Reflections on our trip so far – exhausting and exhilarating! And the conference hasn’t even started yet!
Flying in basically seemed like an extra long day (since we crossed the dateline)… it’s the furthest from home both of us have ever been. We flew on Virgin Airways, which was the cheapest option. It also meant three separate flights – Auckland to Sydney, Sydney to LA, LA to Washington. We tried to sleep on the Sydney-LA flight – not much success thanks to our body clocks. at the inflight entertainment was pretty good though. Also got some long-awaited reading done, started on Dr Edgar Andrew’s very well-written “Who Made God”, and continuing through “Worship by the Book” edited by DA Carson.
We landed in Dulles International Airport (just outside Washington DC), and from there had to go pick up our rental car at 9pm, foreign country, and all the roads were back to front. Initially our idea was to pick up a US SIM card and then use my mobile phone’s GPS. Unfortunately that became out of the question once we realised that no one sells SIMs around here! After being stung with extra insurance costs and GPS hire charges (doubling our original online quote) – I (William) got behind the wheel and started our 40 minute drive from the airport to the host home.
OK. I will not lie – driving on the other side of the road is terrifying. I’m used to trying to adjust to the centre lane on my right, and looking out for the blind spot on my right before changing lanes. Now all this is on my left… it’s freaky. Still not used to it. Please pray for us when we are driving, we would love to see you all again!
The GPS was so helpful though – told us exactly which lanes to take and so on. We eventually made it to our host home in Clarksburg, Maryland, and were welcomed by Peter and Sherly Giglio (“JHEE-leeo”, not Gig-leo). They’ve been such wonderful hosts so far – they have about 6 other guests with them and are just very casual and welcoming about it all. Such hospitable people! Sherly’s testimony of coming to salvation in Jesus Christ was so wonderful to hear as well.
Got to our rooms and finally got to lie down on a comfy, American bed after over 24 hours and crossing 17 hours’ worth of timezones!
Some miscellaneous thoughts so far:
- Every American we have met so far has been very friendly. I wonder if it’s our Kiwi accents.
- Speaking of accents, I can feel mine starting to slip already (I’m notoriously chameleon-like with my speaking accent, it changes very quickly to the environment I’m in. Sorry in advance when I get back and it’s all muddled up!)
- it’s hot here. It’s almost as humid and tropical-feeling as our last trip to Kuching, Malaysia!
- yes, the toilets flush the other way. It is very bewildering.
- Driving in miles per hour isn’t too difficult – you can “feel” the km/h equivalent
- While I think we were overcharged a fair bit with our car rental, at least we got a Lincoln MKZ out of it (complimentary upgrade).
Thanks to God! We’re safe, no travelly effects (except for some jet lag), driving was OK, and everyone so far has been very friendy to us!
Next update: Whistlestop Capitol tour, Merthyr Tydfil Wales, Bolivian steaks, Es tu Gracia!
Update: here’s the full series of our time in the USA.
Part 1: Fly, land, drive
Part 2: train, jam, steak
Part 3: sing, meet, glory
Part 4: rehearse, seminars, NZ connection, Thabiti
Part 5: edify, songwrite, organise, gather live
Part 6: mission-focused meetings, instrument shopping
Part 7: Covenant Life, tears, crepes and goodbyes, Giant groceries
Part 8: DC take 2, travelling back, final reflections
– William Chong