We're all very tired... so please forgive if this is confusing. We'll look again tomorrow to see what we missed or mis-stated. Suffice it to say that God led Lissie and the rest of our family on a grand adventure on the way to being reunited in rural Iowa after Lissie had spent the last 4 months in Central Asia.
Plan "A" was for Lissie to come home to Sioux City via Moscow, with an overnight stay there to break up her trip. We learned that it is nearly impossible to get the visa needed for that overnight stay in Moscow. And to make matters more complex, the airline she was scheduled to fly no longer flies into Sioux City. Enter plan "B"!
Plan "B" was for Lissie to switch airlines and routes, returning through Istanbul and Chicago to Omaha where we would pick her up after about 30 hours of travel. Unfortunately, her originating flight from Central Asia was delayed by 6 hours, which caused her to miss her connection to the US... and those flights happen only once each day. Net, she spent an unplanned overnight in Istanbul.
Then she flew to Chicago... the day after a blizzard. When she arrived in Chicago, she learned that she didn't have seats on the connecting flight... and due to the flight delays, cancellations and general post-blizzard chaos, she learned she couldn't get a seat to get home until December 30th!
She and the people she was traveling with (more about these heroes in another post) checked to see if they could rent a car to get the rest of the way home, and were told all cars were rented in all of Chicago!
She learned all this and called to let us know while we were driving to Omaha expecting to pick her up at 10:30pm. After a brief time of prayer, Mrs. Beaver and I decided our course was clear. We were already about 1 hour south of Sioux City, nearly to the junction where I-29 meets up with I-80. We turned east toward Chicago and told Lissie we hoped to see her in the morning. Understand that this was a completely unplanned trip... no clean clothes, no toothbrushes... nothing but 'Welcome Home!' signs we had planned to have at the airport greeting.
Off we went toward Chicago, expecting to make the 10 hour drive overnight!
Fortunately, the weather was clear. Unfortunately, the night before had been anything but clear. It had been a blizzard, and the roads were still feeling the affects. The road grew icier and icier the further east we traveled. As we drove on, we passed about 30 cars and 20 trucks left abandoned in the snowy ditches from the night before. With increasing regularity, we were also getting icy surprises of our own, finding ice patches 1-2 inches thick in many places, some of which threw our 15 passenger van around like a toy. About 40 miles east of Des Moines we decided it was foolish to continue on in the dark. We exited the interstate and found God's provision in securing the last few available hotel rooms in the town of Stuart Iowa for our overnight stay.
In the morning, we received the good news from Alison that they had found a rental car and were starting their trek our direction. We also got on the road, heading east, hoping to meet Lissie as soon as possible by meeting between Des Moines and Chicago.
This is what we saw when we could see the roads in daylight... we counted about 100 cars and 40 trucks in the ditches!
As we headed east, we kept in touch with Lissie, trying to find the ideal meeting spot. It turns out that spot was a Kum & Go c-store at exit 155 in rural Iowa. Here we awaited Lissie and her traveling companions. We really didn't care where... we just wanted the reunion to happen. Can you tell we were ready for it?!?
Lissie and her twin were quick to reunite and give thanks for the reunion!
And here are the heroes who escorted Lissie all the way through 67 hours of travel and adventure, delivering her through storms and delays to our arms in rural Iowa.
We took just a moment for a big family picture with this precious couple. Then we let them go to be reunited with their own family in eastern Nebraska.
More about the story later, but for now, this is a quick snapshot of Lissie's great adventure! So grateful to God to have her home!