Saturday, April 28, 2012

day 5 - travel to Cebu

On Wednesday morning, we were up early to catch our bus to the airport to fly to Cebu, where the Western Visayas District Ladies Conference was held.  I was the speaker for that conference and the team also conducted sessions.

7:30 boarding call in the hotel lobby -- but no bus!  The Filipino pastor who had arranged our travel had taken an early flight to Cebu and we could not reach him, we had no phone number, nor did we know the name of the bus company.  What to do?

Jordan Mallory came to the rescue by negotiating with hotel personnel and arranging 3 vans to transport us and our luggage. (The bus is presumably still lost--circling the Manila Metroplex in confusion.)

Our flight was not scheduled to depart until 10:15 am, so we were glad we had allowed enough time.  We left the hotel at 8:15, breathing a sigh of relief.  (There are no pictures of this event because we were busy running around trying to fix the problem.)

We finally managed to find someone who could tell our group of 15 which line to get in for check-in and I became the spokesperson for the group.  The very sweet agent was also extremely slow.  She regretted to inform us that the entire baggage weight limit for our group was 225 kilos (495 pounds). We reached that after 10 bags. We still had 5 bags to go, PLUS Gloria's 9 extra bags of supplies we were taking to the ladies and our Bacolod mission.

I will not post here how much extra we had to pay in baggage fees.  Just know that it was a lot.  A whole lot.  Enough to make tears roll down your cheeks.

We had to wait in ANOTHER line to pay the fee.  Then we had to wait in ANOTHER line to pay the airport tax fee.  Then we had to wait in ANOTHER line to go through security.  By this time, it was 10:10.  I kept telling the group, "Don't sweat the small stuff.  If we miss the flight, we miss the flight. It's no deal. It's okay."  Smiling sweetly.  And on the inside, I'm jumping up and down wanting to scream at all of the slow people.

Finally!  Through security, everybody except one.  Almost there!....

....and of COURSE there was a problem.  Heath was hand-carrying the bag which held the Community coffee, the Tony's Chachere's seasoning, and the Eat This Book sets--gifts for some of our ministers.  The Tony Chachere's seasoning was the culprit.  The two (TWO!) security agents held the cans and turned them over and over and read about them and finally said that no, we could not take them because there was metal on the bottom of the cardboard can and that was just flat out against the rules.  They said we were welcome to go back through security and wait in line and check the bag.  !!!!!!  Really?  At 10:10.

Logic said to just give them all 10 cans of Tony's seasoning and run.  But I had had enough.  We had been fighting for 3 hours to get on this plane and now they were taking our Tony's!  Enough is enough!

I put on my most pitiful face and said, "Well, we will just have to miss our flight.  Because we have brought that all this way for our friends and I just can't leave it right here."  And one of the agents said, "You are on vacation, m'am?" And I said, "No, we are missionaries. We are visiting our Filipino pastors and these are gifts for them."  The agent looked at the other agent who said, "Missionaries? Are you just visiting the pastors?" And I said, "No, we are going to speak at a Ladies Conference in Cebu and we have brought gifts for some of the people we know."

Their faces began to take on a pitiful look, also.  I'm not real sure what their background is, but one looked at the other and began putting our towel back around the coffee, the books, and the seasoning, and leaned in and said, "Just go, m'am.  Just go.  Just don't say anything.  You are doing the work of the Lord and we are not going to take anything from you."  By now, he's pushing the bag in our hands saying, "Hurry m'am, so you don't miss your flight and may God bless you as you continue to do the work of the Lord! Go! Don't say anything! Bless you, m'am!"

The entire group of 15 began running for our gate, knowing that it was no use and we were going to miss our flight.  However, when we reached the gate, they smiled and said, "Just in time. The flight was delayed due to some maintenance, so you are just fine."  We walked on board at 10:40, fell into our seats and thanked God we had 1 hour and 15 minutes to breathe....

No pictures of any of this.

It was total survival--every man for himself.

© 2009-2012 by Melani Brady Shock

Thursday, April 26, 2012

days 3 & 4 - travel

You really don't want to hear about these days.

I have a couple of pics that actually look decent when we arrived in Manila after a 12-hour flight (that was delayed...)  Don't know how that happened!  We finally found our bus to take us to the hotel and hid in our rooms for the next 8 hours before we began the n i g h t m a r i s h ordeal of boarding from Manila to Cebu.

It seems that people don't travel with luggage in the Philippines.  And if you DO carry luggage, it is evidently supposed to be empty.  :-) (We're smiling...seriously. But we are much poorer than when we started due to all the unexpected baggage fees.)

But NOTHING that is worth anything comes without a price! We are not on vacation here, so obstacles, hindrances, and challenges are to be expected.  No problem! Carry on!  Next stop: Cebu!!!

© 2009-2012 by Melani Brady Shock

Sunday, April 22, 2012

day 2 - layover in Hawaii

Don't you just hate long layovers?

Well, most of the time.

But THIS one was heaven-sent!!!

All of our hard work, all-nighters, stress-filled hours of preparing the Knowledge Project, Eat This Book, POA KIDS renovations, prep for this and prep for that were rewarded for a short 12 hours on our layover on the island of Oahu!

And what an incredible layover!

What a great group! Our stewardess, Stephanie, is on the far left in the white blouse.
We began the morning with an impromptu meeting/prayer in a hotel room that turned into an hour-long Divine visitation.  We were joined there by Stephanie, our stewardess, who was meeting us and slipped into the room while we were singing.  When we finished, she had joined our worship with her hands raised and tears flowing...and the day had not even begun!  It was just a sweet, sweet time with the Lord.

Although the weather wanted to be rainy, it would only rain on us while we were driving.  Totally incredible.
Peacock Diva

Struttin his stuff.  Show-off!
Hanauma Bay, the drive along the coast, the McDonald's in the remodeled church, the North Shore, performances by peacock divas, laughter, hugs, birthday celebrations (Iva Joy Custis), lost luggage found!, anointing service in Waimea Valley, sad good-byes (Stephanie)...

A perfect day to begin a Trip of Destiny.

Gathered for church in Waimea Valley.  We all agreed this was the prettiest one we had ever attended.

About to bring the Word.  An anointing service followed...what a great time we had.  The shuttle drivers were looking for the "group with the Bibles"...they wanted to make sure we were okay and got anywhere we wanted to go.

© 2009-2012 by Melani Brady Shock

Saturday, April 21, 2012

day 1 - travel

Could we go back and start over?

It started out wrong.  The ticket agent at AEX woke up on the wrong side of the bed.  She started checking luggage before all of our group even got to the airport.  One hour and 15 minutes before the plane was to leave, she started telling us we were going to miss it.  She was Gestapo.  She DID NOT LIKE ANYBODY IN THE WORLD.

Long story short, we sat on the ground 1 hour and 15 minutes because the ground crew didn't know how to load the luggage and half our plane missed their connection.  We made our connection, but some of our luggage didn't.  Pray for those who are waiting on theirs...they are not exactly feeling a mountain-top experience right now!

However, we are in Honolulu and we are thankful.  We are excited because our stewardess on the IAH-HNL flight, Stephanie, is going to spend the day with us and go to our "group church" at Waimea Valley tomorrow.

All things work together for good to those who are the called...

© 2009-2012 by Melani Brady Shock

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

soul prep

More than speaking notes, this morning I am doing soul prep.

A group of 15 will be traveling with me to speak at a Regional Ladies Conference in the Philippines.  This is not new territory for me; I have done it several times before.  I know what I will see and feel even before I go.

And this morning, I am repenting humbly before God yet again.

Because I am preparing to speak to women who mostly have dirt floors and no mattress.  They either sleep on hard plywood bed frames or the floor itself. They cook on open fires or, if they are blessed, a hot plate.  They usually wear what has been given to them.  They exist on life, laughter, and God.  What do I say to them?

In reality, the message is the same for all of us: "Give Him everything!" The difference between them and us is the fact that, for the most part, they have.  We haven't.

The joy in the air will be tangible.  The faith will be unshakeable.  The worship will be celestial.  Many will be healed next week.  Many miracles will occur.  Why will it happen there and we rarely see it here?

Maybe...just maybe...because God is their only option.

I pray I will be counted worthy to stand with them...

© 2009-2012 by Melani Brady Shock