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Is all we want out of life to be upgraded? I am not sure, and maybe I hope not, but it does feel good to the personal comfort zone. Recently, because I passed a certain mileage level with Delta Air Lines I am now a Medallion Level flyer. Granted, I am only Silver Medallion, not yet Gold or Platinum, but I am Medallion nonetheless.

Today I am flying again to Costa Rica, but this time I am flying Business Class, up front, real silver ware, china plates, my own salt and pepper shaker and all the alcohol I want to drink, which in my case is none. I paid nary a cent extra for this privilege. It is Delta’s way of saying ‘thank you’ to loyalty and longevity with the airline. I like it.

I do not know how long I will keep this status because it takes about 25,000 miles a year to achieve being automatically. My Africa trip this year did it for me (22,000 miles by itself.) I guess I just have to keep my contacts alive in Africa, eh? But from now until February 2009 I am elite.

Is this what life is all about? I mean I have gifts for 39 wonderful people in the cargo hold below. Some of these people will never even sit in coach on an airplane, much less be upgraded to Business Class. Their lives are important without Delta saying anything about them or to them. I feel a certain privilege to be going to them again. I am now entering my second decade of doing this project at Christmas every year. We select the families of pastors in our network and provide them with gifts to let them know we appreciate their serving God’s people.

Our recipients are people who make maybe $300-600 per month. When we began this project in the 1990’s it was the first time some of them ever had received or worn clothes that were not hand-me-downs. It is amazing how this upgraded their personal life and brought a real difference to them. Something so simple as buying one outfit upgraded a life’s enjoyment.

I remember two years ago my friend Dave Taylor adopted a young man from one of our families. Dave and Stephanie bought him some really great shoes. I remember they were gray with yellow highlights. The young man, who received this gift, plus the pants and shirt they bought him, was ecstatic. He put the shoes on right then and there to wear. I said, “you must really like those.” He said, “yes, and look at what I had” as he showed me a pair of athletic shoes that the soles were separated from and were frazzled at every edge. I’d say that was an upgrade.

I love writing blogs at 35,000 feet or thereabouts. If you know the history of this blog site you will know I enjoy flying and I enjoy writing while I am flying. I might even could finish my book project if someone would just buy me an around-the-world ticket. Any takers?

So, here I am in the front of the plane for a change and loving it….but not as much as I am loving where this trip will take me – to Costa Rica and to people who are going to get an upgrade because people love them and care for them and appreciate what they do and who they are.

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