Chapter 3 – “The Journey Begins”
On Tuesday, Sept.24, 2019, three of us met at the Charlotte-Douglas Airport, checking in having the highly suggested three hours prior to take-off. Even at the American Airlines counter, using the now common kiosk to print boarding passes and baggage claim ticket, I noted the Lord’s favor on this trip already. The two AA employees were very helpful, especially when we discovered that all four names were on one booking, thus some extra steps.
When one saw the names list, and the “Louis” middle names, she asked, “Really?” Three of you have the same middle name?”
“Sure!” I replied. “Part of the requisite to be a part of the journey!” I kiddingly added.
She then asked us how we arrived at such a select group, and if we knew each other long.
“The three of us belong to the same church, Antioch International Church in Fort Mill, South Carolina. When I booked the flights, needing each one’s passport, I then noticed that we each had the middle name Louis. And the fourth, with him using the letter “E” for his middle name, I dubbed, “E-Louis.” That was before he later told me his father’s name was Louis.”
From the beginning, there was something about this trip that I knew was God.
It is common also that the weight of each bag, either checked in or carried on, is accurately checked. Limits on each have been imposed. But she allowed mine, and later Lathan’s overweight checked-in bags go through as is and didn’t even question my large two carry-ons. When I had checked-in on my previous trip to Israel in May 2019 with my good wife Laurie on that trip, Lufthansa Airlines had me remove a pound or two my large bag and had me rearrange my carry-ons. Not fun, especially when one must do it on the airport floor in front of everyone.
The three amigos breezed through the TSA line and went onto Gate 10 in Concourse D. I did some recording of names on my Western Wall 3’ x 5” notecards, having promised people to share their names if they want them included on these cards when I went to the Wall in the Old City Jerusalem for prayer. The response had been plenty as is usually the case when I have done so each journey.
Greg and David went and got a coffee and scouted out a dinner spot.
Lathan joined us an hour and a half later as he was coming from western Carolina, having been the main speaker at a high school boys retreat. I am getting more and more convinced that even for an international flight the time needed to check-in and get to the gate doesn’t take the often recommended 3-4 hours, especially being each of us had the Pre-TSA approved boarding passes. (If you travel a few times a year, I highly recommend getting one for these days. No shoes off. No belt off. Leave the laptop in the carry-on. No full-body screening. 5-year, $85 cost. Indeed, worth skipping the longer lines and the tedious regular TSA lines.)
The flight straight to Madrid, Spain was without incident. Being we didn’t pay for the extras added on flights now to get wider seats, longer leg room, and such, we had seats in the back of the plane, second row to the rear. They turned out being good, with the bathroom nearby and some empty seats around us.
Upon arrival on the Iberian peninsula, having a three-hour layover, we found a table to eat breakfast us. The topics talked among us included the last days, the tribulation, and whether it is pre-trib, post-trib, or after-trib when believers would meet the returning Jesus Christ, Yeshua HaMashiach, in the air. That would be another book, and I highly recommend one by our pastor Dr. Peter Wyns, “The Not So Small Tribulation Book”2019.
The departure listing of flights didn’t post ours until an hour before, so two hours were spent trying to sleep, if even 10-15 minutes, or walk around the concourse giving our legs some exercise over this 17-hour trip. Once posted, we went to the gate and properly stood in line as did all the others ready to board the 4 plus hour flight to Tel Aviv at gate S10.
“Sir, you will have to go through the Israeli security” the El Al flight attendant spoke to Lathan. He then looked at me, I also had my boarding pass checked, and the other attendants said, “Yes. You have to go to gate S34, at the other end, before you can board.”
“What? Will you hold the plane for us?” I have questioning responded.
“Yes”, she said, knowing the length of time it would take.
We walked fast and when the two Israeli security personnel saw us they said, “We have been waiting for you.” Ugh.
The process took about 20 minutes for all four of us, plus another who had been in the same predicament. If only someone had told us 2 hours ago.
Lathan and I half ran back to Gate S10. I had never been the last one to ever board a plane. That time had now arrived.
There may be a few quirks, or even major setbacks on any journey, but as the Lord has taught me to quote often, when things get a bit worrisome, “My times are in Your hands.”
Indeed they always are, as we submit to His Holy Spirit leading and provision.