Departure day came with grey and rainy in Virginia. It was not an easy task to haul myself out of my warm, cozy bed to get up and face the rainy morning, knowing I had a long next 24 hours of travel ahead of me and would have to again say goodbye to the 5 people I love most in the world for 10 days. But, it had to be done and so I dragged myself through the morning, finishing up last minute details and leaving notes and surprises behind for the Things to make the time apart a little more fun and a little less traumatic. My sweet husband surprised me with a breakfast treat he picked up on the way home from his office mid-morning because he knows me well enough to know I would not eat lunch when it was time to leave as I would be too nervous. And he was right :). I was nervous about the travel, about leaving him and the kids, about the unknowns that awaited me on the other side of all the travel, and because I had one too-heavy suitcase that I could not find a good way to pare down-it was all things NEEDED in Ethiopia, none of it frivolous by any means, so I prayed like mad. And also maybe practiced my pleading eyes and dramatic speech that it was for poor children in Africa and were they REALLY going to deny these precious children?? Well, guess what? They never even weighed it!! Just checked it on through! AND they didn't weigh my carry-ons either, which I am sure were pushing (read: way over) the limit. Miracle #1 out of about 4 million I think I will experience on this trip. The goodbye was painful and tearful-I love my family so much and no matter how much we know this is where I should be right now, it still just really stinks to say good bye. My first leg of flying was great-sat next to a lady whose daughter is training to be a nurse practitioner in a missionary clinic in Tanzania! And her dad was with her-he is a retired minister of 65 years and has written several books since he has retired, one of which he gave me at the end of the flight, his own personal copy with all his notes and markings in it, because he wanted me to have it. It was all about how to live out faith in real life. Thanks, God. What a blessing! I had a bit of a layover till my next flight and spent it observing life in the international terminal-so funny! All the different people from all over the place coming through here-fascinating! My next leg of travel was to Amsterdam and while it was freezing on the plane, it was great because I had no one next to me and could stretch out some and even sleep a little! I just don't sleep well on planes and so this was a great thing. However, here are some very important observations from that flight: 1. People that have "priority boarding" b/c of miles clubs or whatever think they are very important and this makes me laugh-yes, mostly at them 2. International flights do not smell good-too many smells from too many types of bodies from all over the world. Bathrooms on international flights smell even worse. 3. There are a lot of movies and music from which one can select to entertain oneself on the flight-it is still a mystery to me why I chose Lady Gaga and had a hard time sitting still in my seat and not dancing to her weird music, which I have incidentally been singing in my head for the last 6 hours. 4. People snore in many varied, and LOUD, forms.
We arrived in Amsterdam a bit early and I found my gate pretty easily, another answered prayer because I was worried it would be tricky. I thought it was so funny that EVERYWHERE in this airport they sell tulip bulbs! (And also rubber versions of wooden clogs, haha) Hello, Holland!. I found the restroom to wash my face and such and realized that Europeans have no problems standing very close to you-very close. As in, I almost-washed-another-ladies'-face kind of close. God is really teaching me about letting go of my personal space issues, ;).
Danielle arrived shortly after my bonding time with the women in the bathroom and it was good to see a familiar face! We chatted easily, like we have always been friends, about our flights thus far and things in Addis. She is really sweet and easy going and fun so I think it will be great spending this time in Ethiopia with her! I have already stopped counting God's miracles and blessings on this trip because they are many! We boarded the plane bound for Addis shortly after her arrival and found it funny that we were in the same row on the plane, out of a LOT of seats! Funny, but not surprising. You see, God has orchestrated every bit of this crazy trip, down to details I never even considered. He is just so good!! I slept most of the flight to Khartoum (in Sudan, where we stopped to re-fuel), a HUGE miracle, and I am especially glad as we will get in late to Addis and then get up at 5 am to head to the boarding school to visit the kids from Korah. I cannot wait to see the fruit of the sponsorships and to be the eyes for the sponsors back home. I look forward to delivering lots of letters and little gifts from folks back in the States to the children and then sharing with you all about our visit. The next post should be all about that! Stay tuned and please keep praying-God hears the prayers of His people and it is so reassuring knowing we have an army of prayer warriors calling upon Him on our behalf. THANK YOU!!!!