Day 1 Moldova Service Mission Trip June 9-18, 2017
Daughter Sarah and I drove from Kerrville, TX on June 8th to Houston, TX. We were timed to arrive there around supper time and fortunately were able to rendezvous at a Sweet Tomatoes for supper with my niece, Kristelle Groves Castiglione. Her children were away at camp and husband still at work so we had a delightful conversation over supper.
Sarah and I headed from that stop to our hotel for the night near IAH – Bush Inter-Continental Airport. That hotel provides parking during travel with a shuttle to the airport when needed.
Friday morning we arrived at the airport about 9:30 to meet Granddaughter Joanna arriving from Richmond, VA. She was due at 10:24 but had a departure delay so arrived at 11:06 instead. That allowed Sarah and me to weigh our bags and do some shifting of items in order to be within the appropriate limits for checked and carry-on bags. We were very grateful for the time and space to take on that task. When Joanna arrived, we were able to do the same with her bags plus add some overage we had with our items.
Joanna was a welcome sight. She and her parents were on a team to Moldova 5 years ago when she was 11 but this is a new solo experience for her. She became a help almost immediately. Meeting her required us to be at Terminal A where domestic flights arrive and depart. International flights use another Terminal.Sarah and I had ouru bags on a luggage cart and added Joanna’s bags to that stack. When we got to the subway, we learned from signage that carts were not allowed on the subway. But where was the underground walkway on which we could push our cart to the international terminal? We could not see a path and finally learned that there was construction in a tunnel and no connection by foot was available for part of the way to where we needed to go. We would have to carry our bags onto the subway car and leave the cart behind or risk an unknown consequence by loading the cart into the subway in spite of the sign. Our bags included a 50 lb box which was not easily wielded by our group of 3 gals. We had watched the subway passing a few times as we were trying to decide what to do and we could tell that the cart and bags would fit into a subway car. So Joanna and I decided to chance that route with Sarah taking another subway car so as not to share in whatever humiliation awaited Joanna and me. We had only one stop for our unlawful choice so it didn’t take too long and soon we were off the subway and on our way to the Delta check-in. But alas, another surprise awaited us. We were not actually flying on Delta but on a partner of Delta’s – Air France. And where was Air France? Far away at Terminal D. Guess what? Back to the subway. This time there was an open path to the first stop so we complied with the rules and struck out walking. It was pretty tolerable but when we finally got to the next stop – probably a 20 minute hike – we saw that we were only about 1/3rd of the way to our ultimate destination. And 2 members of the group were STARVING!!! So we looked at each other and decided to repeat our decision of earlier in the day. Again, my helpful, loyal partner stuck with me but the other went in another door and left 2 of us to sink or swim on our own. Fortunately we did not put anyone in peril and our decision has not yet created a sensation in Houston – to our knowledge.
So we finally were at the right terminal and the right check-in area. Check-in went smoothly and we soon had boarding passes with seats together for all three flights to Chisinau. Getting through security went quite smoothly also. Then off to find the gate and get some grub. And what a very delightful experience awaited us near our gate and in an area with seating where we could eat our lunch – a String Quartet was playing beautiful music. “Harmony in the Air” was serenading all who had the privilege of coming and going through that area at that time. So we ate some sandwiches, listened to the music and waited for our flight to begin boarding. We met 3 of the team members flying out of Houston with us but were unable to connect with any others. We looked forward to meeting more team members when we would get to Paris at 8:15am their time.
So we were off to a great start. I am thankful to be returning to Moldova after a year of not going there. Keep us in your prayers. We want to serve the Lord and be tools He can use to mentor vulnerable children with precious lives. It is a privilege to be on this path for this week.