I met a businessman, a lady named Esther, and a dentist, all while waiting for my first overseas flight from Newark to Brussels. I had a list of things to do that I “forgot” to do before leaving (like purchase clothes for a wedding, figure out train situation for arrival w/no phone, etc.), but I wound up typing an update on all the excitement instead. During that time I spoke about hiking with the businessman; he saw my backpack, and mentioned he had done some sections of the AT. When we parted ways, I left him with a link to the blog (if you are reading this, I hope Atlanta is treating you well!). Esther needed to charge something, so I unplugged my tablet (while finishing up the last blog). We began talking about life, where she was from and where she was headed. She was curious about my adventure so I shared the blog, and also a Bible verse with her; she was thankful and said she would look it up, as she had her Bible with her! She had a joyful smile.
My new dentist friend is headed to Rwanda. He goes there often, and actually started an organization there. I knew he was cool because he shares my home state and first name; what a guy. We spoke while waiting to board the plane. We met mid-flight and talked some more, like old friends reunited. We wound up exchanging information. I was excited to hear of the work he does, and maybe I will spend some time in Rwanda one day.
In flight, I got stuck in the middle. I was disappointed when I got my ticket, but then I saw that the blessings were still coming: it was an emergency exit row. This delighted my heart because I wanted to save everyone if there was an emergency….ok, it had a lot more to do with the leg room.
There was a guy who seemed to be keeping to himself next to the window, and an extremely outgoing, energetic entrepreneur in my seat. Yea, I had to call in backups to get him out. Just kidding. It was one of those chain reactions where he wasn’t actually to blame, as someone had robbed him of his seat. After the dust settled, we hit it off. Ben left the daily grind of his old job and is finding his own way with start ups; he is going to do big things. This guy is a networking champion, a traveler, a story teller, and very generous. He shared all about his adventures, many of which were similar to my current trip. Ben and I talked for over half the flight, and it wasn’t a short flight…as we went over an ocean and all that. He let me share my story and I got to hear his. I was thankful we got to speak more than “hi” and “bye.” We discussed Forrest Gump, campers, hitchhiking, business success, our studies, helping others, what to see in Europe, Jesus, and the quality of the meal we were served in flight. What more can you ask for in a conversation with a new found friend? Nothin’. You better keep in touch Ben!
Once Ben and I finished our discussion, I was ready to pass out. It had been a long day of travel. I’m about to close my eyes when I see the earmarked page of the quiet man next to the window; the page says Genesis. Hmm. I saw he was reading a book on the life of Jacob. I asked him if he was a believer. He was. He shared his testimony. He is from Rwanda (pretty cool), works in Brussels, and is starting a ministry in Uganda. He was just in Los Angeles taking some theology courses. Turns out, he’s a pastor! I stayed up way past my bedtime talking to this guy and learning about his life. He had an awesome accent. I shared with him about my upcoming travels and we exchanged information before getting a few hours of sleep.
We had a bumpy landing. I told my two new friends I was enjoying all of Europe so far as I stared out the window for the first time. They chuckled. Not because it was funny, but because we were all tired. Then I went and found my bags (I just typed dogs on accident–jetlag is real) and went straight to my planned destination without any issues, wrong turns, missed connections, or any other hindrances.
Ok, so that’s not true at all. I’ll share the rest later; but all ended well! Love y’all. Just arrived in Paris. Bonjour?