Photo by Tony Cece

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Romania Deployment Saturday, June 21 and Sunday, June 22, 2014

One Team: A Tale of Two Journeys

This has been one very long day, and it is still before dinner on Sunday! 9 team members from the DC-Metro region met up at Dulles by 2:30pm on Saturday. The remaining 18 team members were driving up together by bus from Virginia Beach. By arrival time in DC, Dr. Keyes called to say that not only had the bus from Regent been delayed in picking them up, but they encountered backups at the tunnel and on Rte. 64. We were told to wait/go/wait, etc. Finally, one hour before boarding it was clear that they were not going to make the flight and we were told to go ahead; they would let us know of their plans when we landed in Vienna! Since it was likely they would have to book another flight, adding in another 9 people would make it that much more complicated. Fortunately, our travel to Vienna and then on to Budapest went very smoothly. We were met in Budapest by our driver who took us on another 3 hr. drive to SMILES-right over the Romania border. It turns out that the bus from Virginia Beach arrived as our plane was taking off! There were no flights to Vienna from Dulles on Sunday so the group spent the Saturday night at a hotel and then drove to NY to get a plane. The remainder of the team will not be getting in until Monday afternoon. In the meantime, team members in Romania have a full day scheduled doing trainings with the SMILES staff! We also have no materials. Most of the people in our little cohort are quite capable. After dinner we got together and worked out an agenda for a day training on Compassion Fatigue. We pooled together our notes, determined who would present what portion, and created a PowerPoint. The verse of this trip is already shaping up to be, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:4-7

Below is the report from the 18 team members who missed the plane at Dulles!

On Saturday morning, our start towards our journey to Romania, began with the majority of our group meeting at Regent. Everyone was excited, all packed, and on time. Except the bus. After waiting for about an hour, the bus came and we loaded up to head to DC. Our journey to Romania really begins! Until we hit traffic. So much traffic that our group missed our first flight out of DC to Vienna, Austria. Dr. Keyes and our travel agent were on the phone continuously trying so hard to secure seats for all 18 of us on a new flight while still somehow securing seats for all of us on our connecting flight. Unfortunately, the DC airport did not have any more flights until Monday for us. Our trip to Romania has hit a bump. While Dr. Keyes is speaking with our travel agent desperately searching for an earlier flight, he is also having to communicate with our other group of 9 who met at the DC airport with Dr. Arveson and made their flight. Did I mention a few bumps? We found out through Dr. Keyes and our travel agent that there was a flight to Vienna out of New York the following night that we may be able to secure seats. Once our seats were confirmed, Dr. Keyes booked a hotel for all of us for the night with the intentions of leaving for NYC in the morning.

Morning came and we loaded up in a new bus to head to New York. The drive was a little bumpy and traffic caused a lot of stopping and going; but, not only did we make it the airport, we got a glimpse of the New York skyline and the Statue of Liberty! When life gives you lemons, you go to New York right? J Once we got to the airport, we thought our journey to Romania was really beginning! I mentioned a few bumps right? Well, it was quickly evident that miscommunication amidst the airline resulted in all 18 of our seats disappearing to other passengers. So we waited. And waited. And waited some more until the airline finally told us we had to wait until a certain time, about 50 minutes before the flight takes off, before they could confirm our seats- provided 18 people no showed. After the allotted waiting time, we were informed that there were only 17 no shows- one less than what we needed. Bump! Dr. Keyes arranged to allow the 17 of us to head out with Dr. Harris-Keyes while he worked again with travel agent to ensure he met us at our next stop. Once our tickets were printed, we rushed off to our flight, got on right before takeoff and our journey to Romania really began!

After an 8 hour flight to Vienna, we were split up into three groups to fly to Budapest. After a long, long day of travelling we all finally made it Budapest and were transported by the Smiles Foundation to Cihei, Romania. Upon arrival, everyone with Smiles was so welcoming and accommodating. It was great to finally meet up with our other group who arrived safely on our original travel plan. We were exhausted so after dinner and debriefing, it was time for bed.

It was interesting to see how our group handling all of the bumps along our journey. 1Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Be joyful always. Pray continually. Give thanks whatever happens.” In the midst of chaos (or bumps) being joyful, praying continually, and giving thanks can be so hard. However, our group rose to the occasion and was able to endure the bumps with joyfulness, prayer, and a thankful heart. We are thankful for all the prayers and support. Now, our journey in Romania begins!

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