Did I REALLY pass out? On the plane? In the air over Africa? I sure did. Maybe just an hour into the flight I started feeling sick. I was dizzy, I was nauseous, I was NOT going to throw up right here in my seat. I desperately got up to run to the bathroom…big mistake! As I reached the door (the bathroom was only a few yards from where I was sitting) my world suddenly went completely white. And then I was waking up, laid out in the aisle with a half dozen people around me including one who was cradling my head and another who was elevating my legs—then I made out the frantic calls: “Mark! Mark!”. It was my Lady Jai and she was beside herself. What…had…happened?
Oh, I should clarify: This is what happened the LAST TIME I was heading back home from Africa—back in February of this year, with a team of 7 that included my wife and Baby Gurl. According to the doctor who happened to be onboard, I probably had gotten dehydrated and experienced a drop in my blood pressure. I think it was the meal they’d just served us! In any event, it was definitely not a denuement!
Denuement. Wow, what was I, a high schooler when I first learned that word? In literature class? It means the wind down, closing round of a story (comes after the climax). Well, as I write this final blog entry for my October 2017 trip to Africa (36,000 feet above the ground going 440mph), one thing is crystal clear: the work of OHM is not winding down; it’s going to the next level!
Since my last entry (3 days ago, on Friday 10/20) my time in Ghana wrapped up with a trip to town on Saturday (see pictures—Art Center, of course, as well as an electronics vendor where Bishop Wennie purchased a really cool wireless speaker system that can be used when ministering in the remote parts of Liberia) and then on Sunday I ministered at the Headquarters of Changed Life Baptist Church in Kaneshie. My sermon was actually an expository teaching that I titled, “Every seed has a season” (an encore of the “Nourished to Flourish” sermon I first preached back in April).
Following the service at CLBC, I discovered a way to log onto my laptop for the first time in about a week. After service I went to Pastor Damptey’s office at the church to do some work (which I assumed I’d have no choice but to do on my tablet) only to find that I couldn’t access the internet wirelessly—which is the only way I can gain access using my tablet. Looking at Pastor Damptey’s charger for his Dell, though, I noticed that it looked like it might work for my hp as well—and it did! I’m not sure why it worked or if I can conclude that it is indeed my charger that’s gone bad—I just know that I was able to use his Ethernet cable to access the internet using a wired connection and then use VPN to access everything I needed to do some work…everything, that is, accept, a lot of time. When you’ve received maybe a few hundred emails in a week and a half, you need more than a few hours to get through them! Before I knew it we were breaking for lunch and then I was having a final meeting with Pastors Damptey and Odoi before we all headed to the airport. After we prayed together at the close of the meeting, I gave both men a big hug. I really felt like a father encouraging his sons through a heartfelt embrace. What a tremendous honor (and awesome responsibility). I thank God for entrusting this to me, I who am so unworthy but so very willing nonetheless.
OK, according to the flight tracker we are now 2 hours and 50 minutes from JFK. Glory to his name! These flights from Europe to New York always seem super long—nevermind the 6 hour flight from Accra to Amsterdam! There was a movie that I’d thought about watching on the first flight (“Passengers” with Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt) but decided to continue binging on the first season of “Elementary” instead (I’d remembered to do some Netflix downloading while still at the hotel in Accra). No more Elmentary to watch now so how about Passengers? Nope, not offered on this flight! OK, read a book. Almost done with that. OK, WRITE a book! The flight’s sure long enough!
I had some interesting moments during the layover in Amsterdam. Unlike when I was headed away from the US, when I arrived from Africa en route to the US I had to go through another security screening and eventually 2 or 3 more document checks. In the process, though, do you now know I happened upon a McDonald’s?!? In the airport. In the Netherlands. You even had the option to place an electronic order at a kiosk. Folks were ordering hamburgers and fries at 7:30 in the morning! Gotta love it. I ordered a sausage McMuffin combo and made my way back to the lounge area I’d discovered when passing through 10 days ago. I set my phone and tablet up to charge and proceeded to devour my “Mickey D’s”!
3 hours later, I was on the plane I’m on now after just boarding and literally had a Grandpa moment. I went to sleep BEFORE they even finished boarding! I woke up in time for takeoff and panicked a little: Not because I’d fallen asleep but because I was STARVING when I woke up and thought I’d heard them announce something about serving a light lunch sometime near the end of this forever-flight. Jesus! I’m gonna have to find a mint or a piece of gum or something! OK, no wait, here come the hot towels. Food will surely follow…and it did!
Home! My flight landed at JFK early and I was off the plane, through Immigration and Customs, had retrieved my luggage and was in am Uber headed for Midtown Manhattan all in about an hour! I actually reached the pick up spot for the van that would take me to the company plane (on which I would enjoy a 30 minute flight back to the Corning/Elmira area) about 50 min early!
Now, of all the flights I’ve taken over the last 10 days, this last one on the company plane was white knuckle for sure! It was very windy during the last 10 minutes of the flight which means we experienced quite a bit of turbulence—the kind that makes even the most seasoned flyer stop reading or talking and nervously look out the nearest window! Incredibly, before the wind picked up (followed by heart rates!), the picture outside was beautifully serene (see picture).
Thanks for coming along for the ride!
Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone