Archive for June, 2006

Missions Trip, Day 11

Monday was the day I was supposed to fly back to Dallas.

Elaine woke me up. I’m don’t remember when though. Got a shower and had some cereal and bread for breakfast.

Elaine had to work that morning, so she was taking conference calls and whatnot. I borrowed her cell phone and made some calls. I finally got ahold of Mike. He hadn’t gotten any of my messages. He agreed to pick me up from the airport, and offered to let me crash at his place if I couldn’t get into my apartment. I called the apartment complex next, and let them know what happen. Fortunately, it was Carrie who picked up. She recognized me by voice. She agreed to get duplicates made of my keys and find me a gate key. I arrange for Mike to go pick up the keys. A while later, Mike called me back when he was in my apartment. I had a fun time trying to remember where I kept my spare car keys, and directing him to them. But he eventually found them.

Elaine also helped me get my flight info (since my itinerary was in the backpack that was stolen). We ended up having to go to her dad’s office (a few blocks away) to print it out though. We also swung by Albertsons to get me some lunch, since I’d be in the airport during that time. Elaine also loaned me her backpack to carry all this stuff.

Even though my flight didn’t leave until 2:30pm, Elaine got me there a little before noon. We didn’t know how long security would be for me. First, I have to say the San Jose airport is not laid out well. They have lines waiting to just get into lines. And figuring which line I needed to get into to talk to a person wasn’t easy. The man who helped me get a boarding pass wasn’t fazed at all when I told him I didn’t have any ID. He just printed out a pass, and wrote “ID stolen” at the top of it. As I would find out later, it also printed out “SSSS” in a couple places on the ticket.

The woman at the head of the security line didn’t seem too fazed by me not having ID either. She circled the two “SSSS”‘s on my ticket and sent me through. I went through the metal detectors like always. Then the screener looked at my ticket, saw the “SSSS” and told me I had been marked for a secondary screening. That involved him patting me down and going through my carry on bag. He tested several things in my bag for explosives.

But that was it. I waited for my flight to leave. It left on time and was uneventful.

Mike met me at the baggage claim. He gave me my keys and drove me out to the remote parking lot. I asked him to wait for me since I didn’t know if I could get the car out. I had the keys to it and cash on me, but I didn’t have the ticket they gave me on the way in. You know, the one they use to figure out how long you’ve been there. I had trouble tracking down someone who knew what happens when you don’t have the ticket. I eventually just walked up to the man in the booth and asked him. At first he asked if I had a driver’s license, and I said no. But he said the proof of auto insurance would work.

So I went and got my car and drove up to the booth. They took my auto insurance card and started work. I’m not sure how they knew, but they knew exactly how long I’d been there. All they did was make a phone call. Mike said they took pictures of my license plate on the way in. There was a little bit of confusion, because he didn’t think I had money on me at first. So they were just going to send me a bill. But I had the cash and just settled up then.

I let Mike know that I was all squared away, so we split up and went home. I made sure I followed the speed limits, because I wasn’t sure what would happen if I got pulled over with no license on me. It took me a little longer than usual to get home, but I made it.

Thus ended my missions trip to Tijuana, Mexico.

Missions Trip, Day 10

On Sunday we made it the rest of the way back up to the Bay Area.

As usual John got up early. I’m not sure what time. He came back and got Tiger. About 7am or so they came back for Phil. Now Phil isn’t easy to get up. At this point I was sort of half awake. I knew they were there, but I was still dozing a bit. I think Tiger was trying to get Phil up, in that brotherly sort of way. Phil didn’t want to get up, so he was thrashing around — and managed to kick me right in the gut. I sat up immediately, just out of reflex. I think I scared Tiger because he ran back to his bed. I just laid back down and tried to get some sleep.

I eventually got up, and got a hot shower. I then went and met Elaine at her room and most of us went down to the lobby. Eventually everyone showed up and we checked out. We asked the concierge about directions to an IHOP about two hours away. They wanted to give us directions to one just around the block. The idea was we’d just munch on snacks in the morning then stop for a brunch or early lunch at IHOP.

We took off and the drive up to IHOP was pretty uneventful. John and his sons had already eaten breakfast, so they just ordered drinks. Elaine and I ordered a dish and split it. Well, mainly I ate. Elaine was very engrossed in teaching Phil sign language.

We switched drivers for the next leg. Elaine was driving, with me riding shotgun. Noel and Melissa ended up passing out in the back seat. It was nice because it gave Elaine and me some time to talk about the missions trip.

About 1pm or so John and the other vehicle stopped to get lunch (since John and his boys didn’t have brunch). The problem was they didn’t call us until they had already stopped. We were right behind them, but in traffic. So we didn’t see them get off, and they didn’t tell us where they went until we had passed the exit. So we stopped at the next exit and got gas. We spoke with Kristy and there was a lot of confusion as to if we were ahead of them or behind them. Somehow we decided they were still ahead of us. So we drove north until we hit 152. At that point, we knew we were ahead of them. So then we had to decide if we would just meet them at the gas station we stopped at, or go all the way back to where they were. Eventually, Melissa made the executive decision to go all the way back to them. That took a while because we had driven so far past them.

Anyway, John split off in his van to go home, and the rest of us drove the rest of the way to Kristy and Noel’s house. We unpacked everything out of the rental car that had to be returned that day. We originally thought we would go to a evening church service. But it was fairly out of the way for most of the people. So instead we just had a short worship and prayer time at Kristy and Noel’s house. Kristy and Noel agreed to take one of the rental cars back that day.

Elaine, Joy, Carol, Melissa, and I all piled into Elaine’s car. We dropped Melissa off at her parents house, then continued on to Casa Wong Ho Chao. We got everything unloaded. That’s when we found out that Carol’s car had been vandalized while we were gone. They smashed her driver’s side window.

Neither Elaine or I were very hungry yet, so we just went on over to her parent’s house. They were out for a walk when we got there. Elaine started nosing around for food, because we were getting a bit peckish. Her dad got back first, and we ended up talking about identity theft. He had clipped out an article about the veterans’ records being stolen. It was pretty interesting because it gave advice on what to do when your identity had been stolen. Her mom got home soon afterwards, and actually cooked up some stir fry for us. It was broccoli and some sort of fish product. It was really tasty. We also had some pot stickers. This gave me a chance to show off my mad chopstick skillz. Those skillz that make Asians say: “Are you physically handicapped?” We also had some watermelon. It was good, but Elaine didn’t want me spitting seeds at her. Spoilsport.

Her sister was there too. She’s definitely an extrovert. She was telling us about her visiting her boyfriend in Denmark. She had a funny story involving rubber and her trying to be friendly and polite. It was quite amusing.

We washed some clothes because I didn’t know how long it would be before I could sleep in my own bed (I had my keys stolen). After eating, Elaine and I watched most of a John Wayne movie. It was one of her dad’s favorites: Hamtaro. We didn’t make it all the way through though, because it got late and we were tired.

The bed they gave me was comfortable. I slept well.

Missions Trip, Day 9

Saturday was supposed to be a day of traveling.

I got up at the usual time. A couple of the groups were most of the way packed by then. The shower was just as cold as all the other days. After the shower I took a walk, just to have some time to myself.

By the time I got back, some more people were up. We talked for a bit, and I packed up as much as I could of my stuff. We went to breakfast as soon as possible.

On the last day, each team was assigned a duty. We drew bathroom duty again. So after breakfast we went and clean the bathrooms. I got to scrub the sinks again.

We immediately got to the task of packing up. It took us a while, since some of us (ahem, me) didn’t know what we were doing. But the Idaho guys were really helpful in getting the tents down and put away. During this time the coordinators came by to check the bathrooms and make sure they were clean. Some of the guys had to go back and re-clean some things that had gotten dirtied in the meantime.

We were one of the last groups to finish packing. We prayed before we left and agreed to meet up with the Idaho group on the other side of the border.

Crossing the border wasn’t too bad. The line to it wasn’t that long. They did ask our car for IDs. Fortunately the border guard believed me when I said I was a US national. He wanted to see the police report and the stolen passport report from the consulate. Its apparently all computerized, so he just looked it up from his terminal. The Idaho group said they didn’t even get asked for ID. They had offered to let me ride with them across the border.

We met the Idaho group at a Ranch 99 in San Diego. We were originally thinking there would be lots of Asian restaurants around and we could pick one to go to. But all that was really there was a couple of restaurants inside the Ranch 99. So we went to one of them. I think the guys from CFC wanted to show the Idaho people some real Chinese food. It was a headache getting the food ordered though. We did it family style, so there was a lot of confusion of who would order what and if we would have enough food. I don’t know if I technically ordered anything since I never saw a menu, and I didn’t have any money to pay for it anyway. Not that it mattered since it was family style. I have to admit I was starting to lose patience though, because I was hungry and they were all arguing about who was getting what. I’m not that picky, so my feeling was “just order something, and I’ll eat it. As long as its not the foot of chicken.”

I felt much better after I got some food in me. The food was pretty good, especially the honey shrimp. Tiger packed away the food, while Phil barely touched his. He actually disappeared for about twenty minutes. Not sure where he went. He had piled food high enough on his plate that people thought it was a serving dish. We ended up having to order some more food because there were a few of us that were still hungry.

After we ate, we milled about the Ranch 99 for a while. I think the Idaho people went in search of chopsticks or something. I know they ended up with some Bolba (sp?). It looked pretty good. Elaine and I went looking for snack foods. We got some for us and some for Mike and Amanda. We got them Pocky, some White Rabbit, and other sweets.

We said goodbye to the Idaho people at the Ranch 99. We took a picture, and those of us who still had phones loaned them to the Idaho team so they could call home. (They had both their phones stolen).

Afterwards, we continued up to Burbank where we had a hotel waiting for us. We were originally going to go see “Cars” but decided we’d just go swimming instead. So we took showers (hot ones at that) and went down to the pool.

Swimming was a lot of fun. It’d been a while since I had the opportunity to. Mainly we just joked around and swam a little bit. There was the occasional water fight. We also were trying to teach Noel how to float. He floated a lot like a rock, and I don’t mean pumice. He started getting the hang of it after a while.

On their way back to their room, Kristy and Noel found a sauna. I don’t know who but someone came back to the pool and told us about it. Anyway, we all ended up in there. We talked about what to do the rest of the evening.

We went upstairs and took showers. Most of us were just going across the street to the Black Angus for supper. John decided that Tiger and Phil needed to be in bed by the time we were supposed to get back. So they went somewhere else to eat. The Black Angus was good. I hadn’t had a steak in a while, so it definitely hit the spot. Elaine and I order a steak and some chicken strips and shared.

It was about 10:30pm or 11pm by the time we were done eating. Despite being pretty early, Elaine and I were tired. So we stopped by an ATM then called it a night.

Like before, I was sharing a room with John, Tiger, and Phil. This time, apparently Phil had drawn the short straw and I was to share a bed with him. When I got in, they were all asleep. Like Tiger before, Phil was managing to take up the entire bed. His body was on one side, while he was using the pillow from the other side. He was a lot harder to move than Tiger. I literally picked him and moved him to his side twice. But he immediately rolled back over to take up the entire bed. On the third try, Phil woke up long enough for me to point him to his side. I then put a pillow between us, for all the good that did.

Being in a real bed again, I slept pretty well.