Monday, March 25, 2013

A Journey We'll Never Forget!

We finally got the call telling us it was time to pack up and head to the DRC. We booked our tickets for Thursday, Feb 21st - flying out of Charlotte at 7:30am.  My mom and dad came into town the week before to stay with our girls while Jeff and I were gone.  The Wednesday night before we left was pretty sleepless.  I kept reminding myself that God had already gone before us - there was nothing that would happen that would take Him by surprise - I didn't realize at the time how truly important it would be for me to remember that!
Jeff and I got to the airport at 5:00am and boarded the shuttle that would take us from the parking lot to the terminal.  The gal driving the bus asked where we were headed.  We told her our story and she asked if we had pictures of the kids.  Jeff showed her the picture of Jayce with his huge smile and she said, "well he sure has his momma's smile, doesn't he."  It made my morning!
Our flight from Charlotte to Washington DC was short and sweet!  At 10:30am we boarded the plane that would take us to Addis, Ethiopia.  It was about a 12 hr flight, but with the time difference, we landed in Addis on Friday at 7:15am.  After about a 45 minute layover in Addis, we boarded a plane headed to Kinshasa.  We landed in Kinshasa at 1pm.  Getting through the Kinshasa airport wasn't bad, but we did have to wait about an hour to get our 1 checked bag - and it was SO hot!  Our Guest House driver was waiting for us and we began the 45 min drive to where we'd be staying. The drive to the Guest House is one I will never forget.  First of all, Jeff and I were both sooo hot (and quite a mess from a day and a half of traveling, I might add).  The road we traveled was lined with colorful beach-type umbrellas with people selling and buying everything you can imagine.  Mixed in to the chaos were trash, old broken down vehicles, masses of people - some carrying baskets on their heads filled with bananas, apples and bread.   The road was a flurry of activity - honking horns, vans jammed packed full of people - some hanging out the windows - people walking, riding bikes, 3 people to a motorcycle.  There were no real lanes to the road - just 2 sides - they just fit as many vehicles as they could across.  Our driver was a pro!  He carried on a very enthusiastic conversation while somehow maneuvering successfully through the traffic.  We finally turned off from this main road on to a dirt, pot-hole filled road that took us to our Guest House.  We honked at the Guest House entrance and the big gates opened.

Here are the views from our Guest House balcony.
Here are the 2 rooms that we spent 2 weeks in with 2 kiddos - can you say FUN?!  Not.

Yes, there was only 1 bed for 4 of us - so you guessed it - Jeff slept on the leopard couch. :)

Upon our arrival we met Rachel (a fellow CCI momma) - it was such a treat to see a friendly face!  Rachel was incredibly helpful getting us settled in!  Shortly after we arrived, Dito (our in-country representative/social worker) came to greet us.  We hadn't planned on meeting the kids until the next day, but Dito said "you're here, we'll bring your kids!"  So we quickly showered and got ready for our first meeting with Jayce and Alli!  I had tried hard not to imagine what this first meeting would be like and I'm glad I hadn't built it up in my head.  Honestly, it happened so fast, I hardly remember what we said or did.  Dito brought Miriam (our kids foster mom for the past 5 months) and the kids to the Guest House.  I do remember thinking that Miriam must have prepared them well because they came running into our room with hugs for mama and papa.  We talked for a bit with Miriam about schedules, medication the kids were on, what they like to eat, etc, etc.  She graciously answered all our questions (with Dito translating) and then she and Dito headed out.

The kids with Miriam.  You'll notice Alli's extensions.  Miriam had put them in, but Alli wasn't feeling it.  We spent the next day cutting each braid, unbraiding and then twisting the extensions off her hair - yikes!  It was a lot of work!
I'm writing this on borrowed time and naptime appears to be, I'll have to continue later.  Stay tuned for Part 2!

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