This past Sunday was the one year anniversary of the "Coq Chante 6" coming home. It seems like so much longer than a year some days. It has been a long very busy year. But we are all still in awe that they are here and got to spend some sweet time over the past weeks thinking back to this time last year and seeing all the miracles that God performed to get them here.
From the time we found out that Odette was ok on January 14th to day the day she came home were so busy with phone calls, TV interviews, newspaper interviews, trip to Nashville, printing copies of all the kids papers that were destroyed in the earthquake, and trying to figure out how and when (and if) we were going to get our children home. It is hard to believe it was only 11 days between the earthquake and the time they landed in Knoxville.
The day of January 21st was such a crazy day. Around lunchtime on that day I got a call from Kevin that I needed to head to the church office. I was pulling out of the parking lot of the church office then so I turned my car around & headed back inside. When he got there he explained that the original plan for Andy to go with him to pick up the girls and Wousamy couldn't happen because there was not room on the plane for both of them. He had heard from Rhonda at Senator Corkers office that things were looking good and he may be able to go pick the kids up the following day. We spent the afternoon trying to figure out all the details and get plane tickets booked. It was such a day of up & downs. One minute the plan was on & the next we didn't think it would work & then the next it was back on. In the end God showed himself in a big way & Kevin was headed to Fort Lauderdale with all of our paperwork in his hands and big hopes that this really was going to work. (For a reminder of some of the miracles read the article in my post on February 25, 2010).
The next day I got up & got busy cleaning. Sometime that morning or late the night before we found out that one parent for each child had to meet them in Fort Lauderdale. Andy was so sweet to let me go. My family spent the day helping me quickly clean the house (well they did most of the work as I was on the computer and phone trying to get info to all the families and trying to get our flights worked out to Fort Lauderdale). If you went back and read the article you would see that we were not even sure that this was really going to happen that day or not so we were waiting until the last minute to get tickets booked. I remember getting a call from Gina saying that we needed to be at the airport in less than 30 minutes. At that point I had not taken a shower, packed or anything. I got ready really quickly and my dad drove me (very quickly) to the airport. When we got to the airport to get our tickets we found out that another flight had come in late & they had put them all on the plane we were going to get tickets on & there were no more seats available. After some scrabbling around we found out there was a late flight (after 10:00 if I remember right) leaving from Atlanta that night getting into Fort Lauderdale after midnight. So we rented a van and headed to Atlanta. Also this day there were many people at the church office making calls to get us another plane to bring us home. At that point Brian, Kevin and the kids had a plane to bring them home but the rest of the parents would have to take a commercial flight home & we would have completely missed their homecoming. Again God is still in the miracle business and worked out all of the details for us.
We took a shuttle to the hotel late that night. I don't know that any of us slept more than a few hours. That morning as Angie, Carol, Leah and I got ready I remember it being kind of a quiet morning. I think we all wanted to be excited but didn't want to get our hopes up even at that point just in case something didn't go as planned. We ate breakfast at the hotel and then took a shuttle to the airport. It was the part of the airport where private planes land. We waited nervously and kept running outside to see if they were landing. We were told that they were landing & although they would have preferred us to stay inside we all ran outside & looked through the fence for their plane. Not knowing exactly which one was theirs I got lots of pictures & video of other planes landing. Finally they landed and out steps precious Wousamy's feet. The moment we waited for finally happened- they really were on American soil. Since they still had to go through processing and we could not go in with them all we could do was scream & cheer from the fence (we eventually got in trouble for being loud & taking pictures so we headed inside). We kept peeking at them through the window hoping to get a glimpse (any one looking at us from the outside that day probably thought we were crazy). They had us fill out some paperwork and then had the 6 of us go next door to the lobby where they would bring them when they were finished with paperwork. I don't know how long we had to wait but it seemed like an eternity. From Andy's posts from last year it looks like they landed about 11:40 and there is a picture of Odette in immigration at 12:40 & then our plane took off around 2:30. After waiting a while we finally saw them walking our way (we were told to stand on the sidewalk and not go any further). After hugs, tears and phone calls to the mommies & daddies at home we headed inside where the girls were treated to popcorn, their first Krispy Kreme donuts & lemonade. They all changed clothes and we just waited until it the Pilot plane headed from Knoxville with Russell Biven & Erynn Donavon on board landed to take us home. We taught the girls to say "Let's Go Home" in English & soon we were headed home on two planes to Knoxville. They all loved the plane ride and Odette spend most of the flight looking out the window and singing. The whole flight was surreal, we kept asking each other if this really was happening. Our plan was the second to land in Knoxville. We were greeted by reporters, cameras and around 200 friends and family. Talk about overwhelming for these kids (and their parentes) but I would not have traded it for anything. After all of the heartache that came from the earthquake something wonderful was happening that could have only been orchestrated by God himself and I love that so many people wanted to be a part of it. That day Odette was reunited with her daddy & Taylor and got to meet Abby & Molly for the first time & the rest of our families. It was an amazing day that I will never forget.