In Asianese there is a word for wonderful which goes above and beyond our typical understanding of the word in English. We might say casually, "Oh, how wonderful!" about anything or everything. But in Asianese the word which is translated "wonderful" has almost a sense of the miraculous--this word is not used casually but is used to describe something incredibly fortuitous or grace-filled. For example, in the sentence "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life," this word, qimiao, is used. And that's how our homecoming was yesterday--wonderful, bordering on miraculous!
First of all, my dad was there at the airport! Not only was he released from the hospital (with strict instructions not to drive for several weeks, what he should be eating, and a list of meds to take as well as physical therapy goals to work towards), but he felt well enough to come all the way to the airport with a friend of our family in a big Suburban to pick us up! The second big surprise was that my brother Mark and his wife, Beth, and their two adorable daughters (aged 3 and 2) also made a long journey by car in order to surprise us and meet us! Mark's head was the first one I saw when we made our way down the long hallway with our two (tired) kids and myriads of assorted luggage. We also had some thoughtful friends from our home church in Sioux Falls who came bearing a great gift for us--the use of a car for the next month. What wonderful blessings! We felt so loved and appreciated!
You see, I was prepared for the worst. I had thought that perhaps if my dad was still in the hospital, we would need to go straight from the airport to the hospital in order to see him and my mom, and then John and I would just continue on to Mom and Dad's home and pick up something for supper on the way, eating by ourselves. The thought of Mark and Beth coming 6+ hours, in the middle of a week, (Mark is a busy pastor) and taking their two young children along just to stay over one night (read: hassle) had never occurred to me. So I had some fairly low expectations for our arrival. Instead, the picture was dramatically different: we were all together, having a big family reunion, laughing and talking, catching up and watching the girls form an almost instant bond together. Though just after we sat down to eat, Clara Anne had finished her yogurt and had a few bites of real supper when she announced "all done" and in the next moment was asleep in her high chair. I've never seen her do that before! She was sitting up, with her head falling forward and eyes closed, totally asleep. So she missed out on some of the fun, but was happier (and more well-rested) for it.
The flights all actually went fine--the girls both had some rough moments of inconsolable crying brought on by sheer exhaustion, but they both did sleep at various points, though not as much as I had hoped. There were just a few times, especially during the middle, longest flight, that I had tried every method of soothing Chloe and nothing was working, so I resorted to pleading with her to stop crying! She always did settle back down, so I'm thankful. Traveling that far, for that long, with such young children is not for the faint at heart, though! It required every trick in my bag and more! But we are recovering today (and probably the next few days as well!) in Grandpa and Grandma's comfy home so it's all good.
Speaking of comfort and convenience, I have been struck how convenient things are in America! Wow, having a car to go somewhere whenever you want is truly convenient! And look, hot water, right out of the tap! And look at all of the storage space in the frig and freezer! It's huge! (Actually just a normal size but it seems huge to me!) And, I am amazed to report that ALL of my laundry was done this morning by about 10am. I thought I had tons of stuff to wash, so started early, but then I realized that the capacity of my mom's washer must be at least twice that of mine in Asia. It only turned out to be two loads, and how lovely to have a dryer to immediately have things dry! I guess I have new appreciation for the simple pleasures and conveniences of the American lifestyle.
So today, I am thankful. We are here, safe and sound, all of our luggage arrived, we were granted safety traveling more than 8,000 miles, and we had the added blessing of seeing my dad recovering well and sharing precious time with Mark and Beth and their girls. When we left for Asia, their oldest daughter Marin was just 3 months old, and so to now see her a talkative, happy and musically gifted 3 year old is just wonderful. Annika, Mark and Beth's younger daughter, is just a few months younger than Clara Anne and we had never met her in person. What a joy to get acquainted, and how fun it was for Clara Anne to run around with her little cousins!
Well, we still have lots of unpacking to do, and both of my girls have already crashed this evening (let's hope they sleep all the way until the morning!) so I'd better make the most of my time. Thank you all who were praying for us as we traveled--we felt all of your prayers and it helped me during those difficult moments to remember that I wasn't the only one praying for us! Your prayers were answered so wonderfully--thank you, Lord!