I spent 3 days in the Big Apple this week, giving our office there a bit of assistance in this, the busiest times of the year.
One of my conditions for coming to the big city was that I'd be able to go to JFK on Monday morning to see off the first NBN Charter flight of the summer which carried 21 of "my" Olim. It's one of my regrets that I haven't been able to do this more often during the course of my Shlichut (this was only the second time I've managed it out of 13 charter flights whilst I've been here) so I wasn't going to pass up on an opportunity.
I arrived at the airport with 3 of my colleagues and after saying hi to my friends on the NBN staff I went to find my people; a young girl just out of High School who's father I know from the football field who'll be going to the IDF, an incredible family who I've had lots of contact with over the years I've been here, young people from Philly, Richmond, Rockville and Atlanta and a great guy from SC. I missed 3 of my other people - young Olim, going to the army and also missed much of the goodbye ceremony when I realised that a family of 6 was nowhere to be seen.
Eventually I tracked the mother and kids down and it was obvious why they weren't at the ceremony; rental car being returned, unloading one car and another car with luggage somewhere at JFK (but not where it should have been). I take the view that different people need different things from their Shaliach. I did what was needed at that time - schlepped suitcases and drafted in others to help (a family of 6 takes a lot of bags!) and wrote out a dozen luggage labels to make sure that everything got there safely. I saw pictures of the family at Ben Gurion the next day so everything must have worked out (although I don't know about their bags).
All in all it was a tremendous experience to see my Olim off. The next time I do it, I'll be with Mrs G and the monkey and we'll be getting on the plane with the Olim on our way home - something which I've been dreaming of doing for a while (more in another post).