Sunday morning, Beckah, Andrej, and Garrett dropped the remaining 5 of us (Tim, Ashley, Sherry, Issac, and I) at the airport and we were heading home...
The trip home was pretty uneventful... we each tried to sleep as much as possible (with different degrees of success). The flight went from Vienna to Amsterdam and then Amsterdam to Atlanta. The best part of the flight from Vienna was the food... they have amazing airline food. It's crazy!
We only had about 1 and 1/2 hours scheduled at Amsterdam before our next flight took off and we were a little late getting in so we hurried while in the airport to get to the fight. We made it in time... even in enough time to move our seats around so that most of us were sitting either by a window or an isle.
I ended up sitting next to a man who was flying from England to the off-coast of New Orleans for his job. He does something in off-shore and has been doing this for a while. He works for 28 days on (12 hour days) and then has 28 days off. He enjoys the 28 days off cause he can spend a lot of time with his wife and his 5 year old son.
I tell you the above story to put the next part of this story in perspective. The most eventful part of the trip from Amsterdam to Atlanta occurred about 3 hours before we landed. I had just woken up from one of my many naps and was watching some movie. The man sitting next to me was napping. All of a sudden the airline pilot breaks in over intercom and commands the flight attendants to sit down. This wakes up the man next to me. This gets me thinking - I have never been in a flight with a short message directed only to flight attendants in the middle of a flight. Hmm.
Then it happens. The plane bounces and then goes into free-fall... my knees are up around my forehead and my feet are in the air. It feels like we fall for 10 minutes (realistically it was a few seconds... maybe) but once the free fall ends we are bounced around for about another minute. At one point I mention to the man next to me that I may be sick. He quickly reaches using his right hand and one quick swoop and grabs the air-sickness bag and hands it to me. I realize he has to do this because in the course of everything I managed to grab his left hand and squeeze. At this point look at our hands and then up at him and get quite embarrassed. I quickly apologized and he was very sweet. But in retrospect (and since I really didn't get sick) it was a pretty funny event. I felt much closer to my neighbor afterwards!
After about 9 hours in one plane we finally landed in Atlanta. We are back in the States. And we know we still have to go thru customs. And that can be difficult (to put it mildly) in the US. But, we make it thru without much trouble and get to the international baggage claim... and we wait, and wait, and wait. Other people get their bags but my fellow mission tripper's bags are no where to be found. I waited with them for about 45 minutes however my friend Marcus was waiting because he was there to pick me up and I had carried my bag on the plane so I had everything I needed. Tim was kind enough to tell me to go home and they would wait for their baggage (they weren't to leave international baggage claim without their luggage however they had no way to track down the location of the bags).
I was lucky enough to go, however I found out my friends had to wait 4 hours before they were allowed to leave... bag-less. Apparently, even though we made it on the plane at Amsterdam, the bags did not. And had to arrive on a later flight. Luckily a few days later the bags showed up at Ashley's apartment and at the church. So, everyone was reunited with their things!!
I have to say one more thing (no, I haven't said too much about the trip yet - wink, wink), this was the best trip I have ever been on. People told me prior to the trip that this would be more life changing than I could ever imagine but I thought that they were exaggerating. They were not. If you are ever able to go on a mission trip it's worth whatever sacrifices you have to make to go. I am praying already about next year's trip!!