The Travails and Testimonies of Traveling with Toddlers

Luggage in AtlantaThe Hansen family has safely arrived in Kijabe, Kenya, and we are settling nicely into our new home. We had no major hangups along the way, but Eva and I both had to admit that traveling across the globe with three children under five in tow has been unlike anything we have ever done. It almost feels like we have passed some rite of initiation. We have taken short plane trips with 2 children, but it didn’t involve the same amount of luggage. We hoped and prayed that all 25 checked pieces of luggage would arrive safely and that we wouldn’t get turned back at the gate for having large carry-ons for children that couldn’t physically, well, carry them on. Even as Eva and I started loading up our carry-ons on our shoulders at the security checkpoint in McAllen, we realized we were short a few hands. We had to scoot some of our pieces with our feet. But five flight legs later, we are here and all baggage is accounted for.

IMG_0253Nevertheless, we sensed God’s guiding hand throughout the entire journey. We met numerous helpful people along the way who were willing to help carry our bags off the plane or simply ignore the ‘inconvenience’ of sitting in an airline seat in front of a toddler. At the airport in Atlanta, one airport employee was kind enough to open a side door for us upon seeing the amount of luggage we were planning to haul through the revolving door into the baggage claim area. I think she also took pity on us when she saw Adam with his head stuck in the revolving door (I did have to pry it open with my hands).

We were uncertain what things would look like on the ground at the Nairobi airport in the aftermath of the fire that gutted the arrivals hall just a couple of weeks ago. We disembarked onto the tarmac, and a bus took all the passengers to a large tent set up for passport control. I didn’t have any of the paperwork completed, so by the time I had it all filled out for all five of us, we were nearly the last to pass through. Visas cost $50 per person, and I had just enough recent bills to pay for them in US dollars. They won’t accept US dollar bills printed earlier than 2006. We then proceeded to the baggage claim and retrieved eleven of our twenty-five bags. Fourteen didn’t arrive on time, so I filled out the necessary paperwork with reason to believe they would be delivered the following day to Kijabe. And they did! In retrospect, everything went very smoothly, but as you are en route, there’s always the uncertainty of what you may encounter at the next ticket counter, security checkpoint, boarding gate, or customs hall.

IMG_0254We spent our first night in Nairobi at the Mayfield Guest House, a small hotel that is run by the Africa Inland Mission. Erik, Amanda and the cousins met us the next morning. Eva and Amanda went shopping for some items we would need to set up our household while Erik and I took the seven cousins to see a movie. After that, we left Nairobi for Kijabe.

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The Lord has been very good to us, and we continue to expect the same from him as I begin teacher meetings tomorrow, and Eva continues turning our house into a home. We are very blessed.

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