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