Rick Gregory, Writer

Translating Messages From Heads To Hearts

Getting To Davao

The line is How long?

No wonder the airline says to be there 4 hours prior to departure! Our flight was to be at 11:50 pm, so we thought 3+ hours in advance would be PLENTY!

Standing on our front porch, ready for the next adventure . . . waiting for Renee to collect us.

We arrived at LAX sometime around 8:30. Refused to pay the $8 to use a cart, so I manhandled the two big suitcases, each of which had a carry-on perched on top. You can see the narrow aisle to the left, which soon filled with harried travelers trying to get to the check-in.

More hurdles

You can see way far away the signs (with the red square in the middle), which signaled the start of the actual “queue” for check-in. It took us 2 hours to get there! Thinking we were finally going to get on the plane, we encountered 2 new hurdles:

  • We needed to complete a 6-page E-check form (on our phones no less)
  • We were, according to the gate clerk, supposed to have a VISA, because our return flight was further out than 30 days.

We finally got the E-check form completed and thought we were gold. Not to be: she took our passports and said she couldn’t let us on the plane without a visa. I tried to explain to her that I’d called the Philippine Embassy no less than 10 times, emailed them at least that many times and had no response.

You Will NOT Get On My Plane!

Still, she wasn’t relenting and insisted that without a visa, we weren’t getting on the plane. She finally took our passports again to a supervisor, who reluctantly said we’d have to deal with Immigration in Manila. She predicted we’d have to rebook tickets for a less-than-30 day departure.


After 15 hours in the air, we arrived Manila at about 5:30 am on the 24th (Wednesday). Immigration looked at our passports and tickets and said, “We can only give you a 30 day visa – is that OK?” Not. One. Issue. With. Our. Tickets!

We’ve heard since arriving here that it isn’t uncommon for LAX workers to be overboard on their interpretation of many rules . . .

Seems we have a lot to learn!

17 thoughts on “Getting To Davao”

  1. Aaron dale moore

    I’m so happy you’re safe and healthy. Thank you for the update. I’m excited to see what happens next.

  2. Rick & Sherry – I admire your persistence & the faith that God will see you through.
    Even on short domestic flights I get angry & intimidated with the whole process.
    I told God I’ll go wherever You send me – this side of Malibu.
    Blessings my bold friends.

  3. You two are so adventurous! Glad to hear you made your connections. Keep up your good work!

  4. Oh my gosh Rick, what a hassle. So glad you were finally able to reach your destination alive and well. Thank you so much for your prayer points prior to your departure. We have been putting them to use!! Stay in touch. Love from M & M

    1. Rick, How long will you and Sherrie be there? We will be praying for your safety and good health and for God to direct your paths.

    I am so proud of you guys and Ann and I will be praying for your safety and for God’s Blessings on you while you are there. Please keep us posted on how we can pray for you and enjoy the trip.
    Steve and Ann Hillis

  6. So happy you both made it there safely and on time, in spite of the many obstacles. Hopefully you both will be able to settle in and adjust quick. I can’t even imagine what the jet lag must feel like!

    1. Hey Mark,

      Thanks for your note! This is our 5th day here – and believe it or not, I think the jet lag is gone! We took whatever time we needed to sleep and it seems to have paid off. For example, Friday after lunch at about 1:00 pm I told Sherry I was going to lay down for a bit. She was tired too but said she wasn’t really sleepy. We woke up at 6 pm! That seemed to be the final “catch-up” that we needed. Yesterday and today, we both felt pretty normal.

  7. Jana L Thomas

    Yikes! Just found your blog and so glad I now will know how to be praying for you guys!

  8. Oh WOW! Have you guys experienced this before in your previous missionary travels? I clearly know nothing about these types of travel RULES…. The main thing you were able to get on the plane after hours of waiting and jumping through hoops. Now I assume that while you are there you have to apply for a VISA in order to extend your stay passed 30 days? We’re you able to leave your return tickets unchanged or did you have to change them to a 30 day return flight to match the 30 day VISA they issued you?

    1. Yep. We have to renew the visa before the 30 days is up . . . At this point there’s no need for us to change our tickets! But we ain’t in Kansas any more and you never know what to expect!

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