Return to LA
Our first of two connecting flights was delayed due to a mechanical problem. There was a chance that we would have to reroute to Orange County/John Wayne six hours later. There was a chance we'd have to split up Lifesong and Evergreen, and even some within each team. But in the long run, we made it, all together, all on the originally scheduled flight.
That was interesting, running through Houston's terminal. I was going to put the Bu Cam on Bu as we ran through the terminal, but was afraid that it would look a little odd for a bunch of guys running through the terminal, much less with one with a little electronic thing strapped to his chest.
Interesting note: On the way to Gulfport/Biloxi, Jonathan didn't check in any luggage as his luggage could be stored in the overhead. But since the smaller plane for that last leg had limited storage, they would check it in at the gate.
On our return home, when we found out our first flight was delayed by 45 minutes and we'd be running through the terminal, one of the guys suggested that Jonathan check in his bag as regular luggage so that it wouldn't slow us down. We think it helped.
A couple of the Lifesong guys were seated near the front of the plane, so much like "The Amazing Race," they took off running to the next gate. They made it to the tram, then to the next terminal and started the boarding of 26 people trying to make the connection (our combined team plus 5 others).
We all made it aboard the connecting flight, and it left the gate about 15 minutes behind schedule, but when we arrived at LAX, it was only a matter of a few minutes behind schedule, so we hope our fellow passengers weren't too inconvenienced. Apparently it was an oversold flight and there were still some people on standby, waiting to see if we were going to make it.
It actually became a talking point for some of us, since we were all in our team or Habitat Tshirts, and they had announced they were holding the plane for us, so they knew we were the reason.
Threw the BuCam on Bu and deplaned. Went down the escalator to baggage claim, Lifesong and Evergreen team members intermixed...and then saw the kids.
The kids were screaming "Welcome Home, Lifesong!" :) It was cute and hilarious, as the Evergreen guys got some waves from some friends. It was so exciting to see the Lifesong guys get reunited with friends and family. The welcome was more than they expected, and really made them, and us, feel like heroes. I also think it shows what a church community feels like. How the other passengers knew that our church had sent us to help with Habitat.
Our welcome was right around the corner, further inside the baggage claim area. I'm glad that the Evergreeners had told the Lifesong families to meet them at the escalator. I really appreciate how much our team, both the guys, and our supporters were trying to make space for Lifesong and allow them to have their own special experience, while still making our own team feel loved and supported.
Fortunately, all of our luggage made it. Both teams.
We prayed, took group pictures and with pats on backs, hugs and handshakes, went our separate ways.
This isn't over
As was said by Pastor Jon of Lifesong, "the trip ends, but the mission continues." It's true on many levels. We're still updating this blog with pics, videos and thoughts as we are no longer in work/building mode. We still have to talk about our last day on site, and our time at Antioch house.
We're preparing for our presentation on June 6 at our church, just after 12 noon. And some of us are going to try and crash the June 13th presentation at Lifesong.
But beyond the tasks we have to wrap up the trip, there was a lot of good that the Lord did through our hands, and in our hearts, not only for the people of Mississippi, but for making us better men to love others better in His Name.
We walked away more humble, more encouraged, more in awe of how God works through so many people, whether they realize it or not, be they Habitat, Americorps, Mandarin Church, Camp Victor folks, Antioch house, and of course, us.
We see that God wants us to help rebuild houses and homes, but we realized even more how much He's allowing us to let Him build a place in the hearts of ourselves and others. He's reclaiming more than anything Katrina damaged, He's reclaiming hearts. That's what this trip was really about.
We'll have that BuCam video (coming off the plane) in the next few days stay tuned, but here are some others from the trip that we continue to keep posting.