Saturday, June 30, 2012

Stop. Compose. Repeat.

As the plane from Iceland landed in Heathrow airport in London, I didn't even want to get off. The realization that I was at my destination, in another country, where I knew absolutely nobody hit me hard and scared me badly. Suddenly, I began to doubt myself. Why on earth did I do this? I couldn't handle this! Who did I think I was, coming to another country, trying to get around on my own?

Once I got into the airport, it seemed every few yards there was a sign that said "baggage claim" with an arrow directing passengers. I soon ran into the line where passports are checked. I got through without a problem, and continued onward. At baggage claim, I had to stop against a wall, regain composure, and then continue.My bag would be on carrousel five. I found it, rolled it over by some chairs, stopped again, had to remember to breathe and convince myself not to cry, and then go on.

I headed to the exit, which was not so much an exit as an entrance to another room where a sign proudly announced "The Meeting Point," and other passengers were greeted by smiles and hugs from friends and family. Again, I had to wheel my luggage over by a wall, and regain composure as best I could. I then headed to exchange some currency and get a taxi, in which I most definitely let a tear or two fall.

I wanted to doze off the entire taxi ride, both from physical and emotional exhaustion. When the driver pulled up to the address of the hostel I booked, he said, "Did you know it was a pub, Miss?" I did not. I made sure to research the hostels I booked well, and online this particular hostel said it was a no smoking, no drinking facility. Nevertheless, I got out of the cab, with my things, went in, checked in at the bar/front desk (where a man clearly shared my thoughts that I was in the wrong place), and went to my room above the pub.

For anyone else, this might not be a big deal. I completely understand that. Many other people would have been fine in this situation. But I live a self-sheltered life by choice. I am a person who chooses to separate myself from certain things. So here I was, about to have a nervous breakdown, and all I could do was pull my computer out, connect to the WiFi, and message my best friend. After a sufficient amount of complaining to him, I emailed my aunt, who told me she would get a notification on her phone, so she could reply right away. That's exactly what happened, and as we exchanged emails, I looked for single rooms in hotels nearby for the next three nights. I also looked for a church affiliated with the UPCI (United Pentecostal Church International, the organization my church is part of). I had no luck in the former, but the latter I found. Bishop Leroy Francis, superintendent of the UK, had a church that seemed nearby.

My mom was emailing me by this point as well, trying to help find me a different place to stay. With little luck, we decided the best thing would be for me to pack up my things and head to the church. My grandmother would try to call the church to talk to them about things when she got home. With this decision, I headed downstairs, checked out, got an unexpected refund for the next two nights, and had a cab called for myself. The cab got there within fifteen minutes, and the church wasn't far at all.

I stood alone with my bags in the church's parking lot after the cab drove away. maneuvering my things to the door, I pressed the call button. "Yes? Can I help you?" a female voice with an accent answered. I paused, not knowing exactly what to say, "Um, is there Bible study tonight?" I asked stupidly, recalling the 7:30 Bible study time for that night I had seen on their website. "Yes," the voice answered, then followed it up with, "Who is this?" "My name is Denise," I said. "Denise M---?"she asked, including my last name. A bit puzzled, I answered, "Yes..." "Just a moment please," she said, and within a few seconds, people were at the door, ushering me in, and the phone was handed to me.

My grandmother happened to be on the phone with the church staff that very moment. Hearing her voice, and being surrounded by people who at least believed what I believed and knew some people I knew was a comfort in the chaos. I met some people, wrote down my home church's information for the pastor, helped prepare some cards for mailing, and stayed for the Bible study. Afterwards, I went home with Sister Monica, a lady who worked at the church, who had answered when I buzzed at the front door, and who had been on the phone with my grandma.
It's amazing how everything worked out. What can I say? I serve an in-control God.

No comments:

Post a Comment