Sunday, December 25, 2011

Conversion part 7

So I know this is getting long, I mean part 7? when's it going to end? I promise, it does and we are getting close, but I don't want to leave out a single detail because I fear someday I wont remember these details that really mean so very much to me. So bear with me. (part 6 here)

Chapter 7: jetBlue

My friend Carolyn worked for United Airlines before 9/11. After that many of the newer flight attendants had been let go. Carolyn was one of them. Consequently, she had heard about jetBlue and knew that they were hiring despite the fact that the industry was in a little trouble. She got the job and soon convinced me to start applying. I was feeling like I needed to do something with my life. I either needed to go back to school and finish my degree or get a full time job. So, I applied. They flew me out for an interview and a few hours after I arrived home, they called and offered me a job.

While I worked at JetBlue, I had a few experiences that really strengthened my testimony. I feel these experiences are pertinent to me developing a testimony because after the experience I made a decision and each of these decisions lead me closer to Christ. I am going to attempted to share them all in this post, so that is why it is a long one.

(I didn't want this huge thing on the front of my blog so you gotta get the rest after the jump)

Experience #1. Pilots and flight attendants:
Although my friend Carolyn worked for jetBlue, I never saw her. She had way more seniority than me so she could pick her flights. The first three months at jetBlue I was on-call, so I mostly hung out in my apartment by myself. I watched Kate and Leopold until I had it memorized (the only non rated R movie in the apartment, I shared the apartment with seven other flight attendants who were rarely there) Often the flight attendants and pilots would hang out together during layovers and while waiting for flights. A pilot invited me to go out with a group of other flight attendants after we had finished a flight. I really wanted to make some friends so I decided to go. When I met up with him, surprise! I was the only other flight attendant. I should have turned around and went home then but I didn't.

We went to a bar. This was pretty common too since flights would get in late sometimes. I had been to bars before with my best friend Tara. Of course we never drank, we usually only went to bars in Seattle to listen to music or watch the break-dancers. This was entirely different and honestly, I didn't think much of it. Anywho, as nieve as I was, I went to the bar with this 40-something year old pilot and I told him I didn't drink but somehow I still ended up with an alcoholic drink. I didn't know what to say. I realized this was not at all what I had thought it was and immediately felt very uncomfortable. I knew that I couldn't be there anymore.

The thought entered my mind that if I stayed there, I would not be happy with the outcome. I told the pilot I was going to leave and I'd see him on our next flight. He said he wanted to walk me home. I told him I just wanted to go by myself. He said it wasn't safe for me to go by myself and I realized I wasn't going to leave without him leaving with me.  He ran into some people he knew so he was busy talking to them when I decided to go to the bathroom. Of course I didn't come back. I'm sure that subway ride home wasn't very safe. It was pretty late and I hadn't been in the city that late before. However, I felt so much better being on the subway by myself than I did at that bar with that pilot. I mean really? what was I thinking? Anywho, I vowed I would never again go to a bar with a crew and I never did. Often crews would invite me to bars and I would tell them I don't go to bars. I would tell them if they choose a restaurant I would go. Sometimes crews would, most didn't. So, I often spent my layovers alone.

The reason I think this was a significant experience for me was because I realized not everyone I am around has good intentions for me. While I was at the bar, I felt in my heart that this was not the person I wanted to be and being in this crowd of people would not help me become who I did want to be. I knew being alone in a new city with no real friends would be a test for me and it definitely was. It was hard.

Experience #2 Oakland Layover
I had a long layover in Oakland. After my flight ended I went straight to the hotel and went to bed while my crew members went to a bar. The next morning I woke up at a decent hour and decided to check out the sites. I hopped on the BART and went into the city, all by my lonesome. I walked around the university, went shopping and ate some good food (first time I ate at a restaurant by myself). Although, I was glad I got out, I remember thinking it was so lonely to go and see sights by myself. I felt so blessed to have to opportunity to travel but I so desperately wanted to share these experiences with someone.

Later that evening I ran into a house that said the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Institue Building. I had never seen that before. I decided to walk in and take a look around. I didn't see anyone there so I just gave myself a little tour and had a little rest on the couch. I think it just felt good to be in that building because I knew what it was for. It kind of felt like home. Sounds silly, I know. Anywho, not too long after I took a seat on the couch a guy came and sat next to me. I honestly didn't know he was there. He started asking me some questions and invited me to do baptisms for the dead with him, his fiance and a few friends. They were leaving soon. I told him I didn't have anything to wear and I didn't have a temporary recommend with me. He called his bishop who called my bishop and my bishop called the Oakland Temple and gave them the okay to let me in the Temple.

So, I hopped in the car with this stranger (sorry mom, but I honestly felt I would be safe) and I went. Seriously, the best experience for me. I don't even remember that guys name but he did something for me that I didn't even know I needed (I'm sure he didn't either). I remember being at the Temple and not feeling alone anymore. I was with strangers, I know, but I didn't know them.

When I was there I felt like Jesus knew what it felt like to be lonely, I felt him comforting me in a way I knew no one else could. I felt like he was telling me that I didn't have to experience this alone, he could be with me... and he was. I believe, as soon as I started looking at these jetBlue experiences like Christ was with me, my testimony started to develop into something more than the church is just a life aid, but I really started to know Christ. I spent way more time reading my scriptures than I ever did and I tried to find something positive about every layover I spent alone and I spent many of them alone. I felt like I had a choice in how I wanted these experiences to influence me. My mom even made a comment to me that she was surprised and glad that I was going out by myself. That made me happy too.

I also made it a goal to try to visit some kind of church building on every layover. Not gonna lie, I did the Salt Lake Temple tour often enough that some of the sisters recognized me, but I loved it. I think it is so easy in life, especially being a woman, to always be doing something for someone else, for someone else's approval,  and this was the first time in my life I felt like I was doing something for me, something for me to really discover who I was and ultimately wanted to be. I knew I wanted to be a person who walked with Christ. Maybe I needed to be so far out of my comfort zone in order to discover this.

Experience #3 Jeff
Okay, this next person really holds a dear place in my heart. I really haven't shared much about him with anyone besides Aaron. He was a fellow flight attendant. Our first flight together was a red-eye and we were flight attendant's #3 and #4 (that just means we were both in the back of the flight). On our first flight together I learned that Jeff was raised in the church, he served a mission in Brazil and he was currently living a gay lifestyle. I started seeing him on a lot of my flights and we became such good friends. He was one of my favorite shopping buddies (I've never seen a guy spend so much money at Bath and Body Works!). He convinced our crews to go to restaurants instead of bars so I would come. We went to Epcot, Temple Square and he even introduced me to his partner, who I loved! (he was asian but that is not why I loved him) He was honestly one of the kindest people I met at jetBlue. Maybe he meant more to me than I did to him but he was surely an angel to me, a true friend.

Well, I don't really have a specific event that I want to share about Jeff. We spent a lot of time together and we had a lot of conversations about the church. I'm not going to share a specific one, honestly I don't remember a specific one. What I do remember is he had some concerns about the church and some of them we talked about and some we did not. His concerns prompted me to study the gospel. Now this may sound a little strange but this is not where I learned the doctrine of the gospel, even though I was studying it. This is when I started to be concerned about my salvation. Up until this point, I felt like I was getting the starving myself thing under control. I felt like I could live my life and feel happiness (Now looking back, I didn't really know what happiness was) I felt like I wasn't really sinning (see, I didn't really know anything about the gospel), but I started to feel like I was still missing something... and I began to pray about what this something was.

p.s. The reason Jeff is a hard person for me to talk about is because he passed away while I was working at jetBlue. Of course I have experienced the death of a loved one, but he was one of the closest friends I've had who has passed away. I usually cry when I think about it.

Well, that is where I am going to leave it now. I still have a ton of jetBlue experiences I would like to share but I feel these are the most important. Maybe I'll do a jetBlue series when I'm done with my conversion story. I will save the rest of my conversion story for another day. The next chapter will be the last. I will try and wrap it up in one more post.


vandi said...

Seriously, these posts are incredible. I love reading them. Thank you so much for sharing.

Emily said...

I ditto what she said!