After our brief adventure in Hong Kong and a good night's rest in another new bed, it was time to leave for America. We can't help but keep thinking what Lori has to be thinking about this new crazy family. All they do is ride around in trains and planes and subways and ferries and busses, they stay in different hotels and always eat at restaurants! Prior to coming with us, she probably never did any of that, even once...now, its all she's done for 12 days!
Anyway, we packed up and made our way to the airport, which was a five minute walk. We found our United desk and got in one of many lines for the day. We got checked in and made our way to immigration, security and customs, and made it through fine. We found the food court which 'appeared' to be a very short walk from the terminal, and ate some breakfast and sat down for a moment. With not much time to spare, we headed to the terminal.
What we found out at the last moment, was that it wasn't our terminal. The terminal we were looking for was a train ride away, and we had 11 minutes before they shut the door. What? Are you kidding me! Nevertheless, we hopped on the train and took the 2 minute ride to the correct terminal. Once there, and after two escalator rides up, we did the cliche' running through the airport, that we had jokingly commented to each other about two weeks ago when we were watching people at O'Hare. This time it was us! We made it to the gate with 3 minutes to spare, and boarded our dreaded yet much anticipated long flight home.
It was a much different plane this time...different from what we were expecting. This time it was a 747, where coming over it was a 777. This time we had three aisle seats, which are such a blessing on a long flight. We took off, and thought everything was good.
And then...after 5-10 minutes of flight time, we hit an air pocket, and for a brief moment, the bottom dropped out of the plane! It was bad! Everyone screamed! What a way to start a 14 hour flight! It had moments of smoothness, but it will be mostly remembered as a bumpy ride with a fair share of turbulence. Two days after hitting the ground, and we still feel like we're moving...it's weird. But Lori did fabulous! She was a trooper...she slept a lot, and for 99% of the trip was quiet. God truly blessed her with a calm spirit for the long ride home.
We didn't sleep much, and what a blessing it was to finally hit the ground at O'Hare in Chicago. We had a three hour layover, in which we needed to handle Lori's immigration, customs, and claiming and rechecking our baggage. We had to hurry up and wait some, but we made it through everything fine...the only casualty was one of our bags didn't make it, but they said to look for it in St. Louis.
It was so great to be back in the USA! It felt great. Anytime you are out of the country for a spell, it feels so good to be back in the USA! We grabbed us some good American food (Some chicago hot dogs), and sat down waiting for the last flight home. Camille said she was done...no more flights...she was ready to rent a car and drive home from Chicago...but the time finally came to board.
The final flight home from Chicago to St. Louis was simple and painless. No bumps, and it was super quick...compared to the last flight. We got to visit with some folks from Sikeston that were on the plane, that we had never met before. Isn't life weird like that...on an airplane from Chicago to St. Louis, you sit next to people from your hometown that you've never met...And finally, we hit the ground in St. Louis....Wow! it felt great...
We made it thru the airport quickly...getting our bags...and not having to deal with immigration or customs at this point...our one missing bag didn't make it, so we had to report it, but we're home, and we'll make do! We called our hotel shuttle, and boarded our last shuttle for a while, and made the 10 minute trip to the hotel.
We made it to the hotel, and had the driver stop at our suburban to unload our bags, but our attention was drawn to the familiar suv that my in-laws drive, parked next to us, but empty. As soon as we could, we walked, I think I ran, to the lobby, where I cannot express how glad I was to see my little kids...I hugged Sam, Jax, and Chloe enough times that they began to count and comment on it. How great it felt to be reunited with our little ones! It felt awesome! And hats off to my inlaws who selflessly watched over the little ones while we were on our adventure. What a blessing they were! This was also Lori's first time to see her other brothers and sister. They couldn't wait to see here, and just were all over her...she wasn't sure what to think...more changes! But she will warm up in time.
After a moment to just sit and talk, we made the final boarding call, and got all 8 of us into our blue suburban for the first time. All of our crew in one place...it felt surreal. We got all in place and made the final 2 1/2 trip home.
I must admit, it was awkward driving home. I had not driven in over two weeks, and the driving I had become used to in China was crazy...plus I was still feeling queasy and weird from the flights. Plus, although it was 6pm here, we were still on China time, so it was 1 or 2 in the morning to us...and it felt like it...but we trodded off.
We did have one major stop to make...once we got South of the main city, we had to make a quick stop! Several dear friends from church had made the trip up to see us at the airport or hotel. Due to our unpredictable schedule, however, they were not there when we arrived. So we met up with them around Herculaneum. When we drove up they had a banner sign we had to drive through like a football team taking the field. They had balloons, and big smiles ready to see us. Although it was freezing cold outside, we all got out and hugged and laughed and enjoyed the homecoming! What a blessing it was! Their welcome was incredibly appreciated! I wish we could have stayed a while and talked, but the time came to move on.
After the sleepy trip home, we were met with visits from family and friends. How great it was to walk into our home...all of us! We just chunked our suitcases and sat around holding our kids and reminiscing the trip with each other and our visitors. Lori quickly warmed up to her brothers and Chloe, and even sat in Sam's lap and cried when someone tried to get her out of his lap.
Our challenge now is getting back to Sikeston time. We our all wide awake now, despite it being late. We got little-bit in her new room, and she seems to like it, although she definitely is messed up time-wise and didnt' want to go to bed. Several of us were up to almost 2am, and found ourselves in bed Sunday morning until around 1:30 that afternoon.
But the point is...we are home, all eight of us...and all is well. We still have lots of adjusting, and please pray that these adjustments move along smoothly and quickly, but Praise Jesus for a blessed adventure to China, and for us now being back home with our new little bundle of joy...May God bless our home and yours with peace and grace. And thanks for walking this journey with us!