Back East

Allison and I were back in Atlanta last Wednesday through Saturday (November 12-15). We were leading worship for the PCA's Kingdom Discipleship conference held at the Omni Hotel and hosted by Christian Education and Publications. We had a great time as we were able to reunite with a number of musician friends from Atlanta; hear great talks by Chuck Colson, Christian Smith, and Anthony Bradley; and visit with family.

The plane trip into Atlanta from Sacramento was stressful. I arrived at the gate for my flight from Sacramento at 6:15AM and everyone was already boarding. I quickly began to loosen the strings on my Taylor 514 (because of pressure conditions in flight) before I boarded. I ended up having to gate-check both my Taylor and my Fender Strat. In a panic I begin loosening the strings on my Strat as well...the stewardess is asking for my connect flight...I don't know the number...another stewardess looks it up, "Flight 420," she says. I get my ticket to confirm, come back and say, "No, it's Flight 421." Wow. That was close. Who knows where the guitars might have ended up with the wrong flight number on the red gate-check tag. As I get into my seat, still a bit rattled, I look more closely at the flight was Flight 420...Flight 421 was on the return trip! My worse nightmare! The whole trip from Sacramento to Denver I'm a mess...will I ever see my guitars again!

When I got to Denver, I was hoping to find my guitars waiting for me on the ramp to the gate. I am told that they don't do it that way anymore (except for baby stollers). Now you don't pick them up until your final destination...I'm freaking out! I go straight to the gate for the connect flight and tell the stewardess that she has to verify that two guitars are on the plane to Atlanta. I board, still in a mess, and after about ten minutes one of the stewardesses gives me a "thumbs-up," indicating that both guitars had made it on board. That makes me feel better. I literally almost started crying. Those guitars mean a great deal to me...for a number of reasons. So, I'm able to relax on the flight from Denver to Atlanta. I listen to my iPod, read a bit, rest a bit.

We land in Atlanta, I exit the plane, thinking that I will now see my two guitars waiting for me...they aren't there! I then find out that I have to pick them up at baggage claim! All I can imagine are my guitars bouncing around on a maze of conveyor belts, eventually dumping off onto a carousel, going round and round...assuming they actually make it that far! Now I'm freaking out again. I get to the carousel as fast as I can and literally watch every piece of luggage coming off the conveyor belt. My worst nightmare came true...I stand there until all the luggage has come out and everyone has come and gone. Now I'm in a panic...where in the world (literally) are my guitars!?

I tell a nearby employee that I gate-checked my guitars in Sacramento, and I haven't seen them since...where should they be? He points and says to try the "fourth office door on the right." I desperately begin to walk towards this mysterious door when a random girl comes up to me and says, "I think your guitars are by that door over there." Was she and angel? Did she see me board in Sacramento? I'll never know for sure, but within a few steps I could see my two guitar cases...finally!! They were cold, but intact.

Well, as crazy and stressful as that all was, the conference more than made up for it all. Allison, her mom, Laura Camille, and Mallory picked me up at the Atlanta airport. We all checked in at the Omni, went out to eat, and had a restful night. I was able to visit with some folks at East Cobb the next morning (our former church), as we had to load up sound equipment that we were using for the conference. After setting up the equipment at the Omni, I was able to relax and clean up before our rehearsal and sound check for the first session Thursday night. We were joined Thursday night by a number of our friends. We had a blast. It was great to reconnect, play, and lead worship together. Friday morning and afternoon, Allison and I led alone. Friday night we were joined by more musician friends. Again, it was great to reconnect and play with such close friends from East Cobb.

After we played, Anthony Bradley got up to speak. Allison and I know Anthony from a summer youth conference we used to lead worship for at Covenant College. Anthony and I had a funny exchange as he joked about how we were allowed to "be in front of adults now!" He said that it only took me writing a book and recording a couple of CDs, and him getting a Ph.D! Anthony is a professor at Covenant Seminary. His talk was very powerful as he described the life of the average teenager today and lamented the fact that most of them have no idea of what it means to live with a "kingdom" orientation. He attributed this, in part, to the idolatry of "living the American dream." Teenagers aren't encouraged to live with a kingdom mindset, they are pressured to get good grades and go to a good college so that they can live comfortable, successful lives. How tragic! Anthony's talk was a wake up call to everyone.

Well, we rested well Friday night. I was exhausted. We led for the final session on Saturday morning, ate lunch with my mom and a few friends from East Cobb, and then headed to the airport to fly back to California.

Wouldn't you know...we got stuck in Denver due to a delayed flight from Atlanta. I couldn't believe it. I had to call our assistant pastor at Valley Springs and inform him that I would not be able to lead worship Sunday morning. I was so frustrated with the airline, but it ended up working out okay. We received a $600 voucher, spent the night at a Doubletree Hotel in Denver, and evetually made it safe and sound to Roseville on Sunday afternoon.

All in all, it was a great trip. Despite the panics and frustrations of the plane flights, being able to reconnect with friends and family and lead worship for a significant conference on making kingdom disciples made it all worth it.


Buddy Eades said…
Hey P
Glad to see you made it back finally. I appreciated your leadership in worship. I didn't get to say goodbye to you guys but will be praying for your ministry in Sacramento.

Now you know why most prof. musicians don't take their good guitars on the road.
Too bad we don't have their budget for extra guitars.

Once on a missions trip, I gate checked a ratty old borrowed guitar. The attendant said they would try to put in on the plane. I just asked so it would be easier. It turns out the Bo Diddley was on the plane in first class and overhead my asking to put my guitar on... the airline had turned him down earlier and he had to put his under! He caused a stink! Needless to say they put mine under too! It was pretty funny -for me to think that I would get better treatment than Bo. I think it was because I asked nicely!

Buddy Eades

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