Sunday, July 24, 2011

On the other side of the Atlantic

I cannot believe it has actually happened. I can say that I have lived in Germany! You don't know how jealous I have been over the last 20 years hearing other Army wives go on and on about their time overseas, and I have to sit there and listen to it, all the while wishing I could participate in the discussion. Not because I needed to be apart of the conversation, but I had always figured, if my husband had to be in the military and was gone all the time, I should at least get a bit of the benefit of living in an exotic place! But NOOOOO, he always had some stupid job that was related to homeland defense, and how often can people do homeland defense if they aren't IN the homeland? So, I have sat through numerous events with spouses who talk about their trips all over Europe and how they would say, "Oh when you get to go, you'll love...blah blah blah!" Yeah, well, I thought our opportunity was gone. We are nearing our final duty station and I figured the chances were nil. But, I was wrong again - such a naysayer I am!

Finally after 20 years...we are here. In beautiful Stuttgart. I no longer feel that the rug will be pulled out from underneath us, like I did just 1 short week ago. I kept thinking this couldn't really be happening. Even after our first shipment left in June along with my car, I still believed it would all be sent back because it was a big mistake. It was a horrible feeling to think every call or email was going to be the one that pulled the plug on my overseas happiness opportunity! It is all about me isn't it? Greg has sacrificed so much to give this to me and for that I am eternally grateful. He has been my rock - especially through the terrible times we have had getting here. I don't think I could have done this without him, nor would I have wanted to.

The signs were on the wall that this wasn't going to be an easy move back in June. Up to that point, things had worked quite well. Bekah's passport was expired, and the soonest we could get an appointment to get one ordered was late in May. But the post office lady said, "Go to the courthouse in Atlanta because no one really knows they do them there!" Sure enough, we walked in, walked to the window, filled out the form, and BAM, 7 days later had a passport in our hands (didn't even expedite it!) But, within a few weeks, Greg got the news that the entire family was required to have military passports...WHAT!? How do we get those in a short time span (we were only about 6 weeks out from travel)? We went to the newly opened passport office on Fort McPherson and the woman there assured us that she could expedite and get them to us in 4-6 weeks! REALLY??? Seriously...that's like way too close for us. but she did the expedite letter and we were hopeful. Well in about a week and a half the 3 girls passports arrived and we wiped our brow believing Zach and mine would be following behind. Day after day we waited and waited to find nothing returned to the passport office. THese are military passports so you can't just call the local passport office or check online. In speaking with the passport office we asked when we could check on them. She said we'd have to wait FOUR weeks from the time they were sent out! WHAT?! So I dutifully waited the 4 weeks and then at 4 weeks showed up at her office.

She then thought that an email status inquiry was the best way to get information! REALLY??? Why not a call, I don't know. This was a Thurs. Friday afternoon she still had no response. We are now only 7 business days from travel. Monday we learn that the passport agency wants my and Zach's tourist passports. Now we have NO way to leave the country. But I dutifully surrendered to their request. She shipped them on Tues. They were received on Wed. But I didn't know this at the time. I contacted the passport lady and she basically told me to just wait and she'd start calling around to the people she knew to get a status check. Thurs was a crazy day of moving so I didn't call but on Friday I went into her office and left her a note that I needed to know what whas going on. She came back and said, "Oh, we haven't received anything so I guess it isn't coming today!" She went on to add..."You and your son may have to leave separately!" WHAT? Are you CRAZZZYYYY!!!???

So Friday I went into overdrive and began the process of contacting my Senator, Marco Rubio, in FL, who kicked it into high gear and flew through the process of helping me get my passports. I had to sign releases, fax them over, and then have Greg do the same. Within hours we had information about the location of the passports and that they had been returned for a special stamp (Zach is adopted from China). By Monday however, we still didn't know if they would be able to get the passport to me by Tues morning (the day we were to fly), but by 2pm - the workers in DC were walking my passports between agencies and getting the appropriate stamp and getting it FedEx-ed to me by the next day! At 10:30am I tracked the package to Fort McPherson. At 11:15am I had the passports in my hand.

That is the passport saga. DURING this same time frame, we had issues with shipping our second vehicle. The second vehicle was to be shipped out of Charleston SC. But the paperwork necessary to get the shipping documents was being held up due to a miscommunication by Germans as to what was actually needed to ship the vehicle. By Wed, all the documents had been fedex-ed to me and I was able to scan and copy all that was needed. All I had to do was call on Friday for an appointment on Monday to drop the car off at the port. Oh remember the problems with the passport on Friday??? I was stuck on the phone freaking out about that, I forgot to make the required drop off appointment in Charleston. Bekah and Greg drove down the night before and just prayed the port would have Grace and Mercy at the door - She was there! Grace allowed the car to be shipped and all is good!

Shortly before all of this saga, the household goods shipment nightmare occurred. I won't even go into that crazy situation. I don't want to rehash it as it makes me sick to my stomach. Suffice it to say if Allied ever comes near my home again, God help them.

I am grateful we have weathered this storm. Or should I say hurricane. It was a whirlwind of excitement but it is all good now as I lay my head on this side of the Atlantic. All worth it? So far so good.


Carol Anne Wright Swett said...

So glad you are there and looking forward to life across the pond becoming routine for all of you!

Martha said...

So glad to see a new blog update from you! I am glad you have made it there...but I am sure going to miss you...H.O.M.E. just won't be the same with out y'all...Thankful for facebook and bloggy world to keep in contact...Post a lot of photos for all of us on this side of the Atlantic...blessings to you and yours!

Dan Gamel said...
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Dan Gamel said...
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Steph and Dan Gamel said...

And that is why I have not called you in the past several weeks! So glad you are there and praying that it is the best experience ever!!