Sunday, April 8, 2012

What a Day! (Or Two??!!)

We've finally arrived in Taipei.

We left our house at 3:30 am on Saturday, April 7th and arrived at our hotel just after midnight on Monday, April 9th!!

The many adventures of 3 planes to 3 different International city's have blended together in my mind already......

A short recap:

The pre-dawn flight from Rochester to JFK was uneventful except for the seating assignments. Apparently if you have different last names you can't possibly be from the same family or want to sit together. So, the 4 "official" Salamone's were seated together and one Hui-Mei Lin (Aka Ruby Salamone) was assigned 10 rows back and Nana (Aka Nancy Sparrin) was assigned another 8 behind that. Thankfully, Nana was able to sleep in her secluded seat.....and my wonderful husband opted "to take one for the team" and offered to seat all by his lonesome. I think the kids loved having mommy all to the themselves.

At JFK, we arrived at the JetBlue terminal at just after 7 am. As our International flight was with a different carrier, we had to pick up our luggage (yes! all of it!) and take a train to a completely different terminal. The first hiccup of the trip belongs to Rich. He inadvertently left his back-pack (full of electronics!) on the SkyTrain. Thankfully, he realized right away and a eagle-eyed pilot turned the "unattended bag" into security. Within 15 minutes, Rich, his suitcase and our entire party were reunited and on our way to China Airlines check-in.

Unfortunately, you can't check in for a flight until 4 hours in advance! So, we sat from 8:00am until nearly 11am to simply check-in. Next, we made it to the International terminal to sit until 2:30 when our flight boarded. We filled our time, with people watching, some hot panini's, currency exchange and many separate trips to the bathroom! Too many people and way too many bags to navigate.

The middle leg of our flight was from JFK to Osaka, Japan. I've honestly lost complete track of the duration......I think it was about 18 hours. We had 2 meals, 3 snacks and averaged 4-5 movies each. Some slept a little (Ruby about 2 hours!) and some slept a lot (Tim more than 9!). Some ate everything in sight and some passed over the menu items due to "sour stomachs." In the end, Rich and I were delightfully surprised at our 3 little world-travelers and their ability to handle what I've affectionately called the "mental marathon."

Around 6:30 pm (in whatever the time zone is called!) we landed in Osaka. Our flight transfer was called a "stop-over" instead of a "lay-over." We landed and took all of your belongings, walked through security, and to a different terminal and thus, different gate. All of this, to end up back on the same flight--in the same seat:) At least, it was re-fueled and clean!

A short 2.5 hour flight later and we landed in Taipei, Taiwan. By now, it was 10:00 pm.

We made our way through Immigration and to baggage-claim with ease. My sister Becca and niece Grace were waiting for us. Eventually, all of bags were found and we headed through Customs and on to find our personal driver. He was easy to spot.....the sign said "Jeccica." I guess our names are as foreign to them as theirs are to us!!

A short wait later and our bus arrived. When Rich and I traveled to pick up Ruby in 2010, we rented a car. This time, trying to transport our party of 8 and all the luggage required something bigger.....a huge bus!

Not. even. kidding.

It was a great option though, as the kids were thrilled! The driver took us straight to the front door of our hotel.....check-in was a breeze and we were to our room in record time.

Thankfully, while it caused a TON of stress at the time, finding this particular hotel was worth it. We have two family suites equipped with two bedroom areas and a kitchenette. Kids received their Easter baskets, quick baths and were off to bed by 1:30 am. As we're 12 hours ahead, they were certain it was time for lunch.....but nope, a few stern words from me and they were off to sleep.

Day 2 is just a few hours away!

Friday, April 6, 2012

And we're off.......

The time has finally arrived—Claire is coming home! Or rather, we're going to get her!!

Our entire family will be leaving TODAY!!

While in Taiwan, we will have several exciting and unique opportunities. As you and your family come together on Easter Sunday morning, we will be landing in Taiwan. There’s a 12-hour time difference and we land around 10 pm Taiwan time on Sunday, April 8th.

Our itinerary looks like this:

• April 7th and 8th: Fly from Rochester to JFK/NYC to Osaka, Japan to Taipei, Taiwan
• April 9th: Spend the day in Taichung with Ruby’s birth-family including her mother, grandmother and former foster mother
• April 10th: Meet Claire and spend time with her foster family
• April 11th: Visit an orphanage and take Claire for a “check-up”
• April 12th: Visit the US Embassy in Taiwan and apply for Claire’s VISA
• April 13th: Free Day! We are planning to go to the Taipei Zoo.
• April 14th: Fly Home as a family of 6!

This journey would not be possible without the encouragement, love and support of those around us.

If you think of it during the week we’re away, please be praying for us! Specifically, pray for Ruby as she reconnects with her birth-family. It is her heart’s desire to tell them about Christ. Please pray that they gain comfort from seeing that she is well-loved and thriving. Also, pray for Tim and Caroline as they experience the sights and sounds of a foreign country for the first time. They are excited but also nervous. Please pray for health and safety for our whole family. Jessica’s mom, sister and 5 year old niece Grace will be journeying with the Salamone’s as well. Please pray for financial blessing even in the days leading up to and during travel. Lastly, please pray for Claire as she says goodbye to her homeland and her foster family. You can certainly imagine how difficult that will be. Please ask God to supernaturally give her peace. And finally, pray for all of the Salamone’s as we venture on a trip that will have us traveling for 24 hours each way…..18 hours straight on one plane!!!