One other big change happened as a result of me counting too much on what Air Pacific was saying would happen with our departure dates, so that was stinky. We purchased tickets to LA first only to find out a few weeks later that flights out of LA had changed due to "scheduled maintenance" that was obviously not scheduled very far in advance (since I had called just before purchasing tickets to LA to make sure our departure dates and prices weren't subject to change). Fortunately, because of the maintenance, they had some other departure days other than their traditional "Sunday" only. Therefore, we (the majority of my team) now all have tickets to LA for Sunday, March 18 around noon. We then fly out Tuesday, March 20 at 11:30PM to arrive in Fiji at 5:15AM Thursday, March 22 (10.45 hours flight, 17 hours time difference). We don't fly out to Port Vila in Vanuatu until 9:30 at night to arrive at 10PM (1 1/2 hours flight, one hour time difference). That puts us hanging out in Fiji for a day, which won't be all bad! Gretchen and Houghton have some friends in LA who will be housing us for the 2 days there as well. However, the whole deal loses us three days in Vanuatu that we originally planned on having. Bummer!
Here are the dates and plans we have made so far:
March 22(Thurs) - overnight in Vila on Efate island with accommodations very cheaply rented from SIL (Summer Institute of Linguistics http://www.sil.org/, similar to Wycliffe Bible translators http://www.wycliffe.org/)
March 23 (Fri) - fly to Malakula http://www.vanuatutourism.com/vanuatu/cms/en/islands/malekula.html (meet some tribes and do some team planning); working on accommodations
March 26/27(Mon/Tues) - fly to Santo to Luganville (meet missionary Phil who may be helping us apply for visas at the end of the trip, check out cost of living, possibly visit a church, record some Bislama to practice language while back in the States) with accommodations provided by Phil
April 2 (Mon) - fly back to Vila early AM (apply for visas, meet government officials, check in with SIL about literacy, language, and education contacts for me), stay again with SIL
April 3 (Tues) - finish visa paperwork, fly out to Fiji at 4:05PM to arrive 8:30PM, depart Fiji 10PM and arrive in LA at 1:20PM the same day. We then fly United back home to arrive at 6:55PM that evening. Is that all crazy that it's all the same day or what? My family will drive back to Montana probably the next morning or so, whenever their brains are with it again to drive the 12 non-stop hours back. I go back to work on Thursday. Praise God for my graduate practicum student I'm supervising- Melinda - who, Lord-willing, will feel comfortable to cover for me those days I'll have to take off work! She suggested that perhaps when I return on Thursday that I can be there more in body than anything else and she can take my teaching schedule and my counseling kids for the day. That would be a huge blessing!
There are some other possible changes and updates in the works, but this is what I know so far. Please pray that the Lord grants favor with the visa application process and that we are all able to bring all the necessary paperwork. The Lord is slowly providing for this trip, praise Him! Thanks go to all of you who have expressed interest in helping financially and for the investment in prayer many of you have made already as well. You refresh me!