The shuttle bus was still there so the lady at the front desk told one of the people to run and stop them so we could go. We told her we weren’t written down for that time but 4am. She let us know it didn’t really matter because the shuttle bus only had one person in it and could take us just as easily…besides, it would save him a trip back. He came in, helped us get loaded and then off to the airport we went.
The other woman on the shuttle bus was there for a medical conference that she was attending so we chatted with her on our trip to the airport. We arrived before 4am and ended up just sitting…but I wasn’t too bored because I was so excited about the trip we were about to take. I went from excitement to nervousness to not thinking about it because Mark and I would talk about something else. Then just as I was busy not even thinking about it, it would pop into my mind again and I would start the whole process all over again. This basically happened all through the trip until we landed in Liberia.
While waiting for Jerry to arrive, we ended up getting a few photos of us pretending we were asleep or just acting silly. It was a lot of fun and there were a couple of people around probably wondering what in the world our problem was! We wondered if Jerry and his wife would be there on time or not and, sure enough, right at 4:30am they walked in the door. The children looked pretty wiped out as did Jerry and his wife (we probably looked as bad) but one of his children spent time chattering with us after a minute or two. I thought this was pretty good, considering the fact that normally she didn’t say a whole lot to us. We talked and took a few photos until they opened the check-in area. At that point, The Pilgrim went to one and we went to another.
That didn’t take too long and we headed somewhere so we could get something to drink to keep us awake. Mark told me about this great place called ‘Pete’s’ something or other where I needed to try one of their drinks. This is a similar place to the Starbucks but apparently better. We placed our order but then found out that they didn’t have what Mark wanted. The woman had already made mine so I ended up having a Chai Tea, while Mark did without. The whole idea was to have something that would keep us awake for a time because we had a long day ahead of us. During this time, Jerry kept up a running commentary about how many Starbucks would be in Liberia. We assured him, with laughter in our voices, there was one on every corner! After buying me a tea, we went to McDonald’s for the Jerry to buy himself and the family something to eat. Mark and I sat a little ways away from them to allow them time together in more of a private setting. Ok, I admit, it was more of a public semi-private setting!
Finally, we decided to go upstairs and go through security. His children once again chattered away until we came to the escalator. They went up the elevator and we went up the escalator. We met at the top and took more photos! We looked out the window at the airplane. Mark and I chatted with them for a time then, once again, went part way through the line so Jerry would have time to say goodbye to his family before leaving. We let everyone go past us until he caught up and then finished going through the security line. We had no problems and made it through fairly quickly. The place we were headed was still seeable for his family so he continued waving until we were out of sight. He looked pretty forlorn but continued a running commentary. He did have us laughing quite a bit of the day with what he had to say…and even the next day until we arrived in Liberia.
We checked at the possibility of food, since we had to wait to board the plane, but most of the places weren’t open or were really expensive, quite usual for airport food. We decided in the end that we would wait until we arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah. It didn’t take too long and it was time to board the plane. This is where the excitement began! Mark called Pastor Philemon to let him know that we had boarded the plane. Pastor Philemon was pretty excited to hear about it, they chatted for a couple of minutes then hung up because we were told that the plane was getting ready to start. It sounded like they were starting up the plane so we sat for awhile, wondering when the plane was going to take off. The plane then sounded like it was being turned off. This happened a couple more times and then the pilot came on the intercom to say that the ignition was having problems.
Apparently, according to the pilot, there are two ignitions on an airplane. If the main one, according to the pilot, doesn’t work then the plane is not air-worthy. The main one was not working! “But,” he continued, “the maintenance guy is coming here to see if he can get it going. We are just waiting on him.” Mark mentioned that if we didn’t take off pretty soon we would miss our plane in Utah. I became desperate! Lord, I began praying silently, please work it out so we will make out flight in Utah. I didn’t want to sit in Atlanta for a week or even half a week or have to go back home and not go to Liberia. As nervous as I was over arriving in Liberia, I was more nervous about staying in the states! This was one trip that I desperately wanted to make!