I just returned from a trip of a lifetime to South Korea where son Will is stationed. After a 13+ hour flight back to the States, I relished the thought of returning to American Terra Firma and being able to actually read signs at the airport. My expectation was that I would breeze through immigration and customs, collect my checked luggage and easily find my car in long term parking.
One thing about traveling, especially overseas, is that you feel like you have to stay “on it” the entire time – keeping track of, well, everything. After being up for over 24 hours, however, I was a wee bit less than “on it.” I managed to navigate through customs and immigration smoothly and collect my bags but then things began to unravel.
I strolled outside with two rolling suitcases in tow and for the life of me couldn’t find any signs for the “Express Parking” area where I had left my car. I asked an airport worker who told me to go upstairs. This seemed a bit counter intuitive but I took the elevator back up and searched in vain for more signs. I went back outside on that level as well where I found no signs or shuttles whatsoever.
Heading back to the elevator, another airport worker told me the shuttles were downstairs. On the way back down I saw a sign that said “Information.” With frustration mounting I went to the booth and asked yet another airport employee where to catch the parking shuttle. She told to go BACK upstairs and look for door #5.
Up I went. This time the glass elevator doors closed on my luggage. I can only imagine what the little boy outside looking in must have thought as I began gesticulating and “discussing the situation” with . . . myself.
Feeling weary and on the verge of tears, I headed back outside. There was no door #5. I urgently glanced both ways hoping to see something that would confirm I was in the right place. And there it was like an oasis in the desert – a van that clearly said Express Parking Shuttle.
I trudged towards the driver who loaded my bags and sat down, immensely relieved. I had my ticket, the exact section where my car was located thanks to a text I had sent my husband – AND my key fob. (What I couldn’t find was the money I had saved for the driver’s tip.)
As the only passenger aboard I felt like I had to explain why I seemed a “bit” exasperated to the two shuttle workers that were my hosts. The driver empathetically told me that their service has only been offered since late spring and EVERY traveler gets confused. I felt moderately better. And then the other worker, out of the blue, read aloud a quote on her phone about never missing an opportunity to tell someone you love them.
The driver took me to my car and unloaded my bags. I gave him a hug since I still couldn’t find any cash. I asked if he used Venmo and gave him my business card with my e-mail address and asked him to send me his. Much to my surprise and delight, he obliged and I received the following message later that evening:
I’m glad that I was able to help you to your car.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
In my jet-lagged state, I was still somehow – by the grace of God – able to pay attention which is, I think, one of THE most important things we can do. And who knows, when we are, we may just be presented with angels unawares who can remind us of what really matters.
These moments for me seemed to provide the final whisper that the long trip to the other side of the world was the right thing to do. In fact, I felt God smiling upon the whole thing start to finish. Even my minor tantrum in the elevator.
Well at that, He could very easily have been laughing – just like the little boy.
I feel sure of it.