Finding joy on a cold, hard airport floor.

On the first day of my trip to Cuba, I experienced what most Americans would call an inconvenience. Something which most people take for granted was taken away from me and my job was to handle it in the best way possible.

After our flight from the St. Louis airport to the Miami airport, we had an extremely long layover which spanned a normal person's sleeping hours.

Try sleeping in the Miami airport during a lengthy layover.

You see, most people in the United States sleep in beds. Most people have blankets, and most people are able to turn out the lights and not have an announcement system blasting an annoying voice every couple minutes.

We had nothing but our clothes and a hard airport floor. To make things worse, the temperature was like 65 degrees Fahrenheit in that place and there were people walking around everywhere after their late (or early) flights that happen at that place 24/7. I had my head propped up on a rough carry-on bag, a pair of headphones blasting Pandora advertisements between songs, and sunglasses that blocked some of the light but were not comfortable against the side of my head. The night before, I only had about 5 hours of sleep due to the excitement I had of the week to come. My neck was sore from traveling and because I'm a tall dude, my back was not too happy either.

So how, you ask, did I find joy in this situation?
Our group could easily have transformed into some negative, impatient people. Most Americans would have. That's how Americans role. If things are bad, we simply get cranky and somehow try to force the problem to go away.

Instead, I realized that my physical conditions and my mindset should not be directly correlated. Being negative could never have changed our situation, it would just make the experience worse for myself and everyone else in the group.

So to solve the situation, while lying on the airport floor, I decided to generate a sense of joy from the knowledge of all the things I was about to experience on the trip, and marvel at the amount of blessings God had already given to me thus far.

In just a few short hours, I was going to step onto a machine that would launch me 30,000 feet in the air. This machine would then land safely on another country, to which people from my country are not normally allowed to be in. I would then be allowed to share my relationship with Jesus with these people, and make new friends with people who speak a completely different language and understood a completely different culture. Little did I know, I would learn far more from them than they learned from me. Learn about friendship, humanity, and hospitality. I would learn about uniting ourselves across cultures and despite political conflicts. I would learn about the amount of similarities I share with the most unexpected of people and the amount to which people can love one another despite language barriers.

Not only would I make new friends from a country that has a poor political relationship with my own, but I would make new friends in my own group and generate countless life-long memories in a very short period of time.

I would experience new food and drinks. See new places. Explore guava farms, visit museums, climb monuments, and be invited to dine in the home of a local. I would experience a rich culture of music and art. Do a horrible yet fun attempt at Salsa and Rumba dancing. I would visit the most beautiful beach I'd ever seen.

I would drink coconuts at a farm dedicated to supporting and housing retirees in an organic, self-sustaining way.

I would stay at beautiful hotels and swim in lovely swimming pools with my friends.

I would listen to poetry at a school for the emotionally challenged and learn about a band that sacrificed a gig just to show their support for our group.

And amazingly, I would sip some of the best coffee I had ever had.

Of course, while lying on the hard, cold airport floor, I had no way of knowing all of these things would happen. All I knew was that I was blessed, and no amount of temporary discomfort could take that away from me.