Here’s a little synopsis of our first day in Tampa:
What an incredible day — and our time here hasn’t even really started.
After our very kind neighbor Larry got up early and dropped the five us at the airport, we began trying to figure out how to get three wheelchairs, a car seat, six checked bags, and five carry-on bags to the check-in counter where we could unload most of it. Delta employees pretty quickly spotted us, and jumped in to help, whisking us over to a much closer counter and beginning a conversation with our kids.
Once we were checked in, they told us – with tears in their eyes – that they wouldn’t allow us to pay for our six checked bags that “it had been taken care of.” We were too surprised to do more than try to choke out words of sincere thanks for this.
They continued helping us get through security and even helped us carry the kids onto the plane once their wheelchairs were gate-checked at the end of the ped-way. The flight was quick, and the kids did great. Roslyn was my seat-mate and happily chatted about how she wished we had been able to bring Murray with us but how he would potty on the airplane floor and doesn’t fit in our laps so well anymore; how her sister, Kristie had told her to ask for gum when it was time for the plane to go “down, down, down to the ground”; and how “evewybody, evewybody” wasn’t able to come with us this time. Oh, my! That girl can talk!
Thankfully, we’ve actually trained our kids to go to sleep on command when we travel (yeah — it’s a great trick!), so when, after a snack I told the three of them it was time for a little nap, they were all completely out within ten minutes.
Our original flight was changed to an earlier flight that got us to Tampa sooner than we expected, so we started our time here a little ahead of schedule. Because most of our children have never seen the ocean or a beach, and because we suddenly realized that our schedule for this trip is so packed that we didn’t think we would have time for that, and because we were running ahead of schedule today, we decided to take the kids to see a beach before going to our hotel — to at least push them out onto the sand in their wheelchairs so they could hear the sound of the surf and see and hear the waves up close.
Well . . . . WHERE do they hide the beaches in Tampa??? After following Siri’s directions in Maps for several hours, we finally had to give up and drive over an hour back in the direction of our hotel so we could get checked in and unpack to prepare for our first presentation tomorrow morning. Maybe there will still be an opportunity along the way over the next few days. There must be a beach here somewhere. I mean the United States stops here, and the ocean begins. Right?
When we arrived at our hotel, we were once again absolutely blown away by God’s blessings and the generosity of His people. Our small suite had been upgraded to a large two-bedroom suite with a family room, two bathrooms, and a full kitchen. We couldn’t believe our eyes when we were shown to our room. It honestly took our breath away. Then we discovered a bag of snacks, fresh fruit, and a gift card for a local supermarket; and another bag with gifts for the kids — all from the families we will be connecting with here. We already feel like blessings have been showered over us, and we just arrived.
Now, we are headed to bed so we can start early in the morning (and hope that Siri does her job a little better as we try to find the church where we’ll be speaking). 😊
I’m attaching a little photo journey of our first day. Enjoy, and thank you so much for all of your prayers.