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Monday, July 21, 2014

Leaving Colombia


Two weeks ago today (after triple checking our luggage, paperwork, itinerary, tickets, passports, oh my...before heading to bed the night before) I woke up bright and early to get ready to head home.  It was honestly a day full of such mixed emotions.  I truly enjoyed my time in Colombia and met some wonderful people while there.  I loved getting to learn about J's culture and visit some amazing places.  I was sad to leave and sad that she would be leaving the only place she'd known. BUT at the same time (and more so!) I was happy to be heading back to the US.  Back to start our lives together.  Back to begin some sort of 'normalcy' and routine. Back to our home.

 I pulled Josie out of bed, still in her pj's and unaware that today was not just another one of those 'run around to different buildings and meetings and appointments' kind of day.  I do think she sensed a bit of emotion from me, but I know (as much as I tried to prepare her) that she really did not have any idea of how much her life was going to change in one day.  She enjoyed a little breakfast in the car on the way to the airport (and babbled to Rene and all of the other cars passing by.)  We had some help getting our bags checked and then said our final good-bye to Rene before heading through customs.  It was a bit of a wait while the super friendly serious customs agent read our paperwork over and OVER and OVER!!  We had to hustle a bit to our gate where J got to stretch her legs for a few minutes before boarding our first flight.  The plane that would take us out of Colombia.  I held back tears as I sent a final 'WhatsApp' message to Soraya, letting her know we'd made it through customs and were about to board.  After finding our seats and getting the girl all settled (she traveled like a CHAMP, I must add), I took a few pics of my sweet girl (and her bunny) curiously watching out the plane window as we rolled down the runway, heading away from such an amazing country and everything she's every known.  I got to a point that the tears were not stoppable.  And I cried as my darling girl waved out the window, while our plane took off.  (The poor lady next too us also seemed sad to be leaving Colombia behind.  She was in tears, as well, as our plane took flight and once we leveled off a bit, she actually held out her packet of kleenex to me.  I guess she was just the right person to be seated next to.)

Our first flight was uneventful.  We read books, played with stickers, J took a short nap (the ONLY one of the day!) ate some lunch and 'watched' Rio 2.  We landed in Atlanta right on schedule and went straight to immigration.  After getting sent to the wrong line (twice!) we finally got escorted to the front of the correct line (straight to the agent actually) where after looking over our paperwork, talking a little about our trip and smiling at my sweet girl (who was still being such an excellent traveler!), the kind man stamped the magic little stamp on her passport and welcomed her to the US.  We said 'Muchas Gracias', crossed the yellow line (literally!) and.....


                         Voila! a US Citizen!


We had to collect our luggage, head through another customs check, recheck our luggage and then (again) hustle to the gate.  This was the only time that J really let me know she was getting tired of this whole traveling experience.  She whined for about 10 minutes as I fast-walked/jogged to catch the train to our terminal, rode to the next stop and then found our gate.  Once there, she had a little snack and got to stretch her legs again and turned back in the the happy traveler she'd been for most of the day.  They assigned us seats across the aisle from each other (which I didn't realize was the case until we were ON the plane) but after some help from a very kind flight attendant and a couple of generous passengers, we had seats together - J's again being a window!  I (who really hated flying up until this experience) enjoyed looking out of the window with her watching the clouds and the ground below.  Just as we were approaching our final destination, the pilot announced that we had to go a little to the side as there were some storm pockets he was going to avoid (this would add another 20 minutes to the flight, but greatly help with any turbulence).  I was so ready to be on the ground, but very happy to avoid a bumpy decent.  There was a pretty great sight in the sky over where those storm clouds had been.  Something that deserves a post of it's very own.

When we finally landed, I was so anxious to see everyone.  I think J sensed my happy anxiety, but at the same time she was so weary from traveling (with only one very short nap) and was also just happy to be off of that plane!  We collected our stroller, loaded up our carry-ons and strapped her into the carrier.  Then we were off, down the longest halls ever to find the people waiting on the other end, so anxious to set their eyes (and hands) on my darling girl.  It was such a welcoming sight to see such amazing friends and our family, waiting at the end of that last hallway.  With colorful signs from all of my little preschoolers (and J's soon to be new friends!).  She took to Grandma and Grandpa right away and we spent a good hour (it seemed) letting her play with all of these new people who had prayed so hard for her and this homecoming.  She really soaked up all of the love.  So did her Mama.  We are so blessed to have come back to such an amazing group of people and such a great little place to call home.









      I knew I missed these kids (and my family) while I was gone.  But I didn't realize truly how much I missed having them around until I saw them all waiting to meet my girl as arrived in the US.  I am so thankful that my daughter will grow up with some AMAZING, Godly role models.  They really are so wonderful!
 
Welcome Home.




One happy puppy that Mom came home!













 





  She has adapted so amazingly well over these past two weeks.  I see so much growth in her already.  
You can see how much she's changed here.  She's such an awesome little thing. 
 I am so blessed to call her my daughter.
 








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