoothly so that we can begin our journey in Ghana. Also pray for the Compassion visits -- at this point we do not know what will happen in light of all these delays and I'm praying Ato Sam will not be disappointed by the disruption of plans and that we will still be able to have the visits with the four children.