Passion 2010, Day 1.
January 2nd, 2010–the day that I had been counting down to and looking forward to for about two years was finally here. Most of us met at the house of our club adviser, Pastor Ray. We piled into Ray’s van, and the excited chatter began. We all had been excited, but putting all of that excitement into a confined space only made our excitement grow and grow. A few minutes later, we’re at the airport and in line. Steph was first, so P. Ray gave her the check in information. We were called, and I went up front with her because she didn’t know what to do. The lady behind the counter started typing, and then a few minutes later, said to us nonchalantly,
Your flight was canceled.
Steph and I were at a loss for words, and motioned P. Ray over. As it turns out, there was a maintenance problem with the plane, and the plane was still in Atlanta, not New Jersey. The airline offered to get us on a flight the next day, but we declined, knowing that even if we drove we would get to Atlanta faster.
We left the airport and drove back to P. Ray’s house. It was a quieter ride back, not counting our phones as they went off, notifying us of a new call or text from our parents. Once we got back to Ray’s house, we looked up flights from Philly and even Newark, but they all were booked. Our best option was to drive. Again we piled into his van and drove to a nearby rental place. After some waiting, we piled into the larger van,prayed, and started on our drive to Atlanta. I knew some people who were also attending Passion 2010 and were already in Atlanta, so I asked them to pray as well and kept a couple of them updated as the day wore on.
Trying to make the most of our situation, we blasted music and cheered whenever we got into a new state. It just so happened that we were able to enjoy a marvelous sunset when we were around Baltimore, which is one of my favorite cities. I was happy about that:
Miraculously, by the time we reached Washington D.C., Ray’s daughter, Kate, had gotten us on a flight out of D.C. to Atlanta. I was sitting in the back of the van with a couple of others, and we couldn’t always hear what was said up front. When Ray told us we got a flight out of D.C., we ALL cheered. Cherie, the girl behind me, said, “I definitely heard that.” Our excitement started to grow again.
Once we got to the airport and to our airline counter, as we stood in line, we were all just hoping desperately for no more problems. When they started calling out the names of those in our group to come forward and get their boarding pass, we all let out a huge sigh. We breezed through security (practically had it to ourselves), and then found our gate and proceeded to get dinner. Most of us ate at Fuddrucker’s, which of course, was in the very last part of our concourse. It was okay, we justified, because we would NEED to walk off all we ate at Fuddrucker’s. The food was good, but they didn’t have milkshakes there. =[ Now both of my Passion conference experiences involve Fuddrucker’s. =]
After we ate, we headed back to our gate, where we learned that because of what happened earlier, all of us would get a free round trip flight wherever AirTran flies. WOOHOO! After talking for a bit and taking a few pictures, we finally boarded the plane. We were in the very back of the plane, but we were OK with that–we were finally on a plane.
The flight wasn’t that long or that bad. As soon as I got my free drink, I took a nap, so I don’t really know what happened on that flight. I woke up before we landed, and we kept up our tradition of cheering as we entered a new state when we landed. This time, it also involved clapping and senses of gratefulness and excitement. Josh, sitting two seats over from me, wasn’t too into the whole cheering idea. He clapped, but then said,
“You would think that we’ve never flown before.”
Our next step from the airport was to get onto a MARTA train to the area where our hotel was. In order to get to the MARTA train, we had to take a shuttle train to a different part of the airport. Getting on was not a problem. Of course, we had to have a problem as we got off. One of the doors didn’t open, so everyone had to squeeze out through one door. Eight of us got off without a problem, but the last two got stuck as the door automatically closed. Derek ran over and grabbed the door so it wouldn’t close as we got Meg and Cherie out. Another guy was standing by, yelling at Derek not to hold the door and we all wanted to yell at him, “Don’t yell, just go over and help!” Finally, we all got off the shuttle train and headed towards the MARTA station.
After getting our tickets, we rode a few escalators (one of which was the longest one any of us had ever ridden) and got to the train platform. We got on the correct train, sat down, and waited.
A few minutes later, a train worker came into where we were and said, “Didn’t y’all hear on the loudspeaker? This train is out of service.”
If we had heard, we wouldn’t still be sitting there.
So we filed off of that train and went to the other side of the platform and waited for another train. Once it came, we got on. At one stop, we met another guy who was at Passion. He asked where we were from, and how we got there. We told him we were from NJ, but when he asked how we got there, we just sighed, and then told him. He understood why we all sighed once we told him.
Finally, we got to our stop. As soon as we got out of the train station, we saw a homeless guy being talked to by a couple of cops, probably forcing him to move. I had been told there were a lot of homeless in ATL, but I still was shocked. The guy was obviously there because he was cold (it was as cold in Atlanta as it was in NJ), and it hurt all of us to walk by and not pay attention to him, but that’s another blog for another time. We walked to our hotel, checked in, grabbed our Passion tickets, and walked over to try to check in for Passion.
We got to Passion, checked in, got all of our info, and walked across the street to try to get into the Late Nite Concert. We kinda snuck in, and my first glimpse of a full Passion event met my eyes. I was totally in shock and overwhelmed at what I was seeing and hearing. The place was very full. A very nice volunteer showed us a row near we where that had enough seats for us. We walked down the few steps and into our row.
David Crowder*Band was playing, and were singing “O Praise Him.” They were on the ending “La” part. We sang along, expecting another song.
They finished the “La” part, and said,
“Thank you! Have a good night.”
Figures. (As it turns out, that was our only chance to see David Crowder Band due to our wristband color group. David Crowder Band is perhaps the only band that I want to see live that have yet to see live. A few seconds doesn’t count).
We walked back to our hotel and went to sleep. Our bodies needed it, and we had missed all but maybe 30 seconds of the first day of Passion 2010.