Flight 261

As I was storing my carry-on baggage, the man behind me introduced himself. “I heard your voice – where are you from?” he asked in an obviously American accent. “San Francisco. How about you?” “Baltimore.” The conversation continued as we prepared ourselves for the 11 ½ hour flight to Johannesburg. He had recently been laid off from Home Depot and was joining friends in Zambia that he had reconnected with on Facebook. Facebook! His surprise at being on Facebook at age 42. But here he was – on his way to Zambia, for a mission. Mission? This piqued my interest. I’m not particularly religious, but love observing, participating, learning more about religions. I’m in awe of those who have unwavering faith. How do they know? He talked more about the mission – a 150 acre farm outside of Livingstone, Zambia. I asked him what denomination he was associated with.

“Well, it’s sort of one we made up.”

Really? Now I totally wanted to talk to this guy. I pressed for more details. He wasn’t giving them up. I’ve just finished reading “Under the Banner of Heaven” about Mormon Fundamentalists. Was he creating a new sect? Was he a fundamentalist?

He switched the subject to how Melatonin was originally developed to help women’s menstrual cycle become more regular. I commented that it just put me to sleep. I tried to steer the conversation back to his missionary work. He changed the subject to ACC basketball.

The HR part of me wanted to coach him – dude, if you’re trying to convert people, you’re going to have to be comfortable talking about your beliefs.

The other part of me wanted to smack talk how wrong he was about the Terrapins having a great basketball team next year. In the end, that won. You can take the girl out of North Carolina, but you can’t take the North Carolina out of the girl.

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