What amazes me is that, even in that vast, seemingly endless stretch of matter – through all of the universes, solar systems, planets, stars, clouds, farms, and semi-trucks – God still knows the number of hairs on my head. What an incredibly humbling thought! The Maker of the universe specifically made ME – and He personally knew me, even before I was born. And He loves me. Immeasurably.
I’m writing this section of my blog while I’m sitting in a plane on a runway in the Dallas airport. I was worried that making the connecting flight from Dallas to Madrid would be tight – I only had a 40-minute layover. I thought my fears were confirmed during the landing into Dallas, which was 20 minutes late. I was able to navigate the rather confusing Dallas airport, and slid into my seat right as they were making the last boarding call. The doors shut a few minutes after, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I’m in the clear now, right? Wrong. We have currently been sitting in the plane, immobile, stranded to the runway because of bad weather. Thirty minutes now and no end in sight. My 2-hour layover in Madrid is rapidly shrinking. But I’m comforted with the knowledge that, although the frantic hurrying of the minuscule beings in the Dallas airport may seem insignificant and unimportant in the grand scheme of things, God still knows the number of hairs on my head. He has always looked out for me up to know, and I doubt He’s going to stop now.
In happier news, I got to see two of my friends, David and Jon, before I left. My entire family (except Chris) drove me up to Atlanta, and I had lunch with them before we left. We all managed – albeit barely – to keep from crying. I was quite proud of us :). Then Jon and David met me at the airport after I had checked my bags. David drove from the other side of Atlanta, and Jon drove all the way from Ellijay (an hour and a half drive) to see me off. They both had made goodbye presents for me. I felt so loved :). Also, I met a really cool guy in the security line in Atlanta. Well, I use the term “met” loosely. I don’t even know his name, only that he works in the NYC Police Department, and was in Atlanta with his son visiting his parents. But we struck up a conversation while we were waiting for the security line to move (which was interminably slow….but I didn’t mind, it meant that we had a nice long conversation :)). We talked about my studies, where I’m going in Spain, homeschooling (his son is homeschooled, too), his job, and a myriad of other things. I enjoyed talking to him, although my neck was sore by the time we made it to security – he had to be close to seven feet tall. Rachel tells me I’m too friendly, but I rather like it – it passes the time much more quickly than simply staring off into space. But now I’m stuck in Dallas – our wait has climbed to 40 minutes, still no end in sight. I’m having flashbacks of a story that David told me of his trip to Europe, when he was stuck on the tarmac for 2 hours. But God is bigger, I keep reminding myself. There’s really nothing else to report at the moment, however, so I’m going to stop writing for now. I’ll finish the story of my trip to Seville when I get there. Hopefully it will be a boring story, not one filled with tales of absurdly long delays and missed and rescheduled flights and unreasonable taxi drivers :).
I hate Madrid. Hate it, hate it, hate it. To be fair, I have seen nothing of the city. But it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Hopefully that will fade with time…
Perhaps you have inferred from the previous paragraph that the rest of my trip was not boring, as I had hoped. Almost everything that could have gone wrong, did. The one major exception was my bags – throughout all of the craziness of my trip, they actually managed to keep my bags with me. They definitely were worse for wear, but hey, they were there, and mostly in 1 piece. Considering that I had delayed flights, missed flights, and waitlisted flights, and rescheduled flights, that alone was pretty impressive.
Anyway, the grand total of time spent on the tarmac at Dallas was well over 2 hours. I knew way before we left that I was going to miss my connecting flight in Madrid, but I was able to contact a program director before the plane took off, and he assured me that there are lots of flights from Madrid to Seville, and I wouldn’t have a problem getting on another plane. Yeah, right.
The Madrid airport is one of the most confusing messes of steel and glass that I’ve ever encountered in my 20 short years. There is next to no signage for anything – I had to ask someone where I was supposed to go at least a dozen times. Once I finally found the right counter, they checked me onto the earliest flight – which departed 10 hours later, at 10:30 at night. It took every ounce of my energy to keep from crying. The fact that Madrid doesn’t have a currency exchange counter (what international airport has no currency exchange counter???), so I hadn’t eaten anything since I had left the domain of the dollar the day before, didn’t help my mood. Due to huge amounts of turbulence, I had also not slept at all during the 9-hour flight to Madrid. I also, however, got put on the waiting list for a much earlier flight, at 3:30. Miraculously (and it WAS a miracle – I was praying the whole time), I made it onto the earlier flight. I was one of the only wait-listed people who made it on – it was a completely full flight.
FINALLY in Seville, I changed some money to Euros and caught a taxi. The driver was a little crazy – not mentally, I don’t think, but his driving style was certainly erratic and rather frightening. He was very friendly, though, and insisted on asking me all about my studies, my family, where I’m from, blah blah blah. Normally I would have loved making conversation, especially when I get to practice my Spanish (which he mentioned was very good, by the way :]). But this time I was so exhausted….all I wanted to do was rest. I kept making huge, quite obvious yawns, but he persistently pressed on, even giving me a detailed guide of the landmarks that we were passing by. I suppose somewhere within the depths of my sleep-deprived brain I appreciated it; it was just hard to recognize at the time.
I was the very last student to arrive at the orientation hotel. I did not have time to shower, or unpack, or anything. I plopped on the bed and read some of the orientation materials, and then headed down to orientation. It was encouraging to see that, while some students had trouble understanding the women who presented (they spoke completely in Spanish), I did not have any trouble, even as exhausted as I was. The next few days are going to be full of other orientation and tour-ish things. I meet my family tomorrow afternoon, and classes start on Monday. I’m excited! We’ll see if I still have that enthusiasm when I’m outside of the comfort of a nice, plush hotel :). But for now, sleep is a paramount priority. I’ll have another update soon….love you guys!!