Our summer officially began with our summer trip to the U.S. We left Quito on the morning of Saturday, July 3. We arrived at the airport shortly before 6am with four suitcases, two car seats, two backpacks, a diaper bag and a stroller. Luke was strapped into the stroller and Jared did the big boy thing and walked beside us. After lugging our entire luggage to the international airport, we found out that we really had to check in at the national gate, because our first stop was in Guayaquil (a coastal city in Ecuador).
After we finally got checked in at the correct location, we didn’t have any major incidences until we found ourselves waiting in the airport in Guayaquil for our next flight to Miami, Florida. Our flight was delayed for over an hour. This made us a little nervous, because we had a connecting flight in Miami to Orlando.
We arrived in Miami with about 50 minutes to find all of our luggage, recheck all our luggage to the next flight and then go from the international wing of the airport to the national wing to make our flight to Orlando. The ladies in Guayaquil had suggested that if we didn’t make our schedule flight that we could always take the 10pm flight to Orlando which would arrive at 11pm. We weren’t too thrilled about that idea, because we still had a two hour drive from Orlando to Gainesville where we would be staying with family.
Somehow we managed to make our scheduled flight and arrived in Orlando as planned at 8pm. However, not all our luggage made it onto our flight with us. Fortunately, both car seats did arrive. But one suitcase had been bumped to the later flight. It was the suitcase that had all of Cristina’s personal items and all the mail we were planning to drop off in the post office for people at school.
The representative at American Airlines was very helpful and told us that they would personally deliver the missing piece of luggage to the place we were staying in Gainesville. As promised, someone came by at 5pm the following day with the suitcase.
Thus began our adventures in the U.S. We spent a couple days in Florida visiting with Cristina’s brother and sister in law, her sister and brother in law. They had each given birth to their first sons. It was fun to spend some time with the new nephews. Cristina’s bachelor brother, Tim, also spent some time with them.
After spending 4th of July in Florida, Stephen and Cristina packed up their rental car and two young sons and drove up to northern Virginia. The on-line directions suggested it would be a 13 hour trip. With two babies in two, it ended up being a 16 and ½ hour trip. But we all made it to the Shenandoah Valley area of Virginia in one piece. We took a week to spend time with friends, supporters and members of our ‘home’ church who lived in the area.
We were also able to meet our new realtor while in Virginia. At the time that our tenant decided to leave our home, our realtor also told us that we would need to find someone else to take care of our property for us. It seemed that God worked out the timing perfectly, because we were able to meet our new realtor in person a week after we signed a contract to have them care for our property.
During our time, we were able to attend church for their Wednesday night service and all of their Sunday services. Our sons also got to participate in the first night of the church’s VBS program. Jared rode a horse for the first time in his life. Luke really liked to songs that they learned that night.
Link on Facebook (you’ll need to be a member of facebook and be on our friend status)http://www.facebook.com/Stephen.CristinaMeier?v=app_2392950137#!/video/video.php?v=423053256650
Monday morning, we left Stephens City, Virginia and drove to Marietta, Georgia to visit some friends. It was a good half way point between northern Virginia and Mobile, Alabama. The following morning, we traveled down there to spend time with Stephen’s sister, Susan and her family. It was a short visit of about 24 hours. But Jared and Luke enjoyed their time with their cousins, Zoe, Connor and Gavin.
Wednesday afternoon, we drove back to Gainesville, Florida where Cristina’s relatives were waiting. Cristina’s parents, Steve and Helen Cobb, had also flown up from the country of Guatemala to spend a few days with them. We hung out, celebrated Jared’s third birthday a little early and took a trip to Neptune Beach. Jared and Luke had a lot of fun playing in the sand.
For our final week in the U.S., we stayed in the Gainesville area, finishing up our shopping and enjoying some of the local sites. We took the boys to a local splash park one morning. The boys really enjoyed playing in the water. We also took the boys to a museum located in the University of Florida. Jared especially enjoyed the live butterfly exhibit.
We flew back to Quito on Saturday, July 24. It was the most stress-free trip I had experienced yet. The only delay was in leaving Miami. Our flight was delayed for about 45 minutes due to cleaning of the aircraft. But we still arrived in Quito before the boys’ bedtime.