We left for DRC the day after Thanksgiving, making an overnight stop in Washington DC, and another stop in Ethiopia on the way there. I wrote a couple of journal entries while I was there (and by a couple, I mean... 2 I wrote 2), one about the first day there and one about spending Christmas there. Not sure if I'll ever publish those, but I wrote them for me and Emily to have later. I posted a lot while I was there on Facebook.
Our 2nd day with Emily
I honestly, really REALLY enjoyed my first 4 weeks in Congo. The first week there was rough with Emily, she was adjusting and testing boundaries. We had a lot of melt downs and we worked on setting boundaries, and establishing trust. Right now, she's adjusting VERY well, but it was rough the first week. She learned to open up and trust me, and at the end of the week, we said goodbye to Andrew and he came back to the States to go back to work and spend some time with our other girls back at home, inbetween their stays with their grandparents house.
Saying goodbye to Daddy
After the first week, things really started to turn around. The tantrums lessened, Emily opened up a lot and started playing with the other kids at the hotel. We were able to get out some- we went to see the bonobos (apes, local to DRC), we went shopping for souvenirs with an amazing missionary that lives there, we spent a lot of time sitting around St. Anne's (because, really... that's all there is to do there!).
my FAVORITE picture from my stay there
Like I said, I really enjoyed my first 4 weeks there, maybe even 5 (which included Christmas). There was a lot of waiting, there were a lot of stressful days. But then, there was the time spent bonding with Emily, and time spent making new friends. I will forever cherish the friends I made during those 6 weeks.
Some of the friends that I knew, via Facebook, before coming
Emily's BFF for 3 weeks
Some more friends, they spent LOTS of time together!
After the 1st two weeks there, when I was still waiting on Emily's passport, I knew that it would be a REALLY long shot to make our original flight home, so I started making my peace with spending Christmas in Congo. Andrew and I had a plan in place already for how to handle Christmas, so one night of crying over missing Christmas, and I got over it. I actually had a great Christmas there, and a lot of special memories made.
Christmas in Congo
We spent Christmas Eve with the other adoptive families "stuck" there. We had a dinner in another mom's room, made on hot plates, and then broke out some candles (bought on the street of course), and sang some Christmas carols. It was a sweet night. And the next morning the same missionary that took us shopping (I ended up going several times over the course of my stay there) came (actually, her husband came) and picked everyone up to take us to the Christmas party they were hosting.
The last week and 1/2 there was HARD. I had packed (completely) twice, ready to rush to the airport if I received word my paperwork was ready. Twice, it didn't happen... and I was devastated. Then airfare got crazy with the new year and ticket prices jumped to crazy numbers, there weren't any seats with our airline for weeks. I was devastated again. Every day my exit letter didn't come, I was devastated. I clung to a few key verses in the Bible and leaned hard on the support of friends and family back home.
There were a couple days that I spent a lot of time alone because the group of friends I had made all went home. Fortunately when my papers didn't come and I was stuck there another week and 1/2 I got to know the "new" group of families and they were amazing. I definitely couldn't have made it the last week without them to sit around and complain to ;)
I was with them at a restaurant when I FINALLY got the exit letter. Cheers all around!
The coveted paperwork
And they were all down in the lobby to see us off, even the ones that were suppose to be on that flight, but had to cancel because they didn't get their letter. Not fun... I said goodbye from my room (with it packed up, ready to go) when that happened to me... and cried.
My experience in Congo is one I will never forget. It's such a strange feeling... now that I'm home, I miss Congo. Like crazy. How many times I spent there in prayer and tears yearning to be home, and now I look back and get teary eyed thinking about Congo. I miss the people, I miss the community, I miss the simple life. No rush to get anywhere (most of the time). I just miss it. I definitely left a piece of my heart in Kinshasa.
I really meant to update people on how Emily is doing now that she's home, but I've now spent too much time writing and it's getting late. Maybe I'll update the blog again, I'm terrible at it and do MUCH better updating my Facebook... much less of a time commitment! Short story is- Emily is doing GREAT. Her sisters love her, and they all get along great. We didn't really do the whole cacooning thing, we had 6 1/2 weeks of forced cacooning in Congo ;) It worked for us, and she's doing so, so well.