A heavy jet-lagged, 4:30 AM wake-up call greeted me this morning despite my desperate need for more sleep. The last 72 hours has been a whirlwind of new beginnings, learning, and stress to say the least. In typical millennial-traveler fashion, here is a formal invitation and greeting to following my time serving in Miyagi-Tagajo, Japan.
Where do I start? Rather than being a responsible young twenty-something, the night before I departed for my trip I was too excited for sleep and, if I am honest, too naive to think I would need proper rest because, “what could go wrong?”. After a short three hour nap I woke up, said goodbye to my family, and headed for O’Hare International Airport. With bags and camera in hand, I had ample time to check in, get through security, and make it to my flight. I’m standing in line to check my bag for the first leg of my journey to LAX. As I am walking up the line a sweaty, oversized man runs out from behind the counter and yells “Flight to LAX has been cancelled due to crew problems!”. I stood there, shocked, heavy-eyed, and now irritated to no end. My first thought was “Crap. I’ve never done this before and now I have no way of making my flight to Japan”. To shorten things drastically, the workers of this God-forsaken airline refunded me in total and after a number of anxious phone calls I was able to buy another ticket out of O’Hare that day, just a few hours later. Now, rather than having a 5-hour layover in LA, I would have just over an hour to claim my bags, run to the international terminal, re-check my bags, get through security, and make it to my flight. I may not be a well-seasoned traveler but this didn’t seem feasible, especially in Los Angeles. After a restless 4-hour flight, I ran to baggage claim, waited impatiently for my bag, then ran across the airport to the international terminal. Sweating and panting, I dragged myself to the Japan Airlines check-in line to find my teammate and her mom waving frantically for me to come over. Thankfully they had saved me a spot in line and the man working at the airline was kind enough to assure me that even if I had shown up 10 minutes before takeoff they would have held the plane. Hannah and I then excitedly hurried through security, grabbed a sandwich, and boarded our 11-hour flight to start this incredible journey.
Landing in what seemed like no time at all, Hannah and I swept through customs without a problem, re-checked-in to our connecting flight to Sendai from Tokyo and just as we settled in to wait, so did our 26 hours without sleep. Dragging, a little dazed and confused, we walked out to the plane (yes, outside, onto the runway) to board, and settled in for another 1-hour flight. After gathering ourselves from our stupor, we grabbed our bags and met Robert, the head of the missions team we are working with. We hopped in the car and made our final trek to Tagajo where we would finally be able to rest.
After stopping at a small convenient store to grab breakfast for the following morning, we got to the volunteer house of the Shiogama Bible Baptist Church and fell right asleep. Having no sense of time or date I slept heavy and woke up 10 hours later still dragging a bit and got ready for a day full of serving and laughter, but more on that to come later. As of last night, our whole team has arrived and we are gearing up for our first week of service and fellowship. I’m not sure what to expect, but I can’t wait to find out.
Until next time, friends.