Friday, October 26, 2012

Our Travel Journey Home

The kitchen is dirty and our bags are still unpacked, and yet I find myself cranking out a blog post!!!! I have SO MANY details of our travel and first day that I want to write down and never forget! First, let’s talk travel….one entire 24 hour day of travel that is!

As we got to the Ghana airport and got checked in, our next stop was to head upstairs to go through customs and immigrations. My mind was going a million miles an hour so as we approached the escalator I was in a whole other world. Jake was carrying Jasara, and Jennifer and I were following. I stepped on the escalator dragging my carry on. I am so used to having Jayla behind me that I wasn’t even thinking. After a couple of seconds Jake had looked back and he shouted down, “Janel, it’s her first time!!!!!!” As I pondered what he was talking about I turned around and saw Jennifer trying to work up the courage to take a step onto the escalator! Oh my goodness what had I been thinking?!?!? I totally forgot to help her up! Luckily I was only a few stairs away so I was able to scurry back down, but by the time I got to her she had taken a step and was on and we had a good laugh. :)

After we got through customs/immigrations and security we had some time to catch our breath. Then we had to go through another check point to get to our gate. After we got settled at our gate we got out our ‘surprises’ for the girls that we had hidden and saved until our travel day - baby dolls just their size. When we brought the dolls out Jennifer clapped her hands together, squealed her little squeal of delight, and started playing with her doll right away. Jasara saw hers and started giggling and jumping up and down. I had brought a little square blanket for Jasara thinking she would want to play with it to cover her doll. But that was my American way of thinking sneaking in again! When I handed the blanket to her she leaned over in motion for me to strap her baby onto her back using the blanket (Ghanaian mommas do this with African fabric). Then Jennifer came over looking for her blanket too. The little square blanket was not big enough to wrap around, but luckily I had stuck in another small blanket to use as covers on the plane, and I had another big blanket as well. So, we made it work!

I simply just had to watch Jennifer to know the culture of how Ghanaian mommas care for their babies. At one point, after this last picture, she gathered up all the blankets and made herself a bed on the chairs and laid down on her side with one arm up under her ear. She snuggled her baby close to her and comforted her baby just as she probably saw her birthmother do with Jasara, and many of the foster mothers in her different homes. It was so special to watch.

The Ghanaian airport was having issues with their plane fueling systems so we ended up boarding about an hour past schedule. Here we are on the plane, all settled in!

Our first flight was 6 hours and 45 minutes from Ghana to Amsterdam. This was normally bedtime hours in Ghana (we boarded the flight at 11pm Ghana time) so the girls were pretty tired once we got on the plane. Jasara ended up waking up after she fell asleep the first time in her seat, and then I got her to fall asleep in my arms for the rest of the first flight. She stayed asleep with me carrying her for about 2 hours straight into the Amsterdam airport (my biceps were pretty much finished after that!). Jennifer fell asleep with her head on Jake’s lap for about 4 hours of the first flight. We figured out pretty quick that we were going to miss our connecting flight in Amsterdam due to our late boarding in Ghana. Once we realized it I cut off my worrying by praying ~ God, I trust that your grace has already gone before us and opened up a new flight schedule for us. Please push us through. The great thing about the Amsterdam airport is that they have these little kiosk stations that do all the transfer flight work for you. By the time we arrived and swiped our passport at the kiosk, they had already re-routed us through Minneapolis (instead of our original path which was to be through Detroit). And as God would have it, our flight from Minneapolis to Des Moines was scheduled to get in only 20 minutes different than our original one. Answer to prayer! WHOOP WHOOP!

Our next flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis was a whopping 8 hours! The girls did AMAZING!!!! The great thing about a 2 year old growing up in Ghana is that 1) She’s learned how to ‘sit still’ and 2) She will play with ANYTHING! Wrappers, bracelets, plastic spoons, the string on Jake’s hood, the barf bag, the remote to the plane tv, etc. Jasara can really entertain herself with something small in her hands for a good hour. And because of all YOUR prayers, the taking off and landings did not bother her ears at all. This puzzled me! I was totally prepared for her to cry from the ear pressure but she didn’t! When she did cry it was because she got a little restless of all the sitting and also when she was tired. But she EASILY let Jake and I console her. When she cried it did not last long. Another answer to prayer! I knew she would cry a few times, but my biggest worry was that she wouldn’t allow us to comfort her. Jennifer was a piece of cake on all the flights. She watched movies and slept and played with Jasara. She did great! One funny thing on this flight was that the flight attendants put ice cubes in our drinks. The ice cubes fascinated the girls! They had never seen them before! They were sticking their hands in the drinks, gigging as they bobbled the cubes up and down. Jasara had a fork and was fishing them out. It was so funny to watch them discover ice cubes!

Our last flight was a little hour flight from Minneapolis to Des Moines. By this time we were all exhausted and hadn’t really had a great meal. We didn’t have enough time in between flights at the airports to even grab fast food, so we had been limited to airplane food (bleh!) and cheez-its. :)  Jake went to go grab the girls some food real quick before we boarded our last flight and all he came back with was bags of Doritos! Before we even boarded the plane Jasara had gotten real cranky…she’d be happy one minute and then in a tantrum the next. Here’s a glimpse. :)

Then once we actually boarded the plane she completely lost it. She was screaming/wailing constantly - just plain overtired. I was trying to get her to fall asleep but she would have none of it. She had some pretty impressive lung-clearing crying bouts on this teeny, tiny, cramped, plane. This was also the point where I identified Satan trying his best to discourage me right before we got home.  I had been holding Jasara while she threw fit after fit on the plane, and among other things I could feel the weight of the other passengers opinions. I was about to start crying myself. Then the flight attendant comes up to me and asks me if Jasara takes a bottle.  Um no. Then she proceeds to hold her hands out to have Jasara to come to her, “Will she take a walk with me?” Jake and I both at the same time yelled, “NO!” The flight attendant was just trying to help, but her efforts just all the more highlighted that I couldn’t calm Jasara down…which was definitely one of my biggest fears heading into the travel. Eventually I handed Jasara off to Jake and she immediately stopped crying (of course!). I took Jenny to the bathroom and as I was waiting for her the flight attendant walked up to Jake and said, “Looks like she’s a little calmer when she’s with Daddy, huh?” Oh boy. If that wasn’t a knife through my heart I don’t know what was. All my mind heard her saying was that Jasara couldn’t be consoled by her mommy. Almost immediately following that thought God whispered the truth that once we were home we would have plenty of good time to attach and bond. This was just the culmination of a long travel day, and I need not believe the lies that Satan was using to discourage me.  It has been amazing how over our trip when a fear enters my heart, God has immediately been slamming each one with His truth.  Please keep praying that He continues to do this because when I am tired and overwhelmed it is extremely hard to discern irrational fears from reality!

In the end I was thankful that Jasara saved her fits until this flight since it was so short (sorry if you are reading this and you were a passenger on that flight!).

Once we got into Des Moines we headed down the infamous escalator towards baggage claim where our friends and family awaited to welcome us home!!!!!!!!

Sisters meet!!!  I'll have many more details on these two in my next post!!!!  God is do AMAZING things in their hearts - and quickly! - creating a beautiful friendship between them.

Jennifer meets Grandma Sullivan.

Daddy and Justice

Jake introduces Jasara to Jayla.

Here we of 7!!!

And this is us with our extended family.  From the top left it's Uncle Eli, Justice, Jake, Jasara, my mom, me.  Bottom row is Grandma Sullivan, my Grandma, JJ, my Grandpa, Jayla, and Jennifer.

I have another long post about our first night and day home but I didn’t get enough time to write it out yet! :) Will try again during nap time today! So, to be continued……


CarrieAmelia said...

I know that we have only met a couple of times years ago, but I happened upon your blog one day. You are doing an amazing thing taking in these orphans! I have loved following your adoption journey! I happened to be at the airport on Wednesday picking up my brother that is home on leave. I saw your group and about started crying that I happened to be there at the same time that you guys were getting home. I told my mom all about it and she was getting teared up too. Good luck on your next chapter!

Timothy Troup said...

Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Those two beautiful little ones you just brought home now have a future. One they would have never imagined had they been left in Ghana. May God bless your family as you grow with the two beautiful new additions.
My wife and I will be leaving for Ghana soon. We have filed our I-600 and we are awaiting approval. Oh how the days drag by when there is no response. God is really teaching us patience through our entire journey. It has been GRUELING, but He has been sovereign through it all. We are praying God will bring our two beautiful little ones home by Christmas, but again it is in His time and not ours. We know it may be a stretch, but with our God for us, who can be against us? May God continue to bless and keep your family safe! Please keep us in your prayers.