Have you ever had those moments that seem like a nuclear explosion of chaos in your world? I have joyfully, respectfully, and gratefully taken on the responsibility of leading a team of twenty people from three different states on a missions trip to a children’s home near Kingston, Jamaica. This is my first experience taking on such a role. Coordinating this team, although not without its’ challenges, has actually been rather fun for the most part. I have enjoyed the challenge of recruiting and coordinating team members and all we need as a team to make this trip successful. But recently I came upon a situation that would make even the toughest cookie feel like crumbling… I tried to purchase airfare.
I’m sure purchasing airfare seems like such a simple, even boring task. I mean really… How complicated could it be? I needed to coordinate airfare for twenty people out of three different states, getting them all to Kingston, Jamaica at the same time. But this is 2014. We are not without multiple resources to get it all done. Even still, I first decided to let a travel agent help me out. After about two full weeks of not getting much from her, despite my phone calls and emails, I finally received an email back with some travel options. A bit disappointed with the results she gave me, I did some research myself. I was finding the very flights she sent me at significantly lower prices! I called my travel agent, and in a respectful and much nicer tone than I wanted to have, I showed her the great deals I found in only five minutes of searching… as opposed to her two weeks. (I left out that last part… But I was thinking it!) I asked if she would be willing to book these new and better flights for us. Of course she said yes… for a fee of an extra $30 per person! Ugh! I respectfully declined and decided to do it myself.
Since we have so many people going on this trip, we qualify for a “group” status. What that means is that we can reserve all twenty tickets without having to pay the full amount up front. We also have the flexibility to change names on the tickets if needed. When dealing with a big group who are still trying to raise funds, these options are pretty important. I called the airline and spoke with a gentleman who quite obviously spoke English as a second language. I let him know our circumstances and asked if I could book our group tickets with him. He was certainly willing to help… for a $25 per person fee! Once again, I respectfully declined. I know those fees may not seem like a big deal. But when you’re raising funds, every penny counts. I need to be responsible for what monies I have been entrusted with.
Not wanting to lose the decent flight deals I had found, I figured I would just go online and book them all myself. The bad part of doing things this way is that the tickets would be officially purchased and issued… No refunds… No changes. If anyone had to back out at this point it would be too bad. The money would just be lost. Before making such a significant purchase, I needed to get all twenty team members to agree. It didn’t take long. In less than two hours, most everyone responded in agreement. I logged on to the airline website only to find the prices of the tickets had jumped up… significantly.
At this point, more than half of my day had been spent dealing with these tickets. When I saw the new, higher price, my stomach did a gigantic flip flop. The current price of our tickets were almost $100 more than our budgeted amount. Had I remembered to eat lunch, I easily could have lost it. Brain swirling, eyes hurting, feeling anxious, nauseated… *DEEP BREATH* “Be still and know that I am God”. As I heard that, I couldn’t help but wonder if God had been paying attention to my day so far. Ok… one more deep breath. I prayed for God’s favor as I picked up the phone and called the airline back.
Hallelujah! A sweet lady who spoke perfect English answered. I explained the unfortunate price jump to her. Unfortunately there was nothing she could do about that. Just as it seemed there was nothing she could do to help me, I felt prompted to tell her where we were going and why. She placed me on hold for a minute or two. When she came back on the line, she offered to waive the $25 per person fee and book the tickets for me with the “group” status. Although the ticket prices were still higher than they were earlier that day, at least we’d get the tickets reserved before prices potentially jumped up again. One of the other benefits of group status is the flexibility in the tickets. If prices drop, I can call and have our price lowered. She also gave me contact information to get free baggage vouchers for everyone in our group! With the savings in baggage fees alone, that brought our cost below the price I had found earlier. Amazing!
At the end of my conversation with this sweet lady, she told me that her hometown is actually Kingston, Jamaica. She wanted to express how thankful she was for what we were doing for the children in her country. That is the favor of God! No amount of my efforts, anxiety or frustration achieved anything. But one deep breath, a quick prayer and stepping back to let God do His thing did it all.
Letting go of control is so hard. Things couldn’t have looked worse when viewing the situation through human eyes. Only by letting go… by being still and knowing HE IS GOD, was I able to see His perfect grace in my little nuclear explosion of chaos. Compared to Him, I guess it doesn’t seem that big a deal after all.