But before you stress out, we actually are in the States now. Okay, you can relax.
I had jokingly asked Simon what else could go wrong. He suggested that we could test positive for Covid, but thankfully that didn’t happen. Unfortunately, our flight was cancelled. I could hardly believe it when the man at the check-in counter told me. Apparently, there were quite a number of flights–hundreds of them–that were canceled out of Florida. We weren’t flying into Florida, but all of those cancellations had affected the region.
Our flight was moved from 10:30 to 1:59 the next morning. So, we had a few hours extra in the airport. That didn’t really hurt us. We were able to check in with no time strain, then we went to get supper from Papa John’s pizza in the food court. While there, two very angry upper-aged American men came to shout at the young man behind the counter because they didn’t get what they were expecting in their order.
The young man spoke only a few words in English; he told me later that he had learned all his English by dealing with upset Americans. Poor him. I offered to translate for them, and they all three gladly accepted. I think the Americans seemed ashamed when they realized they had been wrong, but they were all thankful for my help. I was able to help three or four interactions like that on the trip. That felt really good, like my Spanish was being extra useful.
After we had checked in, I had to go get Willow’s passport yet. They would only let one person in, so I took her. She immediately began to fuss, so I sent Steph an SOS for a bottle. I was very thankful we had that option. It quieted Willow down until it was her turn for the picture, then she screamed bloody murder whenever I took the nipple out of her mouth. It took us over an hour to get the perfect picture–of a very angry Willow–but at last it was done.
We needed to wait two and a half hours, but then the passport was done. We had a fairly smooth trip through security though they found a knife in my backpack. I had forgotten it was there; it was a gift from a friend for serving at his wedding some years ago. How they had missed it the other two times through security, I don’t know.
At customs, we had the same man who had turned us away a few nights before. I thought for sure this time would go off without a hitch, but he said he needed documents that proved Steph was the mother of all seven of our children. He could tell she was for Walter and Willow because it was on their DNI cards, but that isn’t listed on the other children’s US passports. I thought I might scream.
I did find the children’s birth certificates saved as pdfs on my phone, and that worked. I was very thankful in that moment for the extra time we had from the delayed plane. Seth was exhausted and began to cry, but all the others seemed to be content. There were no places to sit because they were cordoned off due to Covid, so we all slept on the floor except for Steph who was given a seat by a kind lady.
All the children took turns sleeping on top of me, causing my legs to fall asleep rather painfully at times, but I was happy that no one was making any noise. We were given preference because of the children and were allowed to go through the boarding line early. At last we boarded!
It was nice that we could sit more or less in the same row with each other. Steph sat across the aisle with some of the children while I had Seth, Walter, and Abbey with me. We flew through the night. Delta gave us two rather large meals on that flight.
In Georgia, we had a nice layover. We collected our luggage; the children were great helpers in carting the heavy things or holding littler ones’ hands. We did not need to take our luggage through customs or security again but could give it to a man who put it on a conveyor belt that took it away to the next flight.
We had a fairly smooth move through security with only Abbey’s carefully gathered bottles of water from the previous flight being taken. While the others went for bathroom breaks, I went to find our next flight; because, we weren’t given a new itinerary after the cancellation the night before.
A very helpful man printed off new tickets for me at the Delta counter. We had over an hour until we needed to board, so we decided to get lunch at Five Guys. It took us a good bit of time to get a credit card to work, but with the magic of Apple Pay, we got a meal.
The two-ish-hour flight to DC was the first I had slept in over twenty-four hours. At last, I knew I wouldn’t need to be worried about getting stuff together for the next step, so I just relaxed. Finding our luggage at Dulles was simple, and we also found a surprise! A good friend decided to get off work early and meet us at the luggage carousel.
Other friends, Bradley and Shana, picked us up at the airport to take us to our final destination. They had cheese and coffee for us to snack on while we traveled “home.” It was delightful getting to connect with them on the nearly two hours back
And now we are at our cabin in the woods. We are being hosted by our friends Andrew and Lauretta who have done a lot of logistics to prepare for our stay. We’re grateful to everyone who helped behind the scenes to get things together for us. Thanks so much.
Sorry for the delayed update. I know some of you were worried because of my silence. Thanks for all your prayers and encouragement. Blessings to you!