The adventure continued on the way home. We made our way through the tangles of multinational, multilingual lines at the airport: customs, passport control, and airline ticketing, arriving at our gate, where we chatted a bit with the German nationals awaiting the flight back to Munich. Without aid of a microphone, a Lufthansa Airlines crew member relayed news to people within earshot. As word trickled out through the crowd, we first learned that our flight was delayed two hours, and finally that it was cancelled due to the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud.
Then ensued hours of confusion and lines to retrieve luggage, re-navigate outbound passport controls that were not really set up for entry back into the country, obtain rebooking for the next flight and, finally, transport to a nice hotel for the night. By the next day, we were Turkish airport experts, as we maneuvered through the circuit to the departure gate, alongside our new German friends. It was like déjà vu, up to and including news of another flight delay. But we were eventually airborne across the Aegean Sea and on to Europe, albeit by a somewhat circuitous route to avoid the dust cloud.
In Munich, we stumbled into the hotel and grabbed a few hours sleep before the next leg of the journey. Then, fortified by a lovely German style breakfast, we made our way back to the airport, through multiple stringent security screenings (including added precautions for U.S. bound travelers). I received eight body searches on this trip, thanks to my insulin pump. Good thing I’m not too ticklish, as screeners are not generally in the mood for laughter. Finally, secured and restricted into the Munich airport gate area, we had plenty of opportunity to ponder the blessings of the week through a four-hour departure delay–again the work of the that unpronounceable volcano in Iceland.
The next day’s flight from Munich to Washington took an unusual route north of Iceland to avoid the ash cloud stretching southward along the eastern Atlantic. Bone tired, jet lagged and very ready to be home, God provided refreshment late in the flight through connection with one of His people–an American living in Turkey who pastors Turkish Christians. This man has a heart for helping the victims of human trafficking, which he says is a HUGE problem in Turkey.
A final twist in the journey…my luggage was checked through from Turkey to the U.S., so for days I'd been wearing the same thin T-shirt dress and sandals, and was decidedly "ripe." I looked forward to grabbing fresh clothes and my walking shoes at a chilly and rainy Dulles airport before the final flight to Nashville. It was not to be. My suitcase, last seen in the airport in Turkey and containing gifts and my best clothing, did not arrive for inbound customs check. In fact, it did not even show up in the airline computers. Bill theorizes that the suitcase and contents are now on offer somewhere at a Turkish bazaar.
We left for home mid-day on a Sunday, arrived back home in the wee hours of Wednesday morning and fell asleep so quickly I don't even recall my head hitting the pillow.
But the adventure isn't over. It is just beginning! We now have invitations to visit workers all over the globe and an opening to develop and support the work to end slavery. International Teams is perfectly positioned–as now are we–to engage the battle in long-lasting, effective ways through people who give their lives for the purposes expressed in the book of Isaiah, “to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”