5:30a.m. Tuesday morning our farewell party (Leah, Mom and Dad Herring, and Mom and Dad Derscheid) and us arrived at Grand Rapids airport. We arrived just ahead of the crowd and were able to get checked through after only a slight obstacle, that being that they had no record of Katie's tickets but we had all the paperwork and numbers so they got it fixed right up for us. Then came the final hugs and tears, that is always the hardest part. With a final wave we headed up the ramp to the security check in and boarding. The kids did a good job lugging their heavy backpacks and carry-ons. We told them they wouldn’t be so heavy if they wanted to leave their toys behind, but they opted to keep them. The first flight to Chicago was short and uneventful. Kent was quick to study the flight safety and escape plans on each flight and got after me if I wasn't paying enough attention to the instructors speech.
The second flight to Washington was bumpy but the kids slept right through that one. Washington was a 6 hour layover where we all ended up sacking out on some empty seats. As we boarded to fly to Brussels the flight attendant told us the flight had no room left for carry-ons so we would need to check our bags. I begged to keep the one bag containing our hygiene and change of clothes for the trip but to no avail. In Brussels and met up with the Chamberlins and orphans. Kent and Bless had a big reunion; they are going to be good buddies. Katie wore a big smile and gave and received hugs all around. The final flight went smoothly and we all got some rest (thank goodness for inflatable neck pillows, they were wonderful!)
As we touched down in Douala, we grabbed our bags and headed for the door to meet the biggest challenge of our journey, the Douala airport!