Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hong Kong to Folkston

Our day started with an early wake up call so we could catch the 7 AM shuttle to the airport.  Randy & I carried our bags down early so we could help the Hulings with all their luggage.  As Randy checked out I stood and watched as the sun rose over the mountains and the South China Sea.  Me, a little girl from rural south Georgia watching this amazing site.  I am so thankful that God has allowed me to experience these past 2 weeks.

We arrived at the airport and quickly found the Delta counter.  Traveling international you have to check in at the counter.  The line was long, but we made our way to the counter.  We decided to have breakfast at McDonald's and then find our way to the gate.  The airport is huge and already very busy at this early hour.  The McD's had about 7 cash registers open and a man was directing everyone to the correct line.  It really moved along quickly.

As usual our seats were in the rear of the airplane, which is not a bad thing.  Less people to crawl over and closer to the bathroom.  We are on a very large 777 with individual screens in the seat ahead of you and access to hundreds of movies, tv shows and music channels.  Much better than the plane on the trip over.  Randy Walker, & I are in the seats directly behind Heather, Brian & Lilly.  Hampton is right in front of them.  We all try and settle in for the 15 hour flight.  Oh, My Goodness!!  15 hours!  Deep breath..just take one hour at a time.

Several hours into the flight they serve the first meal.  Okay for airplane food.  I think they are trying to get us into the idea that we are traveling late into the afternoon/evening so that we will try and sleep.  After the meal they dimmed the lights and most people closed the shades on the windows.  Hard for us to get into the mood to sleep because this is our morning and afternoon.

Lilly is content right now to play in her seat and crawl all over Brian and Heather.  She really wants nothing to do with the headphones, but will watch the screen.  Most of the rest of us begin our movie watching marathon.  The plane has at least 8-10 families with adopted children.

About 2-3 hours out of Detroit the crew begins to try and wake us up by turning on cabin lights and serving another meal.  For us the fatigue is really beginning to set in as our internal clocks tell us it is 9-10 at night.  Lilly has been asleep for several hours and we hope we can keep her asleep as long as possible.  As she wakes up she is really upset and has a meltdown.  Another reason to sit in the back of the plane.  Heather & Brian carried her back near the galley and she eventually calmed down.  With all the people using the headphones I don't think she disturbed anyone more than any other child.  Several of the children had their moments.  Thankfully we arrive in the "Motor City".

All of the planes we traveled on throughout the trip have been full.  So we exit with all 280 passengers to begin the process of immigration customs and rechecking bags.  This also the point where Brian and Heather and Lilly present her official papers that have been collected for the past 2 weeks.  They are sealed in an envelope that the families are warned not to tamper with under any circumstances.  Once we go through immigration they are whisked off to another office to review and open the envelope.  Randy, the boys and I anxiously await their return.  Here they come...all smiles...Miss Lilly Rae Huling is now an American citizen, Friday April 1, 2011.  The long days of waiting...the miles of paperwork...and thousands of prayers....she is finally their daughter.

An hour later we say our good-byes to the Farleys as they head to Lexington KY.  A bittersweet time as we have spent the past 2 weeks sharing a wonderful time with this couple.  The Turquettes had already headed out as they only had 90 minutes between flights.  We just pray they made their connection. (Sat.  I had an e-mail from Jen, their plane was delayed, a second plane had engine trouble, another plane sent was too small and they got bumped and did not get home until Sat. at noon)

Finally our last leg of the journey and....again we are in the back of a packed plane, but at least we got on the plane.  They were asking for volunteers to stay for another plane the next day.

So many thoughts going through our mind as we land in Jacksonville.  Those pine trees never looked so good.  As we entered into the atrium, a squealing Addie Jacoby came running to us along with MeMe.  It was so good to see her and all our friends, about 15-20 were there waiting for us.  Landon had a sign welcoming Walker home.  Thanks Gloria for bringing him and the sign was a special touch. Wish I had been awake enough to have had my camera out.

Luggage collected and finally we are on our way home....15 days, thousand of miles, memories, extra luggage, and new friends.... Folkston is in our sight.  Most important of all, Lilly, our long awaited granddaughter is officially a part of our family and we can begin to make memories.

Thank you for tagging along.  It has been an adventure of a lifetime.  I plan to go back and document our amazing day in Beijing and update along and along.  Thanks for your prayers and encouragement.  We truly felt your support.

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