While I am excited and happy for Elder Haycock's adventures, I may have a ginormous outbreak of gray hair before he returns! This week has been an adventure for sure and I have counted my blessings more than once. Here's how the story begins:
Travel plans were set that his travel group (6 missionaries he's responsible for and himself) were to leave the MTC in Provo around 11:50 MST and travel via Front Runner Train to Salt Lake City International Airport to catch their 5:00 flight to Los Angeles. Heavenly Father must have had an inkling of how this day, (which has stretched into nearly a week) would go. He sent me a tender mercy in the form of a picture of my son's group of missionaries from a random, passing stranger, who kindly contacted me with a sweet message.
Sam called me from the airport and said they were getting ready to board and he'd have time to talk when they had a huge layover in LAX airport before their flight to Fiji. Like a good mom, I kept my phone charged and my ringer on high alert. No phone call came. I'm sure I checked it at least 27 more times before 9:45 PM (their flight was scheduled to leave at 11:30 PM). Nothing. Finally, at 10:00, I heard from him. They had a hard time getting through security and customs and had just arrived in the terminal. He told me briefly that they were all safe and sound and ready to board their next flight. He had made plans that I would call him back on the pay phone number he was calling me from to save him some money. We tried that. Although I tried on my end to call him over and over for the next hour, he never picked up. Apparently on his end - he could hear the phone ring and ring, would pick it up, but there would be no one there. I was a bit crushed to say the least. When you haven't heard a loved one's voice for six weeks that you've been hearing every day for the last 18 years, you long for the opportunity. I checked my flight tracking app and saw that their plane departed LAX. I put my game face on and said a prayer that he and his companions would be safe and that I would know more in the morning.
I woke to a message in my inbox from Elder Schoeny's mom.
"Just a little hiccup to our boys' flight to Fiji. The flight was diverted back to LAX at 5:18am ET due to a medical emergency and landed around 7:30. I have heard from my elder yet. We found out why it came back through twitter. Hopefully I will hear from him soon."
Any mom in her right mind, would wonder and maybe pray aloud, "Please don't let that medical emergency be my boy or any of the missionaries traveling with him. " I also said a prayer for whoever had needed help and that we would hear soon what was going on. Can I just put this here - how grateful I am for modern technology? Within seconds, I could check on flight status, network with the other moms whose missionaries were headed out with him and feel a sense of peace as we slowly got more information. That is a huge blessing to me while my son is so far away. Around 8:30 am, Elder Haycock called me briefly to let me know that they were safe, all together and in good spirits. He asked me to relay information to the other moms, because there wasn't much time to talk on the phone because of his responsibilities with contacting the missionary travel department to arrange alternate transportation . My first communication to the other moms was this:
They are being rerouted today on the 5:00 flight to Fiji. Missionary travel is working to get the boys there because all their baggage, including carry on luggage had to be checked if it was over 7 kilos. This means none of them have a change of clothes and Fiji Airlines will not release the bags which is why they will head to Fiji instead of holding up in LA. Missionary travel is contacting both President Larkin and the Fijian Mission President to find accommodations for these 13 travelers for 2 days while they wait for the next flight to Tarawa. They are tired but in good spirits. Keep praying mammas! It will all work out...come what may and love it!
As the morning wore on, more information trickled in. We all shared every tidbit because we were desperate for information about our boys. My friend Julie said, " I just got a call from my son. He said someone on the plane had a seizure but he never saw any of it. Apparently they will be bused to a hotel and then back to the airport tonight for another flight to Fiji. The problem is that there is not a flight to Kiribati from Fiji everyday so they will be in Fiji for a couple days. Lots of prayers for our missionaries! " And then Sam called again to say briefly this: "They landed at 4:45 and had to stay on the tarmac until 7. I am thankful the airline is sending us to a hotel for a bit while we wait for the next flight out. You'll all probably get to hear from your boys again very soon." Julie Herr shared her conversation with Andrew, "I just wanted to comment about our missionaries delay. I spoke with my son before they boarded the plane and he sounded happy and said that their group of missionaries were being of service, they offered to be the last ones to check into the hotel so while all the other passengers were being checked in they were in the hotel lobby, playing the piano and singing. They were uplifting and bringing joy to the angry and tired passengers. One passenger even had tears in her eyes while watching them. They are doing what missionaries do... spreading the light of Christ!! :)"
We waited for more information - like a flight number and time, and nothing came, so I prayed again. The phone rang. It was Elder Haycock with the final lowdown on what information I need to pass along again to the other moms and an apology for not having time to talk. (I didn't care that we couldn't talk - I got to hear his voice and I knew he was safe.)
"Ok moms. Here's the latest. It's brief. They are at the terminal now getting boarding passes. Flight number is FJ 811 - same as before. It will be a direct flight and should leave in an hour. They have been in touch with missionary travel and have the name of the gentleman who will be meeting them in Nadi when they arrive. Arrangements have been made for them to stay until their connecting flight to Tarawa with the Fijiian Mission President. They will have a short period of time to contact us, but it's not guaranteed. They asked for continued prayers and said they can feel your love and prayers for them. They are very tired, but Elder Haycock assured me they are safe, happy and fed. Hang in there!"
And then it was quiet. For days. We knew collectively (because we've all gotten pretty adept at flight stalking) that the only flight to Tarawa from Fiji would leave on 10/10 at 8:00 in the morning Fiji time. We watched as that flight was delayed too. It is not uncommon to have problems traveling from Nadi, Fiji to Tarawa, Kiribati, but we were worried if they missed the flight, they would be stranded for another week in Fiji. All is well however, because Elder Schoeny's mom is awesome at tracking down flight information. Her post said, "Ok. I checked the Bonriki airport arrivals and it said the flight left at 11:09 local time. It is en route and should arrive in Tarawa 1:40pm. They have about an hour left in their flight." Happy news to my ears! This info came just before I went to bed last night, so that knowledge allowed me to get a very peace-filled sleep! I woke up to the best email from Elder Haycock:
Mauri Mauri au utu!
I'm Safe. I made it to tarawa today super pretty I'll have to upload photos at another time. I'm going to be serving on the island of nonouti for I don't know how long. So this will be the communication for a little bit. I love you guys a lot and will have a story to tell about my trip here. Can't wait to talk to you more.
Love it! My heart is so happy for him and to hear his excitement and know where he'll be serving is fantastic! But that's not all, I received a second Email from Elder and Sister Jenks, the missionary couple who are in Tarawa taking care of the missionaries, and ...... a picture!
Mauri Brother and Sister Haycock,
We were very happy to welcome Elder Haycock to Tarawa today. The picture was taken after our orientation meeting. His first assignment is to work with Elder Powell on the Island of Nonouti (pronounced no nose). He will fly to his new area on Thursday afternoon. We know you now live in Montana but we love the Logan area and have two of our children living there. We have participated in many fun runs in Cache Valley. Our daughter in law is the girls basketball coach at the new High School. Thank you for sending such a great missionary.
Elder and Sister Jenks
Kiribati Mission Region
Now I am left to my devices to find out everything I can about Nonouti! What an exciting time to be a missionary! Thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers in behalf of Elder Haycock and his companions.
Elder Samuel Haycock
I am called to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This blog is about my adventures in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ for the next two years in the Republic of Kiribati.
Rachel Haycock - I am the mother of 6 amazing children and the lucky wife of a dear, sweet man. I love to write, read, cook, teach and sew. I hope you feel the Spirit of the Lord as you read about Elder Haycock's adventures in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.