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We're home!!

Wow! What a journey it was to get back home. We woke up at 3 am on Saturday to get ready to leave the hotel. Bear in mind that's 2 pm on Friday in Lincoln. We left the hotel at 5:30 to get to the airport and check in for our flight at 8:20. We got to the gate in good time. Soon after, the announcement came that our flight was delayed until 9:30. This jepordized our connection in Tokyo. Then they said it would only be delayed until 9:00. That was a bit better. Nonetheless, I thought I should find out what would happen if we missed our connection. There was a whole group of NWA staff at the gate. I asked my question. I was told that they didn't know and anyway there were many passengers in the same situation. Sorry, was that supposed to make us feel better?

Then, the departure board indicated that the flight would be delayed til 10:20. Passenger discontent was increasing. There were many adoptive families heading back to the States and they all had connections to make in Tokyo. By this time it was about 9:15. Five minutes later, with no warning, they started boarding the plane! No pre-boarding. No announcement. They just started boarding everyone. So we were halfway down the queue of passengers trying to board this plane with a baby and a stroller/car seat and a snippy flight attendant tried to hurry us along. When Dianne said we wouldn't have the problem if they'd had pre-boarding for the usual categories, she told us that how they boarded the plane had nothing to do with her and she knew as much about that as we did. Again, was that supposed to make us feel better?

This was our first experience using the Sit'n'Stroll stroller that converts to a car seat. It's FAA approved for use on aircraft. But the hassle we had with airline staff and that stroller was ridiculous. Either it was facing the wrong way or it was interfering with another passenger's chair or it was blocking my exit from the window seat. It didn't seem to matter what we did with it, it made someone unhappy. Practically, the Sit'n'Stroll worked well and I would encourage anyone on such a trip to consider one. However, don't use it rear-facing unless you get a bulkhead seat and use it in a window seat so the other occupant(s) of the row can have free access. Also, bear in mind that in economy class, when the seat in front is reclined, it brings the back of that seat right within easy kicking distance of the baby in the Sit'n'Stroll - and on a 12 hour trip, it's impossible to prevent baby from experimenting with their kicking!!

Anyway, all the way from Guangzhou to Tokyo, the cabin announcements assured us that they would give us information on connections as we approached Tokyo. We got into Tokyo and there was still no news. We left the plane with no information about our connection and no communication from Northwest. We found a bank of departure screens and discovered our flight to Detroit hadn't yet left. We ran through Tokyo airport to the departure gate and were able to board our plane.

This flight was now running late which meant that we'd be hard pushed to make our connection at Detroit for Lincoln - especially since we had to go through immigration, customs and pick up and recheck our baggage. Sure enough, we landed 20 minutes before our next plane left and it took us an hour to clear immigration and the rest. And that was the last flight to Lincoln that day. Yet another encounter with an NWA rep who had seemingly had a customer service ability bypass left us with the option of staying in a Detroit hotel overnight and getting a flight to Lincoln the next day or flying to Minneapolis and then getting a flight to Omaha. Our car was in Lincoln but they told us they wouldn't pay for a rental car or taxi or shuttle bus to get us from Omaha to Lincoln. Owen was preaching on Sunday morning so the overnight hotel stay was a non-starter, so we opted for the Minneapolis/Omaha solution and we'd worry about how to get to Lincoln when we got there.

The flight to Minneapolis was fine. We boarded the flight to Omaha and sitting across the aisle from us was Martin Russell, Assistant to the Bishop of Nebraska Synod. He was flying back to Omaha from Chicago and, rather unusually, was routed through Minneapolis. He was excited to be the first to welcome Elianne to Nebraska. It was such a pleasure to see a familiar, friendly face. Not only that, he was our own personal angel that evening as he offered to drive us from Omaha to Lincoln!! What a God-send!!

Martin drove us to Lincoln and we picked up the car. By the time we drove home it was about 10:30 pm on Saturday. OK so that's 2 pm on Friday until 10:30 pm on Saturday - by my reckoning, that's 32.5 hours. And do you know what? Elianne was fantastic the whole time. Sure she got a bit squirrly on the long flight from Tokyo to Detroit - but so did we all. She was unbelievable.

We're now trying to readjust to our natural time zone. And of course, Elianne is trying to adjust to her new time zone. Owen picked up some stomach bug in his last day in China and has been under the weather for a couple of days. Elianne is slowly shifting her sleeping pattern but it's not an easy thing and that's meant that Dianne has been thrown right in at the deep end as far as sleeplessness and a "Velcro" baby is concerned.

We're so happy to be home. Everyone (except Northwest Airlines!) has been so wonderful and supportive. Thank you all for your messages and for taking the time to read our blog. Your interest and prayers have been much appreciated. Thank you.

Homecoming Pics

Coming Home.

This will be our last blog entry before we return tomorrow. The time here just now is 8 pm Friday evening which means it is 7 am Friday in the Midwest USA and 1 pm Friday for those of you tuning in from Scotland. We leave the hotel tomorrow morning at 5:30 to catch a flight out of Guangzhou at 8:20 am. This flight gets us into Tokyo 4 hrs and 40 minutes later. Then we get a flight from Tokyo to Detroit (11hrs and 45 mins) and then from Detroit to Lincoln (about 2 hours.) We eventually get into Lincoln at about 4:30 on Saturday afternoon Lincoln time (10:30 pm in Scotland and 5:30 am on Sunday here in Guangzhou!) We’re hoping Elianne is a good traveler. Here’s hoping and praying.

Today, we had the last piece of paperwork to complete at the US Consulate, where Elianne received her immigration visa that enables her to enter the US and become a citizen. We had a swearing-in ceremony and left the Consulate with the all-important documents that enable us to come home.

We went out for our last meal here on Shamian Island this evening. On the way back to the hotel, Owen slipped on some water on the sidewalk and – fortunately – his head broke his fall. He’s OK except he insists we wibble the flubbadubs before Looby skips to the loo and Walpole ruins the see-saw!!

We hope you’ve enjoyed taking this trip with us. It has been an experience of a lifetime for us and is only the beginning of our adventure with Elianne. We’ll post another entry when we get home and then we’ll see about continuing the blog thereafter. Thank you all for your support and comments.

Day 11 in China

Our little Elianne has settled into a pretty nice sleeping schedule - going to bed about 8:30 pm and waking at 6:00 am. She wakes a bit slowly with some protesting but will take her bottle and then gives lots of cuddles. She is bonding well to both of us and during her bottle feedings will gaze into our eyes and cuddle close. She is working hard on new teeth which causes her some frustration and, as a result, I've received a couple of bites to the chin as she uses me as a teether. I am so glad both Owen and I are here with Elianne - I can't imagine doing this on my own.

We've become quite familiar with Shamian Island and know which shop owners to avoid with their aggressive tactics. One of the most impressive shops is called "A Gift From China". The profits from the shop go to benefit orphanages in China. Many of the products in the store are created by young women who have recently left the orphanage and were taught a trade. One of the orphanage programs is geared toward disabled teens - providing a homelike environment and the necessary adaptive tools such as wheelchairs and the likes. Eventually the goal is for the boys to learn a trade. The teens previously lived (survived) in nursing homes for the aged. The shop offers online shopping and hopes to do well from Christmas shoppers. Their link is http://www.chinagift.co.uk.

Yesterday Elianne had her required visa photos and medical examination. The medical exam consisted of three stations - weight, height and temperature; ENT exam; and, physical exam. The doctors and nurses were efficient and gentle with the children. We are glad to say that Elianne is healthy and only has "a little ear wax - no infection." Owen completed the necessary US visa documentation with our guide and we are one step closer to our trip home!

One constant source of fun has been some of the signs we've seen. We'll post some on the blog and you'll see what we mean.