The “Terminal” Family
How exciting! After a wonderfully full 3-month
furlough abroad, challenging hundreds of believers toward the mission
field on a daily basis, we finally had some “down time”, with a week’s
vacation in Paris, on our way back to the Philippines. While exiting
the plane in France’s Charles De Gaul Airport, we noticed a man on
a bench in the terminal, wrapped in blankets and surrounded by shopping
bags. This was the man who inspired the new Stephen Spielberg movie,
“The Terminal”, starring Tom Hanks. Because his country had disbanded
15 years ago, he has been a “man without a country”, trapped in the
airport for 1 ½ decades. Little did we know that in a few short
hours, our fate would match his, becoming THE TERMINAL FAMILY.
||Paris is a beautiful place to visit.
MONDAY: WHERE ARE THE TICKETS?
Getting a $2000 ticket discount, we switched travel agencies 2 wks
before departure, giving the address of our last speaking engagement
for the agency to FEDEX the tickets to us. Speaking Sun. night, we
flew out JFK on Mon. At church the pastor cautioned, “Bad news: No
tickets!” Calling and faxing all night from the hotel, we located
the tickets in a city 10 mi. away. Closed Labor Day, we drove and
got them ourselves, a few hrs before the flight.
TUESDAY: PARLEZ-VOUS FRANCAIS?
Those taxi drivers!
Since the tickets were urgent, the agency could not give us an exact
hotel address. Arriving in France, we just showed the hotel name to
the drivers. None of them spoke English, so refused to carry this
family of 4 with 12 bags. We took the Metro (train). Getting on the
elevator in the airport, we had to unload all those bags off the airport
luggage cart. Little did we know that our tickets were in the yellow
FEDEX envelope still on the cart!
WEDNESDAY: “AT LEAST 3-4 DAYS!”
Paris Police/Paris Lost & Found
Exhausted from jetlag, we noticed to our horror that both our tickets
& passports were GONE! After searching all of our bags over an
hour, we inquired where the police station might be. At 9 pm, the
sparkling Eiffel Tower in the background, we made our report. Back
on the train, the ticket lady gave us the address of the Paris Lost/Found.
Finding it Wed., they said even after items are turned in it takes
3-4 days for them to register on the system.
THURSDAY: “MAYBE OVER THERE…”
We saw lots of Paris, looking for embassies & consulates. But
most travel was underground subway. After finding a place to take
our pictures for replacement passports, we went back to the USA consulate
to fill out forms. By the time all the forms were filled out, the
place was closed, so we’d have to return on Friday. Seeking the Philippine
Consulate for Elvie’s passport, they’d just closed. The police gave
us wrong directions. Today is Elvie’s birthday.
THE FRIENDLY FRENCH
On the Metro
Quite a sight on these subway trains, we had to literally throw our
12 bags on and off the trains (4 of them) to transfer before the 60-second-timed
doors would close. Twice we almost left PJ behind. Transfers are challenging,
as they often as well involve up to a quarter-mile walk in long hallways
and stairways. Altogether nearly a dozen French men & women helped
to carry our bags & kids up/down the 500+ total steps. 2 hrs later
we found the hotel.
Back to the Airport
Frustration: rushing miles with a 3-yr old & missing closing times
by minutes. But God was protecting us from having to pay $1000 in
passports/tickets: He knew where they were. Back to the airport, an
hour away, info desk lost/found closed 5min ago. praying, we checked
our last option: airport train info desk. Trudging tired feet, I asked,
“Did you find 4 passports?” He spoke one word: “ELVIRA?” In tears
& tingles I shouted, “Praise Jesus!”