Tuesday, June 5, 2007

the flight and first cultural experience

Our flight out of Amsterdam was delayed with us on it, at the terminal, for merely five hours. At that point the mechanics gave up trying to fix it. There was some major confusion as to what Kenya air was going to do with us all since the next flight to Nairobi wouldn't leave for another 19 hours at that point. Captain mentioned hotel, then just food vouchers, a possible afternoon flight out. Through it all the primarily African contingent on the plane remained calm, and even with some jovial. Wise cracks and jokes were made. Patience prevailed. We remarked how it would have been impossible for American passengers to respond nearly so well. Especially with the comedy of errors that eventually transpired. We had boarded at 11pm, finally deboarded at 4:30am; then given meal vouchers for use in the one and only cafe remaining open at 5:30am in the airport; and eventually were herded as a pack throughout the immense Amsterdam airport at 7am to stand in line to pass through customs and head to a hotel. The plane was to be fixed and we would have to take a bus back to the airport a bit after 2pm for a 4pm flight. We all came to the lobby at 2pm to find a sign saying the flight was cancelled and we would leave at 11pm!!! Again, primarily calm and patience remained. Perhaps we were all so relieved to gain a few more hours of sleep. The real pain and frustration arose upon landing in Nairobi. Despite having over 24 hours to reschedule and book all the passengers NOTHING had been accomplished. Many missed connections throughout other parts of Africa for another 24 hours. Kelly and I were fortunate to be boarded onto a flight for Kigali, Rwanda. Oh, but when we boarded and looked at the computer map of our projected flight path it occured to us we were heading for Burundi!!! Yes, instead of flying 30 minutes to Rwanda first, we flew to Burundi in 1 1/2 hours, sat, then flew onwards to our destination.

Pastor Paul and our driver/guide/translator/shepherd named Safari (really Fred) were at the airport smiling and greeting us. Finally. Arrivee! We were spent but immediately Pastor Paul whisked us off to a meeting at his office with his two main managers/organizers with his church that run the student operations.

Must run to our first meeting with Sisters of Rwanda, a Lawyers without Borders org. We are extremely excited!

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