Our return trip to Bolivia was booked in 3 stages. We had a return flight to Sao Paulo, Brazil and praise the Lord, He provided, through a very generous donation, enough funds to buy the tickets that we needed to get from Sao Paulo, Brazil to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Unfortunately we couldn’t get a direct flight so we had to book a flight with an additional stop over and change of airline in Paraguay.
This didn’t trouble us too much as we have usually been able to check our bags in all the way through to our final destination. However, when we arrived at the airport, they were not able to check our bags through to Santa Cruz, Bolivia because the final leg of our trip from Paraguay to Bolivia was booked on an airline that was not connected to the same systems as the other 2 airlines. This would mean that we would have to fetch our bags when we arrived in Paraguay and clear customs, security and passport control in Paraguay and book everything in again for
the final flight. We realized that we would probably also be charged a fortune because our bags were packed to the allowed weight of the SAA flight to Brazil. It was too late to change anything. We boarded the plane in South Africa not knowing what would happen when we got to Paraguay. The Lord sent His angels to take us and our bags safely to Brazil and then on to Paraguay. On arrival in Paraguay at around midnight, we were very unsure of where to go and what to do. We were very glad that all our bags had made it thus far.
After asking a few people for help, God impressed a very kind passport control official to help us. She actually called us out of the line to help us first as she saw that we had small children and that Soné was pregnant. She kindly told us which forms to fill in and stamped our passports to allow us in to Paraguay.
With a struggle Derek managed to push the 2 trollies loaded with our 8 bags (about 240KG!) into the Paraguay part of the airport. This was one time when Soné could not help with the bags. Darian and Gillian helped as best as they could.
Derek had to leave Soné and the children and went to find out where to check in for the final flight. The airport was small and it didn’t take long to find out where we needed to go. It also didn’t take long to realize that it was going to be a big challenge to get our bags to the place where we needed to book them in! The place to book in our bags was 1 floor up from where we were. Being a small airport, there was no lift to the upper floor, only an escalator which was not able to take the trollies that our bags were packed on. Derek could not find any trollies on the upper floor either. So it appeared that the only way we could get the bags to where they needed to go was for Derek to take them up the escalator 1 by one and leave them at the top and come down for the next one.
To top it off, the escalator coming down was a little way from the escalator going up. We decided that Darian should go to the upper floor with Derek on the first trip and stand where we could see him from the bottom. Then he would stand by our bags and watch them while Derek took the bags up one by one. Then we would have to carry the bags one by one to where they needed to be checked in. By this time we were all very tired and Derek had no strength left in him for what needed to be done. God saw our great need and sent help. A female security guard saw what we needed to do and insisted that she stand at the bottom of the escalator and send the bags up to me. We tried to refuse saying that we really didn’t want her to struggle with our heavy bags, but she would hear none of it. In seconds the next bag was heading up the escalator and Derek had to go with it! After sending all the bags up she calmly went back to her post. Just as the last bag was coming up a strong young man walked past Derek and asked him where we were going. He kindly offered to fetch trollies and take the bags to the check in desk! Within a few minutes God had sent help to accomplish a task which we thought would take a very long time and drain the last of our strength.
Now we waited for the time to check in, wondering how much we would need to pay for the overweight luggage. Eventually they opened for check in and Derek stood in the line. When it was our turn, Derek explained to them that we came from South Africa on our way to Bolivia and that we tried to check in our luggage all the way through, but that it wasn’t possible to do this. The explained why it was not possible and proceeded to weigh and check in our bags. After our passports were checked, they printed boarding passes. Derek was waiting for them to calculate how much it would cost us, but instead, even though the luggage was DOUBLE the allowed limit, they stamped each bag label with “IN TRANSIT” and told him that all was done! Praise the Lord for His abundant mercies and goodness.
A few hours later we left the airport in Santa Cruz Bolivia, very tired, but full of joy and deep appreciation that God had brought us safely here with all our bags. Once again, the Lord has shown Himself faithful and mighty to help in times of need. Thank you to all who were praying for us during this journey. God surely did answer prayer.
May the Lord richly bless each of you with abundance of the Holy Spirit as we seek to prepare to meet our Creator, Redeemer and King?
Derek, Soné, Darian, Gillian and little-one.