“The Lord has said, ‘I know the plans I have for you.’” That was the verse that spoke to my heart when I returned to Jamaica on January 11 of this year, since I knew I was facing decisions for the future. However, once COVID-19 reared its ugly head, I found myself facing unexpected challenges. My planned departure date of April 9 never happened, and in the end, my usual 3-month stay turned into a 5-month stay. As the days progressed, it became clear why God had me in Jamaica for that extra time.
My new departure date was scheduled for June 7. As the first ACE person to leave the island, we thought you would be interested in what I encountered at the Montego Bay airport after Marla dropped me off at the airport.
When attempting to access the terminal, I was met at the door by a security guard, questioning my flight info, and was told that the terminal would not open until 9:30. Passengers were required to line up outside the terminal, with masks on at the requisite six feet apart. We had to present our passports to the guard and remove our mask so she could verify we matched our passport pictures. On the way in, we had to sanitize our hands.
The usual kiosks were not in operation, so I joined a slow line for checking in, where there are now Plexiglass shields between passengers and the agents. The agents were wearing masks, making it difficult to converse in a noisy terminal. When I got to the counter, I discovered my flight had been cancelled, with no prior notification from them! Nothing like driving two hours to find that out! The agent was able to get me on another flight going to New York, a two-hour drive from my original destination of Philadelphia.
Next was TSA, where they strictly monitored the distance between people approaching the security area. Once upstairs, I discovered that only half of the terminal was open and most of the stores were closed. In the gate area, there were “Do Not Sit Here” signs on every other seat, and getting onto the plane took longer due to the distancing requirements. For now, the middle seats on the planes are unoccupied, and I was able to enjoy being the only passenger in my row!
At JFK, I faced the thing that concerned me most: would I be faced with a 14-day quarantine? Needless to say, I was relieved when none of the people in front of me had been presented with this necessity for entry. My time with the Immigration officer was brief as she asked where I was coming from and how long I’d been there; there was no reaction from her when I said, “Five months!” Then she handed me my passport and I was on my way, looking forward to seeing my brother who had graciously driven to JFK to pick me up!
Here are the verses God gave me, prior to my departure, which kept my heart at peace concerning a possible quarantine: “The Lord Himself will go over before you. Do not fear… for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.” (Deuteronomy 31:3, 6)