Sunday, July 02, 2017

The Upgrade

In seventy-two hours, I'm in the air to Vietnam by way of Singapore. This about the best leg of my trip ever! It's from July 30, 2013.

I'm tired but I'm not as tired as I was. Usually it takes me about ten days to get over jet lag; funny but it never affects me on the way to China or Vietnam, just on the way back. My journey had four stages; bus ride from Can Tho to Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City, flight to Singapore, five hour layover in Singapore then flight to Moscow, two hour layover in Moscow then home to Houston. I get tired just remembering! I basically go two days without sleep because I'm just not good at sleeping in a plane. I doze for a few minutes but nothing sustainable. Even Melatonin, which is usually effective with me, does little good. I just endure the trip, made easier by two things; the airlines I fly to Asia (Korean Airlines and Singapore Airlines) pamper their customers and there are plenty of movies/TV shows to watch and music to listen to. Still, the forty-one hours from the time I left the house in Can Tho until I walked into my own place seem like, you guessed it, forty-one hours. It's just part of the deal.

Let's go back to Moscow. On the way over, I had my one bad moment of the trip. My phone fell off the belt going through security and the battery came out. When I realized it, I was outside the door and they would not let me come back in. I was at fault and I don't question their procedures- they are very thorough! Still, I was a bit wary coming back through on the return flight. During our stop, we had to get off the plane and take our stuff with us before re-boarding. I was walking after passing the first security checkpoint and a teenage Vietnamese girl asked if I were going to Houston. I told her I was and she asked if she could walk with me to the gate. She's going to a high school in Houston but her English is broken and I couldn't tell which school it is but I did learn she plays tennis. It's the first time I think anyone ever asked me for directions in an airport but we made it to the gate with plenty of time. After passing through a second security check, we waited. 

I was in the final boarding group and as I came to the front to give the lady my transit card and boarding pass, she looked at my paperwork....... and left. I had no idea why but I vaguely remember saying to several Americans, 'Uh oh!' But she reappeared in about ninety seconds with a blue boarding pass and told me there had been a change- I was being moved to Business Class! I admit I was confused but she assured me it was taken care of so in a daze, I went up the tunnel. Now, please realize that in approximately 55 flights on mission trips out of the US, I've never been in the front part of the plane, the part behind the curtain. As soon as I walked in, a gorgeous flight attendant offered me something to drink. Every five minutes, other flight attendants would come by and check on me. And the seat- more like an apartment! (Check out the picture above!) Did you know it makes into a bed? And I was all by myself next to the window! It was so sweet- even the bathrooms are bigger and there was no line! I kept pinching myself and looking for one of the stunning attendants to come by and tell me there was a mix up. You know what? They even called me by my name! That never happened in 36 C, my seat from Singapore to Moscow on that very same plane. Now, I still couldn't sleep but I was so excited, I wished the flight would last even longer than its eleven hours. No such luck but you do realize I got off first with all the rich folks! I'm still in awe.

It doesn't take long for me to switch back to the comfortable life I have in the US. This afternoon, as I left WALGREENS, a lady approached me and asked if I might spare several dollars so she and her daughter could get a hamburger. I did and asked her name. It was Brenda and she thanked me and asked God to bless me. I was curious and so as I pulled out, I watched her walk into the next door McDonald's. And I caught myself thinking of the poor people I'd just left in Vietnam where there are no social services and for a second, I wondered if Brenda deserved my help. And then it hit me. What had I done to deserve to move up to a better, more comfortable seat? Nothing. I gladly accepted my promotion although it caught me off guard. I don't want to say I was judgmental toward the lady but it's easier to feel righteous when you give money away in a foreign land than a block from your own house. And guess why I was at that WALGREEN'S where I made the acquaintance of the aforementioned Brenda? I was printing pictures of my trip to give as thank yous for people who ....... gave me money for my trip. Sadly ironic, isn't it? Back home again.

Applicable quote of the day:
"While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.” 

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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