THE SHORT VERSION:
Here is a breakdown of our travels:
Monday, January 27th 7:30 pm -
leave Big Woods in a 4 hour car caravan to Houston Texas
January 28th fly out of Houston - fly 10 hours to Moscow
layover for 2 hours in Moscow
fly for 12 hours to Singapore
6 hour layover in Singapore
fly 4 hours to Manila
stayed in a hotel in Manila
fly1 hour 20 minutes to Cagayan de Oro (our Island of Mindanao)
stayed in Cagayan Friday – Monday for rest and retreat
left Cagayan by bus and drove 3 hours to Malaybalay
took a 10 minute multicab trip to our neighborhood
took a 5 minute motorella trip up the bumpy dirt road to our housing addition
finally arrived HOME!!! by now it was Monday, February 3rd at about 3 pm
(which was Sunday, Feb. 2nd at 1 am Kansas time)
We traveled for over a week and spent over 35 hours flying/driving to get here. There are not many other places in the world that it takes that long to get to!
THE LONG VERSION:
We left Big Woods Monday evening January 27th after diner. Our group of 3 families (Baileys, Seilhans & Romeros), the girls Camigiun team (Alex, Rebecca, Breana & Genevieve), Mr. Ed, and John (Lindsey Romeros brother who will be visiting Malaybalay for a few months) drove about 4 hours to Houston, TX where we stayed in a hotel for the night. In the morning we joined for community prayer and ate breakfast. We checked out of the hotel, grabbed Subway for lunch (our last meal in the U.S.!) and got to the airport early.
We were taking Singapore Air, which is usually busy when the Romeros check-in. There was no one in line at all (what a blessing). A lady from the airline gathered all our passports and had everyone checked-in together. They put all of our luggage together in a crate for the trip.
|Rounding up and tagging all the checked baggage|
We couldn't take any liquids so they all had to be packed together in a box that we had to check. We were stopping over in Moscow, Russia and because of the Olympics and the special precautions there was absolutely no liquids allowed on board. That mean that our essential oils and cold medicine weren't with us on the flight (to help with nausea and stuffy noses). We breezed through security with no lines again and made it to our gate. Many flights where cancelled because of the weather but because of our route our flight was not. The airport felt almost empty which made our experience super easy.
We boarded our airplane and settled into our seats. It was a large airplane with 3 groups of 3 seats across each row. Our family sat together and the group was nearby.
The girls where very excited about flying because they each got their own tv to watch movies and play games on. They vegged most of the time flying the first 3 flights we took.
We were served dinner shortly after take-off. The girls got special kids meals and we all watched movies after dinner. I tried to sleep but had a hard time, maybe getting 3 hours here and there. The girls may have slept for an hour. We woke up, watched another movie and they served breakfast (even though to us it was about 3 in the morning)! The girls didn't want to sleep and spent most of the time watching movies and playing games. During the flight a man on board got sick and had to be quarantined. They moved our group (because of the children to the next group of seats closer to the front of the plane. We arrived in Moscow and it was very cold outside. There was snow on the ground and we were all wearing t-shirts and sandals. The Russian medical quarantine group had to board the plane and check on the man who was sick. Then they took him off the plane and we were then able to get off.
We had to quickly go through security and take bathroom breaks. They cleaned and re-fueled the plane and we re boarded.
We had our original seats again and once again settled in and where served another meal.
For the first 3 flights each time we took off or landed the stewardess would bring hot towels. It was nice to clean your face and hands and it also provided some relief for Donovan's congestion. His ears were really hurting with the altitude changes. Hannah was having some ear pain as well, but not as bad.
We watched more movies and I kept telling the girls to get some rest. They thought they weren't tired so they stayed awake. Felicity slept the most of the girls and was awake on and off. She got a little restless and wanted to walk up and down the aisles. Her she is NOT sleeping.
Considering we had been flying for almost 20 hours they did amazing and really had no problems (besides not wanting to sleep). We arrived in Singapore and had 4 hours to walk around and explore. It looked like a very nice mall with shopping, food and places for the kids. Their was a family area where the kids played on a jungle gym.
It was very clean and a great family-friendly airport. Their were beautiful gardens, a coi pond and places for the kids to do art.
By this time I realized that my feet and legs had swollen up very badly. We hung out next to the M&M store, ate McDonald's for snack and I laid on the floor with my feet up. All the flying was really making my feet swell and nothing I did seemed to help. I tried to drink lots of water and encouraged the kids to do the same.
We met back up with our group and boarded a new airplane headed for Manila. This flight also had personal TVs and we were again served food. By this time we had been mostly awake for 30 hours. About halfway through our 4 hour flight the girls started to pass out. By the time we were landing in Manila they where all asleep.
They slept through the landing and then we had to shake them awake (which was not easy). Catherine was so asleep that when she stood up to walk off the plane she was stumbling. I asked her 4 times to pick up her sweater, but she couldn't figure out where it was. She tried to walk into the cockpit instead of off the plane and then she tripped on the step down out of the plane. I had a hard time not laughing at her.
We had to go through customs which went very quickly (I handed the man a sheet of paper I had filled out on the plane). We went through security which was also quick and smooth for our family. We picked up the luggage for the entire group, loaded it onto luggage carts and made our way to the money exchange booths. We exchanged all the U.S. Dollars we had left into Filipino pesos. The exchange rate was 45.1 pesos to every dollar. We finally headed outside to find the bus shuttle to the hotel. We fit all the luggage and our whole group on the bus.
We stayed at the Remington Hotel (one of the nicest in the Philippines) and it was only about $59 a night. We waited in the lobby while Lindsey checked-in our group.
We had two rooms for our family so Donovan & I split up with the girls.
In the morning we had a buffet breakfast that our whole family really enjoyed. They had “american” food as well as lots of Asian dishes.
We packed up at the hotel and headed to the airport for our last flight that would take us to our island of Mindanao.
We waited a little while at the airport and boarded a smaller plane this time.
The flight only lasted an hour and 20 minutes. It was the bumpiest flight we took so far (it made me nervous, but I am afraid to fly).
Here are a few videos of our landing in Cagayan de Oro (a coastal town on the island about 3 hours away from Malaybalay.
We waited for a short time Kring & Ramon (Filipino missionaries who found our house & prepared it for us) and Fr. Jo (the priest on Camiguin island) plus some of their friends to arrive at the airport to welcome us and drive us to the Convento (diocese rectory where we would stay the weekend). They brought several vehicles to drive us and all the luggage for our group of 23.
|Felicity & Rebecca waiting for a ride to the Convento.|
|Beautiful girls, beautiful flowers!|
L to R: front row: Evie & Felicity
Back row: Grace, Olivia, Hannah & Catherine
|Seilhans: left to right: Emily (12), Philip (13), Melissa, Isaac (13), Travis in the back and Olivia (10) in the front|
We enjoyed the rest and hospitality we received while at the Convento. Several of Lindsey's friends came to help watch children and prepare meals for our group.
|Where we ate all our meals at the Convento.|
|View from the Convento (look at all those palm trees!)|
We went to Mass Sunday and had community prayer each day. We traveled by taxi or motorella to the mall to do some shopping. Their was a McDonald's and a grocery store so we took the girls to lunch and bought some snacks for the bus ride we would take to our city of Malaybalay. At McDonald's you could order fried chicken, Filipino spaghetti and rice was one of the side options (rice is everywhere and everyone eats it all the time). They put sweet mayonnaise on the hamburgers (everything in the Philippines is sweet = mayo, spaghetti, bread, etc.). Hannah found a store named after her at the mall.
On Sunday after Mass at the Cathedral we traveled to the Divine Mercy Pilgrimage by Jeepnee.
The rays of grace and mercy, reminding us of the water and blood that flowed from the heart of Jesus, where actually stairs that you could climb right to the heart of Jesus. There was a tabernacle at the top and we were given 30 seconds to knell and pray. I offered up my sufferings and sacrifices for my nephew Dominic and his upcoming back surgery.
|The view of the ocean (facing the statue).|
On Monday we said goodbye to the Camiguin girls group and went to the bus depot to board a charter bus to Malaybalay. As we walked through a market a couple little children about 6 or 7 years old were following us and begging for money. They were dirty and looked like they lived on the street. I gave the little girl some pesos and said God Bless You. We were hurrying through the market to the bus station so I didn't have much time to do anything else. Please pray for the children and the poor of the Philippines (they are much poorer than any of our poor in the U.S).
Before getting on the bus we grabbed lunch at Jolly Bee (like a Filipino McDonald's). The bus was air conditioned (a blessing) and it took about 3 hours to get to Malaybalay.
We finally arrived in our city and then had to take a multi-cab to our neighborhood (about 10 minutes away).
Then we got off that and had to take a motorella up the bumpy dirt road to our housing subdivision.
|Trying to figure out how we are all going to fit our family, the driver and Ramon & Ram.|
|Somehow we figured it out!|
|The bumpy dirt road leading to our housing subdivision.|
We found out that our house is brand new and many of the houses on our street have not been completed yet. All day you can hear construction going on. After over a week we were finally in our new home. We were all thoroughly exhausted and took naps when we got home. Kring & Ramon had prepared our house so nicely for us and we felt very blessed.