On Fri. morning, Milton ran to Oakbrook to pick up our car --about 7 miles. He reduced his time by five minutes over the day before so he was happy. He got there but no agent. Late for the second day in a row. Car not cleaned out and not fueled. The agent had had a long day the day before and was getting off to a rough start. Of course this threw us late as well.
Once Milton got home after 8 a.m. we got the car packed (not an easy job). But the agent had done her best to give us an almost new Toyota Corolla. Small but good on gas! Then we were finally on the road. It was good that I had gotten my driver's license the day before! It was going to be a long trip. We were picking up a mini-van in Memphis and would turn in the rental car there. We were a day late, but rested due to some problems using our credit card. We managed to get those straightened out on Thurs. and we were on our way.
About an hour out of Chicago we were hit with a downpour! Great! Another delay! But we could see blue skies and it looked hopeful to the South!
When we got to Memphis we were able to find the church where the mini-van was to be picked up. We had gotten a vehicle from Missionary Motors. They left the vehicle in the church parking lot with the key in a locked box and we had the code to unlock it. The trick was where was it parked! I looked at the info sheet I had printed out before we left! Smart thinking! Well it didn't say what color our van was but we thought it was silver. That's o.k because it had our name on a paper on the dash! Now to get the code! Milton and I were working together to get this vehicle picked up and the rental car back to Hertz on time. We had 20 min. to drive the 5 miles we had calculated using Google maps! Would we be able to find the rental car place on time? Milton had the directions so I followed him. It looked pretty straightforward! At one point I was pretty sure he did not know which way to go! But then I see John giving me the o.k. sign and then I see that Milton, too is signaling he knows which way to go! We arrive at the Hertz place at 5:55! I run in to let them know that my husband has gone down the road to refuel the car. The agent wasn't overly friendly but I could understand he had been there all day and wanted to go home.
After getting the van repacked we headed down the road a ways out of Memphis, found a simple hotel for the night and ate Subway sandwiches (we really like them!) and watched Charley and the Chocolate Factory. It didn't matter to the kids that the room was small or that there was no pool! This was one of the memories from our former travels--watching t.v. and drinking sodas! Such a small thing but important family time.
We had wanted to get to Charlotte in time for a Niger get together but we missed it arriving in Charlotte at 8 p.m. We were tired to say the least. Thankfully there is a day before we have to answer any questions intelligently!
I usually feel a bit unsettled as we come in to the Residence where we will stay for our debriefing. I feel isolated, yet I know there are at least 50 people out there who know us and would like to see us. They were at that reunion we missed! This time I am too tired to even think about seeing anyone. Getting something to eat and getting settled was all I could handle.
We missed seeing our coworkers who had already come through and who had left this morning both to Illinois, but we have time to reconnect with them and find out their flying experiences!
Today we attended Steele Creek Church and what an awesome experience. They had testimonies from new members and all of a sudden I say,"I know that girl! That's a Grandouiller!" Sure enough it was Sarah. I was so proud of her as she talked about being an mk and growing up in Africa. Then at the end of the service they had two missionaries say a few words and one was Eliane! So we hung around afterwards just to say hello. Pretty special! What we enjoyed most was the emphasis on different cultures--there was a Sudanese young man, a Liberian, a Nigerian, and quite a number of African Americans who gave testimonies. It was a great experience. I thought, "This is where I would want to worship if I lived in Charlotte."