We Made It!

Yes, it’s true. They let us out of the country, and we were allowed to enter both the US and Canada, so here I sit in my parent’s kitchen. It’s early and the Christmas lights are on. I’m the only one awake so I thought I would savor the moment and catch up.

We had a pretty eventful trip. Our flight from Port to Miami was late leaving/arriving because the morning flight from Miami (the plane we were going out on) didn’t arrive until 9:20 am. Our flight was supposed to be leaving at 9:40. Yeah, that didn’t happen. By the time we touched down in Miami we had ONE HOUR to get through customs, find our bags, take those through security, recheck them, and RUN for the gate. We got there just as they were finishing boarding. There was much huffing and puffing though.

Our flight to Chicago was uneventful. The five hour flight to Seattle was as well, until the last 40 or so minutes. When the pilot comes on and says, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to be heading into some bad weather so I’m going to ask you to buckle up and stay in your seats while the flight crew comes through the cabin to clear any garbage,” it’s never a good sign. The flight attendant in our section was collecting stuff when the first bit of turbulence hit and she dropped to her knees and did this shuffle thing to the back of the plane. I’ll be honest, I started laughing because it was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a while. The turbulence got bad enough that we were starting to have flashbacks from all those horrific flying movies you see. The man on my right disposed of his lunch at some point before we landed, and there was much clapping when all of the wheels were on the ground and the plane had stopped shaking.

We got into the airport and found our friends, but not our luggage. We had a feeling it wouldn’t arrive because of the close connection in Miami. Chris reassured me that Seattle is the best place to fly into when you lose your luggage because, “They’ll have it on your door step the next morning”. Well, the next morning rolled around and there was no luggage because there was no power. Seattle had been hit with such a bad wind storm that over 1,000,000 people were without power, including the SEATAC airport. They had canceled flights shortly after our plane landed on Thursday. So…no bags, no nothing. My mom had sent me a box with a few winter things, and I had ordered a new jacket, so that was handy. Chris stores some of his winter stuff at Joel’s, but we basically had to scrounge for stuff. We had already been planning to head up to a lodge about 30 minutes out of Seattle for the weekend because Joel and Trina were getting married so we decided to pack up and head out and check on our bags on Sunday.

We got to the lodge and found they had only generator power, but there were wood burning fireplaces in each room, and hot water, so we were already two points ahead over staying in Seattle where we had no wood and no hot water, or anything to cook on for that matter. It was kind of funny for Chris and I because we had left the third world to come back to a place where they have everything right at their finger tips, to find that they had nothing at their finger tips and that we would have been better off in a similar situation in Haiti because, well, we live in that every day.

The weekend at the lodge was good. The wedding was small and casual with just a few friends and vows said down by Snoqualmie Falls. There was a good dinner consumed and a breakfast shared with married people. Chris and Joel have been best friends for the last 8 years I think and they are the only two that completely understand each other. Trina and I are grateful for each other because the boys can go do car things and we now have someone to hang out with that doesn’t want to talk about motors. So now we’re all married people and are looking forward to being married friends. It’s kind of fun that we were all married within 6 months of each other.

On the way back to Seattle we decided to stop at the airport just to check to see if our bags were there. We had a pretty good feeling when we saw the 300+ suitcases etc sitting outside the American Airlines luggage claim center. Chris found his suitcase within seconds of getting down there and after about 5 minutes we had all of our bags and were on our merry way. I guess when you have to cancel a bunch of flights coming into a center like Seattle it kind of throws things off. Everyone that we worked with/talked to about our bags being lost was incredible and helpful. I don’t know if I could have been that way working in a part of the industry where people are angry before they walk in your door, and having to sort out and connect bags with owners with a back up like that couldn’t have been fun on any level.

After stopping at the house and loading up the car we were on our way and arrived at Mom and Dads just as they were eating dinner. The whole family was home and it was so nice to just sit and be with them. After dinner Mom and I decorated the Christmas tree and we sat and visited a bit. It feels so good to be home. It’s familiar yet different because I have a boy sleeping in my bed now!

Monday was errand day that mostly involved taking care of all of my legal name change stuff. I am now officially Leslie Rolling and that feels good. Yesterday I had a Leslie day and took care of most of our Christmas shopping. Chris has quickly realized that a benefit of being married is that most of his Christmas shopping is done by me. He hates shopping, so once again, being married is a GREAT thing :) We’ve also spent little pockets of time with friends, and I’m realizing that it doesn’t matter how far away we are, there are certain people that the distance doesn’t affect. Things will always be as they were and that makes me happy. It also makes me miss them more and I have had moments where living back here comes to mind, but I know that we’re supposed to be in Haiti and that’s where my heart needs to live. This will always be home to me too though.

So that’s the excitement of being here. It’s interesting to be surrounded by everything Christmas here. I’ve found that it hasn’t really bothered me, the materialism I mean. Not because I’m not thinking about it. I think it’s just that I was already mentally preparing myself for the fact that it would be the way it is. And, I’ll be honest, I like to be out and around when people are Christmas shopping, because as much as the focus maybe about consuming, there’s also a different feel at this time of the year. Some people run around franticly, but others don’t. People are thinking about others. That’s what makes me smile.

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About Leslie

I'm Leslie. Wife. Mother. Missionary. In the day to day my husband and I are responsible for running Clean Water for Haiti, a humanitarian mission that builds and distributes water filters to Haitian families. Living in Haiti full time provides lots of stories, and as I tell my husband, our grandkids probably won't believe most of them. Maybe writing them down will give me some credibility.

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