August 15th, 2pm. It’s time to check in for my flight itinerary. Tampa to Washington, D.C. is the first leg of this trip. Well…Dulles International, but that’s close enough. I begin to check in and see that my flight for tomorrow leaves at 9am! What!! Has to be an error. I’ve planned for months to enjoy my Saturday morning with Karina and family and get to the airport around noon for my 2pm departure. So I call the airline. My 2pm flight was cancelled and I was put on the 9am flight (w/o being notified of this update). Ok…adjust and keep it movin’. Gotta finish packing Friday night.
I wake early Saturday morning. There’s a lot of anxiety because I will be over water a loooong time for the D.C. to Johannesburg flight. I fear crashing into the ocean but not crashing into land. Weird, I know. Karina, my sis and niece see me off. Hugs and kisses. As I wait for the train to the terminal, I wave a dramatic goodbye as I won’t return until August 28th.
After landing safely at Dulles International, I begin to meet brothers and sisters that will be on the same flight to Harare through Johannesburg. I meet a couple that used to be in my same District when I was living in Alabama. I actually know their sons and vaguely remember playing basketball with the dad. They also have friends in Tampa Palms. As with the Atlanta International…it’s a small Witness world. So we make our way from Dulles, stop in Dakar, Senegal and then finally arrive in Johannesburg. Now I have to make my way to the terminal for Harare. For some reason, I think the flight to Zimbabwe is domestic because of being in the continent of Africa. So I stood in line for 20+ mins waiting for my passport to be checked only to find out I’m in the wrong line and should be somewhere else for international flights, lol. Duh, Zimbabwe is a different country. I take off running for the international flights and I’m allowed to pass a line of people because the flight is scheduled to leave in 10 mins. I get to the gate for Harare, sweating and wondering why all these people are standing around…the flight is delayed. Nice. On the flight over, a sister from Sao Paulo tries to preach to me before I inform her that I’m a Witness also. We end up exchanging iPhone cases, I had a jw.org phone case.
Arriving in Harare the night of August 17th, we are greeted by the Welcoming Committee of brothers and sisters.
I’m picked up in an E-Class Benz, the steering wheel is on the right and the driving is on the left side of the road. Great convo with the brother that is taking me to my hotel. Dark streets, no street lights. I head into the hotel and I’m surprised by another welcoming committee.
I’m given some gifts, coffee, cookies and a seat cushion which I will find to be necessary for the International Convention. Other friends also arrive and check in.
After some some encouraging talk back and forth, it is now after midnight, so I’m shown to my room. The other brother from my group, Vaughn, arrives tomorrow. His itinerary includes a stop in Dubai with enough time to spend the night. That should be interesting to hear about. Time to get some zzz’s.