Just two and a half weeks after Jaynie's departure from the Omaha Airport for her second visit to her Central Asian home, we were back at the same airport early this morning. This time taking John for a 10-day trip to Ethiopia!
John is traveling to that African nation with a group from our church who will visit and serve orphans. We thought John's group of 11 traveling internationally would tax the airline check-in system, but we really had no idea...
Just after the Ethiopia group arrived but before they could get organized enough to get in line, a very well-organized troop of about 25 young men from the University of Denver's hockey team stepped right up to the front of the line. We also thought John's group had a lot of luggage, but we really had no idea... The DU hockey team had enormous bags to carry all their equipment. Clearly, they were in the 'excess baggage' club! We were a bit worried about how long it would take to check them in, and wondered if their arrival on the scene would make our group late for their flight.
In any event, the long line allowed John's group to do some necessary re-packing. Below, John is working with the team leader, Russ, who traveled to Ethiopia just about a year ago when he and his wife adopted a little girl from the country.
The group of 11 travelers packed 22 totes full of supplies for the orphans, sacrificing their personal baggage allowance and packing all their own clothing, toiletries, etc. in small carry-ons to maximize the aid they could take for the orphans.
While the John's group waited in line, He showed Lissie his passport with his Ethiopian visa.
While they talked, they also prayed. Twins John and Lissie have spent almost every day of their lives together and are remarkably close friends. They will surely miss each other!
Fortunately, the airline ticket agents recognized the extreme backlog of travelers and invited John's group to move to the premier ticketing line. Some of the DU hockey players were gracious enough to help move our team's heavy totes! Way to go guys!
Ethiopian culture has been important to Tanya and her daughter Kaylee for years, as they also adopted two boys from Ethiopia about 5 years ago.
Unlike Kaylee who was going with her mom, Katie, whose a bit younger and pictured below was staying behind as her mom, Tess, traveled on the team. Tess' husband Jeff and their oldest son, Jack, are also traveling with the team. Katie is staying behind with her younger brother, Tommy, at their grandparents' house. Jeff and Tess are two of the nurses on the team.
Kaylee is shown below with Russ' daughter, Katie, who is also going with the team. These long-term friends planned to sit together on the long flight over!
Finally, after about an hour and a half, the team was all checked in and ready to go. We paused for a team picture, which turned out well for a group that had arisen around 4am and already weathered some of the travails of travel.
After another couple of good-byes it was time for the team to go through security and head toward their destination!
United didn't need both planes but didn't feel like moving one for a better 'photo op' for us. Oh well.
We headed back to our car with one less family member in tow.
As parents, we're in a season of adjusting. We're deeply grateful to God that that our oldest children want to serve others and are willing to live sacrificially to do so. As we've raised them, we've hoped their love of Christ would be strong enough to propel them out of our "quiver" and into a life that acknowledges the worthiness of Jesus by selflessly meeting the needs of the "least of these." Our hearts are full; our countless prayers about our children's futures are being answered in amazing ways by our great God. Our family "army" is on the move! But it's still hard to watch the nest empty out. (Sorry, mixing metaphors here!)
But we can't complain... we're still blessed to have enough children at home to nearly fill a van the size of a small county. And as grandchildren start to come along, we anticipate more than making up the difference!
We have dubbed our second 15-passenger van, the USS Iowa, in honor of the battleship Iowa.
"Haze gray and under way! Go Navy!"