Tuesday, December 19, 2006
O'Hare International Airport is a busy place. Like any airport, it is filled by throngs of families, business men, tourists, security agents, and airline employees. Not only are the people and purposes for traveling varied, but so are the emotions one witnesses in the partings, greetings, hurryings and waitings.
Having grown up very close to O'Hare airport, I have been there fairly frequently - picking up, or dropping off, friends, family, conference speakers, guests, or even just going to the gate to visit with out of state friends during their layover in Chicago (pre-2001, of course). It was at O'Hare that I boarded an airplane and experienced flying for the first time 10 years ago.
But in all my visits to O'Hare, I've never been to the International Terminal until yesterday. And of all my visits to O'Hare, yesterdays visit will be one of the most warmly remembered.
For the last two years the Strand family, friends and fellow laborers at our church, has been "in process" of adopting children from Liberia. Obstacle after unusual obstacle has cluttered their path down to the very last hour. But, God is bigger than the most trying circumstances and when all deadlines were past and it most looked like they would be unable to be united with their children before 2007, last Friday afternoon they received a phone call informing them that God had worked on their behalf and their children would arrive at O'Hare International Airport just after 1:00 pm on Monday, December 18th.
Shortly after 1:00pm yesterday, our family, Jeanine and her children, the Strands, and Mr. Strand's brother's family, stood in the international terminal waiting and watching for those three precious little ones.
The flight from Liberia was via Brussels, Belgium, and the flight from Brussels to Chicago was delayed slightly, but our eyes were glued to the screen until at last it changed to reflect the news we were waiting to see:
Then the waiting began. For over two hours we stood waiting, all eyes glued to those glass doors where we could first see them coming.
Part of the time we whiled away talking with a family from New Jersey whose adopted daughter would be with the Strand children on the flight from Brussels. They had adopted her older brother two weeks ago, but the little girl's paper work had been delayed and they were just now able to have her join them.
Finally, the moment we had come for arrived.
The children - Eleanor, Erik and Maggie Strand - walked through those big glass doors towards their eagerly waiting parents and siblings.
The greetings of the families being united with their children brought tears to many eyes - including the eyes of others who, unrelated to any in our party, were in the terminal waiting for other flights to come in and came over to see what was going on and offer their congratulations and best wishes.
The children had been traveling for over 30 hours and were fairly tired, but were very sweet and patient through the introductions, and the final sorting of paperwork, backpacks and details.
The Strand family, with Patty Anglin (founder of the Acres of Hope adoption agency, and the one who escorted the Strand's children home from Liberia).
Finally, it was time to go home. Home, at last, for three of them!
Thank you, Strands, for inviting us to be a part of your very special day. Your faith, patience, and love throughout the adoption process have been an encouragement and example to us - and a reminder of the love of our Heavenly Father Who has adopted us to be His children. Someday we, too, will be able to go home, at last!
Mama and baby Maggie.
So glad to finally be a big brother!
Evin & Erik