I know we've all heard that life is a journey. I guess that can be true in many different ways, but I've never really had a traveling experience that was comparable to the unexpectedness of life. Well, my trip to Romania was one for the books, and sheds new light on this analogy for me, haha!
I boarded my plane in North Carolina to go to Detroit and then Chicago to meet the other intern going with me to Romania. The first flight was smooth, relaxing even. Then as I was getting close to the Detroit airport there was a lot of air traffic so the plane had to circle around a few times, delaying the landing time. I had an hour and a half layover so I wasn't too concerned, but when we landed I found out that my next flight to Chicago was delayed two hours. That meant that I would only have thirty minutes in Chicago but I had to get my check in bag from baggage claim, recheck it in and go back through security. So thirty minutes wasn't doable. Thankfully our flight out of Chicago went back to Detroit, so in my logical mind, why can't I just get my bag in Detroit, check it back in here and meet my friend in Detroit instead of Chicago. Well any of you that have dealt with airports and rescheduling flights will know, nothing is that simple. But my optimistic self went to the customer service station in the airport, where no one was working... there was also no one at the gate of my delayed flight. (So during this time, I'm walking up and down the terminal, with coffee in hand of course, carrying one duffle bag and backpack learning how very weak my muscles are.) Finally a lady starts walking towards the customer service station, so I think maybe, just maybe she's coming to help me. Sure enough she walks behind the counter, but then holds up her hand to tell me to wait. There is literally no one there and she doesn't pick up the phone or anything. Instead she shuffles some papers around for a few minuets, then looks up at me as if I had just gotten there and asks if she can help me. So I patiently walk up to the desk and explain to her my predicament. After completing the whole story, she asks me why on earth I purchased tickets that took me through Detroit to Chicago only to come back to Detroit. I told her that it was half the cost of going straight to Chicago and that was where I was meeting my friend, so I needed to go there. She nods her head as if I made some sense of that, then told me that there was nothing she could do to help me. I had to talk to reservations, which I could do by picking up one of the phones on the other side of the station.
So I walked over there, talked to reservations who said that they could change my flights to stay in Detroit, but customer service had to stop my bag from going to Chicago. Before they would change my flights they needed confirmation that it wasn't too late to get my bag. So I had to hang up and walk back to the desk, the same lady told me that she could indeed stop my bag but I had to hurry. I ran back to phone, got a different reservations person so I had to tell her the whole story again. She had to get her supervisor's permission to change my flights so a half hour later, (I was so afraid this wasn't "hurrying" and they wouldn't be able to get my bag) my flight had been changed and I could stay in Detroit. This whole time I had been messaging my family and the other intern to pray that God would work everything out smoothly! I turned around to go back to the customer service desk and there were four people working there. I had to wait in line for a bit and then I talked to another agent (explaining the whole story one more time) who got my bag scheduled to go straight to Budapest.
Feeling absolutely relived, I let everyone know that things were worked out and I went to hunt down some dinner. I spent seven hours in the airport, eating dinner, working on my book, and drinking coffee. For an introvert it was a pretty incredible evening spent in the airport. (During this time, the other intern started emailing me and the rest of the team to say that there was a riot going on in the Detroit airport and all the flights were being grounded! So I never went to Chicago and she didn't make it to Detroit until the day after I left)
That night, I boarded my flight, alone, to Amsterdam and promptly went to sleep. The next morning they announced that my flight was a little behind schedule, but since I had another hour and half layover, I wasn't worried. Little did I know that the Amsterdam airport is impressively huge. Walking from my arrival point to the passport check and then to my gate that was literally at the end of a terminal took the whole hour and half (And I walked like 8 miles!). When I arrived at the gate, there was no plane, no people and the flight information screen was blank. So, I turned around and headed back to the center of the airport where I last saw flight info screens. As I was walking, I happened to look over to the right and see the name Budapest on a gate screen. I walked over and sure enough it was my flight and all the people were in line, boarding! I moved to the end of the line and got on the plane before it took off. God is in the little moments!
I boarded that last plane and fell asleep again. It was a short flight and we were soon landing in Budapest. At the baggage claim, I waited about an hour before my flight's bags came out, only to find that my bag wasn't there. There were so many languages all around me that I didn't understand, and only a few signs that were in English, so it took me a little while to find the lost baggage desk and wait in line. About that time, I got an email from a lady on the team in Romania that my driver was outside and he was ready to leave. I quickly told her that I was trying to get my bag registered and I would be right out. As I was finishing up with the paperwork, I got another email saying that my driver was going to leave, and I had to go to the pick up right then. I was honestly about to sit down in the airport and cry. I wanted a shower, I had a cold, my bag was gone (in it was my french press...priorities), my driver was going to leave, and I was hungry. Thankfully we finished up quickly and I ran out to the pickup area. A couple from the team in Romania and the driver were still there and we rushed out to the van. A few tears threatened to come out then and I told myself I had to hold it together for four more hours, until I reached my flat. However, the couple that came to meet me at the airport were the most loving and charming people. We quickly became friends and talked about each other's cultures, families, adjusting to Romania, bible translation, language learning, and what I could expect on my new journey.
When we arrived at the drop off, there were more team members waiting to greet me, even though it was around 11pm! They helped me buy some shampoo because that was in my lost bag, and get settled into my flat. The next morning, I woke up to look out my window... stunned by this view. (Not only is it beautiful to look out at this city during the day, but the sun sets right over the rooftops! It's this sunset-watching-fool's dream come true!)
I can't say it enough, God is with us! In every moment, He is sharing life with us; when it's dark He is our guiding light, and when life is peaceful, He's there to share that with us too. Life is crazy and it probably always will be, but with God it doesn't have to just be crazy. Life can be adventurous, colorful, breathtaking, quiet, loud, busy, and still. The most important part is that God's glory can be found in all the moments.
Enjoy your journey!