Wednesday May 11, 2011. The day we left for Ethiopia with our hearts full of all sorts of emotions. We left our driveway at 8am and took off on our 2 1/2 hour drive to Minneapolis - the airport that we flew out of. We left in our suburban, pulling a trailer. Crazy, but that's how 7 people with 14 "checked" bags, 7 carry-on's and 7 personal items roll. We purposefully brought as many bags as we could because many of them were filled with formula, diapers, wipes, baby cereal ... things we were leaving at in Ethiopia. We would do it exactly the same way again, but it is a task to handle so much luggage - however, we quickly learned that the task it took to handle the luggage was nothing when we saw the need first hand for the items we brought with us to Ethiopia.
We met a friend of ours in Minneapolis, and he brought us to the airport and then took our vehicle and trailer while we were gone so we knew it was safe and didn't have to pay for parking. Thanks, John!
We flew from Minneapolis to Montreal Canada. We had a couple hour layover in Canada - just enough time to stretch, get a bite to eat and board for a 7 hour flight to Amsterdam. We had just a few hours in Amsterdam. The time change from home to Amsterdam is 7 hours so we were starting to adjust to our new time zone for the week.
Next stop - Khartoum Sudan where we were stopping to refuel the plane. It was 107 degrees when we landed in Khartoum. Some of the passengers on the plane got off in Khartoum and some stayed on while the plane was fueled up. After about an hour we took off for Addis Ababa.
Ryan usually took the lead and I took the rear. I loved this scene of the Ryan and the 5 kids. I am so blessed.
We landed in Addis around 8pm on Thursday May 12th (Ethiopia time). The airport was a bit stressful. Ryan and I already had our visa's but the kids didn't, so we went through the line to get them a visa. We were able to visit with a gentleman from KY that was on his way to Hosanna Ethiopia on a mission to provide clean water. His home church was the church that was hosting the Christian Alliance for Orphans Conference that our friends were at on that same day. It is a small world. After getting visas, we exchanged some US dollars for birr and then stood in line for customs.
After making it through customs it was time to gather our 14 checked bags, keeping track of all the carry-ons we had. All of our bags made it with us, we had them on carts (3 carts to be exact). Zachary, Amanda and Hannah were each pushing a cart while I was keeping track of Grace and Greta. In Addis, all of your luggage needs to go through a security scan as you leave the airport. So, Amanda stepped right in and started to put them through the scanner as Ryan stood on the other end of the scanner to catch them and stack them back up so we could leave the airport. They worked great as a team while the rest of us did what we could do to help however, like any airport scene seems to be - it seemed like chaos! Then finally, we were back together and ready to head out - until we realized we were missing one bag. It just happened to be Ryan's carry-on with half our cash and all of our camera's/ video cameras. Ryan asked the airport employees what we could do about this - to which the response was "We don't have any idea who takes the bags ... sorry". This opened the flood gate of tears for one of the girls and sent Ryan in a panic to find the bag. I pulled the kids aside and Ryan was on a mission. The kids and I prayed, while Ryan searched and after realistically about 15 minutes but what felt like hours, I look up and see Ryan lifting an Ethiopian man off the ground in a hug. He had taken our bag on accident and was bringing it back trying to find out whose it was. God does take care of us in the big and little things.
‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10
Our driver was right there waiting for us at the airport. We loaded our bags up on the top of the van while the kids loaded in the van and we were off on our first drive (about 10pm and dark) through Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We stopped at a grocery store and bought some bottled water and then off the our guest house - where our driver lead us peek at little B&B for the first time. We got to go into their room and find them sound asleep together on the bottom bed of bunk beds. We gave them a kiss and time seemed to stand still. They were beautiful!
"Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.: Psalm 34:8