Wow, what a wonderful God we serve!
We left from Columbus airport without incident on Friday. Our checked bags all weighed in at exactly 50.0 pounds or less. The server box weighed in under 50, but was oversized. They didn't say anything about the size of the box! God is good...no extra baggage fees!
Then, it was off to Washington/Dulles airport. This time, our only problem was that they started boarding over an hour early. We had stopped to get ice cream and use the facilities to find out we had to get our boarding passes re-printed before we could board. We still made the flight in plenty of time. The flight wasn't too bad. We knew we would be hitting turbulence about half way across the ocean. We had hoped we'd be asleep by then, but they had just collected our dinner trays when we hit the turbulence. I had lamb on the plane and, boy, was it good!
We got in to Senegal airport Saturday morning and were sent through the airport exit in order to re-enter the airport for our next flight. We couldn't check in for at least an hour, so we found a couple rickety chairs to relax in for a little bit. When it was time to check in, they asked about our checked baggage. We told them it had been checked through to Bamako. They informed us that usually doesn't work, so they sent us with an employee to find our bags. We ended up back in parts of the airport most travelers never see. Our bags were found and we took them back out of the airport and back into the airport to be checked to Bamako.
Of course, now they weigh our carry-on bags for the first time on the trip. Our carry-on bags were both overweight. We started to panic a bit, but she just waved us on. I think she was glad to get rid of these two westerners. We went through security where they forced us to turn over all AA and AAA batteries. They actually went through part of Ken's bag to make sure they got them all. Finally, we were at the boarding area for our flight! We saw Andrea Bonvillan and all the missionary kids she was bring back to Mali. It was good to see familiar faces! We got up to the door and Ken's boarding pass set off a red light. There was something wrong with his checked bags. Ken was again taken into parts of the airport that most travelers never see while I had to board the plane. On comes Ken, telling me they only wanted him to open the lock on his bag so they could see what was inside.
We landed in Bamako with our demarcation forms already filled out and headed for our bags. We pulled all our bags off the belt and loaded them on carts. God is so good! Our 4 bags made it to Bamako with us! We started to exit the airport when we were informed the red marks on our bags meant we had to go through customs. Oh great. Ken goes in to talk to them. He tried to explain what the equipment was for and all, but didn't seem to be getting anywhere. Another guy there told me they were going to need a receipt for every item in those bags. Finally, something Ken said clicked and they sent us on. Ken's not even sure exactly what he said. God is good! Through customs without paperwork or a fee!
We met a lot of missionaries right outside the airport! Again, so good to see familiar and friendly faces! Many of the missionaries work in the Bamako area, so we got to meet some new people! We loaded all our bags in or on Ed and Andrea's van and headed out for Koutiala, making a quick stop for some roadside stand food. There's a stand where some Vietnamese women make sandwiches and fried egg roll things. Oh man were these all good!
We arrived in Koutiala late Saturday afternoon and were glad to get showers and clean clothes! We rested for a little bit and headed to Dan and Marcy's house for dinner. Marcy had made an amazing dinner and dessert! It was fun to sit and talk about the phone project with those that will be using it and to discuss future plans at the hospital!
We both laid down last night and crashed. I'm not sure I've slept that soundly for a long time. Of course, it had been since Friday morning that I had gotten more than 15 minutes of sleep at one time. Ken made coffee and milk this morning and we had corn flakes with bananas for breakfast. Oh ya, we had TOAST!! Sorry, Ken and I love the bread here. It's one of our favorite things. We're off to church, so I'll hope to update you all again later! Thanks for all your continued prayers as we begin work on the phone project tomorrow! God bless you all!