Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Our Trip Home

I know that is has been awhile since I have had the time (or the internet) to be able to get on here so we have LOTS to catch up on! The best and biggest news is that WE ARE HOME!!! That is right ladies and gents, our 4 weeks trip that turned into an 8 month, 2 day trip has come to an end. We are now finally back home in Brazil and we have 3 of the very best surprise souvenirs that a girl could ask for. ;) God is faithful!

We knew that our trip home would be an adventure. I mean lets face it, everything in our life is an adventure - we have 6 kids. But this trip far surpassed any ideas of what we thought that we would be getting into.

We arrived at the airport with what we thought would be enough time to check in and say goodbye to our friends and family. Nate was in charge of the check in and I was in charge of the kids. As Nate was checking in the guy who was helping him said that there was a problem with our three newest kids tickets. He said that because they were traveling to Brazil on a tourist visa they would need to have round trip tickets. This came as a shock to us for a few reasons.

1. The people at the Brazilian Embassy in Miami saw our one way tickets, gave us the visa, and told us that we had everything that we needed to get the kids their permanent visas once we were in Brazil.

2. We had traveled with Grace on a tourist visa with a one-way ticket and had no problems two years earlier.

Anyway, to make this part of the very long and stressful story shorter we had two choices. We either had to pay the $3,500 for tickets that we knew that we did not need and would not use, or loose all of our tickets and miss our plane. Obviously we had to get those tickets. It was a HUGE hit. But there was really nothing else we could do. We scrambled to find enough credit cards to divide the cost onto and we started to run! By the time that we finally got checked in we had 12 minutes until our plane took off.

Now, just so you are able to get an idea of what we looked like in the airport let me give you the down low on what we brought. We brought to the airport a grand total of 17 boxes, 2 large strollers, 4 car seats, 8 carry on bags, 6 children 6 years and under, and 3 adults. Praise the Lord that our all-knowing God put it on both of our pastor’s hearts to send Pastor Jim with us!! We would never have been able to make it if he had not been there.

But lets get back to the story. We had 12 minutes to get from the front desk all the way to the plane. That means going through security and everything. The guy who gave us our tickets suggested that we didn’t even try because he said that with twelve minutes we would move up about 5 people in a line of about 100 waiting to go through security. After security we still had to make it to the gate. It seemed impossible but we had to try. We yelled out one mass goodbye for all our family and friends. I guess it was not all that sentimental, but we didn’t have time for anything else, and we figured that we would be back in about 10 minutes.

As Nate and Jim gave all of our 11 passports to the security guard I leaned down and told the kids. “ Hey guys we are going to go on an adventure. We need everyone to obey, and we need everyone to do everything as fast as you possibly can!”

As soon as the security guard gave us back our passports the real fun began. Pastor Jim began to yell out or story and ask/beg people if we could pass them in line. After about 30 seconds we realized that only about half of the people in line spoke English, so while Pastor Jim was telling people in English I was yelling out the same thing in Portuguese. We were a sight to be seen for sure! I guess enough people felt bad for us though because everyone in the line let us pass and we made it through security with about 4 minutes to spare. We ran as fast as we could to the shuttle and after the shuttle we ran as fast as we could to the gate (of course it was the very last gate). Once we got to the gate the door of the plane was already shut, so we had to wait for the plane to back up and open the door. I’m sure it goes with out saying, but we got quite a few dirty looks from other passengers when we got on the plane late, and with 6 kids.

We had other problems once we got on the plane, the biggest being we paid for 8 seats and we were only given 5 seats, but at this point we were so happy that we actually made it on the plane we were not going to complain! All three adults had one kids in their lap, and Josiah had to sit in the row in font of us.

After landing in Panama, we again thought that we had sufficient time to board our next flight. The plan was we would get off our plane, load the kids into the waiting strollers, take everyone to the bathroom and then find our gate. Well, we got as far as the “getting on the plane” part of the plan with out a hitch. But instead of the strollers waiting on us we ended up waiting, waiting, and waiting on our strollers. They were lost!!

Now as you are reading try and remember that we have 6 kids who are now very tired, hungry, needing to be changed, a few smelling like puke and to top it all off they are “unleashed” as we have no stroller to keep them tied down. It was pretty crazy- backpacks were dumped all over the airport floor, shoes and jackets were being taken off as fast as we could put them back on and they were all wanting to go in 6 different directions, all while we were try to talk to people and figure out what happened to our missing strollers.

I guess we didn’t know how close we were to our next flight taking off because out of nowhere a Brazilian lady that we sat next to on the last plane came running up to us yelling that she heard them giving us the last call on the loud speaker.

On a side note I have to say this is one of the reasons that I LOVE Brazilians!! This sweet lady didn’t know us, she was just waiting for her plane, heard that we were going to miss our next flight and went running to look for us! She then helped us carry our kids as we went running (again!) to our next flight.

Those were another crazy few minutes! Everyone in the airport was staring at us as we were running as fast as we could haul all these little kids and all of our 8 carry on bags. Yikes!

We again made it. We again had to wait for the plane to open the door and let us in, and we again got more than a few dirty looks from the other passengers. ;) Oh well, what can you do?

The flight from Panama to Sao Paulo was about 8 hours but the kids did great! They slept for most of it, ate and played for the rest. We were so nervous about how they would do with out those car seats to hold them in, but they were awesome! I love those kids!

Once we arrived in Sao Paulo we thought that we would be able to get our beloved and very missed strollers and boxes, but we were wrong. We waited for a few hours but they never showed up. The kids had a few minutes of almost losing it sometime in there, but all in all they were real troopers. Especially if you consider the fact that it was then about 4a.m. their time and we had to make them walk through the airport and through customs. Crazy, crazy, crazy – but the kids did great.

The flight from Sao Paulo to Floripa went well and seemed very fast. Most of the kids slept for a majority of it. And when they woke up WE WERE HOME!!!!!

All of our luggage, stroller and car seats did not make it that day. Actually it took four days before we had it all.

The first few days with out our stuff were another adventure in itself. We had all been in the same clothes for four days, and I don’t think that anyone of us had not been peed, pooped, or puked on. A special few of us had the blessing of all three. ;) Plus it was just hard with out all of the stuff that we brought to make life easier, like high chairs, towels, toys and bed linins. To say that we were all excited to get our boxes home would be an understatement to be sure! Some more great news is we were able to get out of paying the $3,500 for the tickets that we would not be using. Praise the Lord!!

So all in all it was a long trip, but it is over now. I was thinking that our flight home was a lot like this race that we are running in life. It was long, it was exhausting, and there were moments that I thought that we were not going to make it. But when ran, we ran with purpose. We wanted to make it home! And in the end of the race it sure is great to be home!

“..let us lay aside every weight, and sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..” (Hebrews 12:1-2)