This is the post for Friday, April 23.
I woke at 4:45 and prayed for a few minutes before getting up. I got in the shower and was dressed and ready by 5:30 when Victor arrived. We packed the rest of our stuff up and were in the taxi by 5:45 as planned. At the airport, Victor showed us what line to get in to check in and we were on our own.
The girl at the check in said "Dallas" just like the travel agent did. I explained again that it is pronounced "Dulles" and that that is the name of the airport we are going to in Washington, DC. I said we don't want to got to Texas, just to Washington/Dulles. She looked at me like "Don't you think I know my job?" and ticketed our bags and gave us our boarding passes. We each had 2; one from here to Vienna, and from Vienna to Washington/Dulles. We went to find our gate and had to pass through a security that looked like a customs booth. The lady took all our papers and even wanted the court agreement. Victor had said this might happen and I had it readily available. Then she left the booth. We waited there for what seemed an eternity. Kai was nervous but I said no problem. She returned and gave us our papers and whatever we needed to pass through. Then we went through the scanners.
Kai and I were hungry and I thought there was no meal on this flight, so Kevin had a coffee and we got cheapo sandwiches at at food counter. In no time, we were on a transport out to the airplane. The plane had 3 seats on each side and we were together. I let Kai have the window and Kevin prefers that isle. That left me between my men. The flight was 2 hours long and we were served breakfast; some wierd-looking omelet thing with vegetables. It was edible. We were in Vienna in 2 hours. We had a 2 and 1/2 hour layover and so decided to look in the gift shops. We had planned to bring gifts home to a lot of people but because we blasted out of there so quickly, we never got the opportunity. My advice to people going over there is buy your gifts/souveniers as soon as possible. Don't leave it to the end!
They had some little souvenier type stuff, of course all from Vienna, not Ukraine, so what's the point. But we ended up picking out a key chain, a deck of cards, 3 pencils, and a tiny stein. The price tags were in euros, and we had no idea what a euro was worth. The cashier said she took euros, grivna, dollars and credit cards, all of which we had. She said the total came to 50-something euros and I asked her what that was in dollars. She said $72.00. I honestly said, "You've got to be s____ing me!" (I'm sorry.) She just smiled. I looked at Kevin and he said to use my credit card. I wasn't expecting to hear him say to spend that kind of money on trinkets like that, but I was not about to argue. It must have been terribly important to him to bring gifts to these people.
We waited to board for perhaps 15 minutes. I had a chance to make a post on Facebook and to write a little bit. The plane was big; 7 seats across, and we had the center 3 seats of row 22. We put Kai between us so we big peoples had the aisle. We hadn't left the terminal before I noticed that the young guy sitting directly behind me was talking on the phone to someone about adoptions. When he was finished I spoke to him that I couldn't help but overhear (blah, blah, blah) and we are heading home with our newly adopted son. Well, for goodness sake! This young man has been working as a translator and hosting facilitator for kids and adoptions in Belarusse and Russia, and where ever for like 4 or 5 years and speaks all kinds of Russian dialects. He hadn't slept in like 3 days and had been stuck in Prague due to the volcano. But when he saw Kairos, he got all kinds of excited. The 2 of them began yakking away and I honestly think it went steady for nearly 3 hours. They talked about everything, and I mean everything. This guy could really relate to Kai and Kai had him in hysterics with his talk, his jokes, his comments, and his rapping skills.
About half way through the 9 hour flight, Kai moved back to sit beside him. Both our necks were getting uncomfortable turning to talk to him. They played video games for a while but eventually reverted back to the yak. Boy, my kid can talk! No wonder he is so worried about not being able to speak English. If he can't talk, I think he'll die!
The flight lasted an actual eternity, but there were 2 meals, frequent drinks (I stuck with water) and the flight attendants were fantastic. (We were on Austrian Airlines.) They were incredibly cheerful and friendly. I do believe they all spoke at least 4 or 5 languages, and quite well from what I could tell. The seats were comfortable and there was substantially more leg room than on the Aerosvit flight. I didn't have the attention span to watch a movie, but Kevin watched the chipmonk movie twice. He watched it first in German, and then realized if he turned the channel once more, he got it in English, so he watched it again. I think he just really liked the chipmonks singing "All the single ladies....If you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it...."
Anyway, when we arrived in DC, Kai was sooo excited. Once he set foot on USA soil, he became an American citizen. How cool is that? The guy we talked with the whole flight, Rand Mason, was making a connecting flight back home to Texas but he had to claim his baggage; it wasn't checked through. And even though it took him 2 seconds to clear customs, he was there waiting for us when we finally did.
The customs people were in jovial moods, most likely because it was Friday afternoon and they were all making plans to go out for drinks after work. We didn't have to wait for an available agent and he was quick with the processing of our newest little American. Kairos was fingerprinted and his papers taken for the proper processing. Then we were directed to another officer at the end to get fingerprinted again. He was "sworn in" or something and we were on our way. God, I love America. It was all so efficient and easy. Then we went to get our bags so they could be inspected in the customs process, too.
The bags from Vienna were all placed together and ours were not among them. I reported this to the attendant who looked at the claim stubs and checked each piece of remaining luggage. Did she think we didn't know what our suitcases looked like? Once convinced they were MIA, she directed us to the baggage-is-gone lady by carousel #12. Rand, once again waited for us and we found the place we were looking for.
After waiting for a guy to get every gory detail about why his bags were not where they were supposed to be, I noticed that, on the claim stubs, the mystery was solved. The stubs said: Vienna, then Washington DC, and then (you guessed it) DALLAS!!!!! Our bags were off to Texas. I explained this to the nice lady and she tracked them down. They were being loaded onto a USAir flight to Dallas/Ft. Worth as we speak. She called and aborted their processing and told us to wait while they get sent tp where we were and go through customs. How long would that take? God only knows. I had called Sharyn, who was on her way to pick us up. She called to say she was here and heard the baggage saga. She ended up parking in short-term and came in to wait with us. We had a teary reunion with lots of hugs, but I was suffering terribly with a splitting headach since about 2/3's of the way through the flight. I found a place top sit at the coffee shop and everyone else went to get coffees. We also said our good-byes to Rand at that point. What a Godsend and a blessing he was to us this whole time. It seems that whenever we need a translator, God provides us with one, beginning with Zhenya last summer. She was an exchange student who lived with me while Kairos (Artem at the time) was being hosted by Sharyn. She was from Siberia. Then, of course there was Jessica who is so awesome. But I can't imagine what it might have been like if Kai couldn't yak off any of his excitement with anybody in Russian during that forever flight. And Rand was very experienced with travelling, not to mention that his wife works for the State Department or something and knows how to get his green card and all that stuff, too. It was incredible.
Sharyn ministered to me with an essential oil blend which made me cry. I think my headache was partly due to the airplane air and partly due to my emotions. Kevin went to see where our bags were while Kairos showed Sharyn the pictures he made with "paint" on the computer. Kevin returned shortly with all our bags and we headed out. It was nearly 6:00 when we left the airport but traffic would have been terrible anyway so it was no big deal. I got to rest my head and Kevin and Sharyn got to have coffee and we didn't have to lug our bags through customs, they did it for us.
The drive home was fun because we got to tell Sharyn all about stuff and to catch up on what had been going on in our absence. Plus my headach was going away. We arrived at our house at 8:40 with Kai cheering "Yaaaaay". Sharyn's husband Lanny was there as well as Lindsey Kravitz and Alexis Hopkins, each bearing gifts. Nancy Kravitz was out bringing home more food. We had pizza and celebrated our homecoming. We bestowed our gifts and Kairos gifted all his significants with his drawings. I love that he does that. I mean he has absolutely nothing to give anybody, so he draws these incredible drawings and gives them. We wanted him to keep them for his portfolio, but I'm sure that concept escapes him.
Everyone left by 10:00, at which point we'd been up for 24 hours straight. Kai wanted to actually see the gaming system I had for him (an X-Box) and we all ended up hitting the hay by 11:00. It was so awesome to be home, almost surreal. My appreciation for my God and my country knows no bounds at this point.