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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy New Year - Bring on the Change!

So we have arrived at our country of assignment, after a year and a half of knowing we would be coming Madagascar. It is a bit surreal that we are actually here. And I must admit when we made our final descent to Antananarivo airport I shed a few tears amazed that we actually made it halfway around the globe with 4 little children in tow! They did amazingly—Only by God’s grace. They didn’t start complaining until we were in the airport in Tana when the humidity and the exhaustion hit them.
For those of you interested in the details of our trip – read on. For the rest, pictures are at the bottom!  From the beginning now, we left Quebec City on Friday afternoon. I was taken with the girls to the bus depot where I took a charter bus to Montreal. Rob drove the MAF van, that we have been borrowing since the summer, with all of our gear and the boys. We took the bus because there was no way we would all be able to fit! We all arrived at our hotel around supper time. The girls and I took quite the detour however, because the charter bus dropped us off at Trudeau airport and we were supposed to get a hotel shuttle bus from there. I didn’t realize there were multiple Comfort Inns nearby, and the one I called, well, their shuttle bus was out of service for about 30 minutes because of a medical emergency for a passenger. So we had the choice of hiring a taxi, or standing outside (without shelter) in -20 degree weather and it was snowing heavily. So decided to take a taxi, plus the hotel offered to foot the bill because their shuttle was going to be down for a bit. The girls were already quite tired of traveling by this point. Joyanne was saying “Mommy, I have to pee, mommy I have to pee!” Over and over again, I was feeling overwhelmed by the airport and unfamiliarity of everything, plus doing this minor transfer solo. Poor Joyanne was ignored, and I even had to say, “Look, it’s ok, you have a pull-up on. If you have to go, just go.” L Bad mommy. And Faith was very cold apparently, and unimpressed by getting snowed on. Our taxi driver was also unimpressed by me, because the hotel I asked him to take me to, (I found out en route after phoning Rob and verifying the hotel) that it was the wrong hotel. Rather than graciously driving me around and being glad I was charging more km’s to his meter, he was very upset with my apparent ineptitude. After doing a circle or two around, we finally got dropped off at the wrong hotel, and had the shuttle bus pick us up from there to take us to the correct hotel!
Enough of that. Day 2 of the travel we had to check out of our hotel by noon. Because we had so much stuff in the van, and we couldn’t all fit, a MAF advocate was nice enough to come and help us get from the hotel to the airport. Once at the airport, Air France wouldn’t let us check in because we were too early. Our flight wasn’t leaving until 7:55pm, and it was only 1:00. So, we waited and waited, had lunch, broke a glass bottle of Calvin’s and spilled formula all over the floor (by accident). The MAF advocate was so great, he even rearranged his day to be able to stay longer than expected to help us check in all of our luggage: 9 Rubbermaid totes, 1 small toolbox and a suitcase! The wait on the other side of security didn’t feel quite so long. Finally we were aboard our first flight to Paris, a 5.5 hour flight from Montreal. The kids were amazing on this flight. After they served dinner both Wesley and Joyanne fell asleep, and Faith slept toward the end as well. It was unfortunate though that she woke up as we were making our descent, so being groggy and a bit airsick from some wind outside, she managed to throw up twice. Once landed, everybody stood up anxious to leave the aircraft. And all of the sudden I heard Wesley, who was in the middle section with Rob and Joyanne (I was on the side with the other 2 children), begin to scream! I saw Rob lift him up and he was holding his mouth which was bleeding! Rob quickly cleared a pathway to the back of the aircraft where they gave Wesley some ice. I guess he fell on his seat, also excited to be leaving the plane. I felt terrible for Faith now, who had just finished throwing up, yet insisted on bringing her airsickness bag with her out of the plane—because now she had to run around Paris airport with us, pulling  her own suitcase. Keep in mind that our bodies thought it was 3am by this point. I didn’t hear barely a complaint from the kids during our runaround Paris airport. We had a 2 hour layover, but between taking a bus to the next terminal, going through security again, and taking a second bus to the aircraft, we literally made it to the airplane as they were boarding. This was the long-haul flight. 11 Hours. Joyanne fell asleep on take-off and stayed asleep for about 6 hours! Wesley was quick to follow. Calvin didn’t go as easily however, and Faith refused to sleep until the final hour of the flight! Silly girl, but fortunately she didn’t have any need for the barf bag again. She slept through this descent. Through this flight both Rob and mine voices were going. I couldn’t do much more than whisper at him across the isle. It was terrible, but kind of funny at the same time.
Wow, Madagascar. My first impression as we came to the open door of the aircraft, “Wow, the air is warm! Yay! Wow, look at all of the flying things! (Bugs) Wow, listen to all of the different sounds!”
We made it through customs without incident. The kids were getting very anxious to have the trip over by this time. They were in their flannel jammies, and feeling far too warm for comfort. Faith wanted her clothes off, and I refused! Joyanne and Wesley were sweating like crazy, and Calvin was ready to go “Home.”
We arrived home to our beds ready and waiting. It was like Christmas for the kids. Suddenly when we arrived there, they had a burst of energy and started screaming for joy and running around the almost empty house! Wes spotted a gecko in the back yard, and I spotted my first cockroach on the wall in the girls’ room. The cockroach was quickly killed by my brave neighbour Jocelyn. Thank you Jocelyn. I only wish our voices weren’t gone so we were able to talk without me straining so much. But as I get more rest, my voice is getting back to normal.
Letting the dust settle now..... we are adapting to the new time zone fairly well I think. Our wonderful other MAF families are cooking dinner for us this first week. Rob has been out shopping, and we both went to the hangar to see where he will work.
Thank you so much for the abundance of prayers. We know that it’s only by God’s grace we made it here without too much excitement, and we trust it’s only by His strength that we will continue on this journey here.


Jenny Toews January 5, 2012 at 11:37 AM  

Yay! What an adventure! Best wishes and blessings as you settle in! Go Barbers! : )

Amanda January 5, 2012 at 11:46 AM  

Thank you so much for telling us about your journey. It sounds eventful, uncomfortable (as travelling often is) and miraculous. You guys are learning strength in what you are doing and I admire you so much!

Danielle Van Roekel January 5, 2012 at 12:42 PM  

Wow, so glad you all made it safe! That pic of Calvin is so cute - he has grown up a lot! Karina, thanks for telling the tale and please please please post more pictures! Miss you guys lots and praying for you!