Here we are in country.
Because we are not doing a private page, I will not refer directly to the name of this country but, trust me, it's very near the end of the world.
We took off from Wichita on Saturday. Our kids did so well! I had been able to take off work for the past week and had tried to prepare things with them and make a few memories. It was a special week but marked by a cloud of anticipation. Each day taking us closer to leaving. Living a dichotomous emotional life of happy and sad...it made me more ready than ever to leave...to finally begin this portion of the journey. But waving five times at the kids as we went through security was not easy.
They have fun things planned each day and, of course, schoolwork to complete with the grandmas.
When you suddenly find yourself without three little beings to take care of, life becomes boring and uneventful.
So, our connections were made and schedule kept despite a 2 hour delay in Chicago. The pilot had several stories, each one a little worse than the previous one, from illness to government shutdown as to why we were not leaving yet. Glad when we landed safely.
We arrived in our country and were met by a translator/driver holding a sign that had our last name printed on it. He was one of at least 8 people holding similar signs.
We drove to our apartment near the center of the city. Now, this city is very unfamiliar and the people speak a language that I can't hope to begin to understand. And they park on the sidewalk, drive on the sidewalk and appear to follow only the barest of driving etiquette. Alarming.
As we are walking up to this standard apartment building-looking place, the translator says: don't be alarmed, the apartment is much better than this. We are buzzed into the building and are assailed with darkness, dingy, peeling painted walls And the unmistakeable smell of cats. The lighting is spotty at best in the hallways and there are no seasonal welcome mats or door decorations to cheer the place up. Standard utilitarian grade metal doors, no adornment.
We are not in Kansas anymore. I have 3 welcome signs at our house - just in case you miss one and don't feel appropriately welcomed- and 2 are autumn themed...along with 4 cheery pumpkins and a seasonal flag.
We were pleasantly surprised to have the apartment door opened by a housekeeper who was washing our sheets as we stood there.
The washing a machine is so small...it should really only hold 4 pieces of clothing at a time but we are thankful for it.
Our translator instructed us to put our luggage down and he would take us to buy food and exchange money. The little market is across the road...you take your life in your hands to get there...and is well stocked. A little nerve wracking to change money without flashing your stash and then trust that no one follows you to your apartment building to relieve you of it...my imagination has runs way with me a few times here.
We survived, however, and returned to our apartment.
I forgot an essential piece of the experience. The elevator. Circa 19-whenever the building was built. It will fit three grown people if one rear touches the back and another persons nose touches the front. Standing in a line with luggage crammed beside. The cats got to it a long time ago too. This country has not yet implemented safety features such as sensors in elevator doors so you have to rush in and out as fast as possible, nearly leaving behind your largest piece of luggage to be crushed in the panic. You cannot stick your arm in the door to hold the elevator. It's every man for himself here.
That seems to be the general culture. No one smiles at you. Well, they did at the GAP but no where else. When we were in line at customs it was eerily quiet. There were 8 lines of people and little talking, no smiling. If we left the tiniest space between us and the person in front of us, someone squeezed in front of us and filled it. No apology, just an understanding that you weren't moving fast enough and your space was taken. You learn quickly here or you wont make it. There is obvious commentary on that to be discussed a a later time.
The toilet paper here is exactly like crepe paper streamers, just a little wider, no Charmin extra soft quality and no options to buy a "better" brand. Interesting. Limited market.
Today we had our appointment to see our child's file. A facilitator accompanied us and translated who we are, what we do for a living and why we have chosen to do this. The file was interesting. A more recent picture was included. He had been transferred last year and his state appears dire. Grim. A year without sunshine can really make its mark. Enough said.
We spent the rest of the day resting, recuperating and then FaceTimed the kids at home. Say what you will about apple, we would be lost right now without this amazing connectivity and technology. We can text them instantly and FaceTime everyday!!!!!
We found McDonald's for supper. It's the same here as there. Familiarity is good. Each packet of sauce costs $.35 ... And get your table fast, we didn't move fast enough And had two tables taken from us in a flash! It's a challenging culture for me being from the Midwest where we are very considerate. This makes venturing out generally stressful and we are glad to be doing this together, Eric and I.
Tomorrows have the day free until 4 when we will get our referral for the orphanage approval letter. We leave for our specific region Wednesday morning. It's a two hour drive. We have hotel arrangements made there for us and are praying for wifi. Plan to stay at least two days and then determine based on wifi and court date issued whether we stay there or in a larger town 30 minutes away. We Are continuing to pray for a fast court date and wisdom regrading staying in country or coming home to wait...
I will update as soon as I can. Thank you for praying with us.