Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Journey to Home... Part One

I know I am way over due in sharing how we finally got to little Maida. I am very sorry.! It has been, well.... Busy lol!

No matter how "prepared" I thought I was both practically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually prior to leaving when it came down to departure day we were scurrying for last minute things to pack, adding items to our donation tubs,and dealing with a host of emotions. I think the best way to clue you, the reader, in on all of that; is through pictures:)

     We took only one check-in suitcase between the two of us. It was filled with mostly food and toys for Maida to play with while at St. Annes. We took jerky, Lara bars, dried soup cups, sardines for Maida (who loved them!), nuts ect. The plastic rubbermaid tubs were our other allowed checked in luggage. They were filled with donations of school supplies, formula, baby cereal, clothing and some toys. We each carried on two carry on bags. We had everything we would need in them for the most part in case something happened to our suitcase. I'm a mom. You plan for the what if's! We flew out of Los Angeles into Dulles Airport. Onto Brussels, then into Angola for a refuel, then back up to Kinshasa. We left LAX early morning on October 31st and arrived in Kinshasa about 9:45pm November 1st.

My Traveling Companion! Gabriella. She is my fourth child, third daughter. Her heart is for the orphan and hopes to minister to North Korean orphans along the northern Chinese border someday. We shall see... a part of her heart is now in Congo:)
She learned a lot of lingala before we left and picked up a great deal while in country.  She has a gift of language that I am sure God is going to use someday. It certainly was used in-country and has been a great help since being home in communicating with Ida.

Saying good by to my husband. I was homesick before I left and had many weepy day prior to leaving. We had decided to use our agencys in-country co-ordinator as a family escort. For several reasons; mainly she was familiar with the country, the contacts in country, and the country itself. That proved to be a very wise decision! We met up with her and two other families at the Dulles airport and traveled together the rest of the way. It was great getting to know everyone before we arrived in Kinshasa.

At Dulles Airport
Meeting Julia, our family escort. We both loved her, but she and Gabby created quite the friendship:)

A traveling parent. My girls and I gushed over the cuteness of her little boy over the months of getting pictures of Maida and the children in her orphanage. He was more adorable in person than even in pictures. It was so exciting to get to meet his mom and know he would have a good home and be loved lots!

                               Another parent. We fell in-love with his sweet little girl while in Congo.

 Brussel Airport. It was very nice. And yes we bought chocolate but not until we came back through on the way home.

This is St. Annes. We stayed here for eleven days and we loved it. Mosquitoes, cold showers and all. It is an old convent turned into a guest house. Many adoptive families stay here and NGO workers along with traveling nuns, priests and volunteer Drs. and Nurses. We arrived late at night so it wasn't until the following day we were able to go to the orphanage and pick up our new daughter.

           Mine and Maida's bed. It was a full sized bed. Gabby had a twin bed next to us. The mosquito nets are invaluable. Our room would be full with mosquitoes by nightfall. It was a great comfort to crawl into bed and drop those nets and fall asleep. Malaria is the number one killer of children in Congo. They said the mosquitoes were very bad while we were there and just days before we were to leave Maida contracted it:( more about that later.

This is the view of the orphanage when you drive up. Notice the tall walls and barbed wire at the top. It is a very narrow road. The car almost touches the walls and gate and you have to scootch out your car door carefully into the door of the orphanage where you are met by a man who is hired for security.

Walking into the orphanage. Julia is infront of me and she is talking with the nannies. They then take us to find Maida:) All the children were sleeping as we arrived during naptime.

                         The moment I've been waiting for! Seeing my new daughter. She was sleeping soundly, was wet and sweaty but I didn't care. I scooped her up. She didn't know what to think being woken up by a strange white woman. The nannies took her from me to clean her up and put on a clean dress.

Getting acquainted.


We were told she was tiny, but surprised on how tiny. Her arms and legs and buttom was no bigger around than an infants. The pictures do not pick that up. Her feet were the skinniest feet I've ever seen.  She was weighed at the Drs. office the day after getting home and was 22lbs. We believe she had gained some weight while we were in Congo so not sure how much she weighed the day we got her.



                   Maida meeting Gabby, Gabby meeting Maida. She (Gabby) was so excited I let her hold her. She was worried I would take the whole coccooning thing too seriously and not let her hold her lol.
The nannies and some of the children. They all were so much smaller than what we expected and more beautiful.
Leaving for a new life.
She didn't cry while we were leaving just very quiet. I knew it would take time for her to trust me and know that her tomorrows were meant for good and not for evil. We have the rest of our lives to convince her of that.
When we got back to St. Annes I gave her a shower for a thorough cleaning and to look her over from head to toe. She has never had a warm bath or shower so she took it like a champ. I slathered her in lotion and lots of love and put on a clean outfit and met up with the other families and Julia for a night out to celebrate.

                  Meeting up with friends with their new families in the foyer of St. Annes.

We all had much to celebrate. Additionally, Papa J, who works with Julia in Congo and does a great deal for us family's and our children prior to travel and while in Congo celebrated his birthday with us this night too. It was a wonderful night and the food was great. It was Italian believe it or not!

                                                The end of day one as an ex-orphan.

While we were in Congo it was easier for me to update thru facebook. All my first thoughts and impressions were journaled there. There is wifi at St. Annes, but electricity comes and goes as does wifi, and we found it easier to upload pictures from my phone and write on facebook than to blog. I will eventually post those journal entries here.
There is SO much to tell you. I am very impressed how other families with blogs convey their thoughts as they have journeyed through the paperwork, the traveling and transistions at home in such poignant yet condensed writings. I am still sorting through the emotions, the practicalities of adding a new member to the family,  all the things we saw and felt while in Congo along with moving forward with a big  decision we made while in country, I don't have a clue how to give you an organized, meaningful expose of it all but I will do my best.

Much love and thanks from all of us as you have prayed, supported and followed us along on this journey. I will continue more of the story...so come back soon.