Sunday, July 12, 2015

We enjoy one another’s company as a group, including some joshing with one of the flight attendants, who gives it back to us as quickly as we can give it. They feed us supper shortly after takeoff; a cold sandwich mid-flight; and breakfast just before landing. And plenty of water and other beverages as we wish. Several watch movies—I watch “Unbroken”—and try to sleep as best they can, some better than others. I point out when we’re leaving Africa, over the Angolan coast, and when we’re crossing the equator, but nobody seems very interested in that.

We land in Atlanta 10 minutes early, at 5:19. This is the easiest oceanic flight I’ve experienced, though I’m not sure whether the others bore it as well. Some of the girls get a text from Gershon that he’s home in Hong Kong, with a picture of his girlfriend to prove it.

Through Immigration—they’ve got a kiosk system in ATL that’s pretty impressive—and then customs, where they just wave us through. Here’s where we lose our next group; Michaela, Charity, and Emily are flying on from Atlanta, and they’ll recheck their bags here and re-board. Since we don’t have boarding passes, we can’t go with them to their gates. So it’s another photo.

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Amber’s folks are waiting for her in the lobby, so we peel her off next. And take another photo.

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And suddenly, just like that, we are Four.

The BJU van is waiting for us at the curb. Boy, that was easy. Our driver is Travis Pelletier, a GA working at Transportation for the summer. He’s sacrificed most of a night’s sleep to come get us.

I tell the 3 remaining girls that we don’t have to stop to eat, since we had breakfast on the plane about 4 am; but it’s 3 hours to Greenville, and if they get hungry, we can get something. About 2 hours in one of them pipes up that she’s hungry, so we stop at Cracker Barrel in Commerce, GA. The country music is blaring, and we finally realize that yes, we’re back in the good ol’ US of A.

Properly breakfasted, we head for SC. First stop is at the rest area at Exit 1, where Sarah’s mom is waiting for her. Photo.

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Then Mt. Calvary Baptist in Greenville, where Jessica’s family is in Sunday school. Photo.

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Then campus, where Jess’s friend is meeting her. Photo.

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Well. That’s that. Down to 1. Travis kindly drops me by my house, which is quite close to where he’s returning the van. Time to 1) hug my wife, 2) trim this infernal beard, 3) finish the blog, and 4) unpack. In that order.

Africa Team #5 on my watch is now safely back. God has been gracious. We’re grateful,

And sleepy.

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Dan Olinger

Chair, Division of Bible in the BJU School of Religion.

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