Last Sunday, with all ten suitcases packed and loaded in the vehicles, we started our journey back to the Philippines, so we thought. We awoke to a very white morning with about three inches of snow. In a way, we were excited to see the snow knowing that it would be the last we would see for three years.
Before heading to the airport, we were off to church for one last opportunity to fellowship with our home church in Michigan. However, on the way, we received a phone call that church was cancelled due to the weather. Oh how disappointed our family was to hear this news! So, we changed our plans and headed early to the airport. After checking in our bags, about 20 individuals from our home church arrived to the airport along with Ginger’s family and our daughter, Rebekah. We had a wonderful time together. Our hearts were filled with joy by their presence and encouragement. Then the time came for us to say good-bye. It truly was a bittersweet moment. Bitter because we were saying good-bye but sweet in that our friends came to see us off. I, Stephen, often tell our kids, “We are sad because we are loved by friends and family.”
During this time with our friends and family at the airport, one plane after another was being delayed. As the day went on, those delayed planes became cancelled planes, including our own. While we waited in the airport, we had many questions. Not only how or when do we leave, but also where do we stay the night? Well, Ginger’s brother was gracious to open his house to us for the night . . . which extended to three nights.
Monday morning, we headed back to the airport to only find out that one of our flights was cancelled again. The airline graciously rebooked our tickets for the second time.
During the following 48-hours, we made daily trips to the airport, trying to figure out how and when could we try it a third time. In short, we went back to our original flight plan, but we could not receive our seat assignments until we arrived into Chicago. On the first flight to Chicago, two of us were in row number 2, two others were in row 7, and the fifth was in row 18. This gave us some concern that we would not be able to sit together as a family on the 13-hour and 8-hour international flights. However, in short, God gave us seats all together on both international legs of our flights. Praise the Lord!
And now we write this from Manila. We want to thank you all for praying over these last six days for our journey of faith back to the Philippines. At times, our kids and even we, were asking why God has allowed these cancellations to take place. Today, we still don’t know why but we trust in Him.
Even through all these cancellations, we never saw God’s grace cancelled. He allowed us extra time with Ginger’s brother and family, and to rest and prepare our hearts for our return to the Philippines, in His time.