The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of work and emotion! We have never quite experienced anything quite like it! When we moved to Los Angeles for the Mdiv, six years ago, it was Izak and I and our two suitcases each. This time, we had to separate what we hoped to ship back to South Africa with what we hoped to pack in our luggage for our flight as well as what would hopefully be given to someone else and be a blessing to them.
With the flight that we had booked, we were allowed three pieces of checked-in luggage each. That is three pieces of luggage per person multiplied by five and that alone with the children in the car seats would mean that we would need two vehicles to simply get us to the airport! On the one hand this thought simply overwhelmed me since my natural inclination is to want to simplify things but instead I have been struck by how much we have been given in light of what we arrived with initially. What a blessed family we are!
It turns out that arriving at the airport was just the beginning of the adventure! I had thought that this would be one of the major feats! We were dropped off with the kids and 4 airport carts and in our line waiting to be assisted and realized that we were trapped if for some reason this didn’t work out but just bravely hoped that we wouldn’t miss the flight or that there wouldn’t be any complications. Well, there were complications.
Izak was on a visa that had an entry visa but then as he studied, the entry visa was updated by an overarching visa that was in the US system. His entry visa had expired but technically everything was in order since his I-20 (the overarching visa was still intact and updated). We had initially hoped to fly via Heathrow but the British Airlines representative informed us that since the entry visa was expired, they would not be able to look beyond that and could not even allow us to be in transit through the UK. We tried to get her to call again, to speak to TMS’ representative who had dealt with this so many times before and without an issue but alas, it appeared that the overarching I-20 form had no effect in the UK. This representative told us to go and see their help desk and we honestly had very little hope of getting onto South African soil in the near future. At the very least, we anticipated needing to buy new tickets and trying to obtain specialized visa’s. By the Lord’s grace, the lady at the Help counter was very gracious and it appeared like she extended herself far beyond what we had anticipated or what was custom. She even booked us onto completely different airlines and after a few hours we were booked onto a midnight flight to New York and then a direct flight from New York to Johannesburg.
By the Lord’s grace, Izak had a plan that enabled us to maneuver 4 carts of luggage and a stroller all the way through the airport to get outside and then a very gracious airport hotel bus driver allowed us to journey with him to a different terminal. On top of everything else, the Lord in His mercy provided for us yet again in that the flight that was within the States (very limited in their luggage allowance), didn’t charge us for our severely over-the-limit-for their-domestic-flight-luggage-allowance.
When we were finally on the SAA flight headed to Johannesburg, it almost felt surreal. We were just so relieved to be there, finally on our way. We had temporary/emergency passports for the children which were scrutinized at every single check point and almost caused us to not be permitted onto the flight because of the changes in our flight itinerary since we were rerouted and the emergency passports had had the specific original flight details. All that to say, we were so thankful for His provision when we actually made it onto the flight and onto South African soil.
We have arrived! We are here and it has been a huge adjustment with jet-lag and our boys have gradually adjusted to the new winter season and lots of new friendly faces! It has been such a blessing to be reunited with family, our new church body and to see how He continues to sanctify and train our hearts long after we have left the actual TMS classes. J
My heart was encouraged by James 1:2b this morning, where the LORD reminds us that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness and it has been good to see just how much steadfastness my heart still needs.