More phone calls came and went in an effort to find my passport. He found nothing. He told me he was sorry but that he would have to take me to the International Services desk and that they would help me work out the details of being in Vienna for a few days. My heart sank. This couldn’t be happening.
So we walk down there and the lady is bothered that the mystery hadn’t been solved. When I told her that we had originally heard about a possible passport that had been found, and that we never heard much of an explanation as to why people had been thinking that, she wanted to investigate it further.
More phone calls.
One after the other, after the other. I went into a corner with Joni and we prayed our little hearts out. Jackson had hardly slept in about 18 hours and he was losing it. So was I.
Finally the lady found out that they did actually find a passport in the plane I was in, but that they didn’t really think it was mine. The name didn’t sound familiar to the person who had seen it. So we grabbed the guy who had originally tried to help me, and sent him down to an office on the other side of the airport to see. I told him to come back with my passport or I was going to have a heart attack and it would be on his head. He laughed. We felt like old friends by now.
Soon after he left, I heard the last call for my flight. The lady at the Int’l Services desk called the gate and told them my situation and to wait for me.
I think we waited less than 10 minutes, but they were the longest, most agonizing 10 minutes of my life. Then the phone rang. The guy who went to check on it was calling to say,
IT WAS MINE! I cheered right out loud! Joni and I did a high-five and jumped up and down. We waited ten more minutes for the guy to come back, then ran to the plane. I never thought I would be so happy to fly AGAIN. I think I smiled all the way to the plane. I was even smiling as I was walking down the aisle of the plane, even though everybody was staring me down as being the reason for them having to wait.
I didn’t care. I was going to Israel!
The best part about that last flight was that they were nice enough to rearrange things as I got on so that Jackson could have his car seat in his own seat. It was awesome. Both kids were totally tired and hungry and ornery, but it was much more manageable with Jackson in his own seat. I was so happy that whole flight. Nothing could have disturbed my happiness.
Oh, wait. I still have one more surprise.
So we fly in to Tel Aviv, and people help me off with all my stuff. Another lady offered to help me walk to the passport-check place by wheeling my suitcase for me so I would have two hands for the stroller. So nice. I love Israel already. The whole time we’re standing in line I am just happy as can be. We made it. Tom was probably on the other side of this wall I’m looking at. He promised to meet me before baggage claim so he could help me with the suitcases. We get to the other side of that wall, and there’s no Tom.
I wait around for a few minutes and decide to go walk around the baggage claim area just in case he’s already there gathering our luggage. No Tom in sight.
I decide to sit down and wait. I kept thinking I should just get up and get my baggage myself so that we’re ready by the time he gets there. But I knew I couldn’t do it. There was no way I would be able to fill up a luggage cart and then steer both the cart and the stroller. It was physically impossible.
So I waited some more. I tried calling home to get Tom’s cell number which I had forgotten to pack, but no one answered.
I waited a full hour before I realized that my baggage claim carousel had stopped turning. So I decide to go gather what I could and at least put it in a pile. As I get up to walk across the baggage claim area, I look down the hallway where everyone had been walking to with their luggage. They were going through customs! Duh! Tom COULDN’T come that far to help me! He was probably just sitting there waiting on the other side for me!
Okay, we’ll figure a way for the baggage thing to work.
So we go walk around the carousel, but there’s a problem. There’s only one of my bags. The other three are…yup, you guessed it, missing in action. They are nowhere to be found. I immediately walk over to the lost and found area. It had at least 100 pieces of luggage sitting around outside, so I start looking through the rows. None of them are mine. I go up to the counter, and she basically tells me to sign some papers, and they’d let me know IF they found them. I knew I was in trouble when she asked me to describe them and she writes down my oh-so detailed description of a “big black duffel” and an “old Atlantic black suitcase” and a “medium sized blue suitcase with red trim.” They probably already had five suitcases that fit each of those descriptions.
I had no hope of finding those suitcases that held ALL of the clothes that Joni, Jackson, and I owned, ALL of the toiletries that I had meticulously stocked up on and packed, my mission scriptures, ALL of our shoes, and many, many other things.
So once I finally made it through customs, that smile I had painted on my face an hour and a half earlier was long gone. Now I was fighting back the tears. I wanted to hurt somebody.
For the next two days I wore the exact same clothes, including underwear, that I had sweated so profusely in when in the Chicago airport, running my dang-near half marathon. Joni and Jackson were also filthy.
But I am happy to say that Monday night I did get them back. We finally got a hold of the right people, they had found the luggage, and they had someone drive it all out to me. I was so excited at every little thing I had packed. Under garments suddenly felt so exciting. I cheered when I saw my pajamas. I am so grateful to have all my stuff!
Well, if you made it to the end of this adventure, thanks. Now a whole knew adventure is starting, and this one will last two years. I hope it goes a little better than my arrival.
I already have so many things to share, pictures to take, and things to tell, and I've only been here five days!
So far I love Jerusalem. It's a whirl-wind, but I love it.