The last few days in the states were a whirlwind of emotions and packing! We ended up packing 4 extra bags over our allotted 10 bags, fully expecting to get gouged at the airline for overages and fees. We weren't... but that is a whole story in itself!!
We arrived at ROC at 4:30 am plenty of time to check in for an internationally connecting flight. This was not without many obstacles already in the morning!! We were borrowing a friends 15 passenger van, and loaded it late the evening before in order to be able to wake and go in the wee hours of Monday morning. The vehicle has damage on the rear door panels and they need to be closed just so and hard in order to latch. Well, at 3:45 we began looking for the keys to start the vehicle... it was about 17 degrees and a little warmed up would be nice! Well at 4:05 the keys are located. Then on the way onto the main road the back doors decide to fly open... and Dan stops to try to close them... and the hinges aren't holding them in place very well. I am riding in a vehicle behind, so we drive up behind him to give some light and he finally gets the doors closed well and latched. WOW!! This is so stressful already! The GOAL is to get to the airport so we can board the plane... then it is all up to the Pilot and GOD!
We finally get to the airport and have the multitude of friends help us unload all 15 check bags, 5 carry on roll bags and 5 personal bags into the airport. Dan and I go to the gate and begin the check in process, and they REFUSE to check us in because we don't have a visa for our final destination, nor a return ticket. It is now 4:55am.
Well we don't NEED either! We are MoViNG to Chipata for years, and Zambia doesn't require a visa prior to entering, we can get it at the border. We try to tell the agents at the Jet Blue counter, and they are having nothing of it. They are starting to say something about FAA regulations... and then backpedal to state no, it is THEIR regulations. We begin praying. And PRAYING!! Literally it is at their mercy at this point. If they refuse to let us go, we don't go!
We email our partner in Zambia who calls us immediately! He offers to have anyone in Zambia call them to clarify this glitch, but the people behind the counter say it is the decision of the supervisor.... who isnt even there yet. It is now 5:10am. No one is saying good bye, because frankly we don't know if we will be leaving!!
They decide to begin checking our bags... because they were so in the way of EVERYONE trying to check in there, I would imagine! They weigh all the bags and put the tags on them, but they are all stacking up behind their counter, and not going onto the conveyor belt to go to the plane. It is now 5:18 am. We ask some of the friends waiting with us to go hold a place for us in the security lines. We are hopeful against hope! While weighing our luggage, somehow they come up with a fee of $370 for the 5 bags... when we knew from the website that three of them would be $200 each, and the other 2 would be $150 each. You do the math, but someone seriously added wrong.
The supervisor FINALLY comes and takes our paper work for our work permits in Zambia and goes to the back and calls, writes letters, plays darts... whatever she is doing.... but is TAKING FOREVER!!!! WE still have yet to go through security! Our plane is scheduled to leave at 6:03 am!
The supervisor comes out and says she needs to make another call, and can she have our passports... it is 5:27 am.
FINALLY... she comes out and says we are clear to go... it is 5:40am. All of our friends that have been waiting with us... about 30 or so people... begin to grab what is left of our bags and we run to security, hugging the few people we could while wallking. My boys didn't even really get to hug their sister. I never got a proper good- bye with some of my dearest friends in this world. I don't understand the why's behind it, but I do understand at that moment we ALL knew deep in our hearts everyones desire was for us to go! We were all praying for it and the Lord answered! Perhaps good-bye wasn't what was needed... but a sincere collective desire for everyone to want the Lord's will be done!
We got onto the plane, and were in shock. Literal shock. It was like we couldn't believe we were actually leaving after literally 50 minutes of thinking this wasn't going to happen today.
Let it suffice to say, I have no airport pictures. We didn't say goodbye while waiting, because we seriously didn't know if it was going to happen. We felt odd saying good-bye when we were thinking how to get the bags all back in the van. We were wondering if we should try to get another flight on another airline? Should we ask for a waiver of responsibility for them should we be turned away at JFK? For in truth that was their worry. Well... no pictures to document the departure, but we are in Chipata now... so I guess that is proof that it did happen!
Next... the FLIGHT!