Packing was difficult. I have acquired many gifts and of course blankets to take home. The sending off at the van is always a bitter sweet experience. There were a dozen students saying goodbye all wanted to go with me. Alas, there was no room in the van and the goodbyes began. It’s always so hard to say good bye but I know I’ll be back again and that makes it easier.
When we arrived at the airport with two assistants to help us get tickets, I noticed one of my graduated students there waiting for us. Grace wanted to see me off. She lives in Zhengzhou where the airport is and wanted to say goodbye. My friend Sharyn got her ticket but they said my flight had changed and I did not pay for my ticket. The hustle and bustle began. Students were running back and forth to the office and the ticket counter trying to clear things up, making phone calls and trying to get students back at campus checking online. There wasn’t any wifi anywhere in the airport and I was unable to call the 800 number in the states to check out why this was happening. It just didn’t work. I could not get on the flight and they don’t take credit cards when I asked to buy a new ticket. I don’t know if it was a smaller airport or what but they would not budge. After a few hours of running around I asked Grace if she would help me get a train ticket to Beijing.
She was gracious enough to get on the bus with me and my three pieces of luggage and take me to the train station. While we were on the bus I was praying that I can get on the plane in Beijing to get home. She looked at me and said “Joyce I have decided I will accompany you to Beijing to make sure you get there safely.” I looked at her and started crying. She said “don’t cry it will be okay.” I informed her they were tears of gratitude! I was not sure how I would maneuver 3 pieces of luggage up and down stairs in the train station or even know where to go when I got there. She was a quick answer to prayer and a miracle. I felt so lucky that in the middle of a crazy mishap I had a special angel to walk beside me. Remember she was only there to see my off , now she was taking a trip to Beijing! It was so helpful to have her accompany me. She was not able to get tickets on the train together so she got me settled in my seat and then went to hers.
As I sat on the train listening to passengers converse in Chinese I felt tired, overwhelmed, and grateful. I’m in a foreign land, I don’t speak or understand the language, and things don’t work and can’t be fixed with a credit card like they can in the U.S. It was a pretty helpless feeling as I stood there letting my students do all the communicating. Stuff happens, things break, mistakes are made but it seems there’s something to learn and be grateful for. Today I’m grateful to be loved, watched over, taken care of even it is a helpless, vulnerable feeling.