Well it’s finally the 22nd of March. After postponing our trip in November this has felt like a long time coming. I had to work this morning before heading out and I was like a kid with ants in my pants watching the clock.
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We’re leaving today to Usila, Mexico, and by we, I mean 10 of us from Believers’ Fellowship. We are finally heading back to visit our friends that we met in 2016; Chai, Yuri, Isabel and Pastor Imber. Last time we went we were doing a medical trip. This time we are going to teach and preach. Maria R and I are the only two who speak Spanish. We will be doing our best to help the rest of our team.
The team this time is 8 of us who went last time. That would be myself, Jon, Maria F., Maria R., Caleb, Hannah, Dylon, and Alesha. We are also bringing two newbies Kelly and Artie. Side note this is not only Artie’s 1st missions trip, it is also his first time flying. You know this is going to be a major adventure!
While I was at work this morning, the rest of the team was meeting at the church and being spoiled a bit by Mike and Jessica. Two so very precious people who went out of their way to make sure the team had something yummy to eat before heading to Orlando to pick me up and getting to the airport.
Of course nothing we do is simple in a group this large. Check in was crazy with 22 bags each weighing between 49.5 to 50 pounds. I mean every single one of them was within an ounce or two. We did good! Thanks Maria for that little thing a ma bob scale. Sorry we lost the back David 😣!
Our flights are both with United today. Aida at the counter was AMAZING!!! She had it all running so smoothly and efficiently. You rock Aida (This is not a paid commercial)! From there though, it went downhill or hysterical depending on how you wanna look at it. See I made us these fancy shirts (see pic below). What I didn’t realize is when the HTV Vinyl said “chrome” there was actually something to it. All of us ladies had our boobs patted down. Top, bottom, and in between. That would be my first violation in a very short span of time. “Excuse me ma’am. We need to feel you up. Would you like to do it here or in private?” Ummmm, am I in Amsterdam’s or the Orlando International Airport? Correction Maria F. didn’t have to get patted down. She used Hannah as a shield.
But wait… there’s more! I will preface with we read the signs!! So don’t come at me with all your judgements. I took all the food I knew I had out of my bags. But, BUT!There were bags that were mine I didn’t pack because they were used by the group at large. That being said Dylon, yes Dylon… again (read $10,000 and a generator) decided to throw me under the bus or to the mercy of TSA depending on how you want to look at it. My carry on (the little green suitcase) was FULL OF FOOD. That we of course failed to remove from the bag. TSA had to go through the entire thing and pull everything out. They swabbed it for chemicals and residue. I was 100% confident they would find nothing. I was wrong! “Excuse me ma’am, we found evidence of a chemical not allowed on the flight”. Me: “you found what”?! 😳
They then re-swabbed everything individually. Meanwhile I look over to my left to check on the rest of my bags to see that my own carry-on is being searched because Maria R. put peanut butter, an entire jar of it in my carry on. Yeah they took that. Sure did. Back to my bag, the culprit was FUN-DIP! Seriously, fun-dip?! Oh and by the way ma’am, we need to do a full body pat down. Umm one of your people already felt up my boobs! Seriously I’m gonna start charging you guys. That’s me, always the entrepreneur.
The poor girl. She had to ask me the private or public thing again. Well honey, let’s make this a show! Then I needed to make eye contact with her so she could tell me exactly how she was going to feel me up. Like it makes a difference if it’s the back or front of your hands between my legs. Any of you ever seen that friends episode with Joey’s tailor? Poor Chandler. I can now empathize. Violation number two was a slow, slow process. Our group watched with laughter and took pictures. Even asked TSA for permission and THEY GAVE IT TO THEM! LOL.
On we go to get on the plane. I came up with the brilliant idea of checking our carry-ons so we wouldn’t have to worry about them on our connecting flight to Vera Cruz. More on how that backfired later! But for now it was nice to have one less bag to worry about. Once we got to our seats one of the flight attendants stopped another right beside Maria and I and asked her if she could make an announcement at landing that there were 10 of us in the flight with a very narrow layover (40 minutes total) and that we would need to get off the plane first. Flight attendant #2 very rudely responds “I’m not gonna do that. It’s their fault for booking it that way”. Um lady yeah you, we didn’t book it that way. Your girlfriend from United Groups booked it that way. Don’t make me go all Bon Qui Qui on you! But as it turns out flight attendant #1 did it anyways. Thank you ma’am for at least trying. Because as it turn out the rest of the passengers paid no mind to the announcement and were darn right snarky about it.
So you know what that means. We literally had to RUN to our gate. We parked the plane in C11 and our gate was B9. That may not sound so bad to you, but Gate B has 88 sub gates!!! And when we turned the corner we were at 88. My feet were swelling my lungs were on fire, and I was praying! WE MADE IT! All 10 of us got to the gate. As Artie so eloquently put it, “didn’t know we had that Giddy Up and Go” left in us! Of course all of that to get on the plane and be delayed 45 minutes because of our bags. Thankfully Maria F., Jon, and Caleb were looking out the window when they saw 4 of our suitcases being pulled away. Jon kept saying “they know what they’re doing”. Caleb on the other hand was like “I’m gonna go check”! And thank God they did! Because they had no intention of putting those bags on the plane. Nope they were going to leave them in Houston with no later flight that day to get them to us. Oh no sir! We need those bags. Back and forth back and forth and they finally ended up putting suitcases in empty seats to make it work. Note to travelers, if you check your carry on, it cannot later be put inside the cabin. It has to stay checked. Oops 😬!
But alas everything and everyone made it on the flight! Praise God!
And then there was customs. I’m going to remind you that we had 40 pieces of luggage. They checked, opened, dissected, and questioned 36 pieces of it. The only one who got off Scott free was Dylon. They almost charged us taxes. The dogs sniffed us because we all smelled like Maria R’s. Bananas and grapes! Then they take us to the next area with our luggage and you have to push this button. If it lights up red your bags get checked. If it’s green you can go. 10 of us, and only one of us got the green. The other really confusing part is that all of our luggage was mixed up. And since we weren’t sure what was in what because we group packed things got exciting. I don’t know how many times Maria and I repeated ourselves in Spanish. That was a donation, that’s vitamins, that’s a gift and repeat! An hour plus later and our luggage was out of customs we stepped out into the Mexican air! Almost nothing was taken. Just one bottle of unmarked Listerine. Well other than our fun dip and peanut butter. Who knew the Cartel was nicer than TSA! Just kidding… but am I?
After all that we had to make two trips to the hotel to get all the luggage over. They left Artie and I at the airport.
We’ve had a delicious dinner and I’m finally in bed. What a day. But God was with us as always. Keeping us safe and making sure everyone’s efforts were worth it. Stay tuned. Because seriously this was only day one. You know it’s just going to get better from here!
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