Hold onto our stuff so it does not get wet while we take a little ride in the cove has turned into a manic panic situation for my son Zack and I. We must find my wife and daughter soon or we’ll not only miss the boat, we’ll be stuck on ‘Paradise Island’ with no passport, no I.D., no money, no nothing! Help! (Read Lost in Atlantis Part 1 first to catch up)
So far we have trekked through 9 tunnels and passed by a rapidly becoming irritating number of ‘aquarium’s’ that all are looking exactly the same. Running from end to end has become the mode of movement, the heck with worrying about breaking the flip-flops, sweating like a pig, and worrying about what people are thinking as I am calling out my wife’s’ name in hopes she’ll hear us and respond. Still no sign of them anywhere.
Too bad, I thought, we do not have any bread crumbs to cover our tracks or leave a sign of where we have been (which was soon to be everywhere!). We did find a map, a tunnel points us to the beach…. My thoughts turned from thinking about my ‘how can you so poorly communicate where you would be‘ beloved wife and daughter, to PRAYING my ‘poor worried and I am sure they are also now panicking’ beloved wife and daughter, would remember that I said, if for some reason we should get separated meet where we entered Atlantis at the beach entrance bathroom. So we followed the sign and headed to the beach.
I told Zack, we need to run! So we headed down the slippery and curvy tunnel to where we thought was the beach. When we reached the end of the tunnel, we arrived at yet another swimming pool of filled with sunbathers. This can’t be! The sign said this way to the beach.
So I asked a guy in a golf cart, he said, ‘No Mon, you need to go down to the tunnel over on the other side of the pool, what you looking fo?’ I explained to him our dilemma and tried describing my wife and daughter to him. All I could think of was two white ladies about the same height, carrying heavy bags and looking worried and walking slow (they are always 22 steps behind me when we go places, as I was talking to him I wondered if I in the future should slow down maybe, maybe our great marriage isn’t that great, should they go faster or should I go slower? oh SHUT UP MIND) . He said he had not seen them but if he did, he’d tell them to go to the beach!
The thought of their slow walking told me we needed to sprint. At 56 and in flip-flops, we took off down the next tunnel to the beach. This time the long tunnel run went quickly and we found ourselves at the first familiar location on this tortuous journey. There was the beach and the ice cream stand we had seen. Man a soda sure would go down smoothly. Instead I had to settle for a splash of water from the sink in the bathroom and a quick dousing of water on the face to wash off the sweat. If we were not worried before, we sure were now as they were nowhere to be found.
A security guard was looking out upon the beach. We asked if he had seen two lovely ladies carrying bags. We explained how we had lost them and we had to catch the cruise ship soon. His advice was for us to go to The Deeg, that is the best aquarium, surely that is where they were. We later found out The Dig was certainly a place we should have visited.
He said it was only a short walk across the bridge. I said you mean the bridge by the shell restaurant? By now I was becoming familiar with the lay of the land, so it made all the sense in the world to pass by that location again and hope we run into them, if not, maybe that is where they were. Zack who amazingly had been calm and joking throughout this expedition agreed it was the smart thing to do. We told the guard, if you see them, send them to The Deeg.
So we took off running again. This time it was walk run, walk run, pant, gasp, gasp, cough, walk, spit, gasp. I realized how I don’t have the stamina I did in the old days! Eventually we reached the restaurant, it was NOT a short walk by any means as described by the guard. Maybe we missed a turn or something, but it seemed to take forever to get there.
I so wanted to grab one of the margaritas off the tray the waitress’ tray as we looked around the shell covered restaurant for our missing pair. They were not to be found. To the swim cove, not to be found. To the bridge we went next, still no sign of them anywhere. We kept our eyes looking in every direction and I unabashedly kept putting my hands up and down in the air hoping I might be seen by them. The results were none more than gaining some odd looks from passersby.
We found The Dig which was a bit of a ways in to the hotel. Once again there were forks and curves throughout the large aquarium and display. We had to make a quick split apart and vowed to come right back down the ramp. So I went down the ramp to the left and Zack to the ramp on the right. I reached a dead-end and decided to sprint back to our split point. A horrific thought went through my brain, what if I lose Zack now?! I was back at the point and now he was nowhere to be found.
I shouted out ‘ZACK’! Silence. ‘ZACK’! Silence. Then ‘ZACKKKKK!’ Finally I heard a weak and distant ‘dad’? I sprinted towards the sound. We met up and Zack was now as worried as me as he could see the freak out look in my face and I saw it in him. Finally I said, wow, I’m losing it. Let’s just stop right now and pray out loud and ask God to help us.
(If this is your first time visiting Average Joe’s Portico, you have to read the Do you Dare tab to understand the shift, It’s not much of a ‘Dare’ this time around, but if you want to hear the testing of our faith portion of the story, keep on reading)
I had told him all along to keep praying and I know I was, I think, I guess, if you call saying Lord help us find them, where are they, what do we do next,.. I guess I would call that praying. We stopped and bowed our heads and said something along the lines of God, thank you for this circumstance. We know you are in control. We know you love us. We know you love Cindy and Erin. Please re-unite us. Please guide and get us on the boat together. In Jesus Name Amen.
I said to Zack, no doubt (for this dueling doubt Average Joe that is a bold statement) God will get us through this. I was really very confident now, if it was a little game and test, for sure it is over now and we’ll be good.
But I also know you don’t just sit there and do nothing and hope things work out, I teach that in my Bible based finance classes. So we walked to the next logical place and asked another security guard here at The Dig if they had seen our missing couple. They said no. I asked if they had walkie talkies and could ask others. No mon, you can go to the security station over by the… I asked instead what time is it. 3:50 was the answer. We only had 40 minutes until boarding and I know the cab ride is at least 10 minutes. There was no time to spare.
We decided to sprint back across to the restaurant one more time, surely now God has taught us enough about patience, trust, keeping in self-control, relying on God, etc… He will run us right into them, we will laugh and head to the boat.
On the other side of the bridge we again checked out the swim cove that I was now despising, the restaurant that made no sense that it was in the middle of the walk way, and we found another tunnel, right by the restaurant we had not seen. Maybe, just maybe, that is where they were.
So once again we trekked through tunnels and aquariums and found another bathroom. Oh no I thought, this must be the spot we were supposed to go to. They probably finally gave up and moved on to try to find us. What an idiot, how did I miss this aquarium right next to the restaurant. But then, there were actually four separate aquariums with tunnels surround the round restaurant. That is why it was in the middle of the walkway(s).
Time was dwindling so we took off running again, back to The Dig in hopes of catching a cab. We hoped and prayed the same message was going through my ‘God I miss them, I hope nothing has happened to them, how could I let this happen‘ beloved wife and daughter. Time seemed to stop for a bit as we ran to the hotel and asked a guard where the cab station was. She pointed to a door and said go that way and that and… we just ran, I figured I’ll ask somebody else as we got further in. Which we did, and finally we reached the cab stand.
I told the guy with the whistle we needed to catch the 4:30 Carnival line to which his eyes grew the size of golf balls. He said there is usually a long line to get through security, but go hop on that van over there. I asked if he had seen two short ladies carrying bags and probably freaking out like we are. He said no, but not to worry. He then yelled, ‘you have room for two more’? ‘Sure Mon’, answered the driver of a van haphazardly parked in the circle. We hopped on to a van with eight others already in the van.
We must have looked quite the sight as I was huffing and puffing and had sweat pouring off my brow. But nobody seemed to notice nor care. We sat for a few minutes and one of the guys complained, I can’t believe this driver is waiting to cram two more people into this van, he better get going. I asked if they were getting on a cruise boat. Everyone was, but they were all going for the 5:30 boat, not the 4:30. They looked at us like we were idiots.
Finally the van took off. To further test our wills, I could see a long line of cars waiting ahead of us to cross the Paradise Island bridge. Oh no, I panicked inside, there was no wait coming over, what is the deal getting off the bridge?
We not only don’t have any money to pay for this cab ride, we’re never going to make it on time! What in the world do we do if Cindy and Erin are not there with our passports and boarding pass?????
Philippians 4:6-7 was getting quite a test on this trip…
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.