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travel writing manYou may have seen the following list of things that people are reported to have said to a travel agent. The list is bogus, but still humorous!

* A woman called, wanting to go to Cape Town. I started to explain the length of the flight and the passport information then she interrupted me with, "I'm not trying to make you look stupid, but Cape Town is in Massachusetts." Without trying to make her look like the stupid one, I calmly explained, "Cape Cod is in Massachusetts. Cape Town is in Africa." Her response? Click.

* A man called, furious about a Florida package we did. I asked what was wrong with the vacation in Orlando. He said he was expecting an ocean view room. I tried to explain that is not possible, since Orlando is in the middle of the state. He replied, "Don't lie to me. I looked on the map, and Florida is a very thin state!"

* A woman asked, "Do airlines put your physical description on your bag so they know whose luggage belongs to whom?" I said, "No, why do you ask?" She replied, "Well, when I checked in with the airline, they put a tag on my luggage that said "FAT." I'm overweight and I think that's very rude!" After putting her on hold so I could "look into it" (I was actually laughing), I came back to her and explained the city code for Fresno, CA is "FAT," and that the label was only a destination tag.

* A man inquired about a trip package to Hawaii. After going over all the cost info, he asked, "Would it be cheaper to fly to California and then take the train to Hawaii?"

* A woman called and said, "I need to fly to Pepsi-Cola, Florida. Do I have to get on one of those little computer planes?" I asked her if she meant "fly to Pensacola, Florida on a commuter plane"? She said, "Yeah, whatever!"

* A man had a question about the documents he needed in order to fly to China. After a lengthy discussion about passports, I reminded him he needed a visa. "Oh, no I don't. I've been to China many times and never had one." I double-checked and, sure enough, his stay required a visa. When I told him this he said, "Look, I've been to China four times. Every time they've accepted my American Express!"

* A man called to make reservations. "I want to go from Chicago to Rhino, New York." The agent was at a loss for words. Finally, the agent: "Are you sure that's the name of the town?" "Yes, what flights do you have?" she replied. After some searching, the agent came back with, "I'm sorry, ma'am. I've looked up every airport code in the country and can't find a Rhino anywhere." The lady retorted, "Oh, don't be silly! Everyone knows where it is. Check your map!" The agent pulled out a map of New York state and finally asked, "You don't mean 'Buffalo,' do you?" "That's it! I knew it was a big animal!"

While the list is bogus, it is true that there are some people in this world who are -- shall we say -- geography-challenged (I won't mention any of my family members' names to keep from embarrassing them). But it seems to me that it is important when you are taking a trip that you know where you are going.

The same thing is true spiritually. Jesus spoke with his disciples in John 14 about his "Father's house". He said that he was going to "prepare a place" for them, then he said, "You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:4, NIV). The apostles were all ignorant about this destination, but Thomas was the only one honest enough to speak up and say, "Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5).

And, when it comes to the topic of heaven, we are all ignorant to a great degree. We all have our views of what heaven is like. Some picture it as a palace floating in the clouds. Others picture in literal terms of a pearly gate and streets of gold. Others picture a world very much like our own. But I'm sure that most of the concepts of our destination are as laughable as the examples above. And if we're ignorant about the destination, how can we ever hope to get there? Jesus said to Thomas, "I am the way..." (John 14:6).

You see, in the end, it's not all that important that I know where a place is located that I am traveling. As long as I'm boarding an airplane and its pilot knows where that place is located, I'll arrive safely. And as long as we remain close to Jesus, we'll arrive at the proper destination!

Alan Smith