Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
- Leo Buscaglia

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Welcome Home, Ben!

     As many readers know, my son Ben has been away since last July on an 11-month mission trip through a program called The World Race.  It's been an extraordinary journey for him, having spent a month each in Serbia, Romania, India, Nepal, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, and The Philippines.  (You can read his truly inspiring blog here.) Needless to say, we're immensely proud of him, but have missed him terribly as well.  Several months ago, we received an e-mail from him letting us know that he'd be arriving home to the States on the evening of June 9th, in Los Angeles, before catching his final flight home to Philadelphia.  I knew then (actually, I knew the day he left!), that I was going to be there in LA to surprise him, welcome him home, and accompany him on the final leg of his journey.  
     On Friday morning, I flew out to LA and spent the following 30 hours or so visiting with a cousin who I had not seen in almost 15 years.  We had a great time together, but of course, I was counting the hours till I would finally get to see Ben.  Ben's plane was to land around 6:50 pm Saturday and our flight home wasn't until 12:35 am, though he didn't know I'd be with him.  My plan was to go to the gate and wait for him there.  
     My cousin dropped me off at the airport around 8:45 Saturday evening and I immediately went to the US Air counter to check-in.  While I was doing so, who jumps on my back but Ben?!  It turns out that he was just 2 kiosks over, checking in at the same time, and I hadn't even seen him!  Apparently he saw me, but for a few seconds wasn't sure it was me because he wasn't expecting it.  We spent the next several hours getting something to eat and trying to catch up.  
     We made it to Philadelphia around 8:30 am where my wife was there to greet him/us.  By 9:40, we were back in Moorestown, and after a quick shower (Ben's first hot shower in months), and a bagel (his first bagel in nearly a year), he and Catherine were out of the house at 10:25 and on their way to church!
     As anyone who has been away, or had loved ones away for a long time, knows, time is such a strange concept.  In some ways, it feels like it's been forever since Ben first left.  And yet, at the same time, it seems like just yesterday.  Having him home doesn't seem strange at all, like he belongs here, though I realize he'll be gone again soon (back to college in August).  I'm glad I made the effort to travel across the country to be there when he arrived.  We don't get many moments like that in our lives, and I wasn't going to miss the chance.

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