Monday, February 18th, 2013. Los Angeles International Airport.

Blessing looked down and couldn’t help but notice his two Zimbabwean feet were no longer on African soil. The intense lights, blue and green walls and white noise of so many voices from around the world at Los Angeles International Airport painted the backdrop for our weary traveler. Our greeting party consisted of Operation of Hope President and Executive Director Jennifer Trubenbach, her daughter Mari, myself, and a small film crew from San Diego’s Sharp Memorial Hospital who was looking to capture Blessings long awaited landing.

Blessing’s flight was on time but it took a while before he and his travel mate, Zimbabwean Nurse Martha Pamire would clear customs. We waited in the designated area specifically created for the numbing amount of people who fly into LAX on a daily basis. Around us, hosts received guests. Business associates connected with clients. Families screamed, hugged and cried and in a classic Hollywood moment, former America’s Got Talent judge Piers Morgan sported a stale and sour poker-face as he nudged his way through the crowd.

And before you knew it, our African visitors Blessing and Martha rounded the corner and closed the deal on a 23 hour flight landing in the arms and cheers of our small entourage. ‘Welcome to America.’ Introductions to our film crew were made. Niceties were ping-ponged back and forth. I offered to carry Blessing’s small carry-on bag and as I threw it over my shoulder, I asked him where his suitcase was. Blessing looked at me and said, you’re wearing it. In that moment I realized everything he needed for a 6 week visit, was itemized into a bag the size of a woman’s purse.

On our way home we stopped at the California culinary cultural institution otherwise known as In-and-Out Burger. Blessing ate fries and quietly took in the buzz and fanfare. Martha had a burger and vanilla shake and posted a small note on her Facebook page claiming she made it safely to the U.S.A.. In a country like Zimbabwe where food is often scarce, I wondered what was going through our guests minds as massive amounts of burgers, fries and shakes were consumed in this festival of nonchalant consumption.

We drove home, unloaded bags and introduced the dog, Hendrix (Yes, as in Jimi). Designated bedrooms were sorted out and soon enough our friends settled into their new surroundings. A few hours later, heavy eyelids communicated that Blessing and Martha were on the ropes of a long road traveled. Tired and happy. Welcome to our United States and what will be an amazing journey in the days ahead.