Characters in "The Flipped Side"
- Steph = medical missionary doctor at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital, PNG [and daughter of Steve and Karen Doenges]
- Mom = Karen Doenges
- Dad = Steve Doenges
- Radcliffes (Jim, Kathy, Jo, and Lydia) = 25 year veteran missionaries at Kudjip
- Becky Morsch = missionary doctor and director of Community Based Health Care for PNG/Melanesia, Steph's roommate of their 3 bedroom house
- Others as noted
Sometime in December, 2010
The 12 1/2 hour flight wasn't as bad as we thought it would be. The 11:50 PM departure on Sunday night, December 18th, 2010 from a rainy LAX (rainy as in mud slides) was an excellent time since boarding, getting settled and adjusted to surroundings and controls for lights, TV, games, movies, news, flight status etc. quickly devoured time. Soon the tasty night meal on the Quantas flight to Brisbane arrived directly in front of our noses. We were packed in like sardines--thankfully, we weren't served any! By forcing our heavy 50 pound eyelids to stay open until after 3:00 AM PST (we know it was 50 because they were as heavy as each of our four suitcases), we were able to sleep around 5 hours.
The Lord truly directed our path as Steph instructed us to "follow" the Radcliffes (25 year missionary veterans) returning to PNG after their fall furlough. Soon after wakening, Dr. Jim appeared making his early morning rounds on the 747. He and his son Josiah stopped at "door" 54E and F to check our charts. Noticing that there was no record of us getting up to stretch, he informed us it was past time. So in obeying doctor's orders, Mom and I ran the aisles but held back the shouts of hallelujah. We did take time to catch our breath in the back corner of the plane where we could look out and see a very slow moving sun rise. Continuing on the intra-plane running track, we finally finished the marathon and collapsed in our seats--eagerly desiring breakfast. Somewhere during these activities, we were able to stick our foot out in the aisle to trip Kathy and Lydia Radcliffe as they ran past our seats. In between gasps of air, they were able to force out the question, "Were you able to sleep?" and soon continued their laps. By the time breakfast was served, the flight clock only had 2 1/2 hours remaining.
Basically, we didn't have a Monday, December 19th since we were crossing the international dateline. The books that were brought for reading stayed in the carry-on bags as the return to earth came quickly. Our seats were in the middle four, so we weren't able to see much of the Australian landscape but soon found ourselves making it through the international transfer line of the airport and into the waiting area for boarding our next flight of Air Niugini.
(It is here that we realized the Radcliffes go to the extreme to avoid sitting in airports. Back at LAX, they pushed 8 heavy suitcases plus carry-ons in and out of terminals from terminal 1 to terminal 4. Then instead of checking their bags through to Port Moresby, PNG, they decided to pick up their luggage in Brisbane as they eagerly desired to go through customs and return through another security screening. They go to all extremes seeking out adventures!)
It was just after 8:00 AM Tuesday morning and the group of six travelers staked out a temporary 10' x 10' land claim for 5 hours that included several couches. We took turns at border patrol duty as the others ventured off looking for snacks, internet access, a phone (to check hotel transportation for the return trip), electrical recharge juice, and souvenirs. The Brisbane international airport did provide us with email, but not free access. However, the cards were free, so we tried the entertainment business by forming a parade of 6 carts. We also enjoyed Christmas carolers and the lengthy 1/2 mile "indoor track."