We left DC at 12:45 pm, flew to New York to meet the entire GAIN team (some of whom were headed to Siberia, some to Kursk,Russia and some to Vladimir , Russia. (Again, you pronounce it VlaDEEMer, as in rhyming with ReDEEMer.)
Aerial view of Washington, DC around noon
Sarah and me at JFK airport (just before a nap)
Our team in silhouette at JFK while awaiting departure
Sunset over New York Harbor as seen from our window seat
Spaceeba balshoy (thank you very much) to those of you who are genuinely eager to hear our reports. We were warned in our last debriefing that many folks just won't care enough to ask more than the perfunctory "How was your trip?"- so we were advised how to answer and how to proceed if all we got back in response was, "Good! Glad you're home" and that's it. To prepare our hearts for people's polite nonchalance when our hearts are full to the popping level. So to come home and read the 4 comments of people enthusiastically waiting, my heart is warmed. I know more of you are eager, too, by the comments left on previous posts.
Where do I start? From right now? From when we left? I can't decide, so I'll do both. I'll use that confusing "flashback and forward" method that authors and filmmakers love to use. My heart and mind are too full to be able to adequately and succinctly express what the Lord has done, let alone put stuff in chronological order. But since this is my blog, and I can't see your eyes roll or your checking your watch, I'm just gonna write to my own heart's content. You have the option of clicking off whenever you're bored. So we're both satisfied!
Let me start with how I felt coming home. I could have spent a lot longer in Vladimir. I wasn't the least bit homesick, but wished the rest of the family could've joined us there. However, that wasn't in God's plans or anyone else's, for that matter. So we left Moscow at 2:20 PM Monday ( 6:20 AM EST) had a LONG layover at JFK in New York, then arrived at Washington-Dulles at 12:25 a.m EST.
Of course, by the time we got to America, I was doing all I could not to jump off the plane and run to Paul's wating arms. He actually got to the curb at the same time we'd collected our baggage. He had sent Stephen inside to help us--but he had gone in one door while we went another, totally missing each other. When Paul got out of the van --OH!!-- did he look GOOD! Mmm, mmmm, mmm! We hugged fast and tight (you know how it is when the curb cops are shooing peeople away). I went back inside to find Stephen, and when we reunited, he gave me a tight hug and welcomed me home sincerely. How sweet of him to come along at midnight to help with heavy bags. (Ben was at the ocean with the Panzers and other friends, I soon found out, which was why he wasn't there. Joel looked so big to me, and ultra sweet and soft. )
Getting into the van, I inhaled the smell of leather seats . What a smooth and quiet vehicle! "Sarah, isn't this the most luxurious ride we've had in 10 days?" I asked. She answered with something like, "Luxury doesn't matter. I'd rather be back on a rickety Russian bus."I understood.
So finally, after about 18 hours of being jostled from there to here in a full-upright and locked position by bus, plane, shuttle, and van, we pulled into the driveway at 2 a.m.
When I opened my eyes and saw our house, my first reaction was, "This is a MANSION! Does only one family live here?' I felt materially super rich for the first time in my life.