Friday, February 8, 2013

The Idiot Abroad

This story has no prelude it simply begins like this...

United flight 185 leaving Guam stopping in Palau and continuing on to Manila Philippines is the flight I am boarding. I'll be in Palau for three days for the upcoming construction project. It's been a long day and the 2 hour flight to Palau has rest written all over it. The flight is a third full but life working the way it does has me sitting next to someone on a plane filled with no-ones. Instead of staying in that seat I am assigned I move back one row to a completely empty row. I store my carry on bag in the compartment overhead I turn off my portable electronic device(Ipad) and put it in the seat pocket in front of me,I'm ready to rest,I'm ready to fly. When I wake up the drink cart is just passing by, which is good because I'm thirsty, my friend Travis is waltzing my way from first class with drink in hand, conversation and refreshment's are enjoyed. Time passes quickly and soon we are making the final approach into Palau. I'm excited, this is my first time to Palau. There's not much to see as we land because it's nearing 9:30pm local time. This is a little disappointing because I've heard so many comments about seeing Palau's "rock islands" from the sky. Oh well, there's plenty of time to see the island from ground level. I grab my carry on bag and I exit the plane. We're welcomed to Palau by a local brother who welcomed us to the island with a smile. He said we had just missed meeting some of the local friends who had not to long ago dropped off a friend at the airport. He made sure we had transportation and our keys for rooming. With a final handshake and a smile we left for the missionary home.

Even at night it's apparent that Palau is a beautiful and clean island. I look forward to the morning to come, when I will catch my first glimpse of an island illuminated. As the ignition of the car is switched to off I distinctly remember this sinking feeling in my heart, the kind of emptiness experienced when you realize that you've made a mistake that can not be erased. There is no amount of wishing to make the error go away, and in my case there was also no misguided hope that I was imagining things. I knew without an ounce of doubt that I had left my Ipad on flight 185 leaving Guam stopping in Palau and continuing on to Manila, Philippines. Speaking in hyperbole, I've put my Ipad in the seat pocket of the plane a million times before and I've never for a second forgot that it was there. If I leave my seat, I think about how vulnerable and scared it must be without me there by it's side. If I close my eyes to rest,when I awake I check the seat pocket in front of me just to let the Ipad know with a glance from my eyes that... "I missed you Ipad." But now here I am empty handed and empty-hearted in Palau, dazed and confused about how I have let this horrible thing take place.

I immediately call United airlines and ask them if anyone found an Ipad on flight 185. Can you believe no one had reported finding an Ipad on that flight??? The kind voice on the phone says that she will attempt radioing the plane that is now soaring through the night sky to Manila. I wait, I hope, I yearn for a response from the planes crew. The kind voice returns to the line with the news that the plane is too far away to contact them by radio. "WHERE ARE THE HEADED IN SUCH A HURRY???" I think to myself. "To Manila," myself responds to me. "Yeah but they have my Ipad," I reply. "You don't have an Ipad...anymore," my inner self heartlessly explains. I tire of the inner monologue....
The kind voice on the phone says that she will call ahead to Manila and inform them of the situation. She will let me know in the morning when she hears something. What more can I ask for at this point. I thank her and I wait. The fact that I'm writing this story tells you that when I heard from United the next morning they did not have good news to share. All the beauty and splendor of a tropical pardise could not burn away the thick gloom that hung over my head. For three days I searched and I called every United Employee on Palau, each and everyone of them bearing a similar response, "You did what!?" "That's terrible...your Ipad is gone."

I know that there are good people in this world, good people that already own Ipad's, and when they find mine sitting alone and scared in a seat pocket, they want nothing more than to return this Ipad to it's rightful owner. This is what I WANTED to believe. This is what I wanted to believe...

I return to Guam without the Ipad, resolved to be a more responsible man if I ever allow myself to buy another electronic device. That evening, on another electronic device, I check my email to see what I've missed while I was away. One email instantly grabbed my attention... MISSING IPAD. I couldn't open that email fast enough. Disbelief and curiosity were battling each other inside of me for emotional supremacy. In short the email went like this...

"Hello Matthew? My name is _ , I was on flight 185 and I found your Ipad. I would like to return it to you but I live in the Philippines and we can not mail electronic devices out of the country." A contact number was left and again it was mentioned that they had no intention of keeping the Ipad, they wanted to return it to the rightful owner. There are good people in this world, I think to myself while at the same time dialing the contact number left in the email.

A voice answers and the story goes like this...

A girl boards a half empty flight 185 from Palau to Manila, Philippines only to find that her seat is mostly occupied by the person sitting next to her. All she wants to do is rest, so she moves to another seat. As she searches for something to cover her eyes in the pocket in front of her seat she finds a lonely Ipad. Rather than turning it into the crew(she fears that it will not be returned to the rightful owner), she holds onto it and decides that she will try to contact the person herself.

At this point in the conversation she asks me if I know of any way to get the Ipad sent back to Guam. I respond that I have friends in Manila who stay at the Manila Branch of Jehovah's Witnesses. If she can mail my Ipad there I know that I can have someone bring it to Guam from there. These words caused an uncomfortable pause in the conversation....................................................................................

"You are one of Jehovah's Witnesses?",she asked. Then she said,"I am also a Jehovah's Witness." This information was to much for my weak mind to comprehend. How is this possible? What are the odds? More questions than answers flooded my mind. I knew that there were good people on this earth, I should have never questioned where they would be found. As the story winds down it's worth mentioning that the girl who found my Ipad was also the girl who we had just missed meeting when we walked out of the airport in Palau. Turns out that she had been passing through on her way home from Yap where she had worked for the past three years.

In the weeks that ensued, many laughs and jokes have been shared(mostly at my expense)by those who helped reunite me with my lost item. Thank you to Rebekah,Naomi/Carla,Trittia, April, Reinalyn, The Pfisters,The San Nicholas',and many others who played a part in making this a story with a happy conclusion. But most of all I'd like to thank Louise Pedrosa for choosing seat 28D on flight 185 to Manila Philippines. Thank you for your honesty and kindness. One day we will meet and I imagine we have quite a story to share.


  1. first the passport, then the Ipad.....I cannot wait to see what happens to you on our trip to Majuro next week!

  2. All the signs point to me getting...LOST(queue the music from LOST)

  3. Just so that you know, we were not laughing at you. We were laughing for you. You can count on us for the needed humor when it comes to situations like these that we find only you get into. In my opinion though I think that Abner (I named your Ipad by the way) just wanted some space. He wanted to be able to travel on his own. Being overprotective of him had only pushed him to rebel and travel to the Philippines. You may have thought he was lost forever but he knew that eventually the two of you would be reunited once again. He knew that you had awesome friends that would "help" ( and when I say help, I mean demand that you give us cake in exchange for your beloved Abner) you find him.

    Look at it this way...Your blogs will only get better. Passport. Ipad. Identity?

    On a serious note though... Will we be getting chocolate cake?

  4. I think I understand. Blog improves as suffering increases, not laughing at me but for me, my iPad has a name!, help means chocolate cake, and that's what friends are for??? .... "Help" is on its way...

    1. Great story. It proves that our spiritual family are everywhere.

  5. That was a really great story to read this morning. Jehovah really teaches us to be good people & for that we are thankful everyday :-) There are so many things we read of stuff that people suffer. I am happy to hear things are doing good for you & that you are enjoying the working for Jehovah that you are a part. No other people are privileged so. Keep close to Jehovah. Thanks for sharing something that I by chance found online. Agape' , Tasha Chancey

  6. Seriously Shibs, you have time to write these ever so long life stories, which by the way was quite interesting, but not even a quick hello to your old pals the Frooches? Glad you got your iPad back...glad we are all part of the same family of good people.

  7. It hurts so much yet it feels so good to hear from you frooches! Miss you, and I do love you, believe it or not:)

  8. Ok its March 11th and I'm just reading this story. What an interesting one. As soon as you said that you put the ipad in the seat pocket, I said "uh oh" and I wanted to skim down and see if you had gotten off the plane without it. I didn't though. I enjoyed seeing the navigation of a prayer being answered by the hand of Jehovah. Thanks for sharing this story. It built even more appreciation for our worldwide brotherhood.

  9. Anitra, good to hear from you! Please send my love to your family and the friends in Griffin. I think of you all often.

  10. That is an incredible story. Hope you're doing well. Jim and Audrey and I need to Skype you soon. You need to be a familiar face.

  11. brother scibetta,
    tin lizzy's has called and requests our presence for taco's and beer. and i thought with your "lost" comment you'd reference the song, not the show. 'if i see you and i tell you how i've missed you, don't make fun of me later'. not that i have missed you. that'd be weird. however, i've missed you. hope to see you back in the peach state soon.


  12. what a great story, Matthew! So happy it had a good ending. it brought tears to my eyes to hear how an unknown sister unknowingly helped such a deserving brother. it was really nice to see you here in Atlanta. hope your trip home was uneventful and as easy as could be. hang on tight to Abner. I'm sure it is all the memories you have stored on there that you were sick about losing and thankfully you didn't. keep making great memories in Jehovah's service. we are so proud of you! love - Amanda and Eric J.

  13. Perhaps you should consider continuing to blog. Your stories are pretty decent. Maybe November will spawn a monster. Just saying.