The Upward Show When My Luggage Didn’t Arrive

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn nearly 15 years of doing shows, there have been two times where my luggage did not arrive in time for the show.

The first time was on Easter weekend about five years ago. My flight was diverted (due to weather, I think) to a different city than originally planned. I rented a car and drove to my show. My luggage was still lost somewhere in airlinedom. So I did what any sensible juggler would do: I went to Walmart at 2am and bought over $200 worth of machetes, baseball bats, plates, tennis rackets, fishing nets, extendable poles (for balancing), various types of fruit, and whatever else I thought was juggle-able. I did my show the next morning and then gave all my stuff away (including the machetes) to any kid who could recite the memory verse of the day to me. It was a thrill. Delta ended up paying me back for my Walmart bill!

The second time I lost my luggage before a show was last week in Mississippi. This time, though, I did not have time to do my Walmart thing. My flight got me to Memphis, TN and my luggage went to Tupelo, MS (the mix up was also weather related). And I was going to just barely make it for the show. The only problem was that I was an hour and a half from my show and my host was not able to come that far because they were setting up for the Upward program. So I called my friend Jason Blackburn (the man who knows everyone in northern Mississippi). He of course knew a guy who was commuting from near the airport to where I needed to go. So Ricky pulled up at the airport a few minutes later and told me to hop in. Southern hospitality is not dead, folks.

But that was only half the battle. My show was coming up fast, and I had none of my luggage. Nearly a thousand people were filling into the Bull Ring in Pontotoc, MS waiting for a juggling show. Meanwhile, I was rummaging through the Children’s Ministry closet of my host church, grabbing balls, stuffed animals, a ladder, some hula hoops, and whatever else I could juggle.

We rushed into the Bull Ring and I set my stuff up on two flatbed trailers before a sea of people ready for the show. They showed their league highlights video and then introduced me. I somewhat nervously began and then proceeded to have a great time presenting a show and message to a crowd that had no idea I lost my luggage. They say that necessity is the mother of invention. That was the case for this show as I tossed around things that I had never laid my hands on before. It challenged me to press on and just do my best with what I have. God was in control, and I pray that His Word was presented clearly. That is the most important part of my show anyway, and juggling equipment is not necessary for God’s Word to spread, just the power of His Holy Spirit.

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Dr. Jesse Joyner travels nationwide as a speaker and entertainer. His primary role is that of a performing juggler spreading joy and the love of learning to family and kids events. H earned his PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). He enjoys playing the piano, bird watching, and old houses. He lives in Richmond, VA with his wife, Sarah, and their three kids - the perfect number for juggling children.