Mr. Beaver has journaled the story of his days of single-parenting our three new children in a foreign country who don't share the same language until I could arrive after attending the Bible Bee Nationals with Joe, Lissie and Natasha.
Now I"ll add the tale of our journey to travel halfway around the world to Mr. Beaver and our new family members. After rising at 2:30 a.m., the kids and I arrived at the Sioux City Airport 10 minutes later than our 4:30 a.m. goal. (The fault was all mine. I continue to try to learn how to avoid keeping people waiting, but obviously have not mastered the art yet.)
We were greeted by the warmest Delta agents imaginable. We've had contact with these three women throughout our eight years in Sioux City, and they've begun to feel like friends. What a difference this kind of kindness and service makes as you face a journey of the type the kids and I were facing this time! Thanks, Jody, Dawn and Cindy! You got us off to a stress-free start! We can sense that you are FOR our family as we go through this enormous change as a family, and your support means more to us that we can express.
Taking on the care of three older children is daunting, even when you've adopted three other times. Having the support of friends is of course critical, but having the interest and enthusiasm of people in the community is like a cool drink of water on a hot day. We've been so blessed in this way by numerous doctors, dentists, and these wonderful Delta agents.
The kids were so very happy to board and truly begin our journey to their dad...their three new siblings, and for the six of them adopted in trios in 2001 and 2005--the land of their birth.
Once we arrived in the Minneapolis Airport, our first stop, I decided to treat the kids to a full, sit-down breakfast rather than grabbing a pastry or something. Having just traveled internationally two weeks ago, I had experienced the unpredictablity of getting a full meal and even getting food at all sometimes when jet lag leaves you hungry.
Usually we try to share meals when we eat in a restaurant and drink water to save money. This time I let everyone order their own meal and even juice or coffe to go along.
When I was ready to pay the sizable bill, we got the most amazing surprise. Our server told us that a gentleman in her section had anonimously purchase our meal for us. What a gift from the Lord! Our hearts filled with gratitude for this sweet confirmation that He was with us--caring for us in intimate, tender ways!
When we arrived in New York City, with a lay over of a couple of hours, some of the older kids went in search of outlets where we could get an intermediate charge on some of our electronic equipment. They came back with something far better than knowlege of electrical outlets. They returned with dear friends in tow!
Tom and Joyce are the parenst of and in-laws to Gary and Amanda, some of our very closest friends. Gary and Amanda live in Minneapolis; Tom and Joyce live even farther north in Duluth, Minnesota. We've been with Tom and Joyce for a number of milestone events for Gary and Amanda's children, such as graduations. Some of these events have required considerable cooking, and Tom is an amazing chef. He also has a terrific sense of humor, and Joyce has a wonderfully warm heart. We've come to love the two of them very much! Needless to say, we enjoyed our unexpected lay over together. Our family said good-bye to them thanking the Lord for such a gift.
None of us slept well on the flight from NYC to Moscow, probably as much from the ongoing excitement at the thought that we would finally become a family of fourteen soon. Despite the sleeplessness, it was still an enjoyable flight becasue we met a couple of folks who were very interested in our story and even wanted to have a photo taken with us after the flight landed.
The first step after landing was to go through immigration. I had filled out all ten immigration forms the night before on the plane, except for the passport and visa numbers. The way my luggage was situated, I couldn't reach the passposts to do this.
I thought, "No problem. I'll just fill those in while we wait in the long immigration lines." However, I hadn't counted on the time it would take to have our photo taken with the kind people on our flight. As we arrived at immigration control, nearly the entire plane had already passed through. As I hurriedly worked to sort passports and write in the numbers on a little counter at the back of the room, an official came up and began bruskly insisting we move up to the a passport control kiosk. I frantically tried to indicate that I didn't have all my paperwork filled out. He insisted anyway. We slunk up to the last window, afraid of the scolding we'd get for the incompleteness of our forms.
Instead of the dour women Jim and I have encountered time and time again on our travels to Moscow, a beautiful young woman with a gentle countinance sat behind the glass and began processing our passports and visas. Each time she finished with one of the kids' passports, she would smile at them (unheard of!) as she slide their passport through the slit in the glass. They then passed through a small gate into baggage claim. I was the last to arrive at her window. When she smiled and handed me my paperwork, I said thank you in Russian and then proceeded to tell her, "You have been so kind. You are an angel." I don't know how much she understood of what I said, but the word "angel" is similar enough in Russian that I knew she would grasp my meaning. She smile, giggled quietly and immediatley turned the focus of her eyes on her desk.
By the time I'd finished at passport control, my wonderful kids had pulled our luggage off the belts. All ten bags had arrived. What an answer to prayer! Right away we dropped our heads and said a prayer of thanksgving. (Having grown up during the Cold War, it still feels strange to me to pray openly in the former Soviet Union.)
Our driver arrived almost immediately, and we piled into a large while van. Even with it's size, we were sitting in each other's laps.
We didn't think much about this, because seat belts aren't readily available in this type of vehicle here. However, as soon as we were off the airport grounds, our driver pulled over and motioned to me what I took to mean that there were too many of us in the vehicle. Another car pulled up alongside. The two drivers got out and quickly transferred Jaynie, Cassandra and Princess Bink to the other car. Joe and Speedy both tried to step in to be one of those being transferred so that they could protect their sisters, but the drivers made it clear they were satisfied with the arrangement and hurried the boys back into the original van.
I was up in a front seat with a tall back which keep me from fully being able to see what was happening and protest. As the two vehicles roared down the highway, I thought, "Yikes! I just let three of my young daughters be whisked into another car in a strange country with no way to contact them! What kind of mother am I?!?" I knew, undeniably that I was a helpless mother who must rely on my all-powerful God. I prayed for his protection for my girls (and the rest of us) and relaxed in His care for the rest of the long drive.
We did arrival safely. Next time we'll share the story of the meeting of the 12 children.