Good evening from upstate New York! We have arrived in the States for our second short, 3-month furlough. Though how this furlough will turn out we have no idea.
Last Monday, the 16th, things started to get crazy with the Coronavirus spreading around the world. Of course on Sunday the President declared a national emergency and had announced all flights from Europe to the US were to be cancelled. We were supposed to be flying out 7 days later, on the 23rd. But we were not really sure if the flights would still be running. There were rumors that already many flights were being cancelled. So I called our airline and succeeded in getting our flight moved up to Saturday, the 21st. And we began packing.
We spent the whole week watching the news and watching our flight to make sure it was not cancelled. By Thursday it seemed like everything was a “go.” We were two days out from our trip and the flights still had not been cancelled. Our house was just about all packed, and so were our suitcases. Friday morning we washed our last couple loads of laundry and got it out to dry in the hot sun, and we began weighing our bags and making sure everything was ready. Then in the middle of the morning we found out our flight was cancelled.
I immediately got on the phone with the airline, and discovered that our airline had cancelled all flights going out of our airport in Belém going to the United States. In fact, only two airports in all of Brazil were still flying into the United States: the airport in São Paulo and the airport in Rio de Janeiro. So the airline recommended that we rebook our flight to go through São Paulo. But instead of leaving on Saturday evening, this flight left in a few hours. So we quickly folded up the last of our laundry, finished our bags, and got off to the airport.
That night’s flight was from Belém to São Paulo. It arrived around midnight, and we had about an 11 hour layover. Some friends came and picked us up from the airport, and we crashed at their house for a few hours. Then early on Saturday morning we were off again to the airport. We got on board a large 777 which was mostly empty, and enjoyed lots of space to stretch out over the course of our long flight to Miami.
When we got to Miami we found out that another leg of our trip, from Philadelphia to Buffalo, had been cancelled. Our airline quickly got us rerouted from Miami to Buffalo through Charlotte, which provided an unexpected surprise for our daughters. Brandon’s parents live in North Carolina and drove down to Charlotte to see us! They had never met Grace, so it was an exciting time for them. It was too short, but very nice to see them.
We finally arrived in Buffalo on Sunday afternoon, after leaving from Belém on Friday evening. Our luggage, however, ended up going through Philadelphia and being delayed. But it all worked out in the end, and the airline delivered our luggage to our home.
So that was our exciting flight! Now we’re here in New York, getting adjusted to the cold, and working through the logistics of a very strange furlough. Because everything is on lockdown, we really don’t know how many churches we will be able to visit. But many churches are getting creative with their online presence – including our church in New York, and our church in Brazil. This weekend we will not be travelling, but we will be meeting with our scheduled church through the internet, and we are looking forward to that time.
Please be in prayer for us in this time. Pray for decisions we need to be making, and pray for the churches we will be visiting. We hope to be able to see many of you on this trip. The Lord knows how it will all work out.