IMG_6578The flight from Phuket to Jakarta was delayed.  Emma and I experienced a hectic evening as we tried to process through customs.  The lines were long, people were cutting.   I was scouting the fastest way, but later realized there was no fastest way.  We were going to be there for a while.  This is why they tell you arrive three hours early for international flights  

Once through immigration we found our gate, realized we had some time, and went upstairs to find a DQ (it was the only food joint in the terminal food court we recognized..  We both overpaid for a blizzard, and  then we went to a “burger” joint (like burger king but not) and paid around seven dollars for a bag of fries and a bottle of water. (ouch!) We were hungry… ( hard to imagine after the brick oven pizza we ate earlier that afternoon, now that was good.)   The flight was delayed and then they moved us upstairs to gate 5 to board. – it was all a good experience – AirAsia was a fine airline, and ran in a professional way (think Southwest Airlines of the southeast Asian market).  Once on board they don’t do anything special – they just get you where you need to go.

I knew we would have to go through customs at Jakarta, so I began to map out the plan.  It was not just that I wanted to be super-international-travel-dad, I really wanted to get to bed.  We unloaded on the tarmac (walked down stairs and onto the airport concrete).  That was new for Emma.  We boarded a bus and I stopped at the first seat by the door so we would be one of the first ones off the bus.  The plan worked great.  When I walked into the airport check in area, I had to make an unexpected split second decision – there were two signs – “visa” (arrow left) and “immigration” (arrow right). Since I did not have a visa I headed left to purchase one – Emma followed. We were the second people to the window.  We handed them our passports and he said it would be 70 USD for two.  Larry warned me that It would be 35 USD per person prior to leaving so I pulled out my envelope and I gave it to him. He counted the money, handed me my visa, and off we went to immigration.

There were four lines – I choose the shortest (line number two) but the family in front of me was really confused.  They took their time.  Line three and four were moving fast; I began to feel anxious.  Finally we were allowed to go up to the officer, he looked at all the paper work, and all of it seemed in order. The line behind us was growing longer, so he stamped everything and we were off.  It all went a lot smoother than I anticipated.  We got a cart for the baggage and I told Emma to get into line while I would wait for the bags.  There was a long line for getting out of the baggage area (from a previous flight whose bags had just arrived) and into the airport terminal.  

Once we got to the front of that line with all our bags we were told that just our carry on bags needed to go through which did not make sense because at that point how would the officer know which ones were carried on the plane and which ones I picked up in the terminal.  But hey, it was late, I was tired, and my bags were heavy.  While lifting my backpack, I tripped over the cart, and then ended up stepping on the rollers while almost sliding into the scanning machines. The security guards got a good laugh at the expense of the tired white guy who had just bloodied his shin.  

We walked through the opening and Larry was sitting right there.  (Yeah.  All our missionaries remembered to pick us up.)  As we walked out at 1:30 in the morning, a host of taxi cab drivers were trying to coax us into their cabs.  Larry wanted to leave us at a safe distance but realized he could not get his car close so he came back and walked us through the “pack”.  

We found a safe spot on the passenger pick up island and waited for Larry.  About seven different taxi cab drivers either pulled up or walked over to ask if we needed a ride.  (we had a bulls-eye on our back for sure) We would wave them off trying to give them as little eye contact as possible.

Larry pulled around, we loaded up the suitcases, and our ministry in Indonesia began.  Car rides provide the context for some of my favorite conversations.  It’s the get to know you talk that begins to peel back the onion.  The church over the last two months has been going well.  They had a great Christmas day service – it lasted four hours.  It is great to hear missionaries upbeat about their work.  The drive from the airport took about 35 minutes – it would have taken over an hour during the day.  We never left the city.  Jakarta is HUGE!

We arrived at the house, met Nancy, and got the lay of the land around the house – (bathrooms to use, wifi passcode, etc.) We went to bed around 2:30am.  We were tired. The next day I was to speak at 9:00 am, which meant be ready to leave at 7:30 (1 hour drive time on Saturday morning).  Breakfast at 7:00 was optional, we could sleep or eat, whatever we felt was needed the most.  Before I went to sleep I did two things – I called my wife to let her know we arrived in Jakarta safely, and I warned Emma about the 4:30 a.m. Muslim prayers that would be broadcast from the local mosque (so she would not wake up and think we were under attack).  She told me the next day she was so tired she slept through it.  It woke me up and stood the hair on the back of my neck on end.  Before I dozed back to sleep, I prayed for the people who were praying to Allah.