Home Sweet Home

We left our hotel in Guangzhou to head to the airport at 5:00am on Wednesday morning. The travel days are hard and we were braced for a long one. Our itinerary was Guangzhou to Shanghai to Detroit to Atlanta. It was going to be a tough day, even if all went smoothly.

Upon arriving at the ticket check-in counter in Guangzhou we found a very long line. At the front of this line was a large group of Chinese people yelling at the Shanghai Airlines employee working the desk. It was crazy. We were a little slow to catch on, but we should have quickly realized that our day was not off to a good start. The people in line already knew what we didn't, that our first flight wasn't happening.

This should have been our first clue that the day was headed downhill before it even began.

Our 7:30am flight was delayed until 9:50am. Then pushed even later. There was a maintenance issue and the plane wasn't even at the Guangzhou airport. The first delay caused us to miss our connecting flight and thus threw the entire day into chaos. Fortunately, I have a smart hubby who travels quite a bit. We quickly got the sense that this flight would never happen and waiting for it meant that we would not be leaving for home on Wednesday. We found a spot in Starbucks and camped there while Patrick frantically ran around the airport making things happen. It isn't like being at home where you can just call the airline and sort it out. We were flying a Chinese airline and no one spoke English. At one point Patrick was attempting to understand what was going on with our first plane and the employee began flapping and pointing to her arm saying, "The wing is broken." It was like a bad game of charades.

This was our sweet helper. We could not have so quickly changed our flights without her assistance.

Patrick finally found someone who was willing to help us sort out the mess. She took him through the process (although the charades continued because she didn't speak English either) and she even walked him step by step to various locations in the airport. We were ready to get home and another night in a hotel was not an option. We rebooked the entire trip. This time with long layovers and a less than ideal itinerary and seating plan. We were going from Guangzhou to Shanghai to Los Angeles to Atlanta. It was insane and left me in the airport Starbucks with five kids for hours while Patrick sprinted through the airport trying to make the changes...including the retrieval of all seven of our suitcases from the first plane to then carry them himself to be re-checked on our new plane.

By the time we boarded the plane to head to Shanghai, we had already been at the Guangzhou airport for six hours and gone nowhere. But finally, our forward motion had officially begun. So had the long day of sitting in airports waiting out layovers. We had five hours after the flight to Shanghai and seven in L.A. It certainly would not have been our choice to do it that way with five kids in town, but it turns out we made the right decision to reroute. As we were leaving Guangzhou, we saw on the monitor that our first flight, the one that was supposed to leave at 7:30am had been delayed to 5:00pm. Oh my.

The kids had a great attitude and handled it well...better than their mama. I was on the cusp of a complete meltdown. The day had already felt daunting with our first plan. Contemplating an additional 12 hours of travel almost sent me over the edge.  I think we were most disappointed that because our arrival time in Atlanta had changed from 6:30pm on Wednesday night to 6:00am on Thursday morning, it meant no airport greeting party. We were looking very forward to seeing our friends and having them meet Lexi at the airport, but 6am was above and beyond the call of duty, even for family.

Thankfully we had gotten Lexi her own seat, because she ended up sleeping much of the way.

It was a long day of flying and waiting and flying and waiting. Once we arrived in L.A. though, the burden finally felt lighter because we were able to relax in the Delta Sky Club and eat American food. It was a wonderful respite after spending the prior hours sprawled out on various airport benches,  struggling to find snacks and kill time. The other terrific gift was that Lexi traveled like a champ, sleeping much of the ten hours from China and four hours from L.A. It could have been completely awful, but because the kids were so terrific, it wasn't. 

Lexi's first nap in the Sky Club. 

Bailey doing homework. She was intent on not falling too far behind.

So thankful for my baby whisperers. 

Atlanta. So happy to see this on the flight screen. 
Finally, 40 hours after we had arrived at the Guangzhou airport, we made it to Atlanta. And guess what we found waiting for us at the top of the escalator? A welcoming crew! These sweet and precious people had gotten up at 4:00am to come to the airport to meet us. We didn't expect anyone to be there and it was such a thoughtful surprise. We continue to be overwhelmed by the length that others go to love us well. Patrick and I are blessed with some amazing friends, but the really awesome part, is that so are our kids. They have parents who are teaching them how to do relationships well and our children reap the rewards of friends who are all in for the long haul. These folks have been praying for us and our baby girl and they will be the ones loving on her and walking with us in the years to come. After what we have experienced in the world of childhood cancer, we realize that life is short and precious. We are called to live and love big and doing life with these people is one of our greatest treasures.

We love our people. What a sweet surprise. 

We are so thankful to be home, in our own beds, eating American food, and finding some sense of routine. Well, I'm sleeping next to Lexi's crib, so I haven't exactly been in my own bed yet, but it's close enough. We are having a tough time adjusting to the time change, but hopefully in another few days we will all be feeling better. Our trip was incredible and we felt the hand of God protecting us the entire time. We were safe and healthy for two full weeks in China and all five kids handled everything much better than we expected. We are so glad that we decided to take them with us. Now that we are home, it is wonderful that Lexi has six familiar faces in her new environment, instead of just two.

Thank you for praying us through this journey. We continue to ask for prayer as we find our new normal as a family of seven and for Lexi, as she faces a long road to health ahead. As always, we are so thankful for this wonderful community that continues to walk with us through the valleys, mountaintops and everything in between.

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