Sunday, February 8, 2009

Friends for a reason....

After leaving Malaga at 7:00 am, I headed home through Paris. (Charles' flight path took him to Madrid-Miami-Houston, since he was flying via AA points.) My flight arrived late into Paris and by the time, I took the bus from the plane, cleared security a second time and got to the gate area, my flight had already departed to Houston. Since it was the only flight that day going to Houston on Air France, I had to be re-routed through Atlanta - after a 4 hour wait in Paris - which isn't a bad airport to be stuck in! :) I flew from Paris to Atlanta and again arrived late, went through immigrations and then on to get my bags for customs. Since I was changing airlines, I had to personally re-check my bags with Delta where I was advised to RUN to the gate, since they had already boarded!! So off I went, running up the stairs, through the change of terminals and just made the flight with minutes to spare. As I settled into my seat and the announcements were coming on, I took the opportunity to call Charles in Miami, my parents in Tennessee and my friend (Susan) who was picking me up in Houston to update them.

The lady sitting the seat over from me overheard my phone conversation about Malaga. She mentioned that she used to live in Spain and we talked all the way to Houston. Her story was an interesting one - She was an expat in Equatorial Guinea and currently fleeing the country!! I believe that "once an expat, always an expat" and that expats always bond together, so we hit it off immediately.

She (Beth) had been in Equatorial Guinea (West Africa) since September and waiting on their household goods. Instead of their shipment arriving at their home, the police came to her husband's (Jim) office and arrested him!! Apparently they found security books (He is the director of security, so of course, he would have security books!) in their shipment and determined that Jim was a threat to their government!! They let him go for the weekend, telling him to return on Monday. :) Instead, Marathon Oil arranged for them to leave the country on the next day's flight!! Now, they are official refugees and are "camping" in the Hilton Garden Inn in The Woodlands, TX!! I offered to help with needs while they were in town and we exchanged numbers knowing that we had met new friends! She has been doing a great blog on their experiences at http://jimbethonthelam.blogspot.com/.
At this point, Jim has met with many people and it appears that the dictator in Equatorial Guinea thinks that he is a governmental threat, and will not let them back in!! Jim is looking into other job options now, but they will not be returning to West Africa - at least not to Equatorial Guinea!! They seem to have a great attitude about it all, but it has to be like living a novel - who would have believed it!!
In the meantime, we have been blessed by their presence!! We've been out for Mexican food, then to church together. Beth has joined my BSF (Bible Study) class and they also came to our house for dinner. We've had a wonderfully, relaxing time just getting to know them - what a neat couple!! Every time we see them, we realize that we have so much in common!!

It's amazing that God works in the details of our lives, even in missed planes!! :) We also know that God gives us friends for a reason, friends for a season and friends for a lifetime! What a privilege to miss a plane and to leave with new friends - We are truly blessed!
As they progress forward and learn what is in store for their future, I know that they would covet your prayers for guidance, for strength and for the blessing of allowing an angry dictator of a West African country to release their furniture and household goods.... And that God would open doors for them for their next assignment in a very clear way!!
"And he is before all things and in Him all things hold together." Col 1:17
****The picture of us was taken by Beth at our church - The Fellowship of the Woodlands. The picture of Beth and Jim was taken after the service as well.

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