While there are many moments and conversations that are favorites from my trip to the Dominican Republic, my absolute best took place in the Atlanta airport on my return trip to Minnesota. Clinics were over, church services finished, last words said, hugs given, final good-byes, prayers whispered, last supper, bags pulled from conveyor belts, more hugs, and it was all over.
Gone. Just like that. In many ways it was like those days never happened, for how short they were. The rest of my life at home continued on just as well without me being actively present. It was exactly how I wished it to be. Blown like the seeds from a dandelion. Gone to no one knows where. Invisible. Free. Incredibly happy.
Curled up on the black couch with my carry-on bag for a pillow, I thanked God for the amazing week we had just finished. A girl came over to spend the night with me, we shared words, and agreed to watch the other’s luggage if awake. Another woman joined “my” corner. Soon a man pulled up two chairs, covered himself with a white sheet, and filled in the circle. Full. Complete.
None of us ever introduced ourselves. And even though we would spend hours together, names were unimportant, trivial. Not a one of us had the same color of skin, but inwardly we still shared the same color of blood, carried the same breath in all our lungs, and were in that same instant being sustained by the same Creator-God. We were an airport family of sorts. Everyone is always welcome.
A tear oozed from my eye onto my bag. I tried to stay awake. Failed. I woke up around 11p to a man walking by with a camouflaged Gideon’s Bible in one hand and a plastic grocery sack in the other. Also in the hand with the sack, was a phone with a cord dangling from it.
Half asleep I scratched out a “hello”.
“Excuse me, but do you know where an outlet for a phone charger is?”
Shaking the dizziness and sleep from my brain, I told him I hadn’t left this spot and really didn’t know.
I watched him walk over to the massive wall that housed the clock in the atrium—just feet from my spot. He turned and told me he’d found an outlet.
Low mumbles into the phone. I laid back down and told God I would have a conversation with the man when he got off the phone. In the minutes that passed, I was uncertain if I’d even seen a Bible or if it was just the hallucinations of a sleep-deprived brain that had seen navy blue Gideon Bibles in brown hands all week.
Minutes later he walked over to us. Ignoring all others, he came straight toward me with his finger marking a spot in the Bible.
“Here. Read this. Starting at verse 18.”
“Do you want me to read it out loud?”
“No. Just read it.”
I read 1 Pet. 3:18 to the end of the chapter and had absolutely no idea where he was going to go with those verses.
Hearing Philip’s words to the Ethiopian in Acts 8, I looked up and asked him some of the most direct words of my entire life, “Do you understand what you are reading? Does it make sense?”