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Bonjour!

August 22, 2014

We have arrived in Albertville, France!  I think traveling a third of the way around the globe with three small kids is, you know, crazy.

Matthew and I stayed up all night, literally, to finish packing and sorting.  We were laughing that after fifteen months anticipating this day, we still had to pull an all-nighter to finish.  We were literally zipping the last bags and taking out the trash when our ride to the airport showed up!

We dropped off the truck with our Congo bins at MAF on the way to the airport.  Next, we checked our bins (10 bins/suitcases, three car seats.  We dragged our six carry-ons (well, five, plus a few “personal items”), stroller, baby backpack and three kids to the gate…and had about five minutes to spare before boarding.  Hurry hurry hurry annnnnd, mechanical issues.  Oh well, we had a four hour layover in Chicago, so it wasn’t a big deal to hang out for an extra hour in Boise.

The flight went well, though we were separated.  Since we couldn’t pick our seats until we checked in at the airport, we had to get seats apart, but to even get us that close they were “forced” to upgrade our seats to the ones with more leg room and fancy arm rests.  Poor us!  The little boys and Mommy hung out in one row, and Daddy and Amelia hung out a few rows up.  Easy.

After a couple of hours wandering in O’Hare, we boarded the fanciest airplane we’ve ever been on – my first 747!  We enjoyed a whole row of seats in the front of economy class and Axel got to use the bassinet that hangs on the wall.  It was an eight hour flight – not for the faint of heart or for the very tired with small children.  They fed us well, passed out toys to the kids, and had fancy screens with a huge selection of movies.  The kids watched their favorites (Tangled, Planes, Ice Age)…Matthew and I each got through about 30 minutes, over the course of the eight hour flight, of our movies, but the kids, unintentionally dozing, and all of the awesome treats kept interrupting us.  Oh well.  We survived and eventually we all got a little sleep!

The layover in Frankfurt was quick.  Customs was merely a passport check and a stamp.  We wandered the longest route between two terminals that was ever built.  I managed to describe and acquire our gate-checked stroller to someone who only spoke German.  At this point we were super tired, but still pressing on.  We didn’t have time for food, but we had been fed so well on the long-haul flight that it didn’t matter.  We finally boarded our plane for the last one-hour flight to Lyon, France.  The snacks were great, but the fatigue was setting in and our patience was tried.  Levi and Amelia ended up having a screaming match as we boarded, we were seated separately, Axel suddenly had a brief case of diarrhea, and we were nearly done.

Finally, we deplaned and then the real work began.  We hauled all of our things and a stinky Axel down to baggage claim.  We some how coordinated ourselves to get him changed and the kids together and all of our bins.  It was stressful to see one of our bins had been inspected by TSA but they had failed to apply a new zip tie, thus it arrived to us open.  We’re pretty sure it was intact (the expensive stuff in it was still there) and a few missing socks aren’t anything we’ll get upset over.  All of our things finally arrived and now it was time to haul them out to the car rental place.  Easier said than done, but we managed to rent three carts and wrangle ourselves across the airport, out to the bus stop and, with the help of a sweet stranger, we got all of our bags on board the bus and rode out to rent a van.

The van was an awesome van, but it barely fit our things.  We unpacked a couple of bins to stuff clothing in the empty spaces, and no one needed foot room, right?  The drive was easy – Matthew felt like driving was exactly like in the states.  We’re out in the country, so it was a lot of corn fields and vineyards and castles.  Yay castles!  Finally we arrived in Albertville.  We drove around downtown to see what it was like, stopped a store for diapers (I went in by myself and my shopping French came back easily…or I faked it well, anyway) and eventually found the school.  They showed us to our apartment here on campus and several students helped haul the things to our rooms.

There are families here to who began their school year in January, so they will leave in December.  Many of the families starting with us will arrive next week.  The campus is very small, about 25 families or single students.  I can’t wait to meet everyone and get to know them.  The few we met briefly yesterday were very sweet and helpful.  Lots of kids are here, as well as many toys and things for them on this little plot.

We looked around our apartment and figured out where we would all sleep.  We have the luxury of three bedrooms, so we’ll spend this afternoon rearranging the furniture to get it closer to how we want.  Then we’ll unpack and settle in.  So many things to think about, but it should be fun to finally get settled.

The weather here is only slightly cooler than it was in Idaho, so it’s nice to not transition that way yet.  We walked around later in the afternoon yesterday to see what we could acquire on foot.  There are a couple of small grocery stores, a pharmacy, a couple of bakeries within easy walking distance, so we’ll be just fine without a car.  We did drive to a large box store to pick up some other essentials that we didn’t bring.  It was a bit overwhelming, since we hadn’t been to bed in nearly 48 hours at that point, but we only had the car for a short time.  It is only a mile away, so still walkable, but nice to be able to drive.

The night actually went well.  The kids all woke in the middle of the night, but after eating and talking for a bit, went back to sleep quite easily.  We all slept in and, while the fatigue is still present, it’s good to get some rest!  We are grateful we have some extra days to do that before we launch into school.

It’s a beautiful little town and we can’t wait to continue to explore it!  Hopefully, I’ll get some pictures posted soon.  Thank you for all of your prayers.  Please keep them coming as we deal with jet lagged kids, new spaces, foreign expectations, and just life in general!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Tim Rice permalink
    August 25, 2014 0829

    Just read your newsletter. see you on this thursday. hope not all nighters.

    Dr. Tim and Kathy Rice

    Our website: CongoHealthConnection.org Our Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/CongoHealthConnection

    To support this work you can send your tax deductible contributions through New City Fellowship of St. Louis. You can make your check out to New City Fellowship and in the memo line be sure to put Rice-Congo. Mailing address: 1142 Hodiamont Avenue St Louis, MO 63112 For more information contact Lisa St. Pierre: lisa@ncfstl.org, 314-726-2302 x229.

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