I have anticipated this morning for some time, with both fear and consternation. Will I be able to keep up with these young men, I am attending this event with or will I collapse from exhaustion and have a heat stroke? The alarm goes off at 3:00 AM sharp, stirring my wife and I arise, to discover if I have still have it in me to pull my part in this escapade of generosity. I packed the night before. The boys and I shower quickly and place our bags in the car. My son Chris, his roommate and life long friend Brad, spent the night and we leave to pick up my other son Sean. Of course the “Old Man” has issues with the gate code at Sean’s apartment and the two boys give me a hard time! We see Sean walking to the car once we are in the gate and turn around to leave. As we are about to go back through the gate Sean remembers his passport is still in his apartment. Thank goodness Sean remembered it before we were at the airport or worse yet going into Mexico. I am hounded, as they all say I am too anxious and we are getting to the airport too early.
We enter the parking site, board the shuttle and walk into the biggest mess I have ever seen at Southwest, an airline I rarely fly. The ticketing line is probably 300 people long and the “system is down”, not to mention we all realize its Memorial Day weekend. The young brains immediately go into high gear and Chris checks in over the Internet. Brad goes out to the short baggage line check-in. Sean and I scratch our heads, roll our eyes and worry what will we do if we miss this flight!. Luckily the system pops up, Brad texts Chris and we all get in line at the exterior baggage check-in. We then all receive our boarding passes in no more than five minutes. We go through security, which is always fun with me (Bi-Pap, shoes, back pack, camera, etc). It takes four or so totes and the boys are being nice, but I know they are frustrated with the “Old Man”!
We board the flight with a “C” pass and luckily don’t all have to sit in middle seats, as we have early “C’s”. Flight to Phoenix is shaky and up to 15,000 feet the plane shakes like a baby rattle. We finally climb out of the disturbance and land in Phoenix. We make our flight to San Diego with no issues and are okay until the landing when the plane tilts to the left and skids on the runway. Needless to say, I almost had to change my underwear. Finally we are out of the air and realize its a 3 hour wait for the bus to the Rosarito Beach Hotel. We keep looking outside and no one is at the designated pick up spot, so we wait. Finally about 20 minutes prior to the bus’s arrival people start gathering and its a gang of rather various proportion of ages, builds and personalities.
Our bus arrives and we all board for the ride to Tijuana. The border gate is brand new and we all disembark, grab our bags and go through Mexican security. You push a button and “random” red alerts are done (you have to step aside and have your bags searched) and most are green. We get three reds and the “Old Man” is the only green! We then load our bags back under the bus and I am impressed with Sean’s energy and enthusiasm. He gets into the baggage hold and loads all bags for the entire group (proud papa — maybe the Monster Energy drink helped). We drive to Rosarito Beach Hotel, not knowing what to expect. Sean’s company Defender Direct is leading this mission of compassion and has an unusual philosophy in this day and time. They actually believe they have a responsibility to their fellow human beings and share the bottom line profits with needy families. What a remarkable company! I learn later they will not take it public, as they know they cannot control the distrubtion of funds once that happens. Very admirable!
We get off the bus and enter a wonderful, historic old hotel that has served movie stars, celebrities and royalty over the years. We are given our keys and people are divided into three teams Blue, red and green. We are told to meet in the lobby in two hours for a trip to YWAM where we will learn the itinerary and eat dinner. Sean draws the short straw and has to room with (the Old Man-Nomadic Texan) me. We unload baggage in room and discover we have no electricity. We turn on all breakers, plug in the refrigerator and test stuff out. We then walk around the hotel until time to be picked up in a old school bus, that has seen better years.
We arrive at the YWAM/Homes of Hope camp and take a traditional group picture and enter the campus’ main hall. We eat dinner and instructions are given out along with designated group leads, assistant leads and translators for each family team. Quick procedures and schedules are divulged to the group along with a prayer that we succeed. The food is actually good. We receive our bandannas and T-Shirts. Back to the hotel and the “Nomadic Texan” hits the hay while the young men go out for the evening and get involved in who knows what.
I leave a wake up call for 6:00 AM, as we are to meet in front at 7:00 AM! I am worried that I am too old to hang with these young men ALL day and work without embarrassing them. Tomorrow can’t come soon enough! And the “test” will begin!