Driving home was hard for me, and the tears came as soon as I drove in the gate, when the magnitude of the days events began to sink in. But the fellowship we got to have with my family for those few hours was so sweet, despite the crazy packing and repacking. All our luggage could not even fit in one car with so many people that my dad had to take his car to the airport too. We stopped off at Brian's work on the way to say goodbye and then hit the roads of Durban for the last time in a long time...
This is where the drama began!!! It was far from smooth sailing for us from this point on. After we wrapped our bags we went to check in with Mango, only to find that their domestic flight would not allow our international quota for luggage of two bags each, and wanted R1200 for the other two bags. As time ticked by and our petitions were unsuccessful, we were running out of time to board our plane, but in the Lord's goodness... Lets just say a very dear and respected friend happened to be passing by and saw our need and provided selflessly for it without the blink of an eye. I was humbled by their generosity and the Lord's kindness to us. With only minutes before the boarding gate closed, our goodbyes were rushed but very emotional and meaningful. Leaving my family that I love so dearly was one of the hardest things I have had to do in my life, but Andrew was so sensitive and supportive, and so encourging as we left the runway and headed for Johannesburg International Airport.
When we landed, we picked up our huge pile of luggage and then went to find Andrew's family and friends who had come for our stopover to send us off to the States. We found a seating area and spent the next 6 hours in sweet fellowship with those that had come to see us off. I was so emotionally drained but still enjoyed every moment with my new family, telling stories of our honeymoon and our experience at Durban Airport.
Thinking the worst was over for luggage issues, we went to check in for our international flight with KLM. We were horribly wrong!!! We got onto the scale to find that we were 30kg overweight. Naively, my mom and I had decided that I should just take whatever I thought I would need and we would pay for the extra weight. We didn't realise that each kilogram would cost us R380!!! Needless to say, we didn't have R11 400 and another plan needed to be made!!! Each bag needed to be unwrapped, the cable ties cut, and all the items sorted through to see what could stay or go. We also found out that we were allowed 12kg's for hand luggage so we filled that up with all the heavy things, and then I left a whole lot of things behind with Andrew's parents, as well as any gifts we were supposed to take along with us to friends in the States. With the bags now under the limit, we rewrapped each one, said our goodbyes and went to the boarding gate. Andrew was hoping that he would be successful in getting extra legroom as he managed to on the way to SA, but this was also not to be. We were glad to just get on the plane and start the flight - the sooner it began, the sooner it would be over!
The plane was very full! Also, all the announcements were in Dutch first, and the food was far from pleasant! We were pretty tired though and managed to sleep most of the flight, which was a real blessing. Approaching Amsterdam I was amazed at how flat the land was - it stretched for miles in all directions, with few hills, but as green and wet as ever. Andrew gave me a history lesson as we landed and then we went to find our new boarding gate. The Airport was very different to any of the ones I had been to, because Arrivals and Departures were not separated at all. Andrew went off in search of someone who could help him to get more leg room, and returned an hour later bearing licorice and chocolate, a far cry from lunch, but nonetheless... we waited for our plane to come in. All hopes of more space for Andrew were shot down as we boarded the plane. Our spirits a little low, we took our seats and took off for hopefully the last time in a while!
To our delight, one of the stewardesses saw Andrew's situation and offered him an aisle seat, but we suggested they rather move the lady in the aisle seat next to us one seat forward and then we could share the extra seat between the two of us. We lady next to us, not speaking English was signalled to move forward, which she did, but we didn't realise what drama would be caused by one seat! After about two hours, the lady stood up and started fussing in some foreign language about wanting her seat back because her seat was cold on her head. The people around her all turned off their vents and the stewardess gave her an extra blanket which she refused to used. For most of the flight she stood next to her seat and glared at the air hostesses as they did their rounds. Andrew and I, so grateful for the extra space, could stretch out which was such a luxury! We were willing to give the seat back but the stewardesses told us to just ignore the drama around us. Unfortunately, the flight did not offer rest periods so there was no lights out time for us to sleep, and so we watched a movie they were playing on the shared TV, or listened to the music and dozed between interruptions. We were so grateful when we landed and climbed off the plane, after 30 hours of flights and stopovers, knowing that it was the end of the drama!!!
Andrew's old roomate, John Hester, was kind enough to fetch us from the airport in the SUV, and we made our way towards the Valley. We dropped John off at his car and then went to find a motel to stay in for the night. I was not very well at all at this point, having not eaten much at all of the plane's foods, or on our stopover, but we found a Comfort Inn in Sherman Oaks close to the church, showered and then rushed to get to the evening service at Grace. It was good to be where we knew we werer going to stay, and I was glad that we could set up a life here together. After the service I was deteriorating, so Andrew got us takeaways and then helped me into bed. I was out in a matter of seconds.
The next morning brought with it better health, energy levels, and definitely excitement, because I would get to see our apartment for the first time, and set up home! Something I was so looking forward too, despite having nothing other than that which was in my suitcases! On the way to our apartment all of my thoughts were swimming in my head... Would I like the apartment, would it be big enough, was it clean? But I knew that the Lord had been so good in giving us this place, and directly intervening so that we could afford our own place, so I was confident that we would "make it work". Arriving on Walnut Street I couldn't contain myself with excitement!!!