Arrival!

9:56 AM

Sunday evening, around 7:45, we loaded up our car and zipped to the airport. I kid you not when I say we were all buzzing with excitement. We've been praying for Rene for the past 3 weeks and eagerly preparing for his arrival.


Let me wax nostalgic for a moment and tell you that I long, LONG, I say, for the days before 9-11 when you could go all the way into the airport to a particular gate, watch the plane land and then taxi right up to you, watch the passengers walk off the plane and personally welcome them properly. These days, you have to wait in the baggage claim which is SO JUST NOT THE SAME! I told Kyle some of my fondest plane memories were seeing all my loved ones peering excitedly around the corner trying to see my face as I unloaded from the plane. Or waiting to run and hug my Dad, coming home from business trips. There is nothing more welcoming than that!

Needless to say, that's not how we were able to greet Rene. He was already milling about baggage claim with the other Rwandans and host families. But it was still a festive atmosphere!

We spotted a familiar face, LaJuana, who helped Brooklyn position her sign so that Rene could find us.

We eagerly scanned the dark faces wondering which was Rene! Then, from the milling crowd, a tall, dark-skinned, smiling, young man emerged and sauntered over to us. Dressed in a dark red sweatshirt and jeans, I thought immediately, poor guy...this heat is gonna be a shocker.For those of you who don't know, Rwanda is like the San Francisco of Africa. Very hilly, temperate, breezy...not at all like you think of an African country. So Arkansas heat is quite a shock to them. Although I've lived here all my life and every summer, the heat and humidity is still shocking to me!

It was all I could do not to just hug him tightly, I was so excited! Brooklyn and August bounced around his knees like little puppies, begging for attention. He beamed and just took it all in. Our church, Fellowship Bible Church, graciously provided all the kids with a really cool backpack complete with a water bottle, a Go-phone, and I don't even know what else. It was a super kind gesture for these kids. I am so proud to be part of our church body. Even more so when I saw how many familiar families were lined up trying to spot their Rwandan student. It made my heart well up with joy.

Kyle and I stood there wondering if the luggage had come through when Rene informed us that his backpack was all he had. All righty-then! It's off we go!

The whole ride home, we tried hard not to pepper him with questions - trying to be considerate of the fact that he'd just flown half-way around the world to a new country that was probably blowing his mind.

The minute we got home, Brooklyn hurriedly unbuckled so she could hold his hand ("Mommy, do you think it's ok if I hold his hand?") and guide him inside. He sweetly took her hand and followed. Bailey, our Golden Retriever, wagged her tail in greeting and that was all from her. After a tour of the house, we led our very tired Rwandan to his room to get settled.
Her new best friend.

So far, he's been here 2 nights and is coming out his shell more every minute. He has been teaching us some Kenyarwanda (their language) and telling us about himself, his family, his studies...he is great with the kids who ADORE him. August follows him around, saying Ne', Ne'!!! They pile onto his bed with him to "read" their books with him. Brooklyn strokes his arm, saying, "Your skin is just as soft as mine!" He just grins and fits right in.

So far, he makes the bed better than I've ever been able to get Kyle to do...is super neat and tidy and cleans his plate! I might get used to having a 19 year old around...

Oh, and Brooklyn says that since he doesn't have a girlfriend, she can be his girlfriend. I tried to explain that the age difference might be a problem, but she's unconcerned. Either his girlfriend or his sister, she's not picky.

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