Viaje de Amor en Ingles

(A Journey of Love)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

First Day of School

The last week has been a buzz of activity.  Alia started school, Ashton is in the process of being approved to start school, Alexa continues her schooling, and Ariana finished school.  A number of people have asked how the kids have done with the animals.  Both of the kids love the animals, but Ashton especially has a love for our pets, especially our dog, Sundance.  Within a few days of arriving home, Ashton realized that Sundance liked only the kibble in the kibbles and bits that we feed him.  So on occasion, Ashton has taken to picking the kibble out of the dog's food bowl and hand feeding the dog.  The dog has taken to his new owner as well and enjoys the long walks outside around the yard and being spoiled with food.

Alia began attending pre-school last week and has really enjoyed her class and getting to make many friends.  Although the language barrier makes things difficult at times for her to understand what is going on, yet she loves going three mornings a week.

We have been working on getting Ashton registered for second grade, but we have had to wait for his TB test (his second in a month, since it had to be redone in the states) to be cleared, and for his vaccinations to be completed.  Almost every day last week was spent at the doctors or a dentist or a lab for bloodwork, etc.  We have a few more appointments and things to do for registration, but we are hoping Ashton can get into school by the end of this week.

Over the past few days, we made two trips out to Lancaster.  On Saturday, we gathered to celebrate my nephews HS graduation.  It was a great time for the kids to meet their aunts, uncles and their cousins.  It was also a great time for us to catch up with family.  Our second trip was today to pick up Ariana from college.  Ariana had two final exams, and we met with her after her first exam to pack up the car.  While she had her second exam of the day, we took the kids to see the Strasburg railroad and then we went down the road to the Cho Cho Barn, which is a large model train layout with all sorts models including a circus, and a model of Dutch Wonderland.  Ashton loved the trains. 

After a short time walking through the train store, we went next door to watch them making peanut brittle, and we each enjoyed a small bowl of ice cream, we returned to Millersville Univ to pick up Ariana. 

While we were waiting for her, we took a walk through the campus and then sat at the art building to wait.  While we sat, a caterpillar came to visit with us.  Alia laughed and said that the caterpillar tickled her hand.  It is great to continue to watch the kids make new friends, experience new things and get established in their new home.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Makin' S'mores

We arrived home on Thursday, and the past few days have been filled with time together as a family and new experiences.  My parents with their spouses each came to visit on Thursday, and Alicia's dad came to spend the weekend, so the children had the opportunity to meet all of their grandparents.  It has been great to watch all four of my children hanging out and playing together.  Alexa and Ariana have both commented about how exhausting it can be to try to keep up with Ashton and Alia.  We have done a number of projects around the house and reorganizing things.  My tools were removed from the shed and migrated to my woodshop in the barn, and room was made in the shed for bikes and toys.  We have done a lot of laughing together.  Yesterday, Alia decided to try on some of the boots in the house.  Watching her try to walk in the boots was hilarious, as we watched her struggle with each step.  Today, we went to church and saw so many was great for us to reconnect with all of our friends.  I think it was a bit overwhelming for Ashton and Alia by the end of the morning.  At the end of the day, we got a fire going in our backyard and introduced the kids to the sweetness of s'mores.  It was great to see the look in their eyes as they enjoyed the toasted marshmallow smothered with the melted chocolate smashed between two graham crackers.  Tomorrow, Alia will have her first day of pre-school, and we'll begin to get Ashton registered for school.

Getting to know our pets!
 We had some presents from Christmas waiting for the kids.  More Legos for Ashton...he loves building things with Legos.
 Some big boots to fill.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Coming Home!

We left Miami this morning, and after a mostly uneventful flight, we arrived in Philadelphia.  Debarking the plane, we made our way from the plane to pick up our baggage.  Ashton and Alia were anxious to meet their sisters, and as we turned each corner of the airport, they would ask where they were.  We crossed the bridge that went over the road at the airport, turned the corner and began to descend the escalator.  The girls were at the bottom with my mother and her husband...About half way down, we the kids realized who was at the bottom.  When we got to the bottom, they ran to their sisters and gave them huge hugs.  We gathered our luggage and loaded everything in the cars.  After a quick lunch, we headed home.  It was great to drive a car again.  We arrived home to be greeted by a number of our friends.  Alia seemed to be comforted by the fact that there were other children at the house, and she quickly went to play.  Ashton was very shy, but after the initial greetings and introductions, we saw that someone purchased new bikes for the kids.  Ashton and I went to his new bike, and he jumped on and took off.  Family and friends visited with us for a good part of the afternoon, and then a friend from church dropped off dinner, and we were able to enjoy our first meal together as our whole family.  What a joy to see all four of our children around the table.  As we prepare for our first night at home, I am struck by the fact that being home is a great comfort for us, yet for Ashton and Alia being here is mixed with a new joy and bit of anxiety and grief.  We continue to pray for God, our great Healer to care for the hearts of our children and bring them healing.  Here are some pictures from our homecoming...

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bienvenido a Estudos Unidos!

This morning, we all were too excited to sleep, so we were up early.  We were done packing and ready to go over 30 minutes before Carlos arrived.  We gave ourselves a few hours before our flight since we didn't know what delays we might encounter trying to fly back to the US.  We ran into a small delay at the immigration counter since we only presented copies of the adoption documents.  Our lawyer had come to the airport to say good-bye and she had just left, so Carlos called her and she quickly returned to the airport.  After half an hour or so, everything was cleared up and we were ready to go to the next step.  We had already checked in our luggage and had our boarding passes, so we could move on to security.  All in all, it took about two hours from the time we arrived at the airport to get to our gate.  And the Tegucigalpa airport is very small.  There is not much in the way of food to purchase at the gates there, so we made due with some plantano chips and two baleadas.  The flight was uneventful, which is good, and around 4:30(EST) we landed in Miami.  When we went to go through passport control, we needed to enter the visitors section, since the children were flying on Honduran passports.  At the US Embassy yesterday, along with the visas, we were given a large manila envelope filled with papers for each child, with the instructions "DO NOT OPEN" and give them to the immigration officer in the states.  In Miami, we approached the passport control officer and handed over our passports and the large manila envelops that are only opened within the cone of silence.  The officer was really nice, and he processed us at the window, then walked us back to a large room with rows of chairs (I thought I was done with these for a while).  He handed over the top secret "For Your Eyes Only" envelopes to someone else in the large room and we sat down and waited for a while.  We were waiting to be called back to the interrogation room with the bright lights, but instead after 10 minutes or so, a real nice immigration officer called us over, confirmed the identities of the children with their passports and said we could go.  In a sort of stupefied manner we stood there waiting for more hoops to jump through.  Alicia asked about the documents in the envelope, and if the officer knew what was in there, she wasn't telling we still do not know the contents of the mysterious envelope that I carried into our country.  We were done, so we went and collected our luggage (all the bags made it to Miami) and we found our shuttle to our hotel and settled into our room around 7pm.  On the way to the hotel, Ashton looked out the window and saw an American flag and said, "Estudos Unidos" (United States).  I leaned over to him and said, "Bienvenido a Estudos Unidos!" (Welcome to the United States), and he had a huge smile on his face.  Alia is still a bit confused, she thinks we'll get to the United States tomorrow.  She doesn't understand that Miami is in the US, no matter how much we try to tell her that she is already in the US.  After dinner at a Cuban diner across the street followed by a swim in the cold outdoor pool, we are settling in for a shortened night of sleep as we begin to adjust from the two hour time difference.  We will leave for the airport tomorrow around 7am and should be home by early afternoon.  Good is a picture of Alia in the Miami airport.  I think it says it all...
 Ashton likes the conveyor belts for walking through the airport.  Both the kids loved riding on the sky train at the airport.
Waiting for our airport shuttle.  Mami wanted a picture, and I am not sure anyone else did.  This gives a little glimpse into some of the strong-willed "personality" that comes out at times.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

US Embassy

Today was our day at the US Embassy.  We were up early and collected our things for a very important interview at the Embassy.  Our appointment was scheduled for 8am, and we arrived at the Embassy at 7am and were shown to the eight o'clock line in the mass of people standing outside.  The lines began moving, but it certainly looked like it was going to be a long morning.  We were toward the front of the 8am line and around 7:30, we were led to the "gate-keeper" lady behind the thick glass.  I assumed since it was the US Embassy that she would speak English, but that wasn't the case.  She was unable to find our names in the computer system and told us to get back in line...I was beginning to think we were going back down another long and confusing path...then Alicia mentioned the name Melissa (who is the woman we have been working with through this process from the Embassy)...the gate-keeper smiled and pulled out a different list, found our name and pointed toward the door, which security promptly opened for us.  We went through security, and entered another room with rows of chairs...and waited.  It was only a few minutes before the call came over the loudspeaker for the Crossgrove family to go to window 5, which was actually a small room with a window and a nice lady behind it.  She collected our documents and began processing everything, and sent me off to go pay the bill.  I returned and we were sent back out to the chairs.  A few minutes later, we were called back into the little room for a brief interview...and then it was all done.  We were told that the visas would be done by early afternoon, and we left.  Carlos was not allowed to go into the Embassy with us, and we were not allowed to take cell phones with us, so when we came out we were hoping to see him, but we were done earlier than we had expected, so he was nowhere to be found.  Of course, there is a whole industry outside the Embassy of guys ready to take visa pictures and to let you use their phone.  So for 20 lempira (a little less than a dollar), I was able call Carlos and he picked us up at the front of the Embassy.  Carlos recommended that we use the morning to go to the zoo at Picacho, which he said was small but the kids would like it.  It was actually bigger than he remembered, and there was a nice play area for the kids.  We returned to the Embassy around 2pm and I went in and waited, then I left with the children's passports with correct visas.  Another 20 lempira phone call, and then we were off to one more governmental building.  We wanted more original copies of their birth certificates, so Carlos took us to the unmarked government building.  We waited in another line to enter the building, then three benches of line inside the building until we went to another window.  The woman looked at the passport, asked a few questions, and printed the birth was all done...we could make plans to go home.

We returned to the apartment and I called the airline.  Since we were technically changing two of our tickets from a previously purchased ticket and adding two more tickets, it was a bit confusing.  The woman on the other end of the phone was a huge help in getting things pulled together, so our flight is set.  We will fly out tomorrow from Tegucigalpa to Miami.  We plan to stay overnight in Miami and fly home to Philadelphia on Thursday arriving around 12:30pm.  We are looking forward to getting home and the kids are so excited to meet their sisters and see their new home.  Some people have asked about coming to the airport or meeting us at our home when we first get there to welcome us home.  We would love to see our friends and family, and welcome you to come.  If you plan on either of these, contact our daughter Ariana, or send us a message and we'll forward it to her.  Thanks again for all of your prayers, love and support.

 Ashton had stared down the goat, and eventually the goat gave up and returned to his food.
 The peacocks were all strutting their stuff, so we got a great picture of one behind Alia

 In the play area, they had a huge slide, which the kids enjoyed.  They even convince Carlos to go down and take his son, Noah with him.