SNOWBOUND!!! Wednesday was our last day before flying out super early Thursday morning. Karen and I raced through Decatur wrapping up the small errands like dropping off the cable box at Xfinity (my advice – bring your coffee and comfortable shoes, it’ll be awhile), getting unlocked cell phones (one of those things readily available overseas, but a mystery in America), and picking up the UHaul to take everything to St. Louis. While we had everything packed and ready to go, it seemed that for every item that we put in our footlockers, three more magically appeared and said, “Take me! Take me!” Sadly, not everything could go, and we had to leave behind something. While we thought we lived simply, it is amazing how little can actually fit into a footlocker. With a goal of 12, we struggled out the door with only 15! And what a blessing it was to be able to take them! Despite wanting to bring Twizzlers, my Miami Vice DVD collection, and another of Benjamin’s toys, we couldn’t help ourselves but to bring some older clothes and shoes with us to share with those at our shelter in La Donjuana. Many thanks to Sam and Paul for helping us get ready and supplying the footlockers. As one of the team here said, “Man! That was the smart way to bring it down!”
We finally pulled out of the driveway at 7 p.m. for St. Louis with news that a snowstorm was coming. As we closed in on St. Louis, it turned out that the local meteorologists weren’t kidding. Snow covered the roads making everything look like Christmas. By 11 p.m. the roads were completely snow-covered, and by 1 a.m. our flight to sunny and warm Cucuta was cancelled! No worries! We’ll jump on the next available flight…36 hours later.
Trapped! In La Quinta Inn and Suites in a Winter Wonderland with MeMa. And it was a tremendous blessing! Kevin wanted snow for Christmas and got it! We had time to organize our footlockers again, and thanks to the generous scale operators at St. Louis Airport, we were able to make each footlocker come in at exactly the max weight of 50 lbs. We eliminated 1 entire footlocker and a carry-on which allowed us to save on shipping costs and lugging our luggage around. We even managed to sneak in a few more things from Walgreens.
Finally before we left, we had time to take the boys to a great place, called the City Museum, a steam-punk maze of children’s exhibits of slides, tunnels, and ladders made up of old parts of buildings from around St. Louis. And it all requires lots of energy to make it through. Run, boys, run!
As we made it through the airport with much gratitude to the United Airlines attendants who helped with the all of our luggage, we made it onto our first ride to Houston. Benjamin was so excited and narrated most of the trip in his loud playful voice, “Hey, Dad!! We’re getting ready to blast off!! Here we go, Dad! 3…2…1…we’re getting ready to go! Let’s go to outer space! C’mon everybody! Let’s gooooo!” By the time we landed in Houston and prepared for the next flight, everyone was worn out in time for the red-eye to Bogota, but not before Benjamin was adopted by three more families. The gentleman next to us, a father of 7 kids himself, helped calm Benjamin while I looked for a cellphone. Another dad from two rows back pulled out his son’s fruit snacks, and yet another lady spoke quietly to him to reassure him that I was making my way back. By the time I returned, his tears were dried, and he was happily watching Bart and Lisa Simpson pull pranks on Principal Skinner. Karen was bravely taking care of Andrew in the back of the plane.
We enjoyed a brief stopover in Bogota with some great friends, the Tinleys. While enjoying Crepes and Waffles, Karen and the boys finally had the chance to meet in-person. While stuffing ourselves with delicious bacon, the Tinleys continued to share their wisdom of living overseas as a family and encouraged us in the work we're joining. “Los White…Kay-bean, Kah-rane, Ben-ha-meen y Undrrrew! Los Whites, busca la salida ahora…” called out over the loudspeaker. I had only one cup of coffee and we were enjoying ourselves so much that we almost missed our flight!
From leaving the beautiful snow-covered roads of St. Louis, we finally arrived in Cucuta where our Samaritan’s Purse friends met us and helped us get settled into our new temporary home of a nice hotel until our little townhouse is ready.
So much of what we encounter oftentimes is a terrible frustration, like the weather delay or the four hour phone call to United Airlines to get our flight, but we saw even this as a true blessing from the Lord and give Him thanks. It gave us a few precious hours to get some much needed rest, improve our luggage situation, enjoy some beautiful snow, and spend some more time with Karen’s mother. We give thanks in the hard times and the good times, and this was definitely one of the best times.
Karen, the boys, and I want to thank all of you for your support in so many ways, from footlockers to prayers, to encouragement, and financially. We could not have landed in Cucuta with smiles on our faces, ready to start this adventure without you. Thank you.