Jan. 3, 2005 arrived with icy rain, sleet! The roads were treacherous! But God is good! Doug got us to the airport in Omaha safely, parked at the curb in front of United Airlines. He helped Tim set the luggage on the sidewalk, shook hands, I gave Immer a hug and they were gone, they needed to get to work on time! So, Tim and I had to get all that luggage inside by ourselves, and we did it! Then I took one suitcase over to a bench to cram the extra stuff into it, and while I was trying to get it stuffed in, they moved the line that Tim was waiting in to another place, so he started yelling at me to “come on”! I threw a couple of things away to make room in the suitcase for the extra stuff and finally got it together and caught up with Tim.
When we got to the head of the line the security guy opened every suitcase!! Once he began his search we were not allowed to touch any of the suitcases. He was having so much trouble trying to get Stephanie’s doll back in the suitcase, he finally asked if I would help him. (Stephanie, a little girl from our church was sending a doll, complete with its own luggage, to a little girl we might meet in China.) So, he held it shut while I zipped it up! He said he was the supervisor and wasn’t supposed to be doing this but because of the ice storm he was short on employees. Poor guy! He didn’t search the carryon bags. When he finished the suitcases were checked and we were sent upstairs.
We were supposed to board the plane at 8 am and take off at 8:30 a.m. At 8:00 a.m. they were still working at getting the 6:30 a.m. flight off the ground because of the ice! While we were waiting the flight crew came and sat near where we were waiting. I asked them if they thought we would miss our connecting flight in Chicago, and they said no, they were sure we’d make it okay. We finally boarded at 9:00 a.m. While we sat on the plane they were busy de-icing it. We got to watch. We finally took off about 10:00 a.m.
We did get to Chicago with just enough time to run to the restroom and get on board our plane. The overhead storage bin above our seat had stuff in it so Tim began to growl a bit, and took some stuff out, then put our stuff in, then put the other stuff back in, raising a bit of a ruckus. When he finally sat down he was grumbling that we had paid for that space and other people took it … I then explained to him that the storage bins are first come, first serve. It wasn’t ours personally! He was a bit surprised! The plane was supposed to take off at noon but it was being worked on so we didn’t take off until 1:00 p.m.
We realized we had forgotten to get the name of the school, a phone number or the Chinese names of the people who were supposed to meet us!! This was one huge leap of faith! We were met in Beijing, just as we’d been told we would be. The men that met us had brought a tiny, van that reminded us of a Tonka toy but not nearly as nice. They put the luggage in it and there was no room for us. They took it out and put us in first and then shoved and pushed and crammed until finally the luggage was in. We still don’t know how that was accomplished! Praise God.
The next morning we flew from Beijing to the remote northwestern city of Lanzhou. There was no one to meet us! Well, everyone is late now and then. We would wait. Tim was thirsty but had no Chinese money. I suggested he wait but he went to a counter selling water and of course, they wouldn’t accept his money. Soon, a large crowd had surrounded him, and they were yelling at him in Chinese. We had no idea what they were saying but the crowd continued to grow and it was intimidating to say the least. Finally, a policeman came and dispersed the crowd and Tim got the idea that he’d have to wait for his water. I was also praying continuously that someone would come to meet us! After an hour had passed, our new boss and others came for us in an ambulance! God had brought us to where he wanted us to be and we began our new life in another culture.