Thursday morning was spent packing, sorting, storing, weighing my bags repeatedly (I do NOT want to be re-packing in the airport lady again!), and starting to reach emotional overload. I find this the hardest time in the process of traveling to deal with--having to make so many decisions in such a short period of time, and spending hours cramming things into boxes and suitcases instead of hanging out with the people you are about to have to say goodbye to. Eventually it was all as done as it was going to be, we loaded the van, and I turned in my faithful little Camrey that had been such a blessing to me this summer. There was the long hot drive to Dallas, Flynn arrived, and then I had to walk away from my family again. Goodbyes never get easier; 'practice' only makes it worse. I had a largely sleepless but uneventful flight to London, and that's where the real fun began.
My plan was to go to the Tower of London, get back in plenty of time to catch my next flight, and have a nice relaxing 'buffer' day. Well, my cards were frozen again, so I ended up walking through the National Portrait Galley (Tudor through Regency) and hanging out in Trafalger Square while waiting for it to be late enough for the bank to be open. After some back and forthing, I eventually got the glad news that my cards were useable again, and I was able to buy my ticked to the Tower. I joined a Beefeater tour which was a lot of fun, and then quickly saw the Crown Jewels and the Bloody Tower before grabbing a sandwich and heading back towards the airport. This is where the fun starts.
The tube was PACKED because it was rush hour, and I started to realize that this was going to take a lot longer than I had planned, and that perhaps I was cutting things rather close. I took a look at my boarding pass and realized that I was in some pretty big trouble--the train would likely arrive at the airport about the time the gate was supposed to close. I started praying as the minutes ticked by, and by the time I came barreling out of the tube and went to retrieve my bags I knew I was in deep trouble. I have now been the 'almost dancing and crying with frustration at the flight I am right now missing' lady. I managed to get through security fairly quickly and without bowling anyone over, and then the race to find my gate (in the hope that the plane was still there) began. I went to the wrong gates first because it was so late that the gate wasn't displayed next to my flight anymore. I begged the BA people there to tell the Lusaka plane that I was coming, and then continued tearing through the airport in a desperate race against time. I was pretty sure I had missed the flight, and was starting to construct plan B scenarios most of which involved me having a little meltdown in a corner of the terminal. When I finally reached it, the gate was eerily empty expect for the ticket lady who was expecting me, and I was ready to sob with relief as I staggered onto the plane, dead last, but ON THE PLANE. Turns out, God sent some technical trouble to the plane which held it up long enough for me to race through half the airport to get there. I will never again complain about being held up at the gate--someone might be in my shoes and desperately racing through the airport. Praise the Lord for His goodness!
Saturday The flight itself was largely uneventful--I got more sleep on this flight, and was doubly thankful for arriving in Lusaka when I planned to. I had to wait for a long time at immigration because I needed a report order, but it turned out to be a good thing because now I don't have to make a separate trip to the main office. While in line at the airport I was watching and saw all three of my bags come through, and tried to keep any eye out to make sure non of them walked off. I did end up making a dash in to the baggage claim area before my paperwork was done because is just so happened that there was someone else with a big purple suitcase like mine, and it had been loaded onto their cart. I think they would have noticed in time, but it ended up being a good thing that I went and grabbed my bags when I did because the airport guys were about to wheel them off to unclaimed baggage. Finally I got my paperwork sorted out, got a taxi, and arrived at the Flight House where I enjoyed a good cup of tea and a hot shower.
Thank you to everyone who was praying for me yesterday--I sure appreciate it! Now I just need to fly up to Solwezi tomorrow, and then drive up to Sakeji on Monday. It's good to be home--smelling the smoke and seeing the lovely jacaranda trees in bloom, and I look forward to getting back to my little house in the bush and settling in.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!