Traveling internationally can be daunting at times. Moving overseas, more so. Moving overseas with three children under two…well, that probably borders on the insane. We left from the Chattanooga, Tennessee airport mid-morning on Tuesday, January 17th. That very morning I was still packing some last minute things that we had needed for the little ones the night before, and we rushed out of the door. We had 19 pieces of luggage, 5 carry-on pieces, and 6 “personal items” like backpacks and diaper bags between the 5 of us, plus D_. Our sending church had graciously sent one of the deacons along with us to help with the luggage and babies!
Additionally, though it was a weekday morning, it was such a blessing to have many of our friends and colleagues meet us at the airport - nearly a dozen. Their help in getting all the luggage to the right place was invaluable. Even more than their physical help was the visible indication of love, support, and prayer that accompany us.
We got through security with little hassle, and then had enough time to get the babies fed, changed, and ready for their first of three flights. We began our flight around 10:40 am and safely arrived in Atlanta. We then had enough time to move from the national to international end of the airport, eat lunch, and allow the 6 month old twins, William and Penny, a brief nap before boarding the 8 hour flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam, Netherlands.
It was quite a challenge navigating the many carry-ons, personal items, and babies to the back of the plane. Marie, Serenity, and D_, went first with several bags while I waited with the twins and a few more bags. D_ then “swam upstream” to get back to me and - with the help of other passengers and stewardesses - we got the rest of the luggage and babies to their seats. Thankfully the seats by each car seat were empty, and so we had some room and did not feel cramped. The twins and Serenity all traveled well, and took naps. Serenity was much more alert and awake than the twins, but she was happy to walk up and down the airplane aisle. The stewardesses in particular loved our little kids, and were very helpful and accommodating. Serenity struggled only during the last hour and a half of the flight, but I found ways to keep her entertained and occupied while Marie and D_ took care of the twins.
We then had an early morning layover in Amsterdam, and the twins were able to eat and catnap. Serenity was not at all interested in napping and wanted to explore. We then boarded what we presumed was our last flight, and (after learning our lesson on the previous flight) we got all the babies to the back first, and then got the rest of the luggage on board. I do not know how we would have managed without the third adult traveling with us. I also do not know how we would have managed if God did not give us favor with the stewardesses as they were very helpful and understanding. About 20 minutes into the flight we were told we would have to turn around and head back to Amsterdam as the plane had mechanical/technical difficulties. We then flew back, deplaned our babies, personal items, and carry-ons, and then re-boarded what would be our final flight. Thankfully, Serenity had fallen fast asleep and stayed asleep through it all until we arrived in Bucharest.
We arrived safely in Bucharest, and a very gracious missionary family picked us up from the airport. Our luggage safely arrived, and while we were prepared for a long wait at customs, we simply picked up our bags and were able to walk out of the airport. I was amazed and grateful for how well the children traveled, and was also amazed ALL 19 checked items made it! Thank you for specifically praying for those things!
We then were able to stay with our host family for about 1 week as we got over jet lag, and purchased the things necessary for our home situation. The Host family went above and beyond during this time, as they helped with transportation, meals, setting up our phones, and being an asset in information and experience. We were able to attend our first Romanian service at the church they had been involved with for many years, and it was a delight to be with the Romanian believers. The Lord allowed us to move into our new home in Romania on Wednesday, January 25th. Our neighbors are missionaries as well, and they have been an encouragement and blessing in many ways.
It’s hard to summarize what I feel and experience as I walk down the streets of Bucharest. It’s been about 9 1/2 years since I first had the seed planted in my heart for mission work to the Deaf in Eastern Europe, and about 7 years since God clearly led me to pursue this route. There is a unique joy as I walk about or ride the public transportation. I know part of it is merely the initial upswing of moving to a new place and another part of it is the satisfaction that comes from accomplishing a major goal you have been working towards for years. However, it’s also the awareness that God is already at work here, and we all get to be along for the exhilarating and challenging ride of walking by faith.
Please continue to pray for us as we settle into our new home, continue learning how to use the public transportation, and begin language school on Monday, February 13th Lord willing! Pray for a grasp of the language as well as wisdom to make an impact on the faculty and staff for Christ!