Tuesday, April 22, 2008

our long trip back

Well, our travels did not go as planned. Let's see... I woke up at 6:30 a.m. Chicago time on Sunday and got to bed at 3:30 a.m. Hungary time Tuesday (this) morning. I took two one-hour cat naps in a total of 38 hours of awake time. I can't believe I am any bit coherent right now.

Our 12 hour flying/airport time turned into almost 24 hours. The "Reader's Digest" version is that we did make it home finally. Seth did get to step foot in another country, although he didn't get a stamp in his passport for that. I did see how God was at work countless times throughout the journey, and praise him for that. Stop reading here if that's all you cared to know!

But I wouldn't be "me" if I didn't give more details, so if you like the details, keep reading...

After a long and tearful goodbye (some of you might have heard news of a "flash flood warning" but that was just us saying goodbye!), Seth and I did get out of Chicago O'Hare just a few minutes late. Again, SO disappointed with American Airlines. I won't even go into all of those details because that's a whole other thing. I am so grateful, though, that God provided me with wonderful people sitting around me who were helpful. Praise the Lord!

I know my parents and many others prayed that Seth would sleep on the flight so that I too could get some rest for the journey, and I have to say that God answered those prayers! He slept almost the ENTIRE way from London to Chicago, even though the flight was hours longer than scheduled. Praise the Lord!

I got to witness to this older couple sitting next to me. Everyone wonders what I'm doing traveling across the ocean by myself with a baby, so I got to share with them what Kevin and I are doing here in Hungary. It led to this whole great conversation, and it was just really neat. Praise the Lord for that, too!

I had a hard time getting to sleep on the flight. I don't know why. I kept watching the little screen showing where we were on the globe and all of that. I finally found a movie to watch (individual screens on AA, yeah!) and then got into that. I then started to doze when I realized shortly that our trip plans would be changing...

The woman sitting in front of me got up to go to the bathroom. As she approached the bathroom just a couple rows in front of us, she collapsed. Now it was in the middle of the night and everything was dark, so not too many people were awake. An Irish gentleman sitting across the aisle from me jumped up along with another man to rush to her. The woman was NOT MOVING! They told me to call for help, so I did.

Within just a minute, all of the flight attendants were there. One of the them asked me if I knew if she was alone, but I knew there was another woman with her. We woke her up, and she said it was her mother. They were trying to figure out if she had any conditions or was on any medicine. Then the entire plane was woken up. The captain turned on all the lights and asked for any physicians or nurses on the plane to go help. I have to say that I think my own heart stopped beating for a few minutes during all of this as we thought the woman was dead. A few medical professionals came running to the area, and they did CPR on her and got her breathing again. They had an oxygen tank on board that they were using as well.

The captain then got on and told us that we needed to make an emergency landing because of a medical emergency with a passenger. We were in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean at this point! We were closer to Canada than we were to any part of Great Britain, so the captain turned the plane around so that we could head back.

We landed in Newfoundland (which by the way is a half hour off of everyone else's time!) where the runway was crowded with emergency vehicles for the woman. The EMT got on the plane and got her off so that they could take care of her. She was breathing steadily at this point in time, so again, we praise the Lord for that! We then had to be refueled. We were in Canada for only an hour or so, but Seth did get to be in another country!

The sun was just starting to rise as we took off from Newfoundland, so I could see all the snow out the window across the aisle! So glad I don't live in those northern parts. They still had quite a bit of a winter wonderland going on. I hadn't seen snow since maybe around New Year's! (Although for the record, Hungary had a mild winter and a very low amount of snow as compared to the usual winters here.)

I have to be honest and say that at first when everything happened, all I could do was pray for the woman and for all of the people attending to her, but once I knew she was okay and we were taking off again to head to London, I did start to get quite anxious about how the rest of our journey would be as I knew we were missing our connecting flight to Budapest. I was mainly concerned because I wondered how much money it would cost to get the two of us on another flight and how that would work with all of our checked bags with all of the American goodies and clothes I was bringing back. I was also worried how Seth would handle it all with our longest plane ride now being several hours longer, and my stomach was in knots thinking he might wake up and not be happy having to sit in the area for hours more. I know it's quite selfish of me, and I didn't want to ask the flight crew about it because it would sound so selfish. I looked over at Seth who was still soundly sleeping through the whole ordeal, and so God provided me with an hour of sleep myself.

We did land in London hours later as my connecting flight had already left. I got off the plane where I was greeted by British Airways people who asked me about my flight plans. They had been notified of our emergency landing in Canada, so they were waiting to help all of us out. I told them that our final destination was Budapest, and when they looked me up, they said that I had already been booked on the next flight out, although it wasn't for another 6 hours or so. At that point in time, I could care less as I was just so grateful that they had already booked the two of us on another flight without me having to worry about that hassle.

My next job was to try and get a hold of Kevin to let him know that I wasn't on that flight to Budapest. It took me about an hour and a half to go through the London process of getting to the new Terminal 5, getting my new boarding pass, going through security for the millionth time again, and getting to a phone. Seriously, there is NO phone available to use until I went through all of that. At this point in time, I knew Kevin had already left to go pick us up from a flight we weren't on.

I tried to use the phone, but you have to know the country codes, which of course I don't have memorized! I went to ask for help. I asked some random woman walking around with an ID badge, so I assumed she must work there. She of course didn't know what to do or how to help, so she also asked the next random person with an ID badge. This Heathrow Airport worker actually "happened" to be Hungarian, and so she was able to help me out. Again, praise the Lord for providing her of all people! She helped me with the country code, what to dial, and all of that. She even told me something better... go to the British Airways customer service desk and tell them what happened.

So that's what I did. Someone whipped out their cell phone and allowed me to call Hungary for free! I left a message with Whittington because I know Kevin had already left and I had no way of contacting him. Then the nice BA lady gave me vouchers for free food at any of the places in Terminal 5! I never expected that, and I was SO grateful for something to eat. Again, praise the Lord!

Seth was an amazing trooper. He slept most of the flight to London and then was in a great mood during our long layover. He just was in my front carrier, and he and I walked around the new terminal at Heathrow. It was HUGE! No wonder they had all the problems they did when it opened right before I left. They had tons of top of the line stores to shop at because it's "duty free" and we had fun looking around. People from all over the world spoke to us in languages I didn't know or understand, but somehow when you have a cute baby who is smiling and talking to everyone, that language barrier doesn't seem to be such a barrier.

We did finally leave London last night. The flight got delayed because they didn't get the plane cleaned in time. It was rather odd because the flight had been sitting there for a long time when they announced that it was delayed because the cleaning crew was stuck in a lift so they had to send a replacement cleaning crew. Seriously?! Stuck in an elevator?!

So we left late and didn't land in Budapest, get our luggage and go through border control until about 1:00 a.m. And I must have a face that looks suspicious or something because I am ALWAYS stopped by other border people in Hungary with lots of questions, even after I've been admitted into the country by the initial border control. Do I look like trouble or something? I never thought so, but apparently I do here.

But none of that mattered once we entered through those doors and saw a tired Kevin waiting for us. Seth immediately lit up for Kevin.

We are now back safe and sound, a little tired, sad, and sick with colds. Poor Seth can barely breathe. I have no idea what the time transition will be like for Seth. He adjusted very quickly in the States, but now with him being sick, I think it'll be a longer recovery. At least we aren't in a hurry as we'll be here for a long time.

Thanks to our families for everything you did for us. We love you and miss you all SO MUCH already. I can't think about how much I miss you now or I will cry.

I am going to go try to unpack some things now. Our shelf doesn't have enough room to hold all of our American goodies! Where to put it all... a problem I am glad to have!


Mike said...

Wow, that was an amazing story. It was so cool to read how God took care of everything and how British Airways seems to be the greatest in the industry. Glad you made it back ok!

Aimee said...

I'm so glad to hear that you're back safe! My goodness... quite the little adventure you & Seth had. It's awesome to read about all the blessings God provided along the way for you both - He is SO good!! Kevin must be thrilled to have you guys back home... I know he was really missing you both. Hopefully we'll get to talk sometime later this week once you've had some time to catch up on sleep :) Love you!!

Stefanie said...

Yesterday during my step class I kept looking at the clock thinking of you and then mom called and told me what happened...I know I talked to you this morning...but I'm so glad you made it home safely! Love you!

P.S. Remember how you changed Seth's diaper and put it in dad's garbage can at work...thinking the cleaning people would empty it. They didn't...so dad walked into work with a dirty diaper that had been sitting there for three days. Yuck! He said he was afraid someone was going to walk in and think he passed gas! Haha.