We are back in Zambia!! This trip was one for the record books, that's for sure! I thought several times about getting my camera out and taking a picture, but I usually take pictures and blog things because I want to remember them...and these 3 days I would love to forget! Here are a few of our adventures!
We got to the airport about 6 hours early, and it's a good thing we did! The first thing the gate lady asked me was, "You don't have any computers in your checked luggage, do you??" "Um, yes...we have 8 computers we are taking back to the orphanage." She then told us we couldn't check lithium batteries in the computers, so we had to search through our 14 bags and pull out the batteries. We had luggage strewn everywhere (yes, we were THAT family...) trying to find them and could only find 5. She said, "Oh well, that's ok!" Ok.... So anyway, on to the handgun. Blu spent a lot of time this furlough working on getting his license to carry so that he could bring a handgun (that was given to him) back to Zambia. He called numerous offices, people, etc, to try to make sure he was doing everything right. He called American Airlines a week prior to let them know we had a handgun in one bag and a small amount of ammunition in the other. They assured us that was all we needed to do. (He had already checked on what to do from the Zambian side upon arrival). At this point, the lady tells us that we can't carry the handgun, and she gets on the phone with British Air. They tell Blu that no, he had to let them know about the handgun 48 hours in advance of the flight. That's what we thought we were doing with American Air, but obviously not! We called our pastor in Alvarado who thankfully knew a guy in the area who met us at the airport in 20 minutes to pick up the forsaken handgun. (My poor Blu had such a dejected look on his face!) After this, we found our 2 interns, Jamee & Kailyn, and proceeded to lose Teacher Carolyn for a very long time due to differing gates printed on our boarding passes!
Ok fast forward our 8 hour flight, 4 hour layover, and 11 hour flight and we were pretty exhausted upon our arrival to South Africa. The immigration/security process is pretty simple, so we didn't foresee any problems, until one of our backpacks got held up in the line. (This backpack cleared security at DFW and London Heathrow with no problems!) Apparently, Cason found some shotgun shells at his grandparents' house a few weeks ago and put them in his school backpack to take to school for show and tell. He forgot they were there, we had no idea, but security sure figured it out pretty fast! The thing is, they didn't understand that these were empty shotgun shells - all they knew was that we were trying to sneak 3 bullets onto the airplane.) My stomach dropped because I knew this meant that Blu was in serious trouble. They told us to all step aside while they called the police. It was pretty terrifying. A man in a uniform came about 10 minutes later, and you could tell that he understood the situation. He came over and joked with me that they were going to lock Blu up, but in reality, they just needed to go and file a police report. We waited while they did this, and Blu told me that the man apologized but said they would have to strip search him per procedure. Yikes! Thankfully, when the supervisor saw the shells, he said it wasn't necessary.
Whew! What a relief! We went to enjoy some Mugg n' Bean and wait for our flight to show up on the board. Our flight got closer...and closer...and finally about 10 minutes to boarding it came up telling us what gate to go to. When we got there, we were the last ones in line (because we printed our boarding passes back on Monday, the first day of travel, not today, so a gate hadn't been chosen yet). As we go to check in, they stop Blu and tell him that his luggage had been flagged. They do not allow bb guns or ammunition in checked bags, and he has to physically go down and remove them himself. There is no way he will make the flight, so we all stand there dumbfounded until the gate agent says, "I think your wife and children should go. You will have to go tomorrow." If you know me, you know I have pretty big travel anxiety, and I do much better with Blu by my side. But I put on my brave face, grabbed the 10 carryons and the 3 kids, and headed to the bus to get on the plane. At this point, everyone was grumbling as I climbed onto the plane (literally...climbed up stairs with 10 bags, running back and forth to get them all up) (yes...we are THAT family...again...) I tried not to cry as I tried to find room for the luggage and finally sat down - the kids were asleep in about 30 seconds.
From there, we had to fly to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe for a quick turn-around. That turned into an hour on the runway in the un-airconditioned plane due to a passenger with immigration issues. We finally took off again, and 10 minutes later we landed in Livingstone! Thankfully, we flew through immigration, all of our remaining luggage was there, Carolyn & the girls (& Diana) got through with no problems, and I have never been so happy to see Wes Wilcox in my life!!!! He loaded up everything and made the decision that we would all stay overnight in a hotel, with them leaving in the morning after a grocery run and me and the kids staying to pick up Blu.
So back to Blu - the deal with the bb gun/ammo was that British Air in London has no rules and allows those things. However, the British Air branch in South Africa does not. So when we called, we spoke to a London rep who didn't think about the South African difference, and thus the confusion in South Africa. Blu solved the problem by switching airlines completely to South African Airways, who has no rules regarding ammunition or bb guns, so tomorrow at 12:20pm, we will pick him up and head to New Day.
whew! I am exhausted after typing all of that! As I sit here tonight in jet lag, on our 15th anniversary, with all 3 of my kiddos piled onto the double bed with their ipads on and no sleep in their near future, I am choosing to fight back with joy. It would be easy to sink into self-pity, loneliness, or just complete frustration at how things always seem to go wrong in 3rd world countries! But that's what Satan wants. He wants me to start this term defeated. He wants me to go back tomorrow focused on myself and my problems. Instead, I choose to fight back with joy. I choose to fight back with contentment. I choose to rejoice in the fact that we are here, we are safe, and we are called according to His purpose. And we know God works all things together for good to those who are called according to His purpose.
I made it to 6:30pm. Bedtime.
And at 3:50am I am up with jeg lag, rereading this and laughing at some of my "jet lag" mistakes!