The opportunity to go to Texas is a big deal! In the week before the trip I tried on some cowgirl boots, feeling like I should dress for the occasion, but I didn’t find the ones that looked just right. Instead, I put on my attitude and couldn’t wait to visit the state where I am told everything is bigger and better. A church whose MOPS leader heard me speak at MOMCon, was brave enough to invite this South African lady with the weird accent to a small town just outside San Antonio. I, because I am completely unknown in the USA and open to any and all opportunities, obviously was delighted to be invited.
Then an ice storm hit Charlotte. And from what I’ve now learnt, even when you’re in eastern Tennessee and going to Texas, this does have the potential to ruin your plans. The last time I got so many texts from one number was when I had a stalker. Every ten minutes! With each text the airline was apologizing and pushing out the departure time by another 10 to 30 minutes. With every text message a line formed at the counter as travellers in a frenzy changed connections to try to gain some control over their lives. I joined them. It was like a game:
Sit. Wait for your text. Run to the line. Have a new connecting flight boarding pass printed. Call your folks with an update. Repeat.
Ten times. I kid you not. My connecting flight had already left Charlotte for San Antonio when I was still stuck in Johnson City. I had used up the food voucher I was given (yes, because I complained just a little bit, once) and I had watched 6 episodes of a spy series on Netflix, when we finally were told we’d be taken to Charlotte, from where I now had zero flight options left to San Antonio and one option to fly to Austin, from where I could then rent a car and drive to my destination sometime around midnight, but only if God delayed my connection in Charlotte.
I quickly texted my hostess the news as we boarded. She was happinnoyed: happy that I was moving one step closer to flying to Texas, yet, understandably, annoyed at the unpredictability of the situation. I was determifrustafraid: determined that I would get to this group of worthy moms and ministry leaders to give them all I have, frustrated that I’d have to do so with very little sleep, and very afraid of arriving in a strange place, renting a car by myself, and driving an hour and a half to another strange place after midnight – alone and with very poor night vision. (Do I need to point out again that this is the kind of glamor that this blog is all about?)
We were given many extra snacks on that flight. I think we all had that feed-me-or-face-the-fury look that people have when they had hung around a limited options airport for 8 hours.
In Charlotte, I had seven minutes to run to the next gate, because God had delayed that flight, after all (I know, there’s probably more to it, but I claimed the miracle anyway.) My suitcase made the super-fast connection with me – an undeniable miracle, come on! I grabbed it and walk-ran to the car rental station that my host had recommended and approved from her budget. The kind man there was quite sympathetic and willing to give me a larger, safer car at no extra cost. Things were bigger and better here in Texas, just as they said! I was going to make it!
Declined. OK, maybe I wouldn’t get there after all. My South African credit card, after buying airline tickets, clothes, Dollar Store trinkets, Taco Bell burritos, and gas for two months, without any problems, was suddenly a fraud risk and flagged – in red all over the screen – as such.
Determifrustannoyed I called my host, who was about as creative at problem solving with her midnight brain as I was. My excuse was that my brain was still on Eastern Time and already at 1 a.m.’s deep sleep. She did not need an excuse. I know what these ladies events are like. She probably spent 10 hours at church to get things ready and now had to deal with all of this. Do I just want to find an airport hotel and have her pick me up at 6 a.m.? Do I know anyone in Austin well enough to call them up at midnight with a Zacchaeus surprize? “I’m coming to your house tonight!” Nope. Did she?
We agreed to think a little and let each other know if either of us gets a divine download.
Out of options, I said a prayer for favor, and marched with my offensive credit card to a different counter. I was too tired to make up a story. “So, this card was rejected by those guys over there. Yes I’m from one of those countries on President Trump’s undesirable list and have no social security number and a weird license. And you thought my accent was weird. Do you want to see if you and I can get me by your system with this red-flagged card, because I really need to get to my talk tomorrow morning?”
Hallelujah. He was willing. And it worked.
I texted my host who had, very wisely, gone to sleep. I had the address of the guest house where I would be staying. I took off with my phone’s GPS and a wonderful Christian radio station to guide my wheels and my spirit to where I was headed.
There were road-works all the way from Austin to San Antonio and the super-sized 18wheelers that we don’t have in South Africa seemed to want to clip my left-hand mirrors, while the concrete barricades were trying to do the same thing on my right, and just to make it really intense, dead deer were strewn on the road. But the radio played all of my favorite songs. I sang for an hour and a half through the determifrustannoyance all the way to joy. I was going to make it!
At 2 a.m. I stumbled into a stunning room, led by a hosting angel who had waited up in her nightgown, and I caught a glimpse of chocolate and a coffee pod machine in the kitchenette. As I crawled into bed for a short night, I knew that Texas would be great, not because the cars, 18wheelers, guest rooms or hearts are bigger than anything, but because God is.