Actually, today was the day

So you know how yesterday we celebrated our girls being “finally home“?  Well, it was sort of a lie.  Just a little white lie.  But yea – it was a lie.

Yes, they arrived in Billings to cheers and tears.  And yes, we were finally together as a family.  And yes, all the waiting had finally come to an end.  But we didn’t make it home.

Don’t get me wrong – that was our intention!  Just 225 miles separated us from being finally home.  And considering all we’d been through over the past 3 1/2 long years,  a few miles hardly seemed worrisome.  Admittedly, I was slightly concerned about the girls getting carsick, but figured if they didn’t get sick on pothole-ridden Haitian roads in hot, stuffy cars – they could handle three hours of highway miles in a climate-controlled van.

After a quick trip to Costco for lunch, we were on our way.  As everyone got settled in the van, I imagined the joy of walking in the front door of our house and telling them “Welcome home!”  As I excitedly looked forward to that moment, picturing the girls exploring their room, their clothes, the toys and everything else, we pulled onto the highway.  My daydreams, however, were stopped short as our reliable, beloved 15-passenger van started acting strangely just 1 mile into our drive.  Checking the gas gauge (we’re sorta notorious for running out of gas), I was relieved to see we had a full tank.

“What was that noise?” I asked John, interrupting a conversation he was having with several of the kids.

“Noise?  You mean besides the 10 kids in the van?  Didn’t hear a noise.”

The van shuddered slightly and began to lose power.  Gauge lights starting blinking, and despite the gas pedal being floored, we were quickly losing speed.  I eased the van off the highway to the shoulder just as it completely died.  “Why are we stopping?” came the question from the back.

The van would do nothing.  It didn’t start.  It wouldn’t shift out of gear.  It was dead.  “What are we doing?” came another voice from the back.

We switched drivers and John tried.  Nothing.  “What’s wrong?” came yet another voice.

John got out and looked under the hood.  “What’s dad doing?” came one more voice.

After several more attempts at starting the van, we looked at each bewildered, and then began to giggle, and then laugh.  “What’s so funny?”

“The van’s dead.”

All the voices that had been asking questions stopped.  “Dead?!  That’s NOT funny!”

No I suppose it wasn’t, but in a very real way, it was hilarious.  For the last 3 1/2 years we had fought, prayed, waited, cried, and dreamed of this day.  For so long we had dealt with red tape, delays, bureaucracy and problems.  And now, finally the waiting and the problems were over.  Or maybe they’re weren’t.

Yes actually, the situation was quite hilarious.

The next several hours were a blur.  A highway patrol car stopped and called us a tow truck.  We called friends and sheepishly asked if we might crash at their house for several-to-many hours, and if they could come right away with their suburban and pick us up from alongside the highway.  Arrangements were made for the van to be repaired that afternoon.  And in the backs of our minds we kept wondering – what are our new girls thinking?!

As it turned out we ended up spending the night and most of the next day at our friends’ house.  They graciously let us crash in the basement, and made us feel very welcome, as if our mob of 12 wasn’t any sort of intrusion.  Our van’s alternator was replaced.  Eventually that following afternoon we made the long trek home to Glendive.

And then finally – we were home.  The moments I had imagined were just as sweet.  The shouts of “welcome home!” meant just as much.  The heartache and tears melted away.  The frustration and problems were forgotten.

All along we had said it was about His timing.  We trusted the girls would come home at just the right moment according to His plan.  And although we had forgotten that for just a moment, it only took a broken alternator to remind us once again.  Amid the chaos, excitement and joy surrounding us, John and I glanced at each other and once again began to laugh.  Yes, every detail according to His timing.

And it had finally happened just as He promised.  We were home together.  Really.  It’s the truth this time.  We were finally home!