Showing up to the airport with 9 – 27 gallon totes and 3 bags, all 50 lbs apiece, and 4 kids with tickets to travel 36 hours (if everything goes well) before we arrive at our destination was the source of much anxiety. Fears of kids melting down or being sick, flights delayed, luggage lost, documentation issues at customs or immigration, etc…
While at training at MTI in Colorado we mentioned these fears and were given the advice to ask for prayer about this, so we did. How it went is as follows:
We pulled up to the curbside at GRR on Monday at 9:00 AM, 30 feet from the American Airlines check-in counter. The line was empty, we began getting our tickets and another American Airlines employee walked up and began helping us check-in our huge pile of baggage. This employee’s name was Laura, a Christian woman, that we learned attends Ada Bible in GR and had helped the Tibbe’s check in their baggage 2 hours previously. In very little time, our bags were checked, due to Laura’s gracious interpretation of the 50 lb limit for baggage, and we were through security and sitting at our gate ready to fly to ORD. We arrived at O’Hare on-time and met up with our TEAMmates the Tibbes.
Our flight to Tokyo-NRT was on an American Airlines Dreamliner 787, which was loaded with lots of technology (hundreds of movies and video games for every seat). About the same amount of legroom as you would expect for economy class. But our kids were captivated completely for the 13+ hr flight, to the point that we had difficulty getting them to turn their screen off and sleep at all.
We had a 2-3 hr hour lay over in Tokyo, then we were on our way to Jakarta, Indonesia. The plane was a little less advanced but still an overload of entertainment options to keep our kids occupied and sleep deprived.
We landed on-time in Jakarta (just after midnight local time). Waited in line for 20 minutes or so at immigration and literally were not asked a single question, just a glance at our paperwork and a stamp. Locals flocked to help us collect our luggage (20 pieces now, including the Tibbe’s all made it through) and take it through customs and on to our next gate. We certainly over paid them for their efforts, but it was worth it. Security did not open until 3:00 AM, but we were quickly met up by our TEAMmates (Dan and Louise Hubert who serve in Merauke, Papua – southern coast of Papua) to help us negotiate the last legs of travel.
Security at Jakarta was minimal in terms of baggage scanning, although we did see security folks walking around with M16’s to quell any notions getting squirrely. We arrived in Semarang around 7:00 AM on very little sleep over the previous 36 hours, but all of us were giddy to see our new home in the day light.
Transportation was arranged for all 12 of us and our 22 bags from the airport to our current holding area (dorms operated by the International Missions Board). From the time we got off the aircraft to the time we were in the vans was less than 30 minutes and we didn’t touch a bag. It was amazing!
The week before we left, Zac read a brief biography of Charles Spurgeon, George Muller, and Hudson Taylor and how their lives intersected. It is a remarkable contrast to compare the conveniences that we just enjoyed and the relative ease with which we moved our entire lives to the other side of the planet, to the sacrifices and efforts that these men made just in terms of travel and pouring their lives out for the Glory of the Praise of the name of Jesus. Our hearts sing thank you to God and thank you all for praying for our travels. It could not have gone better.
Here are some photos of us during the trip.