Oh where to begin. How about the present? The evening is cool and the hustle and bustle from the welcome potluck has quieted down. I see Eucalyptus trees standing tall and still and smell the red clay dirt. I hear laughter and shuffling from the inside as the team is working on assembling gift bags that workshop participants will receive once they have completed all hospice training. It has been a long and tiring journey just getting to this moment.
MSP to AMS
Our flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam was deceivingly smooth. We landed in Amsterdam at 5:25am local time, which is about 10pm MN time. We were advised to rest on our flight to better adjust to local time but with excitement running high, its no surprise that no one slept. Little did we know that was the first of many uncomfortable and sleepless nights that were to come.
AMS to Nairobi
With a five-hour layover in Amsterdam we tried to catch some sleep before our next 9-hour flight. Half asleep- half awake we began looking at our tickets and noticed our gate had changed. Go to new gate- no problem. Once at our new gate, we notice our flight is now to be delayed. Delaying this flight would mean missing our connection from Kenya to Zambia. Houston-we have a problem. After about an hour of talking to the transfer center representatives and even calling the (not going to mention) airline it was quite evident that there were no earlier options and that we would miss our connection flight in Kenya. So battered but not broken we left Amsterdam around 3pm for our 8-hour flight to Nairobi, Kenya.
Midnight in Nairobi
Our experience thus far was beginning to reinforce the reality that we are not in the states any longer. Getting off the plane we were greeted by security personnel who automatically began ushering us into shuttle busses and handed us our boarding passes for our flight tomorrow morning. We were then taken to immigration center where we were asked to go through customs. Worried and very confused, at that point Steve S. began to explain that we had a 7am flight and that we would prefer not to leave the airport due to the yellow fever sensitivity. If we were to leave the airport, Zambia’s immigration may possibly refuse visas into the country. I’m glad to say we were taken back to the airport but suffered for the next 8 hours trying to get some rest on hard, blue, metal chairs. Once 6:50am hit, we jumped to the gate eagerly ready to finally get on our last flight. And then we get the call… the call that this flight was to be delayed. While the plane was ready the pilot was no where to be found. At this point, being numb to the news all we could do was laugh.
Nairobi to Lusaka
The rest of the experience could be described as almost getting on the wrong plane and ending up in Rwanda followed by taking the route that took us to Zimbabwe before Zambia, which also threw us for a loop.
Arriving in Lusaka
It took a total of 41 hours to get from Minneapolis to Lusaka with our unexpected delays. It was hard to believe we had arrived in Lusaka. We were struck with one last pang as we realized that none of our luggage arrived. After a few hours talking with airline officials we were able to determine that it was arriving later that evening.
Reflections on the travel
It was a very tiring time for the team as we dealt with blow after blow of bad news. But the Lord was with us as I watched my teammates graciously take the news without grumbling, and trust that we were in God’s hands. It is so comforting trusting the Lord because we know that every delay and setback brought us right were we needed to be. We learned to sleep creatively, laugh at our misfortune and drew closer together as a team. We are here now and our experience has been great so far. The people are warm, the camp is beautiful, and we are so thankful that God has given us another opportunity to trust in him and has once again shown himself to be faithful.