After almost a year of clearing various obstacles and hoops and requirements, after visiting with many of you last summer and Fall to share what the Holy Spirit has Called our family to, and after unexpected delays because of Covid, we’re finally here.
To say it’s surreal would be an understatement. To say it’s overwhelmingly incredible and wonderful would also be an understatement!
Our flight from San Francisco to the Narita Airport outside of Tokyo was very smooth and, despite being a bit over 11 hours, not too painful. We were kept well-fed and supplied with digital entertainment options. The flight was only half full (probably by design because of Covid) so we each had an empty seat next to us which made spreading out easier and our overall comfort levels higher.
Flying over Japan towards the airport was so curious. More rural than I expected – at least on our flight path from the Northeast. The airport was quite navigable and frankly quite empty. The only busy airport we’ve been in on this trip was Sky Harbor in Phoenix. San Francisco’s International Terminal was like a ghost town – a beautiful, artsy, modern ghost town. Certainly nice not to have to fight crowds of folks to get what we need and get where we need to go!
We were beginning to feel tired as we boarded the next flight in Narita bound for Jakarta – another 8+ hours in the air. I’m continually amazed how simply sitting in relative comfort for hours at a time can exhaust a person, but it does. With the exception of Alec we all got at least a few hours sleep. Alec kept himself awake to try and ensure an easier adaptation to Indonesia time. Once again none of us had anybody sitting next to us which made dozing a little easier.
Connecting in Tokyo was effortless – the gate agent in San Francisco has provided us with boarding passes already and there was nothing more needing to be done than walk on the plane. When we arrived in Jakarta however we knew we would need to go through a rather lengthy process before getting onto our airport shuttle. While flying international is always more complicated with customs and immigration control, Covid has amplified it incredibly. Still, we were very impressed with the smooth efficiency of the Indonesian staff!
They organized us into groups of perhaps 25-30 people and moved us through various stations. At the first, they verified our passports and boarding passes and issued us another slip of paper which could be scanned by the remaining stations to track our progress. At the next station we provided our passports again as well as our quarantine hotel registrations and our Indonesian visas. At the last station we provided proof of our Covid vaccinations and were swabbed for a rapid result Covid test. Then it was off to customs, where we again provided visas and passports and our passport books were stamped. Finally we headed off to get our luggage and load it on to three small carts. We followed signs and were met by another official who guided us through several other check-points (one of which I think verified the results of the Covid test we just took, but I can’t be positive of that) culminating in our assignment to two large taxi vans. Our luggage was loaded quickly and then it was off to the hotel. When I went to get in the driver had to correct me – drivers’ side passenger seat is on the left, not the right – Indonesians drive on the other side of the road!
Arriving late as we did, there wasn’t much traffic as we moved through the humid darkness away from the airport and into Jakarta. I can only imagine the legendary traffic Jakarta is renowned for! There was sporadic rain – nothing heavy. In 20 minutes we arrived at our hotel. Our bags were disgorged from the vans onto baggage carts and we were checked in quickly. The hotel holds on to our passports until we test Covid negative on Monday, five days after our arrival.
It was about 3:30am (Indonesia time) when we were able to lie down in bed. I don’t think it took us very long to fall asleep, and I was sleeping so hard the phone call at 7:30am letting us know our breakfasts were waiting outside our hotel door was quite jarring! We had agreed as a family to be up by around 9am to start getting onto Jakarta time. Everyone slept well, and while we’re all tired at the moment we’re also fueled by the excitement of knowing we’re on the other side of the planet, and by the grace of God have arrived in the country we hope to call home for years to come.
Next week we’ll need to negotiate getting from Jakarta to Medan, but today our sole goal is to rest and relax and recuperate. Pictures will be coming soon. Thank you all for your prayers of support. Feel free to e-mail or leave a post here if you have a specific question you’d like us to answer or address. Otherwise we’ll just try to post up anecdotes as our travel-foggy brains allow us to!