Friends, family and supporters,
We are in the air! After a thankfully uneventful boarding process, all 22 of us found seats and are currently taking over a good chunk of the back of the aircraft. Ben Hersh likes the big plane, mainly due to the personal screens with movies and video games (I see many hours of tetris over the ocean in my future). [EDITOR COMMENT: little did he know those fancy little screens would malfunction & shutdown for the rest of the flight by them time this blog post was finished being written!]
Our adventure began around lunchtime today at Blackhawk Church where we lined up all of the bags, checked their labels and weight one last time. We are fortunate that the airline we are flying with sees our trip as “humanitarian” and has given each team member three checked bags (way more than we’d normally get, but we are taking advantage of all the extra space stuffing each bag to the maximum 50 pounds with clothes donations to help stock our partner organizations second hand clothing store). We were thankful to be sent off on such a beautiful day surrounded by beautiful people. Our bus to the O’Hare airport was bursting at the seams with over 65 bags filled with donations (and our own luggage) headed to Open Roads, the organization we will be working with while in Romania. And that was before we all got on it! After a brief stop at Target in Janesville to pick up forgotten items (including one team member who reportedly forgot their underwear), we arrived at the O’Hare airport right on schedule; breaking Blackhawk HSM stereotypes one step at a time. [EDITOR COMMENT: HEY NOW!] Upon successfully clearing security we stopped for a quick snack in the food court before locating our gate and boarding the plane.
The closer we get to Romania, the more real the trip feels. We have been planning and prepping for this experience for months, it is crazy to try and process the fact that it is finally actually happening. We are both excited and nervous for the next few weeks, but knowing that God has gone ahead of us, is with us, and will follow us is comforting and reassuring. After hearing incredible stories of life transformation and strong relationships built on this trip in the past from older siblings and others, we are stoked to be able to put faces to names and build friendships of our own with Romanians. This trip is a brand new experience for the vast majority of our team so we will be leaning hard on each other when the going gets tough.
Dinner has just come, so we will once again grab some grub before getting some rest to start the trip off energized (or stay up all flight watching movies). Lief is making his way around open seats, talking to the passengers and teammates (he found another E free pastor on the plane from Bhutan and talked with him for over an hour).
Thank you all for your continued support and prayers, we will keep you updated as much as we can so you can feel as much a part of this as possible. Feel free to comment, we will read them all as a team when they come!
-Ben and Ali and the team
Alaska team: Shout out for making it home safely and we miss you guys (especially our lil bros). Check out this sweet video we sent to the Alaska team when we realized they were just leaving the airport by bus on their way home as we were arriving to the airport on our way out:
Mama Hersh and Pollard: We love you and miss you already! We jumped on the opportunity to be the first bloggers just for you guys. Give hugs to the boys for us!