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Roland Lepore: The true meaning of brotherly love

By Roland Lepore

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Sept. 22 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

It took five connecting flights and 48 hours for Roland Lepore and his family to make it from France to Salt Lake City using stand-by tickets.

Matt Slocum, AP

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A couple weeks ago, our family had a last-minute opportunity to be back in Utah for a very special family sealing which we felt we could not miss. Through a series of miracles and the goodness and kindness of very good friends, we were able to secure six buddy airline passes — the only way we could financially pull this off. We recently left most everything we had in order to pursue a prompting leading us to France and there was no other way for us to be back this soon.

Buddy passes have certain risks associated with them, but we were determined to do all we could to participate in this special family event. Through the help of our dear friends, we determined the best day to fly out of Paris, feeling confident we had limited the risk of not being able to get on the direct flight to Salt Lake and having to be rerouted through different airports and planes. The thought of having to go through even one layover was daunting with four children.

And so we left our home in Lyon, France, at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, making the five-hour drive to the airport in Paris and attempting to arrive early enough to get on the flight.

We managed to make it on time to register and check in at the Paris airport, not knowing that our experience was going to require an additional opportunity to strengthen our faith and learn to rely on the Lord. For reasons we still do not understand, we were greeted by a most unhappy and difficult airline agent who found every possible way to prevent us from getting on the plane. We were well prepared with all the information we needed, but it appeared as though we were not meant to get on that plane.

Through a series of runs around, we were made to miss the flight, which apparently took off with plenty of room for our family. We were devastated. Our children were devastated as well especially after hearing from other agents that most flights for the next couple days were going to be full.

I remember feeling completely helpless stranded in that airport, not knowing what to do. We could not really stay somewhere in Paris for a few days hoping we would get on a flight. We also did not really have the option to just go home and wait for the next day. It was too far and costly. We had to find a way to move forward or go back home. In the midst of the disappointment and heartbroken feelings, we prayerfully decided to consider any other option possible to head west. The sight of four little children praying with all their heart was touching.

We discovered a flight headed to Philadelphia in a few hours, connecting us to Salt Lake the next morning. We determined that this would really be our only option and so we went with it. Of course, the plane was nearly full and when it came time to get on, we realized that we were assigned seats all over the plane. We would not be able to be together. Even our 3-year-old Charlie was going to have to sit by himself with strangers. Thank goodness people on the plane quickly opened their hearts and rearranged their seats so we could be closer together.

At this point, we had already gone through a lot of emotions and the thought of taking my family through another unknown brought tears that I tried to hold back throughout the whole flight. What were we to do in Philadelphia? Where would we stay for a night? Is there any hotel close by we can afford? I did not have enough cash to secure a cab.

I remember distinctly asking the Lord why this journey had to be so difficult in a moment of anxiety and concern for our family. "Why" not being the right question, I quickly resumed my prayers for help, an expression of my faith in his plan and gratitude that we were even this far. The Lord answered our prayers through the kindness of a couple seated on the flight. Bob and Claire had witnessed our “grand entry” on the plane and it appears as though they felt inspired to inquire of us. Out of care and concern, Claire offered to give us her phone number in case we would need anything. We were so grateful as we did not know what would happen once we landed.

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