Finally to the real last day of our amazing trip...the day we came home to America! Our flight was to leave at 11:30am so we determined it would be best if we headed to the airport by 9am. We were all up early to get things going and actually ready early. We had arranged for our guy who had driven us to Kemeri to pick us up and take us to the airport. It seemed everywhere we turned our clothes had multiplied and packing up was getting more and more challenging!
As I write this some four months later, it is hard to remember it all. But a few things stand out. Most importantly, we had a lot of food left over. Stuff that was good...only a day or so purchased. J asked what we were going to do with it and I said I didn't know...we weren't allowed to leave it for the next family coming in behind us. He asked if we could give it away. Of course!
Zach jumped on the service wagon as well and those two boys bagged up everything that was worth giving and headed out. They walked down the street to the Russian Orthodox Church where there are always many many people there begging for money. J of course had to do the talking but he asked a woman if she wanted it. She of course said yes and when they gave her both bags of food, they said she was amazed and just kept shouting "Paldies! Paldies!" Thank you thank you!
What a way to end our visit here...and all along I had said I had wanted us to serve while we were in Latvia. Funny, sometimes we don't see what we were able to do til you look back on it four months later. Honestly, I came home thinking, we didn't get to do a thing! Now, just loving on the people we met, visiting with older folks and orphans, and of course, giving away two bags of food. Yes, I'd say we got to serve. Maybe opening my eyes to what is around me and recognizing service for what it is might be helpful. It doesn't have to be organized with T-shirts and a mission statement...it can be just living, every day, purposefully.
So off we went to the airport...made our flight just fine...connected through Helsinki. Stressed a bit in Riga when the boys decided to go find sodas and croissant for breakfast...yes, I let things slip a bit. And the stressful part was wondering if they would make it back for the flight! But make it we did and then all the way through to NYC.
There is where we hit some hiccups. First, our flight was late arriving and we had maybe 45 minutes to make it to our connection. We received our fast pass that was supposed to get us through Homeland Security faster. Unfortunately, no one could understand why we were traveling with 1. so many children and 2. who were these orphans? Well, let me tell you mister...they are orphans no more! They are our kids! And yes, one of them doesn't belong to us but she is our friends' daughter.
No one listens to me ;-) and we sat and sat and sat in Homeland Security while they "reviewed" the papers, yes we're holding your luggage, no you can't go...YES you missed your flight. Ugh...are you kidding me? Nope...definitely not.
Well, once we got through that mess, we found a very very nice man who helped us find another flight...but...it was a LaGuardia and we were at JFK. Remember that trip to NYC I was hoping for at the beginning of this blogness? Well, Gary Belk took me to New York! But, it was a Super Shuttle ride around the city...didn't even see the big buildings from a distance. But hey, it was me and Gary in New York! HAHA. We were treated to the most amazing sunset that night and if I can ever get as talented as Julia Hess, I'll begin dressing up my posts with photos...I can't seem to figure that out.
We finally made it to BWI at like 11:30pm...late..deserted there...except for our light at the end of the tunnel, Jen and Chris Diehl. Thankfully they had picked us up (well they had to get their daughter ;-)) and were bringing us home.
Such a surreal feeling to be on our soil, in Maryland, with BOTH OF OUR BOYS and ALL of our kids. As usual I was moved to tears...they groaned when I pulled out the camera once again...but at least I didn't make them pose.
We got home and both of our big boys actually slept on the couch...when one doesn't know if one is coming home, it is hard to prepare for you. As Gary and I fell into bed, we reflected on what the last 17 days had been for us...bonding, building our family. Some saying hello and a lot of saying goodbye.
The past four months have been wonderful and beautiful and HARD. So much we've all been working through...too much for here this morning (I do have to pack you know). I realize our settling in may have been harder because we didn't know when we left for Latvia if we were coming home with one or two...God gave us two! And there was much to be done to put Humpty Dumpty back together again...but it did get done!
Here we are four months later and I am preparing to leave TODAY to head back and do the second court that will make it all official. I figured I better wrap up the end of THAT trip before I can start the beginning of this one ;-) We are heading into a different world...but a beautiful one. If I haven't said it before, I'll say it now...I love LV! And I love the people there. And my one prayer as we travel is to be used. Whatever He wants us to do on this trip...I want to do it.
We've got many people to visit...friends and family. And it will be hard I am sure. But at the end of the day, February 2 will come and we will come home. God's been with us on every single trip so far...we've seen Him work both times. Last March, it was immediate answers AS SOON AS WE LANDED! September, it was the gift of J. Kind of makes me excited for what He's going to show off and do this time.