We made the trip home on Friday, December 19th. It was a memorable trip home. We rose from our beds in Guyana at 1:30 am so that we could make it to the airport and board the plane by 5:00 am. We really did not get much sleep, because we were too excited about leaving on time. Everything when well on the trip to the airport and making it through customs as we departed Guyana.
The first flight from Guyana to Trinidad was perfect. No hitches. We stayed on the same plane from Trinidad to Florida and traded seats with someone so that we could sit together. When we arrived in Miami, we had 4 hours of wait time before boarding the plane to Dallas, Texas, so we had plenty of time to make it through the US customs and get some lunch to eat.
We were a bit concerned about the second flight, because we would have less than one hour to be on the third plane from Dallas to Salt Lake City, but as it turned out, we had plenty of time. When we arrived at Dallas, we took a skyride to our gate and found lots of people waiting for the flight. The weather in Salt Lake City was bad. There was lots of snow in the runway and an airplane had slid off the runway earlier in the day. Soooo, our flight was delayed. We were supposed to board at 6:40 PM, but we ended up boarding around 8:30 pm.
It was an interesting wait. Within a few minutes after arriving at the gate, a young woman addressed us as Elder and Sister Beutler. She was also a returning missionary coming from Brazil. Her original flight in the morning had been cancelled and she was one of the lucky few to get a seat on our flight. A few minutes later we met four missionaries returning from Finland. Then to our surprise, someone called out, hello, Uncle Melvin and Aunt Carol. It was Amber Beutler, Uncle Mark's granddaughter, returning from Italy. She was with two other sister misisonaries and I don't know how many other elders from her mission. After talking to her we saw more missionaries coming home from Denmark. We were the only couple, but turned out to be 26 other young missionaries all going to Salt Lake City on our flight.
One interesting thing that happened at about 8:15 was that the airport gate people told us that it might be hours before we could leave Dallas, so we might want to reschedule and find a hotel for the night. Immediately, 5 elders moved of to the side and formed a circle and had a group prayer. Within 5 minutes, they began loading, saying that the runway in Salt Lake City was now clear.
Dad and I slept most of the final flight home, since we had been awake for 20 hours by now. The greeting at the airport was overwhelming. There were literally hundreds of people there waiting for their missionaries. As we walked through the roped off aisle with people on both sides, we immediately say Mark and Joyce and their family waiting for Amber. Then we saw Esther, Deborah, Jared, and Eve and their familes. They made the cutest sign with markers and balloons, welcoming us home. It was a great time.
Since the roads were pretty snowy, we had Jared take us to Jacob's home to sleep. It was fun to see Jacob and Abi and thier children and the new baby girl, Camille. Then, the next morning Deborah took us to Eve's house for a tour and some lunch. Finally, we made it home that Friday afternoon, for a good long night's sleep.
We were too tired to do much Friday evening, but in the morning it was fun to go through the house opening up drawers and cabinets just to see what we had there. After living with two suitcases each for the last 18 months, it was like Christmas to see all the treasures we had in our own home.
We will ever be grateful for the bounteous blessings of the gospel and wonderful friends we made in Guyana. Our mission has changed our lives forever!