Sunday 15th July 2018
Somewhat unexpectedly – knowing the clientele within the mission team – everyone is at the Church on or before 10:15am. 15 large suitcases are shoe-horned into the bus. We have managed to fit almost everything that has been provided by the congregation for the work into all of the suitcases and the strain on some of the zips/catches is beginning to show. We commit the trip to God in prayer and make our commitments to each other as a team. With all this complete, we set off from Mountpottinger Presbyterian at 10:45am to catch 3:20pm plane from Dublin to Doha. All last goodbyes have been exchanged and the Mission Trip has officially begun. John has kindly agreed to drive us all in the minibus down to Dublin to ease the departure process.
As we head down the motorway, it is clear that the long spell of warm dry weather has come to an end, with persistent rain all the way to Dublin Airport. We might welcome some of this by the end of the trip, as a brief look at the forecast for Dodoma the next 2 weeks shows “scorchio” with little or no probability of rain.
A mere hour and three quarters later we are in Dublin Airport and checking in. One poor check in attendant called the first of us to the desk only to realise that 10 more followed with a truckload of luggage – not a great start to a Sunday afternoon for her. We were all very confident that we would come well within our total luggage allowance of 30kg per person (330Kg for the group) and we did – 326Kg!
No issues with security, lost boarding passes, passports; no issues with anything – except our Sunday lunch venue, Burger King – which managed to run out of burgers! Name change required there methinks.
We all boarded the plane for the first leg of our journey to Dodoma – the 6 ½ hour flight to Doha in Qatar. The flight wasn’t full, which gave us all plenty of room to spread out and be as comfortable as possible and while we couldn’t use the free on-board wi-fi to watch the World Cup final, there was plenty of other entertainment on offer to pass the time.
Coming off the plane and transitioning through transfer security, I am engaged in conversation with a woman from Kenya, interested in who we were and where we were going. She too is a regular mission volunteer through her church in Kikuyu (where Maurice is from) which partners with another church in Northern Ireland every couple of years. Small world! – and one where God is active.
As I write this note from the floor of Doha airport – a really rather nice airport that Thomas indicated he might take a holiday just to visit in its own right – our team are either curled up in chairs sleeping, gone looking for coffee, exploring the duty free or trying to find the quiet room and comfy chairs to get some proper sleep. The next leg of the journey – down to Dar Es Salaam will be in 6 hours time.