Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2009 ~ Frankfurt, Germany

With the time changes, it was a long trip but short night. We left Atlanta at 6:30 PM Wednesday night and landed in Frankfurt at 8:30 AM Thursday morning. We deplaned, grouped up and headed through Customs. After picking up our bags, we wondered where we’d possibly find Elder Thomas in this huge airport. We hadn’t gone far when we spotted another Elder approaching us. My first thought was, “Well, there’s one of them, the rest must be close by.” I didn’t even notice that his name tag said, “Elder Thomas”. I was just looking for my Seth. With that, he came up to us and explained that he was Elder Henderson and that Elder Thomas was trying to trick us but that if we would look up we’d see him coming down the escalator.
And, sure enough… there he was. How exciting!!! He tried to trick his Dad, too, but… it didn’t work. We knew who we were looking for. We gathered our luggage and the men headed off to get the rental car while the women waited at the airport. After what seemed like hours we were all together in a huge black Volkswagen Van with loads of luggage in the back. I can’t say I remember much of our ride to the hotel because I was still so excited about being with Seth again. After checking into our rooms and unloading the luggage, Seth took us out to see “his city”-Frankfurt. After serving in the Mission Office for 6 months, I'm sure he thought of it as “his city.” He drove our van as he’d been driving the mission van for months and he knew all the best places to park. He’s pretty good at horizontal parking in little tiny spots. He took us to a street market and then on to the Mission Office where we met Sister Coles and the other Elders and Sisters that he had worked with there. He traced his mission transfers on a huge wall map for us and relived funny stories with Sister Coles.
We left there to walk the streets of Frankfurt, just as Seth had done before us. We saw beautiful trees with their leaves changing colors, amazing flower boxes outside almost every window and balcony, and some very nice cars parked along the narrow streets. We went to the markets and saw the wine fest activities on the sidewalks. We shopped and browsed books store, ate pretzels and chicken. We took pictures of The Frankfurt Opera House in remembrance of Gaylin and we went to see some of the buildings and sites of Frankfurt that Seth had enjoyed for months. Totally exhausted, we walked back to our rooms and fell into a peaceful sleep; all except for James who was coming down with a nasty coughing cold. So sorry, James

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Trip to Germany or To Get Seth and Explore

So we went to Germany!!! While there I tried to keep a journal of where we went and what we did. I've added pictures and will try to post blogs of each day. This first post doesn't have too many pictures because we were either in airports or flying, neither of which it too exciting. The pictures of Germany will come with the post of our days there. We had some amazing experiences and were so impressed with the people, the history and the country we saw! I hope you enjoy reading the posts. So, here goes....
Previously Two years have passed and Seth was being released as a full time Frankfurt, Germany Missionary. As he prepared for this day, so did his father. We had decided to try to go to Germany get Seth, tour his mission area and meet his people. It was to be the trip of a life-time. Dan had been to Germany several times before, but not I. I was most excited to see Seth again. The rest was icing on the cake.
We were going to take Alisha with us as well as Elizabeth and James. Tessha had decided she didn’t feel up to a long trip and had opted to stay home. Dan had already saved the money for Tessha’s ticket so he offered it to James and Elizabeth. They paid their flight fares from Hawaii to Salt Lake and back and one fare to Frankfurt and back. We paid the other fare. They are expecting their first baby (a girl) in January and won’t be able to come home for the Thomas Christmas Family Reunion so this was time for them to be with us ---- in Europe.

Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008 Idaho Falls
At 4:30 PM on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008 Dan, Alisha and I took Swimmy Jimmy to the Roberts and then jumped in the car and headed for Salt Lake City. We stopped at our favorite Pilot’s Station for a yummy dinner of Subway sandwiches or Taco Bell. Dan and I choose Taco Bell but Alisha had a Subway. Back in the car, we called ahead to let Gracie know that we were almost there. She had driven to Kristi’s place and then they and the kids headed north to meet us at the Microtel Inn where we were staying the night.
Kristi dropped Grace off about 9:00 PM and headed home with sleeping children in the back seat. Grace crashed with us as we were all tired and headed for another big day.

Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008 Salt Lake City
At 3:30 AM our alarms went off and we were up, dressed and on our way to the airport. Grace dropped us off and headed to Provo with the car. We promptly tried to get our boarding passes and were told that Alisha was good to go, but Dan and I were listed as S4s and might have trouble getting on the Salt Lake to Atlanta flight as well as the Atlanta to Frankfurt flight. We prayed and took our chances. Luke did some research for us and eventually it was about the same response. S4s are considered Buddy Passes and the last priority. With a more recent hire date, we were pretty low on the list. Oh well!!
Inside security, we showed Alisha where her departing gate was as she was going to stay there until James and Elizabeth arrived from Hawaii. They had left Hawaii around 9:30 Tuesday night and had flown all night arriving into Salt Lake around 8:30 AM Wednesday morning. Alisha was going to fly with them as all three tickets had been purchased for the same flights. Dad and I were on our own in hopes of making it there as “Standbys”.
Alisha walked with us to our departing gate and when we were given seat assignments and had boarded the plane, she returned to her gate. As it was, her departing gate was the same gate that Elizabeth and James arrived in at. They quickly met up and all was well to begin the trip to Germany.
Dad and I arrived in Atlanta around 3:00 PM Eastern Standard time and waited for Elizabeth, James and Alisha to get there about 3 hours later. I scouted out the route they would need to take from their arrival gate to our departing international gate. We only had ½ hour between gates before they began boarding the Frankfurt flight. We did not want them to get lost in Atlanta and miss their flight but James had studied the terminal map the day before and was very prepared for the change. I made the walk twice and decided at a rapid walk we could change gates in about 17 minutes.
Luke had been on the phone with us there in Atlanta trying to help us make the connection as “Standbys”. He found that our Frankfurt flight was oversold by about 21 and that we were in the bottom three. If 3 people missed the connection (like James, Elizabeth and Alisha) then we would have seats. They were bumping people from the back to the front to accommodate their oversold situation. Luke also had looked into the Stuttgart flights and found them to be “wide-open” with about 8 seats up front for standbys. He suggested we go to Stuttgart so Dad could have the room of Business Class and we could be more assured of seats on the plane. This flight would depart an hour after the Frankfurt flight. We would then have to catch a train from Stuttgart to Frankfurt and meet up with the others at the Frankfurt Airport. It would take longer and we wouldn’t be at the airport to meet Seth when the kids arrived, but … it would be seats on a plane….
We stood in line and watched as Alisha, James and Elizabeth boarded with a promise that if we didn’t get on we would meet them in the Frankfurt Airport as soon as we could. While standing there several other standbys were given boarding passes. We were last on the list. There was one family of a dad, a mom and two babies ahead of us. We heard the father say to the gate attendant, “No we don’t want to split up.” He asked if there were any seats left in the back. Babies aren’t allowed in Business Class so at least one of the parents would have to sit in back with the children. The gate attendant replied that there were only two First Class seats left. The father declined the seats and the attendant called, “Thomas’”. That was our cue to step forth and accepted those two Business Class seats. What a miracle!! What a blessing!!! We were not only on the same plane as the kids, we were sitting in large seats that totally reclined for sleeping. Since this was a night flight and we would re arriving in the morning, sleep was a wonderful thing.
Upon boarding I quickly found the kids in the back and told them that we were on board. Then I called and left a message for Luke. We were off to Germany.