The past 45 hours have been a SERIOUSLY AMAZING race! Without the Lords help, we would not be here right now. We almost missed 2/3 airplanes and one bus! I don't think I would be cut out for the show. Running what felt like 2 miles through airport terminals to be able to board the plane reminded me that I really need to get back to the gym! LOL!!!
Our first flight was with Southwest Airlines from Nashville to LAX. Great flight, although my precious chocolate milk was confiscated by TSA! Wahhhhhhhhhh. So, don't bring the yummy drinks. If I had only thought about it....ANYWAY, the door to the airplane was being shut as we boarded the plane! What a great flight with a wonderful crew. Southwest is awesome! Our sweet flight attendant found out that we are traveling to bring Andrew home and upon our approach to LAX announced to everyone over the loud speaker that there were special guest on board the plane who were not only celebrating their wedding anniversary, but also going to get the son in Taiwan! The whole plane exploded into clapping and cheers. That was fun! LOL!
Then on to LAX. Hmmmm, where to BEGIN. That place is a strange bird. Much like a foreign country to me. It was there that I told Jarrod I discovered that I am not a big city girl, nor a west coast girl, but a southern girl to the core! The International terminal was a little nuts. Very loud, tons of people standing in a bunch of lines, just people EVERYWHERE. Felt a little chaotic, although we were never lost. So it's very doable. Upon entering the international terminal at LAX I saw this sweet little older woman with a straw hat reading something like "ask me" and so I asked her about finding EVA ticket counter. She said, "Now honey, that line doesn't open for about 45 minutes." And I then asked here what we should do until then. She replied "Darling, you two need to get as far away from this crowded bunch of coughing people as possible. I keep getting coughed on by these PEOPLE!." Then she gave my hand a sweet squeeze and sent us on our way up to the second floor food court to wait. It was extremely crowded, so we found a very quiet and secluded little area around an elevator, which no one was using. We sat there until our line opened, in order to avoid Novel H1N1! (There are a lot of masks being worn, especially here in Taiwan), but we haven't heard much coughing. So after standing in the EVA line our CARRY ONS were weighed. Now, here's a LITTLE tip. You carry on bag can not weigh more than 15 pounds. HELLO...our BAG ALONE weighs that much. We had to mostly empty our carry ons, but thank the Lord we had left our check on bags quite empty. It was fun emptying our bags out in front of all of those people. LOL! Then is was on to International security clearance, which was ok. Just plan on more time than you think it will take, just in case. Took a huge amount of time in Nashville, as they had to confiscate my chocolate milk and run our bags back through. (Have I ALREADY mentioned that?!!" LOL!!!) Then in LA we exchanged our money for NTD, found a place to plug in our computers, updated our blog, and chatted with Rachael for a few minutes via facebook. That was a nice treat! By that time, our plane was boarding. The EVA flight was amazing and unremarkable. There was one time that the seatbelt signs came on and the pilot announced that we would be experiencing turbulence. There was never any at all during that timeframe! (Thanks for praying, God hears and answers! He is so amazing!). At another time we did have some turbulence, but it was the smoothest long flight I can ever recall. We flew Evergreen class, which is a step up from coach. I would recommend it as it gave us more leg room and the seats recline farther with a partially extendable footrest. Slept about one hour due to excitement. Jarrod did a little better, but we are both exhausted.
When EVA touched down in Taipei we proceeded to immigration for a VERY long wait. Then we ran to get our luggage and then went to catch the express bus from Taoyuan airport to Songshan airport. It was the express bus. This was a little confusing, but let me tell you the Taiwanese people must be some of the most helpful people to Americans that we have ever seen! We love it here!! We had people coming up to us to help us in figuring things out. With 3 minutes to spare we boarded the bus for an approx. one hour ride. We FLEW off the bus into the airport, purchased tickets for our flight to Taitung, walked briskly to the terminal, and saw that our plane was BOARDING! LOL! We flew Mandarin to Taitung, which I believe is run by China Air. Uni is associated with EVA, and also flies this route, but didn't have a plane running until later in the afternoon. The Mandarin flight was very good, and took about 50 minutes TOTAL, about 35 minutes in the air. FAST! We were here so early that we beat Deana and Luke to the airport.
The Taitung airport had free WIFI so we were able to plug into that with our MagicJack and called family to let them know we had arrived safely. For those of you who want to call home from Taiwan or to receive calls, this is the way to go! It cost us $40 to buy MagicJack, $20 for one year of service and $20 for the plug. We have a US phone number through it that people can use to call us here for free. No cost to us or for them. It's great! Also has voicemail for when you don't have it on. NICE!
Luke arrived and brought us to pick up Deana and Carson at the Children's Home (he's soooooo sweet and just completely precious!) and then we went to church where we met Andrew for the very first time. It was amazing! He is adorable and just a perfect match for our family, just as the Lord planned. At the same time we also met Jo. Also adorable!!! Church was wonderful and we felt so loved. It's amazing to have a church family all the way across the world! We are very thankful for their prayers. Also, they were asking us if our church is supportive of our adoption, as sadly some churches are not very supportive. We were able to share what a blessing our church family is to us and how they have a heart for orphans and for each other. We are very thankful for our home church and love you all!
We then came to check into our hotel, Hotel Kindness. It's quite nice, although they do NOT have cribs. The bed is comfortable, the rooms are VERY clean, and it's near to most everything here. Even has a Family Mart convenience store right next door. We have a king sized bed and it costs about $70 per night. This includes breakfast and a "snack" from 10p-midnight, which has a nice selection of fresh fruits, noodles, and incredible Ice Cream. Some of our favorite ice cream flavors were mango, pineapple, Taro, and Swiss Chocolate. Yummmmmmmmm.
For lunch we went out with Luke and Deana where we had our first hot pot and a delicious bowl of noodles. Mmmmmmmm. Andrew did great, and loved his small little pieces of watermelon, which kept him quite content. We then came back to the hotel with Andrew for a MUCH needed nap. I could hardly wake the boys after 2 hours of sleep. Honestly had to drag myself out of bed as well. So glad that we did as we really enjoyed chatting with Luke and Deana tonight and getting the tour of the Children's Home. It's a great place for the expecting moms and babies waiting to be adopted. Also a great opportunity for a missions trip for a church group who would like to help out. We are praying for them as what they are doing is unbelievable. They are so self sacrificing and loving to all of those involved in their ministry. The light of Christ is shining brightly in Taitung through the ministry of the Pans!
At then end of the night we decided to let Pauline keep Andrew so that he wasn't immediately taken away from all that he knows. It would also give Pauline one more night with him, which she seemed to long for, as well as giving us a much needed night of rest. We truly wish we had more days in Taitung, as our first day has been a wonderful experience here.
Regarding how Andrew is doing, it has been far beyond anything we could ask or expect! (Imagine that!) He came to me readily at the church at our first meeting, has been calling us mama and dada all day (melts our hearts), and comes up to both of us laying his head on us giving love. Prayer is a wonderful thing! When he has fussed it has only been for sleep or food, and he was easily soothed by each one of us. During our time at the hotel with him, he had fun exploring his new toys and laughing with us. He seems to love being in the sling with mommy, and he enjoys holding a blankie and sucking his thumb when it's time for sleep. He says LAH LAH LAH when he is getting fussy for a nap. Too cute!
4 AIRPORTS, 3 AIRLINE FLIGHTS, 2 CONTINENTS, & 1 PRECIOUS BOY!
THIS IS THE AMAZING RACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We are at the hotel now getting ready for a very busy day tomorrow. We have to go to change Andrew's household registry, after which he can come into the USA as a full American Citizen. We then have to fax it to be translated by our translator in Taipei. We will pick it up after flying to Taipei the very next day, and the morning after that we will have our AIT appt for Andrew's visa. Please keep praying. Our AIT appt is Tuesday night at 8pm EST.
Here are some pics from today. For correct time frame view from BOTTOM TO TOP.
Love you all! :)
Oh NO, think I heard something...better check one MORE time!
Let's GO for it!
Come ON Carson, Let's get this Pizza! MMMmmmmm!
Playing with mommy and daddy on the bed after bath time
Got your NOSE! Pinch, pinch!
DON'T wake a sleeping baby....shhhhhh.....
Content in mommy's arms
Sweet Baby Boy
ooooooo, what was THAT?
Nap time cuddles
Already Daddy's Boy
Finally in our arms
Andrew & Pauline
Mandarin Airlines Taipei to Taitung
En Route To Taipei Over Japan