The importance of connections
The Zimbabwe Chabadza group gathered to leave in the Cresta Hotel lobby at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning. Many of our host families and others in the Zimbabwe church stopped by to wish us well. The Rev. Mark Conard led us in prayer before leaving. By the time we were loaded it was 11 a.m. We arrived at the Harare airport with plenty of time to ready for the flight. A few gift shops in the concourse enabled some additional last-minute souvenir shopping.
The incoming flight was delayed so we didn't board our plane until about 2:45 p.m. As a result we got in to Johannesburg just 20 minutes before our connecting flight was to leave. Richard Lewis, who was hurt in traffic accident earlier in the week is getting along fine, but took advantage of the airport wheelchair service. And good thing, as it is probably the thing that helped enable us to catch the flight as the wheelchair people were placed in the front of every waiting line. I accompanied Richard and we kept pleading for the flight to hold up. There were several other groups destined for that same flight who were held up in security search lines. It was very stressful, but we made a break through when we finally arrived at the gate. While South Africa Airways personnel didn't like it, they held up the flight for about 25 additional passengers who would have otherwise had to stay at least a day if not two in Johannesburg (eschew, another close call). This was an important connection not to miss.
The flight was tedious at best. All were tired and that long on an airplane with little room to move is challenging for the best of travelers. The good part for me was the opportunity to watch three movies I hadn't seen. I also was able to sleep at least six hours in one stretch (I missed our brief stop in Dakar, Senegal -- woot, woot).
Once at Dulles in D.C. we walked through customs, and then to baggage claim, and then through customs again. Once through customs and learning that we have three bags that didn't make it (one is mine), we went to American Airlines to check in for our domestic flight to Dallas/Ft. Worth. At 1 p.m. we make our flight to Dallas and then on to Wichita. The sad parting in Wichita will see everyone off to their various homes to tell stories about the importance of the Chabadza connection and their personal stories of seeing it in action in Zimbabwe.
We've all learned the power of connection during this trip. The Chabadza churches value and trust the Holy Spirit is at work between the paired churches. Individuals learned that it really is a small world and that the blessings of relationship enrich the connections to each other and the church.
It will take some time to process all the content we've gathered in Zimbabwe. Our goal is to update the Mission Partnership pages on the website soon, with pictures, new stories, videos and more.