As we approach our ten year anniversary of Treasures of the Heart, we had an amazing adventure in Russia. The weather was tailor made for this trip, each day we had outstanding blue skies.
As always, the luggage was our first battle. Most of the team took the opportunity to visit Normandy and Paris for 6 days while on our way to Russia. We did not find out until after the tickets were book, the flight from Paris to Moscow would not be honored as an international flight. The weight allowance for international travel is 2 bags at 50 lbs each for a total of 100 lbs per team member. One bag belongs to the mission while the other is a personal bag. The domestic allowance drops to 44 lbs per team member.
This was a ministry bag killer. We approached the airlines and after going up the chain of command, they allowed us 97 "free" pounds of luggage.
We had to rethink what was important for the ministry. We had purchased a "ton" of teaching instruments and a European keyboard, 2 "tons" of donated instruments, a baby doll for each orphan girl, and a back pack for each boy. We were already over weight and we had not shopped for the sick kids in the hospital.
It was heart-breaking, but the sick kids had to be dropped from the luggage. The quality of the gifts had flung the door open for us to minister to the kids and parents. We are allowed floor by floor, room by room access to the kids and their parents. We could not show up with cheap Russian toys, therefore we would have to get creative.
Donna and I shared a suitcase and Stephanie and Richard packed together. By doing this, we had an additional 88 pounds. But we were still overweight.
We had two team members who would be in transit, their luggage should be checked all the way through from Houston to Moscow, but wait, Air France an Lufthansa do not play well together, so no, they would have to collect their luggage in Paris and recheck in for the next flight. It seemed we were blocked everywhere we turned.
We arrived 8 hours early at Charles de Galle airport to meet the girls flight and to plan our battle strategy. Of course, they came in at Terminal 1 and we were departing from Terminal 2. Does not sound like a big deal, but T1 and T2 are "miles" apart. The team babysat the mounds of luggage while Stephanie, Donna, and I went to meet the girl's flight.
The team was united at T2, we prayed for God's provision, and girthed our loins to make our assault on the counter clerk at Lufthansa. Donna found a supervision looking person and "innocently" asked where our group could check in. He looked around and found us an "angel" at the last counter. There were no other agents around, it was as if she was waiting for us.
We explained the two girls had just arrived from Houston and were in transit to Moscow. No problem, she took their two 50 bags totaling 100 pounds. I placed my two bags, then Donna's, then Stephanie's...wait, she thinks we are all in transit (may sound like two small words, but we wanted to shout them!). Every team member placed their "in transit" luggage on the scales, we were ticketed and off to security. Ain't God Amazing?
Fast forward to Vladimir...