The thing I was most concerned about before the trip was the goodbyes. The whole family did breakfast at Bluebird Cafe. No one quite ate the pancakes they thought they could. Will because there was bacon, but Rebekah and I because we each had butterflies about the trip. As we were leaving, the family behind us stopped us, saying they couldn’t help but overhear about my trip. They told us they had gone through something similar the previous summer, and that it all worked out alright. Sometimes God works in powerful and mysterious ways, and with this trip, he has been there a number of times already.
Then was the goodbyes. The thing I had been fearing for over a month turned out to be just fine. No tears, just lots of hugs and kisses. I would love to claim that Rebekah and I did a great job getting both the boys prepared for my trip, but I have to give the credit for Will being so strong. He is an amazing little guy, and as Rebekah has been saying all along, this trip will be good for everyone, even him.
The drive to Chicago was uneventful, save for a bale of straw in the middle of the highway just outside O’hare. I had plenty of time to kill, so there was some texting, some reading and just some relaxing. I had dinner with my parents, finding out there are no real great places to eat outside of security, so we ate at the Hilton across the street.
After dinner was security and waiting at the gate. It was at this point that I started to get a little nervous. The plane had gotten there late, was late emptying and by the time we were boarding it was supposed to be leaving the gate. I only had a 45 minute layover planned in Minneapolis. The flight to Minneapolis was 15 minutes late. Combine both of those with the fact the flight to Amsterdam was leaving 10 minutes early, once I got off the plane I started running towards the next gate. Unfortunately, that gate was in another terminal about a quarter to half mile on the other side of the airport. I ran as far as I could, pausing to catch my breath as I was getting closer. It was at this point that the PA announced final boarding for the flight to Amsterdam. That got me running again, with a little more effort even. I made it to the gate as they were getting ready to close the doors. The woman at the desk did not seem impressed with how far I ran, so I huffed and puffed my way down the taxiway and found my seat.
Leaving Minneapolis right around 10 allowed for some sleep on the flight, after the meal and a movie (Wreck It Ralph). During one break in sleep, I did peak out the window to see a full moon reflected on the Atlantic Ocean. When we landed in Amsterdam, it was just about 1 PM local time. This meant it was lunch time just after I had dinner at 11PM my time, breakfast at 4:30AM my time, and now lunch time, at 6AM my time. Needless to say, I didn’t jump at my third meal in 7 hours.
I was able to get wifi for free at the Amsterdam airport, so I sent Rebekah an iMessage just in case she was up. Luckily for me, Henry had gotten up at 6 that morning (I will let Rebekah decide if it was lucky on her end), so we were able to text and even do a choppy facetime call. It was pretty incredible that I was able to see Rebekah, get waved to by Henry being half a world away.
Boarding for the flight to Accra was interesting. There is a security check at each gate, so I had to go through the standard security check one more time. After that, we are all stuck in a “secure area”, which reminded me of a glass walled off space with no access to restrooms or food. After more waiting there, we finally got to board, which there was definitely a different protocol to get on the plane. It was basically a mad rush to get on the plane, which surprised me since everyone had a ticket with assigned seat.
On a side note, the food on KLM was heads and tails above the stuff they gave us on Delta. The seats are also nicer and even have a USB port for charging devices, which was great because I was down to 5% on my phone. While eating, I got to watch Life of Pi as well. So now I sit here, about 3 and a half hours out from Accra. I have officially left “focus on family thoughts” and are full on “Holy cow, I am about to be in Africa mode”. Luckily, with only getting a little sleep, I am hoping that I am able to go to bed at a normal time to get up for church tomorrow. One can hope at least.