Monday, May 31, 2010

Quick Return to Holland

We determined in March that we wanted to return to the Netherlands for the Open House for the newly remodeled church in north Rotterdam. The date was set for the 27th of May. We started making plans. Financially we did not see that we could do it, but then we started thinking about one of the privileges we have as retired military, space available travel. As time went on we learned more about the process and started making plans. We finally determined that we needed to drive to Travis AF Base near Sacramento to catch a plane. We left Bountiful on Sunday the 16th of May and drove 11 hours to Travis. We arrived at the flight terminal at 7 pm and were told that there was a flight at 9:30. We were excited and I went to park the car in long-term parking. The flight ended up being cancelled, so we went to the base hotel and got a room. We were told that the next flight was at 0530 Monday.

We started in Sacramento trying to catch a military flight to Dover, Delaware on Monday the 17th of May. We hoped to get another flight to Germany Thursday.

At Travis AFB in Calif. we had two cancellations, but it looked good for 3 pm today to Dover. There is a flight tonight to Ramstein, but some airports in Europe are closed again from the ash.

We finally took off for Dover at 9 pm Tuesday and flew in a large C-17 cargo plane. There was no cargo besides us and our baggage. The inside of the plane was like a big open warehouse with seats along the outer walls. The seats were made of nylon stretched over aluminum. They were not too comfy. As the time went on it got colder inside the plane. I laid on the floor for an hour or so and tried to sleep. We arrived at 2 am PDST or 5 am EDST on Wednesday. We had three possible flights today to Germany, but all had problems or took no passengers. At 5:30 pm a retired Colonel asked if we would be inters ted in renting a car and driving to Baltimore to try and catch a chartered flight. Thirty minutes later we were on our way with another couple and a young mother and child in a truck, with some of our bags. We made it in time and checked in, only to be told that Kae's military ID had expired and we could not go. The other couple boarded, but were them "bumped off" due to the plane load being too heavy. We were already 30 min. down the road towards my sister's when they called and asked us to return to the airport. We picked them up and then arrived at my sister's at 1 am. We had a good night's sleep and then called McGuire AFB in New Jersey and Dover to check on flights. Dover had a surprise flight in the afternoon, so we headed back there. We made it in time, but flight after flight was canceled.

As you can imagine, we were weary of waiting, but were excited to finally hear that a plane was repaired and ready to go. We we were scheduled to board at 1:40 am Friday, which meant lift off at about 3 am. That translated to departure about 9 am European time. The flight probably would take 9 hours, so we would land about 6 pm in Spangdahlem. We didn't know after that, whether we would drive to Rotterdam (4+hrs) or get a hotel room. We would love to be in Rdam2 meetings on Sunday. Keep praying for us - WE WILL MAKE IT!!!!!!

Well, the plane mentioned above was also canceled and reassigned to go to Spain. We were all devastated. We spent the night sleeping in the chairs of the terminal and when morning came we decided to take a plane to Charleston, SC. We flew down there at 10 am and then the wait started for planes fo Germany. Flights were canceled or full and so we slept in the terminal again. We walked a mile to the dining facility the next day to eat. Then when we saw that there were not going to be any flights until 1:30 am Monday, We were quite optimistic, but were again disappointed when there were not enough seats for us. We called the base hotel and got rooms there. We got to our room at 3 am. It was great to be in a bed again. Monday was spent wondering when we may be able to fly out and making contingent plans to fly back to Utah if necessary. At about 9 pm we were convinced that we would have to wait out the day Tuesday for a flight, because we would not be able to get a seat on the 3:30 am flight. Then a miracle happened at 10 pm, it was announced that there was going to be an extra plane with 30 seats available that was also to leave about 3:30. That meant that there would be 73 seats and we thought there were about 60 of us needing to fly. We were excited and hopeful, until some soldiers walked in (and they are the top priority). Thankfully, at 3:40 am we were called to check in. We were excited, but nervous that something may spoil our chances. We were uneasy until the moment that the plane wheels left the ground. We then said silent prayers to thank the Lord that we were finally underway. Ten hours later we landed in Ramstein AFB in Germany. Two hours later we were falling asleep in the deluxe military hotel at the base. We were still amazed that it had taken us 9 days to make the trip. The Lord did look out for us and all was done on his time frame. There were reasons for us to take so long so that we could befriend the Schillers and the Stoddards and others.

Then on Wednesday we drove to Holland in a rental car. We stayed with our friends the Ponds. It was great to see them again. We had a nice day visiting friends here in Rotterdam. They were so surprised that we were here again. Tonight was the open house at the new Young Adult Center in the renovated church. The building is beautiful and the center is very nice. We had such a great time visiting with the many Young adults again, and they were glad to see us. It was so great to be with them again. There have been less than 10 YA's showing up the past few months. Tonight there were 26!! The program has a new life tonight, and we know that we felt so good to see it take hold again. It should really grow now. The whole trip was worth it, just to be here tonight!!

We spent Friday and Saturday making surprise visits to friends. We had a great time seeing the surprised look on their faces. We ate with the Winters family on Saturday night. On Sunday we went to church and enjoyed being with the members again. On Sunday we were able to attend meetings in the Rotterdam South Ward again. It was so good to see the many members and the new bishopric, with Charles Croese as Bishop. The whole trip has been well worth it. We will drive to Germany on Tuesday afternoon to catch a flight on Wednesday.