Day 29 – Back Home

Sunday, April 7, 2019

After 24 hours in airplanes and airports, I finally arrived at home on Sunday evening  ( Monday morning in Saipan/Guam ).

I left the hotel in Guam at 5:15 am and arrived at the airport before 5:30.   I checked one of my bags and I was told that it would be sent all the way through to Buffalo.   We boarded a little early and we were on our way to Honolulu by 7:10 am Sunday ( 5:10 pm Saturday EST )

After ~ 7 hour flight, we arrived in Honolulu at 6:10 pm on Saturday ( 12:10 am Sunday EST  ).   I had a 2 hour layover in Honolulu and I needed it.   I arrived at gate D21 and the passengers were instructed to pick up their checked luggage from Carousel 1 and then place it on a ‘ Smart Cart ‘.  We were then directed to proceed through customs & immigration ( even though we came from a US commonwealth country to a US state ).  After clearing customs, everyone who was continuing to another destination was instructed to give their checked bags back to a United Airlines agent and then walk to the other end of the airport to clear security again.   Almost 1 hour later I cleared the security check and went back to gate D21, where the boarding process had already started for my flight to Denver, into what appeared to be the same plane from Honolulu that I had just left.

The flight to Denver took a little more than 6 hours and it left at 8:20 pm Saturday ( 2:10 am Sunday EST ) and arrived in Denver at 6:30 am Sunday ( 8:30 am Sunday EST ).

There was a 3 hour layover in Denver, so I took the opportunity to get a coffee and a small snack.   The flight to Chicago was only 2.5 hours long and I arrived in Chicago at 1 pm Sunday ( 2 pm Sunday EST )

My next flight left Chicago at 2:15 pm Sunday ( 3:15 pm Sunday EST ) and arrived in Buffalo at 4:30 pm on Sunday.

My brother picked me up at the Buffalo airport and I arrived at home shortly after 6 pm on Sunday.

In the 4 weeks that I was in Saipan, we were able to rebuild 8 roofs.   We had as few as 6 volunteers and as many as 11 volunteers working on roofs each weekday.  Currently the work for the project will end on April 26th, however, there are still hundreds of families that require assistance, so plans are being made to continue to re-build homes for another year, perhaps longer.  Most of the homes that we worked on still require walls, windows and doors in order for the people to move in, so there is a lot of work to be done.

The economy in Saipan has suffered greatly due to the 2 Typhoons that hit the island during the last 3 years and many of the homes are shared by several families, so the need is great.   Some of the volunteers have already discussed going back to continue  to help rebuilding homes and I am inclined to do the same.

Day 28 – Flight to Guam

Saturday, April 6, 2019

I woke up at 5:30 am and got ready to leave for the airport.   At 6:50, I left my room for the last time and met Jeff M, Sandy, Dan and Robert at the car.   Robert came along for the drive to the airport so that we could transfer the rental van into his name, however, we found out that he couldn’t rent the van because he had forgotten his wallet at home and although it was being mailed to the hotel in Saipan, it hadn’t arrived yet and he needed his drivers license to rent the van.  Harold had also come to the airport to extend his rental car for a few days so he gave Robert a ride back to the hotel and they would have to try another solution.

The others had checked their bags and cleared customs, but when I gave my passport to the ticket agent, he contacted a supervisor who told me that my flights had not been confirmed.   I sat down on a chair near the ticket counter and activated my cell phone to call National Travel in order to get assistance with my tickets.   It took about 15 minutes for them to correct the problem before I returned to the ticket counter and checked in.

I cleared customs without any further incidents and then met Roger, Jeff K, Sandy, Jeff M and Dan at the gate.   There were no further incidents and we arrived in Guam at 10 am.

Everyone else was continuing to the Narita airport in Japan, some of them staying there overnight,  before flying back to the mainland so I was the only one staying in Guam.   At 10:30 am, I took a taxi to the Wyndham Hotel and spent the day relaxing in anticipation of my marathon flight back home.

During my supper at the local Applebees, I was quickly reminded of the small, invisible cuts on my hands, when I got some juice on them as I squeezed lemon wedges into my ice tea.  I had worn gloves most of the time, when I handled metal or the splintered wood during the past few weeks but my gloves were too thick and cumbersome for the work I was doing and I obviously didn’t wear them enough.

During the 4 weeks in Saipan, no one had been seriously injured, which we attributed to the fact that we had prayed every morning for safety on the job site.   However, once we had forgotten to pray before starting our work and one of the volunteers injured his rib cage when he tripped.   Fortunately he hadn’t been seriously hurt but he reminded us that we hadn’t prayed, so we immediately stopped our work and prayed for continued safety.

My flight from Guam is scheduled to leave at 7:15 am Sunday morning ( Guam Time – 5:15 pm Saturday EST ) and my final flight arrives in Buffalo at 4:57 pm EST ( 6:57 am Monday morning Guam Time ) which means that I will be travelling for ~ 24 hours.