March 6, 2014 was an exciting day for us. It’s the day we were leaving for Brazil! To get ready for this day we had applied for, and received, our tourist’s visas. We had visited Passport Health to update our vaccinations and immunizations including tetanus shots, flu shots, yellow fever shots, and typhoid shots. We had made, and remade, packing lists. We’d actually packed. And then re-packed. We had been staying in communication with Tom and Jean McCracken, the missionaries who would be hosting us, so that they had our most recent travel information. It was a lot of work, but also a whole lot of excitement.
The day before, we had finished packing, driven to Lexington to pick my mom at the airport (she had been in Florida with my grandparents after my grandpa’s open heart surgery), and then taken her home to Richmond. My parent’s were going to be our ride to the airport at 4:30am the next day.
After getting the car stuck in the snow just going to get my mom, and then again the next morning, we finally made it to the airport. After having two different vehicles stuck in the snow in two different towns, I should not have been surprised when our plane got stuck in the snow at the Lexington Airport and they had to get shovels to dig us out.
A 30 minute delay later, we were in the air on the way to Dallas. Once there, we ran most of the way across a rather large airport to make it to our plane just as it was boarding. We made it, and settled in for our flight to Miami. Once in Miami, we waited around a little while until our final flight of the day to Manaus, Brazil.
Our ultimate destination was Itaituba, Brazil, but there are not flights from the U.S. to Itaituba. Instead, you have to fly to either Manaus or Santarem in Brazil and then either catch a domestic flight or else a boat to Itaituba. The McCrackens had opted for us to just fly from Manaus to Itaituba as that would take the least amount of time.
We landed in Manaus at 11:20PM. We knew it would not be long before we would finally meet up with Tom and Jean McCracken. It had been a long day of travel, but we were finally there! We worked our way through Immigration, picked up our suitcases, and then worked our way through Customs. We were tired, but knew that the McCrackens would be on the other side of Customs to pick us up so we could head to the hotel they had booked.
Upon exiting Customs, imagine our surprise not seeing any familiar faces. Anywhere. Trust me, we looked high and low through that airport, and we couldn’t find a single person we knew. After waiting a little while, I realized that the McCrackens were flying in to meet us. We didn’t know when they had flown in, but I decided to go check the arriving flights to see when a flight from either Itaituba or Santarem was arriving. We discovered that the flight from Santarem, the flight we really hoped they were on, was delayed more than two hours. So we sat and waited…
…and waited a little more. Sometime after 1:00am, Tom and Jean finally arrived and we were finally with people we knew! We found out that their flights had been delayed because of a terrible storm in Balem, Brazil. Their flight was coming from there and caused their two hour delay. Because there was no way for us to contact each other, they just had to pray we made it safely and would sit tight until they came and got us.
Just a mere 22 hours after leaving for the airport in Lexington, we arrived at our hotel in Manaus where we promptly collapsed into our beds and went to sleep.