Our flight was booked with Philippine Airlines for March 12, only two days before our visas expired. This was practically pushing it to the limit. But it was the best we could do, and just pray and hope that airline personnel wouldn't go on strike, or the military wouldn't stage a coup. March 12 still gave us a little allowance considering the time difference between Vancouver and Manila.
Thank God, our plane departed and arrived in Vancouver the same day after a 16-hour direct flight. "Realistic snow!" my 10-year-old son Mickey exclaimed as the plane descended and the snow-capped North Shore mountains appeared in sight. We were in Canada! We were giddy with realistic excitement.
We took a while at Customs because we were coming in as immigrants. There was paperwork to do, but everything went smoothly. No opening of boxes, or sifting through our luggage, or counting of our funds. We saw others open their luggage, but we had nothing of that sort. We were prepared for that kind of scrutiny, just in case. Instead, the official at the YVR airport who attended to us was very helpful and polite, so unlike any airport official I had seen before. Canadian, eh?
Yippee! We made it! We were now landed immigrants.
My parents bussed all the way from Seattle and met us at the airport. I was never happier to be reunited with my parents after seven years. I had prayed and cried to God so many times for this reunion. God, please, just one more time...
My father took this picture as we came out of the baggage area.
Markus was just two-and-a-half years old. That's Mickey and
Gabriel, only 4, at the foreground.
Aside from my parents, who were also new to Vancouver, there was no one else whom we knew here. All we had were piles of information we got from the Internet on how to get around Vancouver. We took two taxis to Vancouver to look for the YMCA as planned. It was supposedly the cheapest accommodation in the city.
The weather was wet and gray that afternoon, much like it is today, but I could not be more exuberant, wide-eyed with wonder at the new environment. About 20 minutes later, the cab parked on a side street.
"YMCA!" We found it. We stayed in the van while hubby spoke with Reception. He wanted to find out if they had room for 8 people--2 seniors, 2 adults and 4 children--with 8 large boxes and several big and small pieces of luggage.
We had no reservation!
At that time it did not even seem to bother us. Just part of the adventure we were embarking on by faith.
(to be continued, part 3)