At midnight the first half of our VERY LONG, VERY non relaxed journey to Washington D.C was over. We landed in Dakar, Senegal. It was pitch black, most of the plane was sleeping (not yours truly) and was strange landing in the dark. We were supposed to be stopped for 1 hour as they refueled, let a few ppl off, gained a few passengers etc. We were stopped for 1hour 40 minutes. Lights on. Its midnight. Nice. Managed to keep C and Z sleeping the whole time. Weird security checks, Had to get our carry on luggage down from overhead and put it in our lap. Nothing like a rude awakening for most of the passengers. :)
I was feeling ok about the flight. It was a little shakey but it was pretty smooth. The new flight crew got on and the pilot announced clear skies with turbulent air currents. He said he hoped we would sleep through it but it looked like some rough air ahead. Fan.Tastic. :(
It was rough.
Somewhere in here I started to talk to the man beside us. About 55 years old. He is a missionary from Sarasota, FL. Absolutely a God send to me. It was just amazing how God was placing people all along the way to comfort me. This man..was a huge gift. Mark (we didn't ask each others names until well into our journey) was letting Z lay partially on his lap while he slept. At one point, I couldn't handle it any more, I was SHAKING. I woke him and said I wasn't doing well. The plane was extremely rough. It felt like I was on a boat in very very very rough waters. It was bumpy, then it would drop so your stomach would drop and I was watching us kind of roll....left to right. For hours. I was praying and praying and begging God to just calm the storm. I kept thinking about Jesus sleeping in the boat...in the storm. I knew He was in the plane with me...and I'm POSITIVE if I could have seen Him...I would have went to sleep. I couldn't and my fears were consuming my faith. It was horrible. I felt like the Israealites who soon forget. Yes my song came to mind...Though the world sees and soon forgets ... and I couldn't even finish it. I started to cry. After all God showed me and did for us...even on this journey in 28 days...I couldn't trust him now. When I woke Mark he immediately turned to me and in an unashamed volume, began to pray. He prayed that the one who gives Peace, not fear, would give that overwhelming peace to us now. That He would protect us, and smooth the path. He said "Amen" and I was still shaking...and literally shaking in a rough flight. I started to feel sick. At one point I looked over at Mark and saw him sitting there praying out loud. That did nothing to ease the tension I was feeling. I was hoping it was only me not at ease. He then turned to me and we just started to talk. I knew what he was doing. He was trying to simply distract me. There was nothing more to do except give it to God...the one who not only holds us in His hand...but also the plane, the storm...He's got it all. We chatted, I was still very uneasy yet silently thanking God for sending a messenger. I truly do not know how I would have stayed conscious on that flight were it not for Mark.
Then a few minutes later...I surrendored. I just completely accepted that maybe this heartwrenching journey was for you all....and not for me. That maybe it was going to end...not as I thought. That maybe this was the day I would go home...not to Pasco but to my final destination: heaven. As I did...I had complete peace. With whatever the outcome.I could hear my Father saying "Janice...I already know the end of the story. Whatever the outcome it won't surprise me. I know the end. It's already visible to me". That brought peace. Then..my mind kept going...I pictured our kids being told that Mommy, Chazano and Zunduka were in Heaven. Then..lmost instantly....I could feel the blood drain out of my face and I started to faint. Mark could see me and immediately got up and got me juice. Want to know something interesting...? From the time he came back with the juice...that flight was smooth as glass. Not another bump or shudder. I don't know what you believe but let me say...from the depths of who I am..I firmly believe He controls the storms. After hours of turbulance...it was not coincidental that the moment I surrendored...the moment emotionally I had all I could take...that same moment...we were "suddenly past the turbulent currents". I laid my head back and thanked my creator for never leaving me. Repented for my weak faith despite all He has shown me. Its sad to realize how much you can grow...yet how weak we really are.
We watched the sun rise...it was absolutely beautiful. Beautiful because I knew...our home...America...was in sight. We were served breakfast which the boys gobbled up. We were almost there. We landed in D.C almost an hour late than estimated at near 7am. This was going to make things difficult for so many with their connecting flights!
So...Thursday morning officially began in EST. We stood in line forever at customs and went through pretty effortlessly. Went to pick up our bags...two trollies...two boys tagging along...one missing suitcase... later...it was all checked back in.
We loved being in the airport. We had about 5 hours. The boys laughed so hard it was hilarious. They each had a hand on my orange carry one and we didnt' pass a single person who didn't stop and google over them. People were asking our story and were teary eyed having heard. This was day 28 away from four young children and a husband...and our family was forever...changed.
Finally it was time to board the plane. The boys, again, were estatic. We weren't seated together and it always amazes me how people can stand and look at a mom and two little children and say "No I'm unwilling to move seats so they can sit together". Nice. Finally the stewardess offered to buy 'drinks' for people if they changed their seats and that got people moving.
Chazano got the window for this take off. He was quite funny. LOVING the speed.
It was a gorgeous day and I was planning on everyone sleeping. I changed seats with Chazano so they were both together. They laid down. Zunduka was sleeping pretty quickly. Chazano wasn't so I brought out his 'motocahs" (Motor cars) :) and is coloring book. They were so good. I slept. For probably 3 hours. It was a 6 hour flight and was amazing. It was clear we could see down and I loved it. It was perfectly smooth. It was rest for a weary soul :)
We were estatic to be landing. The boys kept saying "Tirzah!!!" or "ZION!!!" it was so cute. The stewardesses were in love with the boys and had asked the story. They brought great big chocolate chip cookies...they thought they were pretty special. When they found out I was about to see our four kids and my husband after 28 days in Africa...they were teary eyed. When we got to the top of the escalator (thats another story...haahha....Chazano was TERRIFIED of moving stairs...it was funny)...as we were coming up the escalator I looked to the left to see four little faces pressed to the glass. I think my heart stopped. Completely. I started yelling their names. Azlan was RUNNING towards us. I looked further to the left and could see the stewardesses from my flight were our photographers. They had come up, seen the family with the balloons and asked if that was my family. It was very sweet. I kept seeing them wiping the tears away. Yes I think we blocked the top of the escalator for 10 minutes and we were completely on display. Not one of us cared. We were lost in each other. The hugs and "mama I havent' stopped praying for you" and "We've been waiting for you" and "wow is that Chazano and Zunduka" screams were music. Zunduka RAN to daddy for the most heartwarming hug it was amazing. He just laid on Dean's shoulder! The boy..has never had a daddy. He has known Mamas. Their great aunt was mama to them. Tanis was mama. I'm now mama. But never has their been a Daddy. It was beautiful.
The kids were walking up to C and Z getting full hugs as I was still making my rounds. Everyone knew exactly who this was and what it meant. We have 2 new brothers. There was never even a recognition of color difference. They hugged and held hands.
We all left and loaded the vehicle. We went to McDonalds where...let me tell you...looks were not always pleasant. I think people were hoping, but quickly realizing otherwise, that this was birthday party. But as everyone called me Mama ... the thoughts were soon dismissed :) It was wonderful. The complete ending to a dream. The dream that started in each of us...years ago. The dream that was so painful for 28 days....it was done. We were now a family. All 8 of us.
We had a wonderful drive home where everyone slept and Dean and I could just talk. In silence. I know you don't think that happens much but it does :)
We got home and every slept til about 7am. That's pretty amazing seeing the jet leg! Its a 9 hour time difference but you would never know it last night.
Ahhh. 28 days. They changed my heart. Changed two little boys lives..and likely their 'forevers'....changed our family. Forever. 28 days in Africa.
Though the world sees...and soon forgets...we will NOT forget who You are and what You've done for us!!
PS...as we drove in the driveway and saw a house decorated by our bible study group...we felt so loved. We walked in the house to a gorgeously shining clean house from top to bottom...thank you Amy and Katie!!! What a gift that was! The house was decorated for a full party.
From Pasco...with more appreciation and gratefulness than you can fathom.