Well, we made it. After the longest 24 hours of my life, we are finally home. We left for the airport around 9 on Tuesday night. We got on the plane with no problems. Tyson and Jori had both slept a couple hours before we left, so they were in pretty good spirits. Our flight from Jo-berg to Amsterdam was pretty empty, which turned out to be an even bigger blessing than we realized. Darin and Jori were in 5 seats by themselves, and Tyson and I had three seats. Actually, I had three seats as Tyson fell asleep on the floor and kept sleeping until about 2 1/2 hours before we landed. Jori also slept great. I was sleeping pretty well, but poor, poor Darin. Apparently whatever bug I had on Monday and Tuesday decided to pay Darin a visit in a big way. I was sound asleep on my three seat bed when I felt someone tapping my shoulder, hard. I looked up and heard Darin mumble something as he walked past me and continued down the aisle. I figured he just wanted me to know he was up so I could make sure Jori didn't fall off the seats, so I checked on her and laid back down. Then I checked again. Still no Darin. It turns out he was in the bathroom throwing up. Poor Darin. I'll spare you all the details, but for the rest of the 11 hour flight, Darin was either in the bathroom or totally sacked out, unable to even sit up. I am SO thankful my parents were on that flight. It wasn't so bad while they were sleeping, other than the tap, tap, tap I kept feeling every time Darin ran past me : ) However, once the kids were awake, it was no fun at all.
We arrived in Amsterdam with a very pale, weak and tired Darin. My dad and I got all of our luggage off and then my parents went with us to our next flight. We told the check in people that we had a sick person in our party and they managed to get us one row of four seats and a row of 2, so again, God was watching out for us. There is no way Darin could have sat in a seat for the next 8+ hours. At max, he could sit up for about 15 minutes, then he had to lay down again. We were really excited to see that there were individual screens on this flight. Watching Dora and the Backyardigans did offer some distraction for the kids. On the down side, neither Tyson or Jori slept the WHOLE flight. The last 3 hours were no fun at all, especially for me. Well, I guess I wouldn't have wanted to be sick like Darin either, so neither of us was having much fun. The kids were having a heyday, running back and forth between where Darin and I were sitting, which meant that I was also running back and forth to bring back which ever child would come with the least amount of screaming. Of course, they both wanted to be by daddy, who would have loved to be alone. Too bad for him, he also wanted to lay in the row of four seats and that only left room for one kid to sit by me.
Anyways, let's just say I don't ever want to be in that situation again and I'll get on with the rest of the story. We made it to Detroit a little before 2. Darin was feeling somewhat better, but was super weak from not eating. He sat with the kids while I hauled our luggage off of the belt and onto a cart and then we re-checked our bags for our last flight to Grand Rapids. Thankfully we had enough of a lay over that we didn't have to rush too much, but it was short enough that the kids couldn't get too crazy. We were all feeling pretty crabby and disgusting about now. All I wanted was a shower and some peace and quiet. I didn't get the shower on the last flight, but Tyson and Jori both fell asleep, so it was quiet.
We landed in grey, gloomy GR a little after 4. The view was depressing and matched the mood I was in. We tried waking the kids up, but ended up having to carry them off of the plane as neither was willing to cooperate. We got off the plane, got the kids in their strollers and headed into the airport, expecting to be showered in hugs and kisses. Unfortunately, we got in a little early, so no one was there yet (we forgive you Rachel and Jenna!). We got our luggage, and then saw our friends coming through the door. Seeing his best friend, Jenna, totally perked Tyson up. Both he and Jori took off running towards them and it was so cute to see them all hugging and laughing and looking so happy. It was wonderful to see Rachel again and know that we were finally home.
The ride home was interesting. I couldn't help but notice the differences between GR and where we had been living the past 10 weeks. I have grown used to seeing people everywhere. Always walking down the street, or waiting for a taxi or just sitting outside of their homes. I am also used to lots of sun and bright skies, lots of trees and open spaces. Now all I was seeing was lots of grey, from the color of the sky to the concrete of the buildings and the roads. We dropped off Rachel and Jenna, then started driving the last mile to our house. Tyson started to get upset, "Where is our house?" he kept saying. I guess the area didn't look familiar to him. We turned on to our street and Jori said "Is this our Africa house?". Sorry, honey, not quite. Then we pulled up to our house and Tyson had a big smile and Jori got all excited and said "Daddy, there your truck!!!". We went in and both kids started pointing things out like "there's our stairs" or "look, here's our table". Then they found the toys. Oh my goodness, were they ever excited. These kids who had been passed out less than an hour before were suddenly wide awake and running from one thing to the next. Darin had passed out on the sofa and doesn't remember anything from the next half hour or so. I managed to get Tyson to eat half a sandwich and Jori had about a third of one. That's all they wanted, which was fine by me. They both wanted to keep playing, but I told them it was bath time. Darin woke up, seemed very puzzled about what was going on, but headed upstairs with the rest of us. I dug out long pjs for the kids, got them clean, and then a little after 6, they were in bed. By 6:30, Darin and I had joined them.
We were all pretty tired. Tyson woke up to use the bathroom around 3:30, and then Darin decided to get up around 4 or 4:30 I think because he couldn't sleep anymore. He must have been feeling a lot better, because he ate a bowl of lucky charms and a whole can of soup. I slept on and off until 7. I couldn't believe how dark it was outside. I have grown used to seeing light by 5 or 5:30, so it just seemed so early still. Tyson and Jori both woke up a couple times, Tyson for the bathroom, Jori for help finding her peeper (pacifier). Tyson finally woke up around 8 and we went in to get Jori a little before 9. Right now they are playing with all of their toys, and Tyson is asking me for gloves so he can go outside. I hope he's ready to be cold.
I am not sure what I am feeling right now. It is nice to be done with all of the travelling and it is great to see the kids so happy, not that they weren't happy in Africa, but with all the travelling we did the last 2 weeks they've been kind of cranky. I am overwhelmed at the amount of all the stuff that we have. It is ridiculous. The funny thing is, I threw out a lot of stuff before we left, but apparently there is a lot more that could go. I keep thinking "do we even need this?". I don't even know where to start. We had missionaries living in our house the first two months we were gone, so I had packed up our clothes and toiletries. Now I can't remember where I put it all. I am just feeling overwhelmed. I wish I could just stay in my pjs, but I know I need to start somewhere.
In Africa, we were living. Here, we have a life. Does that make sense? Darin will be going back to work, Tyson to school. I hope to join a Bible study, we both have things we are involved in at church. We have clothes for all 4 seasons, along with the accessories like hats, gloves and scarfs. I am actually going to have to clean again. I opened the cupboard under my kitchen sink and couldn't believe how many different cleaning products I have. Mama Rebecca managed to take care of our whole house with Mr Muscle and Handy Andy. I have all these bottles of things and I still have never managed to keep our house clean.
We are home. We made it safely. Darin is feeling like himself again, and other than a headache, I am feeling fine too. We hope to stay up past 7 tonight, but I am sure there will be a family nap happening sometime during the day. Thank you all so much for your thoughts, prayers, letters and emails. We are so blessed to have you all in our lives. Please keep praying as we make this transition back into our lives here and try to figure out what God wants us to do with all of the things we have seen and experienced while we were gone. It's time to step back into my Michigan mommy role and dig out the winter gear for the kids. Til next time.