Even though I still think that Maine may be the most beautiful place in the world, as I drove through Ukraine no place ever seemed as beautiful. What a change God has done in my heart since my arrival here over 2 years ago! Although I greatly enjoyed my stay with family, how nice it feels to finally be home...even one filled with boxes and in desperate need of a wife's TLC (he did try).
As far as how the trip went, well, it's a LONG story. First, I got all my dates messed up...I thought that I was supposed to leave out on Tuesday (the day I was to arrive) instead of Monday and missed all of my flights. With some calls that morning and work throughout the day, I was able to get everything re-arranged for Wednesday. Wednesday morning everything was going very smoothly. The girls and I seemed to be getting over our colds, my grandparents drove us to the airport early, after saying our goodbye's, we went through the checkpoint and shortly after boarded our flight. As we were just about ready to get going, someone blackout in the aisle and they had an emergency medical call. After she was taken off the plane to a nearby hospital. We were told that it was one of the stewardesses and that we would have to de-board until another stewardess could be found. Not knowing when that would be and having just missed all my flights the day before, I almost started crying. About an hour later and we were allowed to get back on the plane. We arrived in NY about 2 hours late, but still with plenty of time for me to make my next flight. Because I had to pick up my baggage and re-check it in NY, a pastor in Maine arranged for Pastor Swanson and two of his sons to meet me. Without them I don't know how I would have made it. When I went to check in, we ended up getting sent all over the place because my tickets were messed up, but finally it was taken care of and we got checked in and boarded the plane (after sitting in the wrong gate and wing section). Everything was going fairly smoothly, especially for having two very tired girls and mommy. After getting the girls to sleep, I eventually was able to sleep too...for about ten minutes when I was awakened by the frantic cry of the man beside me saying, "Mama, mama. Please wake up." ect. Again, the emergency crew was called. The lady was moved and after what seemed like an hour, we were finally told she would be okay. All I could do was pray that God would give her another chance to accept Him if she was saved. I don't think that I will be able to get her face out of my mind and will continue to pray for her. (So if you are a missionary to France, don't slack up on your post...God may use you to reach her.) When we landed in Paris, a lady kindly helped me carry my carry-on luggage to where we thought I was supposed to be and we parted ways. There I found out that I needed to walk back where I came from (about 10 minutes) and get on an airbus to go to terminal 2B. After getting on the bus, the driver told me we were at my stop. It ended up being terminal 2E, so I had to wait 10-20 minutes for another bus to terminal 2B. An Ukrainian couple got off with me and helped me get to the desk where I needed to print my boarding passes. The ladies there told me that there was a mistake with our tickets and I needed to go to (I think) terminal D to correct it before they could print our passes. So, off I went with the carry-ons and two very tired and hungry girls...Lydia in arms and Anna walking and crying beside me. The Lord again sent someone to help me. A lady working at an information desk (and who, thankfully, spoke English) came to my rescue. Asking where I needed to go and saying that it was a long walk (about 10 minutes), she said that she would take me there. She carried Lydia and helped with the luggage so I could hold Anna. There they told me that mine and Anna's tickets were fine, but Lydia's was never rescheduled. I needed to pay a change of flight fee for her ticket as well in euro or with a credit card. Having neither, I had to go find an exchange booth. Thankfully, it wasn't too far. On the way back to terminal 2B, I thought for sure that I would be the next one to pass out. I had never felt so exhausted, but we made it just in time. The trip from there to Ukraine was uneventful, unless you count me accidentally falling asleep while the girls were awake and Lydia dumping some of the food off the tray onto the floor. It was so nice to hear a language that I understood too...Ukrainian! I think French is a beautiful language, but 2 languages are enough for me. In Ukraine, two young men helped me get through passport checkin, and would have helped with my luggage, but it never came (the stroller made it ;))...not having my luggage was actually a blessing because it will be sent straight to Kharkov instead of us having to lug it with us on taxis and the train...well at least it should. They left me at the lost and found where I was pushed to the front of the line because of the girls. The lady asked if I had someone meeting me and helped me take the girls out to Eric before filing for lost luggage and going through the rest of customs. (It was SO hard to see him for a quick second and not be able to get a kiss or hug.) She then helped me through custom to get me quickly out. I never dreamed Ukrainian customs could be that easy and stress free! I have never been able to sleep on the train, but I definitely did that night! (Maybe it was because my loving husband was taking care of the girls this time...train beds get pretty crowded with little kids. Don't think he slept too well.) The trip might have been crazy, but the Lord put so many people in my path to help me. It taught me two things, 1) He is made strong in our weekness (He is always strong, but we notice it more I guess is the better way to put it) 2) to totally lean on Him because no matter what the circumstance may be, He has it under control.
Guess I'd better be getting back to bed. I'm glad to be home, but having a little bit of a hard time adjusting to the time change. The girls and I might be going out to the house in the village tomorrow to see all that has been done, so I need to get some sleep. Eric has had a LOT happen while I was away and I told him that I would make a post for him on his blog, so be looking for that.