We began our long journey back to Volgograd on Thursday morning. Leah went in and worked half a day, and I prepared everything we would need to leave for the airport, and when Leah got home around noon, we set out for IAH and a Singapore Airlnes jet that would carry us all the way from Houston to Moscow, Russia. Just a sidebar, if you ever have to fly to Moscow, Singapore Airlines is the way to go. It's fairly inexpensive, but they are first class when it comes to amenities. Good food, no charge for new movies and TV shows, and best of all, a change of socks and a toothbrush mid flight! I'm not sure if the socks and toothbrush thing impresses anyone, but you can score big points with me by thinking of the little things, and they do that quite well. We were expecting 13 hour flight, but because of unexpected high winds, it only took us 10 1/2 hours to arrive in Moscow. I had no idea that wind could affect a flight that much. It's a little scary if you think about it....that's why I try not to think on planes. I feel quite helpless on airplanes. The emotion is one that is like no other. If I"m in a car, I feel in control. In a plane, I understand that I have control over nothing except for what movies I watch. You just kind of have to let go and trust in God to make sure you arrive at your destination, and if he chooses not to let you arrive, you have to be ok with that. (All of life is like that, but you get my drift) We landed in Moscow at 12:15 pm yesterday. We were so excited when we saw that there was no line at customs. Last time we had to wait for over two hours in lines full of people who didn't speak our language. It was also my first time in a real foreign country (Mexico doesn't count), so I was very nervous. This time we walked right up to the man in the box and gave him our passports. He spoke English and was very interested in why we wanted to visit Russia. After explaining to him why we were going to Volgograd, he wished us luck and let us pass. We met with our translator/guide after gathering our luggage and found a seat. It was four hours until our plane left for Volgograd so we had to find somewhere to rest. Between trips we bought an IPad...it is the best investment we have ever made. We were able to get wifi in Domodedovo airport and, as I speak, I am typing this blog on the wifi in my room in Volgograd. We also bought a bluetooth keyboard to aid with the typing. It does wonders. My Russia facebook activity has picked up significantly. We will be posting pictures of Volgograd, on facebook, as we go through our trip this time. After waiting for four hours, we were ready to board our plane to Volgograd. the flight is only about 1 1/2 hours so it's not bad. In Russia, when a pilot lands a plane, the passengers all clap. I told Leah that I am not comfortable with landing a plane being an action worth celebrating. It should be a given. People shouldn't be excited when you land safely, you should just be normal, cause landing safely is normal.....but that's just me. We got off of the plane in Volgograd with stairs, and walked straight our into -10 F temperatures. I have never felt anything like that in my life. It was stunning. We also realized that the entire runway was frozen....solid. Our plane landed on a long, wide, sheet of ice. (Maybe the reason for the applause) After processing that, it was off to the car, and off to our hotel room . This time we have a room for two people with one queen sized bed. Beats those three twins we had last time. Snow is falling everywhere! There are piles of snow all along the streets and sidewalks. It's like nothing I have ever seen anywhere. It is so beautiful. I wasn't expecting that.
We got to sleep in this morning. They have changed the visitation times at the orphanage since we left. We were seeing him from 10-2 am and from 2-4 pm. Now it's just from 12-4, once daily. That is quite the long visit, but we woke up this morning ready to do it. We ate breakfast, then came to the room to bundle up for the walk to the train. We had on thermals, jeans, fleece, gloves, huge jacket, hat, scarf, and face cover. It was still cold through that stuff, but we toughed it out. We remembered how to get to the orphanage from last time, so we went out alone and made it happen. Everything was just as we remembered but snow covered! When we arrived at the orphanage, we met with the doctor and got an update on his health. He is doing great. Pretty much the same as last time, but he has grown a bit. They also let us know he was walking like crazy and talking a lot. By this time, we were ready to stop talking and go see him. They led us down to the music room, and we took off all of our layers until we were ready for his arrival. After about 5 minutes, we heard the door open and he came walking through. He had on a knit hat, a sweater, and a pair of overalls with a gorilla on the front. He came storming into the room and stopped dead in his tracks. He just stared at us, and we just stared at him. The nurses told us they had been showing him our picture book we left him last time, and he was very familiar with who we were. He even knew how to point in the book and call Leah, Mama, and Me, Papa. The look he was giving us was the look you see in kids when they see Walt Disney on ice for the first time. They've seen cinderella in the cartoons everyday, but when they first see her, in person, on ice, they're kind of shocked. He seemed to be experiencing this. He had been shown our picture every day for months now, and now we were really in the room! It took him a couple of minutes of staring, but soon he reached his arms our like he did last time and asked Leah to pick him up. It was then on! He ran all over that room. He was pulling stuffed animals off of the wall and saying the Russian word for "baby" over and over again. We played on the floor, we played by the window, we played by the mirrors, we played everywhere! For 3 hours he was going strong, but in the fourth hour, he began to wind down. We could tell it was nap time. His walk got slower, he would lay down on piles of stuffed animals and rest, and most of all, he wanted to be held and rocked. We took turns doing this. He fought sleep with all he had and made it to 4 with our falling. Right before the nurses came to get him, he reminded us of his love for music. He walked over to a piano in the room, pointed at the keys, and did the dance he showed us last time. Moved his head from shoulder to shoulder over and over again. We told him we didn't play piano, but his DeDe was learning and would play it for him. He seemed to be ok with that. The nurses came to take him away, and he wouldn't let go of Leah's neck. He fussed and fought until they finally got him away from her. We didn't know how to show him that we felt the same way. We are hopelessly in love with him, and four o'clock will always be bitter for us. All in all it was a great visit. It felt so good to see him again, to know he was still there and still waiting on us to finish this process. I had all of these insecure fears about this trip. I was afraid that they would bring us another child and tell us they had adopted him out by mistake! I know it's stupid, but it's what was going on! Thank God he walked through that door holding our hearts. We cannot wait for all of you to meet this remarkable little boy.
Now on to a more serious matter. We explained to you all that there would be a thirty day waiting period between court and when we could being Jonah home. We had not even considered that the judge may waive that waiting period, because we were told it was nearly impossible. Well today, in our first meeting with our lawyer, she told us that she was working on getting him to waive it and let us bring him home with us on this trip. It is still a long shot, but she thinks that because we are the first couple in all of Russia to go to court for an adoption since the new law was put in place, and we started the process under the old law, we may have a decent shot at waiving it. In her words, "maybe he will feel sorry for you and take this into consideration". We are, in no way, counting on this to happen, or trying to sell everyone false hope. We just want to ask you all to pray about this. It has now become something we must think about, and we just want to petition God and ask him to make this so, with the understanding that if he does not, we will still give him all the glory and honor of that decision also. We know he is sovereign, and we know he is in control, so we trust him to handle this. Thank you guys for doing that for us.
This was long, but we had a lot of ground to cover. Thank you all so much for following. You are all special to us, and it means alot that you care enough to read all of these words I we type. We will blog again tomorrow, around the same time, so be looking for that. Hopefully we have new stories and new good news. We love you all.