Thursday, August 6, 2009

Patience is a virtue...

A big THANKS to Boyd and Shelly for letting travel with this computer:):):):)

12:21 AM - Christi bursts into tears. We explain again that if we don't get on an earlier flight than the on China Southern is offering, Graci will not be able to see her family in Hangzhou. And who knows when that opportunity might present itself again.
11:15-1:30 AM - We're all praying fervently in our hearts. Graci counts at least 16 prayers she has said herself.
12:23 AM - Agent number 1 (Aaron) enlists the help of agent number 2 (Tunisia). Tunisia has been observing Christi's hysterics (OK, hysterics is a bit of a stretch, but there is definitely some seriously smeared mascara at this point). Tunisia gets back on the phone with China Southern. The key is China Southern has to stamp our paper tickets and endorse them over to United. If this happens, United can book us on anything they want to. Apparently, this is against China Southern policy. But HOORAY for Tunisia. She pushes and pushes and pushes...and pushes until the China Southern agent finally agrees to do this endorsement. But it's late. And the China Southern agent is technically off work. And she has to physically stamp the paper ticket. And it took 15 minutes on a shuttle to get from where she is to where we are. And Jer is wearing floppy sandals. See Jer run. See Jer forget to take off his backpack. See Jer forget to take of his jacket. See Jer realize that LA is much more humid than SLC. See Jer thinking "Man I'm grateful I lost that 13 pounds before we travelled." See Jer thinking "Man I wish I'd lost 13 more." See Jer's back start to ache. See Jer running out of breath. See Jer try to use a luggage cart as a skateboard. See said skateboard start spinning out of control.
12:55 AM - Jer finds the China Southern agent and she endorses the ticket. At this point she also informs me that our luggage has been locked up for the night. It will go out on China Southern's next flight. The one that leaves 48 hours later:( This means we will not get our luggage until 2 days after we arrive in Hangzhou. (I'm developing more empathy for Boyd and Shelly on their trip to Ethiopia at this point. (Check them out here.)
1:15 AM - I make it back to the United ticket counter and they start working on re-routing us.
2:00 AM - Re-routing complete. We are scheduled to leave LA at 7:36 AM. We will go to San Francisco, then to Beijing, then to Hangzhou. We are now scheduled to arrive a mere 8 hours later than originally planned. We are very, VERY happy with this outcome at this point.
2:15 AM - Catch shuttle to airline-provided hotel.
2:30 AM - Lights out.
4:50 AM - Christi gets up and showers.
5:03 AM - Jeremy gets up.
5:20 AM - Jesi never got up. Jer carries her as we leave for the airport.
6:00 AM - The humidity has completely negated Christi's shower at this point. She stops at a shop and gets a new shirt with some of Dean's "airport money."
7:36 AM - We are on our way again!!!

So now we're waiting in San Francisco. We're feeling grateful to be going so soon. We're also feeling extremely tired. The girls have been amazingly wonderful through all this. I couldn't believe Graci last night. I've seriously never seen her run before. If I ask her to go quickly, she shuffles along a little faster. If I ask her to run, she will do a half-hearted jog for a few steps and then start walking again. But last night, when we explained that we were trying to catch a 1:50 AM flight and if we didn't catch it, we might not see her China family, she ran. Really, REALLY ran. And this was with a broken toe! I was very impressed.

So the start of our trip has been a bit rocky. But trials are, after all, one great way the Lord instructs us. As we were boarding the flight to San Francisco this morning, I said to Christi, "I've come a long way." She knew exactly what I was referring to. She complimented me on how patient I had been with the girls and how friendly and kind I was the with the customer service people along the way. (Obviously, since I've come a long way, this was not always my modus operandi in stressful situations.) Anyway, we're doing well at this point. Next time we talk, we'll be in China. I hope...

BTW-Terynn, we're already feeling that "supernatural refreshment." Thanks SO MUCH for the prayers.

Grin and bear it...;)

5:45 pm - Planned on leaving our home for the airport. (This gave us plenty of leeway)
6:10 pm - Actually left the house. No pressure at this point.
7:00 pm - Arrive at airport. (Thanks to Dean for "airport money" he slipped us as he dropped us off!)
7:45 pm - Find out the flight from SLC to LA is delayed one hour. Start to sweat the connection a little. We will have to leave security, go to China Southern ticket desk and clear security again in LA.
9:30 pm - Find out the flight from SLC to LA is now delayed 1.5 hours. Starting to get quite nervous.
10:40 pm (PST) - Arrive in LA. Ask several personnel how to get to the international terminal. Directions are not clear. Man, is LAX a beast!!!
10:55 PM - Find shuttle to international terminal. (Flight leaves at 11:50 PM)
11:10 PM - Arrive at China Southern ticket counter. Our flight is listed on their display, but there is no one there at all!
11:17 PM - China Southern agent arrives and lets us know the flight is closed. We beg and plead and play the adoption card, but she will not budge. She tells us we can catch the next flight to Guangzhou - 48 HOURS LATER!!! We know there's an Air China flight leaving for Beijing at 1:50 AM. Can she re-route us on that flight. Of course not. We will have to BACK to the United terminal and talk to them because it was their flight that was late. Ticket counter for Air China flight will close at 12:50 PM. RUN!!!
11:40 PM - Arrive back at United terminal. Wait several valuable minutes as three agents help one group of people and another agent cooly stares us down and decides whatever she's doing is more important than helping us.
11:52 PM - Christi goes way outside of her comfort zone and approaches an agent with a plea for help.
11:53 PM - Agent informs us that there is nothing he can do since these are China Southern's tickets. If they were United tickets, he would gladly re-route us on the next available flight.
11:54-12:20 PM We plead, agent tries very hard. Agent calls China Southern who refuse to let United change the tickets. United agent continues to try. We realize we are not going to make the 1:50 AM flight.

to be continued...