I arrived in Phoenix late last night. I haven’t even left the hotel room yet. The conference begins today at noon. It has already been an interesting trip.
On my first air flight leg, I sat next to the head pastor of Journey Church, an evangelical church in Bozeman that seems to be growing in leaps and bounds. Interesting to talk with and passionate about his life’s work, Brian Hopkins happens to work closely with one of my recent Lamaze Class students and, thus, our “small world” experience began.
Over the course of a fifty-minute flight, I discovered that Brian and his wife are in the process of adopting three children from Ethiopia–in addition to their four lovely children already at home. Not only is this family’s heart in Africa for the sake of these orphaned children, but for the well water project Brian, and the church he leads as a whole, are spearheading on behalf of a school that teaches “the poorest of the poor” children in the same town from which he and his wife hope to adopt. (The school’s location was formerly a leper colony.)
Wow. Talk about inspirational.
Not only that, but Brian is a part of a leadership think tank in Bozeman with the CEO of my husband’s company–Greg Gianforte of RightNow Technologies. I couldn’t help but wonder what sort of heavenly forces were behind that “chance” meeting.
If that whole experience wasn’t enough, the second leg of my journey was equally interesting.
Having switched seats with a man in order for he and his wife to be together on the flight, I ended up next to a curious older gentleman who spoke in a thick, mixed European accent (mostly in a whisper, which was quite difficult to discern over the jet engine noise). The man, whom I’ll call “Frank,” proceeded to share with me what seemed to be an enormous amount of his own personal story:
Born and raised in Paris, and having lived in Germany and Africa as well, this friendly stranger told me of his two grown children (a world-renowned surgeon son and a musician/composer daughter) as well as his five-year-old piano-playing savant niece.
He also shared with me: his apprenticeship in Paris under some famous ladies handbags designer, his move to America at age eighteen upon which he began designing women’s purses and handbags under his own name, his dabbling in real estate that has afforded he and his wife “beautiful homes” all over the world, and his occasional TV commercial acting career (he pulled his Screen Actors Guild membership card out of his wallet to show me, and offered juicy tidbits of his previous work with Mr. T).
This loquacious senior who smelled like pleasant aftershave and frequently patted my arm while leaning in to whisper another element of his two-hour testimony invited me to coffee sometime during my stay in Phoenix (but assured me he wasn’t trying to “pick me up”).
By the end of that flight, I had learned how my row companion had placed his son in the corner for eighteen hours once, after the then-boy had criticized his mother’s cooking and thrown his plate on the floor…I made mental note of this man’s proclamation that, “when you are bullshitting other people, you’re really bullshitting yourself,” and I helped him get situated as he pulled four Pyrex containers from his briefcase and proceeded to eat an entirely home-cooked meal no less than fifteen minutes before landing.
(I also met, across the isle, the man who designs and builds resort golf courses across the country–including the one my parents own a home within, down here in Tucson.)
Lastly, on my way to the hotel, I was picked up by a cab driver who happened to be a former Lehman Brothers Global 500 stockbroker who gave me a fifteen minute overview of the demise of the stock market and global economy, and ultimately recommended investing in gold–his prediction being that in the not-so-distant future, gold will rise to $2-4,000/ounce as the the dollar goes down the drain.
Oh. And did I mention that I saw Air Force One on the tarmac at the airport? Y’all know Obama is here today to unveil his mortgage industry rescue plan, right?
Sitting here this morning, I’m not sure which of these characters who recently crossed my path last night ought to become a main character for my next book but, I can tell you one thing: last night’s destined, or happen chance meetings have provided me with enough fodder for half a career’s worth of writing!
More on the conference later today…