4:30 AM is for the birds. Actually, the birds aren’t even up at 4:30! But we were awake and beginning our long journey home. We scrambled for last minute showers and packing, finalized the huge donation piles in our dorms, and shuffled out to the vans at 5:00 for the 30-minute ride to the airport.
Upon check-in, we learned that our flight from Aguascalientes to Dallas was delayed by about an hour. Thankful that we had a long layover in Dallas, we weren’t too worried about this turn of events. We settled into the little waiting area, and many of the youth grabbed a quick nap on the floor.
The flight to Dallas was uneventful, and we passed through immigration and customs quickly and smoothly….so far, so good. Because of time and routing considerations, we were scheduled to fly next to Chicago O’Hare, and then connect on home to Fort Wayne. We all got lunch, found our gate to Chicago, boarded the plane and thought we were good to go…………but it was not to be. The plane had a mechanical issue with the engine that needed to be fixed before the plane could fly. By the time the maintenance crew got a lift over to the plane, the winds were too gusty to open the engine cover to repair the problem.
When they told us to all get off the plane and return to the terminal, we knew there would be no chance of making our connecting flight to Fort Wayne, so Mike started scrambling. Because all of the flights into Fort Wayne are small (between 35 and 50 seats each), our group made up nearly half a planeload. Twenty-one open seats on the next flight? Ha. We found nine seats on a later direct flight from Dallas for Fort Wayne, and grabbed them for Brad (whose wife was showing signs of starting labor) and eight other team members. The remaining twelve of us took our chances with catching a later flight in Chicago. As the flight to O’Hare boarded, we waved goodbye and prayed for our luggage!
Upon arrival in Chicago our fears were realized, as we learned the earliest flight into Fort Wayne that American Airlines had ANY seats on would be tomorrow morning….getting us home at about 10:30. Mike negotiated at length with the supervisor on duty, but learned that American could not rent us a van to drive home because of liability issues, so we were pretty much out of luck. After great debate, the team (with input from parents) decided to go ahead and rent a van and head for home. We hit the road by 9PM Eastern time, and cruised past downtown Chicago just before sunset.
The nine team members on the direct flight to Fort Wayne arrived home around 10:15PM, and the rest of us pulled in about 12:30 AM. We are thankful that everyone returned safely, and we are all looking forward to getting back together again to celebrate the trip, remembering how God blessed Dulce Refugio through us, and how blessed we were by them in return!