Eight hours later, our train pulled into the Moscow station and our driver was there to meet us. First stop—the airport where we pleaded our case and asked for grace in order to rebook our missed flights. The woman at the ticket counter was so touched by our story of adoption that she issued us new flight tickets for the next morning and waived the rebooking fee! We were overjoyed at her generosity—God’s grace in blessing us. Tickets in hand for the flight out the next morning, we could feel it. We were almost home!
Second stop—a public clinic where Anna and Zach were given their physical and immunizations required for United States entry. We held each in our arms as the cried from being needle poked in the upper thigh, skin pierced right through for the hope of a new life, a healthy life, a God-filled life.
Third stop—the U.S. Embassy. Passing the U.S. Marines at the front door and stepping into United States territory put us at ease immediately. But we ran into another problem. We learned that the visa paperwork for each child needed to have been completed and turned in by 11:00 AM in order to be processed and returned the same day. The time was just before 1:00 PM. We had to wait in line to get the visa applications, complete the forms, wait again for another clerk to take our paperwork, and wait again for the visas to be issued.
While waiting, I recognized a face. It was the face, her face, branded into my heart. There was no mistaking. She was the young girl who had clung to my leg crying, “Mama! Mama!” She was the very girl for whom I had prayed, “Lord, please send her parents soon!” Spectacular grace! God arranged for us to meet again to show me exactly how He hears—how He cares—how He answers. On top of it all, we learned that the adoptive parents were from Wisconsin—our home state! Crazy grace! The perfect timing I have experienced innumerable times throughout my life proved my motto true once again. There is no such thing as coincidence. I hugged the little girl and spoke to her in Russian saying how happy I was for her to finally have a mama and papa. She smiled and kept holding their hands.
We were next in line to give our completed visa paperwork to the clerk when, incredulously, he started lowering the window! His aluminum window covering started coming down, signaling the afternoon break from 1:00 to 3:00 PM. If we didn’t get our paperwork submitted at that moment there would be no chance of getting the kids’ visas that day and we would miss our morning flight, again. Desperate, Todd put his hand under the window to stop the descent and begged grace.
“Please! Please! We’ve been waiting so long! We’ve already missed our flight home once and we just had it rebooked for tomorrow morning. Please, will you just take two more?”
Thankfully, once again, God’s grace poured through the clerk and he raised the screen and took our application saying it would be processed and returned immediately. I’ve never felt greater relief or thanks. How does God DO these things, one after the other, His grace well never emptying, never running dry? Amazing!
Our paperwork complete, official visas in hand, thanking God for final hour grace once again, we left feeling light and joyful, ready to relax and take in the beauty of Red Square and the stark contrast between art sublime of St. Basil’s Cathedral and the symbolism of oppression—the Kremlin where the embalmed Lenin is on permanent public display.
Just a few steps away from Red Square, we settled into our hotel. Modern, by Russian standards, our accommodations were small but clean and comfortable. We ate a fine Russian dinner and turned in early, wanting to get good sleep prior to our long flight home the next morning.
Our driver and liaison picked us up, eagerly waiting, and took us to the Moscow International Airport. We said our thanks and goodbyes, went through security using visas and a combination of United States and Russian passports, and boarded our plane. Fastened into our seats, the 747 aircraft began to rumble down the runway and when it lifted, nose followed by tail, I closed my eyes and finally exhaled after what felt like continuous breath-holding for nearly three weeks on foreign soil. Tears of thanks ran. We were one our way west—on our way home.
As soon as our plane started its descent—as soon as I saw land—our land—the home of the free—one nation under God—tears welled again. And as the plane lowered steadily and landing gear unfolded, I couldn’t stop the drops of salty wet streaming over lips and I tasted, pleased. Runway in sight, wheels came down and touched ground and what seemed like the entire plane started clapping. Me too. My hands and my heart and my soul were clapping wild. Home. We were home. Almost.
Join me tomorrow for the conclusion of our first adoption?