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What a Long, Strange Trip This has Been

Jul 10 2019

My wife, our 17 year old daughter and I left our home in Bridgton, Maine at 3:30 this morning. We were on our way to Portland to catch our first flight on our journey to Austin, Texas for our oldest daughter's wedding on Sunday.  Getting from Bridgton to our state's largest city was no problem as there's never much traffic in Maine at 3:30 on a weekday morning. But that's where the normalcy ended.

Once we were in the Portland Jetport, the weirdness began. While in line waiting to go through security, I hear a guy maybe 15 people behind me call out, "Hey Rick, do you remember this?" I turn to see a young man with red hair and a beard holding up a toy plastic zebra with one broken leg. Although I didn't recognize the young man, I remembered the zebra immediately. 10 years ago, when I first started teaching at Windham Christian Academy, this very same zebra was the bathroom pass for the girls in my class.  (I had an elephant for the guys. My wife told me in no uncertain terms that I could NOT have middle school girls walking around the building carrying an elephant. Too much room for self esteem issues.)  

Back to today's events, the young manintroduced himself as Joe, and suddenly I knew who he was. Although I had never had him in my middle school class, he had been in the WCA high school. Mostly I remember him as my daughter Naomi's senior year crush.  But I still had no idea why he was carrying a broken, toy zebra I thought was lost over the summer of 2009.  Before I had a chance to ask, Joe asked me if he could get a picture of me holding the zebra, and I obliged.  

Finally I got to ask the burning question,"Why does someone who was never in my class have the bathroom pass my class used a decade ago? More puzzling still, why did he have it in his carry on as he went through security at the airport. His answer went like this:

"Do you remember band of brothers? It was an all boys youth group Windham Assembly of God had. One night I went with a buddy, and when we got into the car afterwards he said,'look what  have.'  He had taken your zebra.  Since then, when either one of us travels, we always make sure we get it from the other one. It's sort of a good luck tradition."  Who knew?

While this exchange was weird, it's not nearly as weird as what we encountered at JFK.  We boarded our next plane from New York to Austin. Almost mmediately as soon as everyone was in and seated, the captain came on the radio.  Apparently the inflatable emergency slide had inadvertently deployed! We then had to all exit the plane and await further information.  Shortly after sitting back down at gate C61, the announcement came on that we would have a two to three hour wait before the plane was ready to go. The airline did give us three $15 food vouchers, which were much appreciated, but nonetheless, here we sit at JFK Airport Killing time and trying to be patient.  Of course, we'll get on the flight when it's ready and only be a few hours late to Austin, but this is not how we expected the trip to go.

I hope there's booze on this flight.

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The presentation was fun and encouraging... The gospel message was clear and encouraging. I purchased your book and just finished it. Your scope is broad and again encouraging. May God continue to bless your ministry. I will encourage others to read your book. -Parishioner of a local church

"Hey, I  wanted to say that was a great message in chapel today! It touched something:) thanks for doing it!" -High School Student  

"We are so grateful that you brought your amazing ministry back to our church this year... The Gospel message you bring applies to all!  It is such a positive, valuable work that you do."  -Coordinator of Christian Ed. UCC Church

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