I’ve been trying to take it easy this week, which means that so far today I took a two hour nap and watched Miracle on 34th Street (the original). [I also went on a 5 mile walk, so not super easy.]
The past two days I’ve been reviewing our photos and videos from our trip to DRC and Paris. [It’s a lot like when Clark Griswold gets stuck in the attic and watches the slideshow.] This is the first time I’ve looked at them. At first it was because I couldn’t handle it. Then I just sort of forgot. It has been fun recalling the adventure, and I wanted to share with you some highlights of the trip.
Here we are packing up the car to head to the airport.
My parents took us to O’Hare. We flew to Brussels and ended up scoring a free upgrade to Economy Plus. Awesome! Of course our flight sat on the runway at O’Hare for over an hour before taking off. Since we had a very quick layover in Brussels, we were sure to miss our second flight. When we landed in Brussels, we pushed our way to the front and ran as fast as we could to the gate. We made it, but our bags didn’t. We were lucky though because the people who missed the flight ended up spending almost two days in Brussels before they got to Kinshasa.
We landed in Kinshasa around 6 pm. The airport was super small and in the middle of a field. We flew in over the Congo River. It looks exactly as you would imagine it (see blog banner if you can’t imagine). We found our escort upon exiting the plane and then we waited for about two hours to see if our bags made it. We were sure they didn’t but felt it was prudent to wait around. The baggage claim scene was unique, to say the least. People actually hire help to push their way to the front and retrieve their bags. I sat back and enjoyed watching my adorably pale sweetheart do his best to fight the fight.
We piled into a van with about eight other passengers from Europe – none of whom spoke English (and neither did our driver). By now, it was dark and late. Thank God BB asked the flight attendant for water for his pregnant wife. Those two liters of water were life-savers for the multi-hour journey to the guesthouse. Our guesthouse was the last stop. Matthew (our driver) told us he would come back in the morning to take us to get our bags.
We arrived at the guesthouse around 10:30 pm. The receptionist didn’t speak English. Luckily, my high school French came back to me well enough to communicate our situation. He promptly told us that our reservation wasn’t until the next day and that he didn’t have any rooms for us. Apparently my French gets better with anger and exhaustion (this will come back later), and we were able to persuade him that if he didn’t give us a room, we were going to sleep in front of the desk since there wasn’t exactly a Best Western across the street.
We had arrived and could finally sleep. Praise God!
Here I am at the guesthouse.
Since we weren’t in Kinshasa for vacation and only ended up being there for four days, we didn’t do much sight-seeing or exploring. We spent a lot of time at the guesthouse and a lot of time at the Brussels Airlines office trying to get our bags (at lease one trip a day – we finally got the last one the morning before we left).
Here we are at the Brussels Airlines office!
On our second day there, we took our journey to meet the birth family of the kids. I like to call it our “Nicholas Kristof: On Assignment” adventure. P picked us up in his car that morning, and we headed out. Where? We basically didn’t know. We first went to the market to pick up some food items to deliver to the family, including some frozen chickens. [This is relevant to later in the story.] We drove to pick up the kids’ grandmother at her church and then headed to her house. Along the way, the car broke down. Twice. It overheated. Both times P was able to get it back running.
On our adventure.
About halfway through the drive, it occurred to me that we probably should have told someone in the world where we were going and with whom. Sorry Dad – I’m sure you taught me this growing up! I’ll try to remember that sooner next time.
It was hot. Luckily, we had our cooling system on our laps – remember the frozen chickens!
We finally made it and enjoyed a nice afternoon with the family. The women complemented my large hips, butt and boobs. Much appreciated.
We left to start the long journey back. We have some videos that I want to share, but apparently I need to upgrade my blog to do that. We sang praise songs most of the ride home because we didn’t know what else to say. I’m so glad we have those videos to remember how we felt. It was such a bizarre mixture of joy in knowing that we had learned what we needed to and also sorrow knowing that the adoption was over.
That night we mourned. I’ll spare you the details except to say that God was so present with us.
We were able to leave about 50% of what we brought to Kinshasa with us. We gave the clothes and toys to the family for the kids. We were able to leave food, dishes and other things with our friend from church’s family in Kinshasa. That was a huge blessing and helped us to feel like God really used our trip for good.
We then planned our trip home. A few photos of the drive to the airport.
One more story about how my anger helped me communicate in French. As we were boarding the plane, the security guard told me I couldn’t bring my water. I won that debate. I’m pretty sure at one point I told Bill – they can take my kids, but I’ll be d***ed if they take my water! I think he thought about leaving me there at that point.
As much as the trip was hard, we had so much fun, and it was filled with beauty. We got part of the adventure that we wanted. We met beautiful, kind, loving people. We saw the dark side of adoption (not just the fraud but some less than lovely behavior from American adoptive parents). Our hearts were broken for the DRC. We mourned more than we ever had before, but God never left us. We were blessed to put his promises to the test.
Every moment of the trip was foreordained by the Lord. We felt we were exactly where we were supposed to be and are still so grateful that we went.
Kinshasa is a beautiful place with a rich and sad history. I hope to return someday when I can spend more time and explore more.