Jan and I had set Wednesday, January 14, as the date that we wanted to have our travel arrangements completed. We know that quite a few people have been anxious to know when the trek to Guatemala would actually occur. In fact, we were probably at the top of that list. In spite of how long we’ve known this was coming, our preparation level seems to be far lower than we want it to be.
Our travel plans have been somewhat complicated by the need to keep our family together during this adventure. All FOUR of us need to get to Guatemala safely for us to keep our sanity, in my opinion. The fourth member of our family is black, very furry and ignores her given name of Christmas, as all self-respecting cats do. The three of us are somewhat hopelessly attached to this critter, who unlike many of her species, almost always welcomes the affections of her human family.
Tuesday and Wednesday are often days when you can find the best airline prices. We had come to a decision to go with Spirit Airlines for our travel because, quite frankly, they’re cheap. We’ve actually taken a trip with them and I was NOT impressed. On four consecutive flight segments, passenger seats were duct-taped off or had parts missing so they were unusable by a paying passenger. I am thinking that passenger fares likely make up the highest percentage of an airlines income, and if they’re not fixing seats, what other maintenance isn’t happening. But…having chosen to give up a great paying job and finding ourselves planning to live by asking others to help support us as we do God’s work…we need to be good stewards of the resources people have donated. So Spirit Airlines, here we come.
Or at least that was the plan. We have been trying to make these travel decisions and praying for God to direct us. I just want to say that before Wednesday was done, we became frustrated with God’s method of doing so but that God does have a bit of flair and apparently wants us to be sure we don’t miss God’s work in our lives. During all our checking on Spirit, we missed one little line in webpage after webpage of information published by Spirit Airlines. We found it Wednesday morning just after I had paid to join Spirit’s discount club thinking we would immediately get our money back through baggage fee savings on our initial flight. That line said they do not take pets on international flights.
As Robin Williams used to say on Mork and Mindy…Shazbot!!!!!
We start checking other airlines and the cheapest tickets are more than twice Spirit’s price. We’re still trying to be frugal so we hatch a plan to have one of us fly a different airline and the other two will go on Spirit with most of the luggage. We pick United as our next choice. I did not book the tickets on Spirit first, having learned my lesson (I hope) on the discount club. My family prefers that I be the one to transport the cat so they can travel together but I have put myself as the designated family member in the discount club and I have to fly Spirit to get the discounts. Argh! Reluctantly, Jan agrees to fly with the cat and we start to book her on United. All is going well until they start checking the aircraft on one of the flights for that day and it is not equipped properly to take pets. Airline two bites the dust. We kept looking at American and Delta only to find more problems with aligning flight times, excessive cost for tickets, and just about any other roadblock you could imagine. So we’re now two frustrated adults getting depressed thinking about all hassle and the fact that we don’t have the time to spend on tasks like this. By evening, we have pretty much given up.
I sit down at my computer at 9 pm and start going through my emails. It was mostly junk mail and ordinary stuff like a mileage statement from American. I glance at it, delete it and move on. A couple minutes later, it hits me. Hang on, I have quite a few miles built up on American. I wonder what a free one way trip to Guatemala costs in miles. 15000 is the magic answer. I have 41,800 on my account. It turns out both Jan and John don’t have enough for a ticket themselves. And I’m sure God starts getting his laughs in at this point because I have often asked myself and others “What kind of idiot would ever purchase miles from the airline?” It turns out that the kind of idiot is someone just like me. I bought 4000 miles and the cost for airfare for the 3 humans came out to less than $200 before luggage. We get to fly together, the cat gets to ride in an airplane for the first time and I get lots of lessons concerning faith, patience and remedial but advanced learning on the fact that God is in charge.
Oh…you want to know the date?
February 10 at 5:43 am.
Thanks to all of you for your prayers and your support!
May you feel and recognize God moving in your life today and always!
PS All costs related to transporting the cat will come out of our personal funds.
PPS The donation thermometer is not entirely accurate because GBGM will not formally notify us of any December or January gifts until early to mid-February.