I guess it's about 9:30 back home as I write, and it's 3:30 in the afternoon here. Which is weird, because I always thought there was a 7 hour time difference between NY and Latvia, but there is only six hours, no matter how I look at it. (It must be daylight savings- after November 4th, it will be 7 hours again.)
I think I will begin at the beginning because there have been so many ways we have seen God's hand at work since the beginning of our trip and I don't want to miss any.
On Saturday morning, Joe's parents showed up around 8:30, and Tina arrived shortly thereafter. Neither Brilyn or I had much of an appetite, but we both managed to swallow some blueberry muffin. Joe's mom and dad and Tina were a big help with getting everything into both cars- Tina's van for our trip to the airport and our van for the big kids to go with Grandma and Poppa. Finally, we figured that Brilyn, Cade, and Jessup were ready to go and had everything they might need for their time with Grandma and Poppa. I kissed them, oh, about 100 kisses, and prayed our little prayer of blessing I usually do before they go to sleep. It's a hodge podge blessing- "May the Lord bless you and keep you, may He make His face to shine upon you. May you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and may you dwell in the house of the Lord forever." I hopped out of our van, and watched them drive away. Tina asked me if I was okay? Not so much, LOL. Good in the head, not so good in the heart.
So, Joe and I did a once-over of the house, turning things off, flushing toilets, etc. and then? We got in Tina's nice big van and drove to the airport. At the airport, we checked in at the Delta counter, and we happened to mention that we were headed for Latvia, to adopt. The lady at the counter was so happy about that, and waived the overweight fee for one of bags! (Which were really overweight, obese, even.)
We also got a wonderful TSA lady (with that, you KNOW God must have been at work). She asked if I had any of the stuff you're not supposed to have, and I said, "Well, I've got a bunch of stuff for the baby, like, these foods packets here, and..." She cut me off and put my bag on the belt and waved me along. Oh happy day! Because I had about a million bottles of essential oils to try to keep us all healthy on our trip.
So, then, we rolled our way to our gate and waited for a little while. I was able to call my dad, feed the baby, and change her diaper. (Speaking of diapers, Arwyn has a killer-looking diaper rash that doesn't seem to bother her. Advice welcome.) We asked if there might be an extra seat on the plane, and there WAS! So we got to take our sweet baby in her own carseat carrier onto the plan and buckle her into a seat- we had a whole row to ourselves.
We landed in Atlanta after a wonderfully uneventful flight. We were there just long enough, because when I went to ask about whether they had an open seat on this flight, they asked for Arwyn's green ticket, which we had never received (or thought about at all) from the airline in the mail. It's probably in our mailbox right now. So, we were able to go to the big Delta counter and get a green ticket for Arwyn, get a bite to eat, and then, we were able to board! And, not only did we get a seat for Arwyn, we also go to board first! Right after first class, of course. Thank you God!
So, we were on our flight to Paris. There were little TV's in the back of all the seats! How fun! The food was good, and Arwyn was super baby. The one time she got fussy, I put a little Winnie the Pooh on the TV (in French) and put the headphones on her little head (holy moly super cuteness) Joe and I were both too excited to sleep though, so when we landed early in Paris, we were both exhausted. Arwyn was very happy, though.
We got all our luggage at the baggage claim (after walking for miles and riding the train, and then walking a few more miles). And then, after we walked a few more miles, we came to the completely dead AirBaltic counter. We asked around and realized that you cannot check in or check your bags until 2 hours before your flight. It was 8:00 am, in Paris, and our flight was not until 6:00 pm. So, despite my beautiful dreams of walking by the Siene and seeing Notre Dame, we sat in that drafty, cavernous, under-construction airport for 8 hours. Boo. So, the AirBaltic people finally got there around 4:00 and it was rush to get our bags checked, rush through customs, quick- feed the baby, and BOOM! get on the plane. Arwyn again was a sweet little baby doll, even though she actually had to sit in our laps for this flight. She did great. Joe and I were finally tired enough to sleep through our excietment, so we handed the baby back and forth caught a few little naps.
When we got over Latvia, the captain mentioned poor visibility and something about hoping to be able to land the plane! I prayed a little prayer about that, and our pilot turned out to be some awesome French guy who spoke Russian, English, and Latvian as well as his awesome French, who was able to slowly descend in circles through about 5 different levels of clouds until we were able to land in the fog. The whole plane clapped for him, it was pretty fun. I think it was a mix of being impressed and also very happy that we didn't have to land somewhere else.
Two cool things about that flight- I had a window seat and noticed a strange magical white light gliding along through the landscape below. Very creepy, very mysterious. It looked like a patronus (google it if you don't get the Harry Potter reference) zooming along for a few seconds, and then disappearing again. I was so fascinated, I knew I should be able to figure this out....and then I realized! It was the crazy bright moon being reflected in frozen bodies of water!
Speaking of the moon. Before Anastasija left us on January 8, Joe gathered all the kids together outside, and designated the moon to be "Anastasija's moon." Every time any of us would see the moon, we would remember that even though we are far apart, we are all under the same moon.
So, who was here to greet us when we landed in Latvia? Anastasija's MOON!
The other cool thing was when we started to descend outside of Riga, I saw huge white fields- snow covered fields! At first it was hard to tell, because everything was pretty white-looking in the intense moonlight.
The Riga airport is LOVELY. It has a Nordic feel. Lots of beautiful wood and warm and cozy! YAY! We breezed through to baggage claim, found everything immediately, walked through customs without stopping, and there were Inga and her husband, Zinters (which means amber, like the amber necklace) to help us find our hotel. We managed to get all of our stuff into their car, and crossed the Daugava River into Old Riga. OH! It is beautiful there- cobblestone streets, all crookedy and confusing with no apparent reason for which way they go.
Our hotel was lovely. Heated floors, good food, very clean. Hotel Neiburgs.
Joe would have me say that they served about 10 different kinds of meat for breakfast...Let's see: ham, bacon, American-style breakfast sausage, sausage that looked like hotdogs, something like prosciutto, another very smoky ham-like stuff, and then- fish! Raw fish, smoked fish, cooked fish, salmon, etc. And cheese! But let's not talk about cheese, because I couldn't have any.
So. We got all packed up and at 11:30, Daina (our lawyer and adoption coordinator) picked us at our hotel, and then I was sick for 3 hours- not a good car ride for someone who can't make it to Perry, NY without getting nauseated.
Once in Daugavpils, we met with the ladies at Orphan Court, asked a few questions, when who walked in like it was nothing at all? ANASTASIJA! Oh my goodness, words cannot explain the way we all felt when we got to hug and kiss and cry together (seriously, everyone in the room was crying)! After court, we found our apartment- it is amazing! So clean, so warm, so trendy! Wait till I post pics. It's cool. Also, it has three different french press coffee makers, so you know it has to wonderful. Talk about God gives good gifts.
Well enough about those little details. Let's talk about Anastasija.
She is having a hard time right now. She is old enough to realize that being adopted by our family means that she will not be able to come back and visit the people she has grown up with.
She has been very tearful. Please pray for her, and for us as we help her say goodbye to her caregivers and to open her heart to the love of our family.
She told us she does not want to say goodbye to her foster mom, so please pray that she does not lose hope in being adopted.
As I have said before, God has a good plan! Pray for His name to be hallowed and His will to be done.
Pray for her protection from negative thoughts. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
God has given her a future and a hope! He sets the lonely in families. He does not leave us as orphans.
Keep up the good work of prayer.