The Stockings were hung….

So, my family is amazing and I love them all.  I know, I know, your family is amazing also, and I completely agree.  I’m not saying my family is better than yours, just simply that mine are amazing.

My Mom and Dad (Grammy and Grampy) have gotten out of their California home several times now and have come to visit us, in Hawaii, England, and here in Japan.  But even though my Dad is from Hawaii, I had to get married to get them to come out for a visit.

Jo’s Mom (GranDee) is world class.  She’s come 3 times to Japan, 2 of those times were to take care of her girl after pushing 2 whoppers out.  Quinn 10 pounds 10 ounces, Kira 9 pounds 12 ounces, both with no drugs. She came to England and even drove on the right side of the road, not the right side but the right side.  Haha, sorry that’s a little bit of humor from us who drive on the left hand side of the road.

Then there’s Joelle’s Dad & Judi (Pop and Grandma Judi), they are supportive in everything we do, they’ve come to visit us wherever we’ve been, but none of these people are the story.

The woman I would like to tell you about tonight isn’t EVEN technically related to us.  She is Joelle’s dad’s wife’s mother (step grandmother???), but she has taken us in and treated us like we are her own.  We keep having kids and she keeps doing these incredible things.   This is not to take anything away from any of the other grandparents and family but this woman is 86 years old and still going strong.  She is Grandma Jones and this is the kind of thing she spends her days doing for my kids.  This arrived two days ago, just in time to be stuffed with goodies for Christmas:

Kira's Stocking

And get this… she has handmade these for ALL of the kids….

Here’s Hannah’s:

Love it

Jake’s…

I love the bowling pins hangin' on by a thread.

And Quinn’s…

My favorite Candy Cane tree decorations.

Wow, is all I can say.  She’s always a delight when we visit, she always makes conversations with the boys and keeps at it until they finally open up to her.  She’s welcomed us into HER family and we are thankful.  We love you Grandma Jones and we are happy to be apart of your family.

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The Answer, part II

So,

We were at home for about 2 weeks getting everything ready and making one last visit  to friends and family before heading back to the far east.  We just jumped on the plane, planning to somehow get back to Japan on Space-A, no real plan other than that.  The Patriot Express only flies on Thursday and we have no plan so we head to Travis figuring the more time we have to catch a flight the better our chances are of getting something to Okinawa.  Travis to Hickam or Guam, but Alaska and Korea weren’t out of the picture.  So, we manage to make Travis to Yokota…to Okinawa.

Hannah was in school right away and the year progressed pretty well.  Not ever having had a teenager full-time before there were quite a few adjustments that were made on both sides but we made it through the year without too many bumps or bruises.  The best part is she met a couple of really nice girls and became good friends.

Hannah with M & M

Hannah with M & M

Just before the end of the school year when we were trying to get the flights figured out for her trip home she started to think about staying another year for 8th grade.  Having 2 famlies that she loves is so hard to make a decision and did she ever fret.  She made lists, talked to us, her friends, thought, cried, weighed, and pondered.  Finally it was time to talk to her mom.  Hannah talked, I talked, A. talked.  We prayed, argued, thought, cried, weighed and prayed.  Three weeks later A. had decided to let Hannah make the decision, and she decided to stay.

Hannah with my birthday cookie

Hannah with my birthday cookie

Hannah and the girls dressed up for Halloween

Hannah and the girls dressed up for Halloween

A week ago I get an e-mail from A.  The suspected but dreaded e-mail in which she says she missed Hannah too much to let her spend another year with us in Japan.  I called and tried to argue, but really how can I argue about it?  I feel exactly the same way except the other way around.  The last year has been an answer to prayer — I’ve bristled and yelled, I’ve been proud and embarassed, I’ve taught and learned, but the most important thing this last year has been…getting to spend a whole year with my little girl and getting to see and know the woman she is becoming.  As well as a lesson in God answering prayers, somtimes He says yes, sometimes He says no and at other times He says wait 12 years….  We will keep praying and preparing for the next step if there is one…who knows…high school…maybe….

Dad and Hannah

Dad and Hannah

Sad to see Hannah go

Sad to see Hannah go

This picture sums up how we are feeling about Hannah both going home for the summer and not coming back for this year of school.

The Answer

So….

It was almost 14 years ago now, when a prayer was said.  It was…not a desperate prayer, more of a request.  Just a simple prayer from a man with a simple understanding of how to pray.  (Is there a wrong way?  A better way?  Hmmmmm)  The prayer went something like this:  “…Lord one of these days could I have a chance to have my little girl live with me….”

One day, late August, there was a phone call from A, Hannah’s mom, and she said she would let Hannah come out for the school year, what a wonderful experience that will be….  I’ve never seen my wife work so fast and get things put together for the trip.  All I had to do was run a leave chit.  She got the dog taken care of, she got tickets arranged to get us from place to place.  The whirlwind that is my wife was at peak efficiency.  A week later we show up to get on the Patriot Express…0600…6a.m.  I don’t know that I have ever been more excited in my life…I’m going to pick up my little girl and she is going to come and live with me for a year!!!!!!!!!!!!  August, eh?  Did I mention August is in the middle of PCS(Permanent Change of Station) season.  NO SEATS!!! are you kidding me it’s a 747, my little girl is waiting for me…aaaaaaugh!!!!!!!!!!  Ok, in 2 days there is another plane leaving…got on…to Hawaii.

Hickam Airfield…It’s been awhile since we’ve been here but as we get off the plane and into the terminal to collect our luggage there is an announcement for…North Island, San Diego.  Not exactly where we wanted to go but my best friend in the whole world lives at Pendelton maybe he could pick us up and get us to the train or something…anything.  We manage to get in touch with my mom and she helps us make calls because we will, of course, be in the air.

Come to find out the aircrew is late, they can’t find them…they are on their way home from flying around for 6 months and the last 2 stops, Hickam and North Island…oh boy.  They show up, get us on the plane and take off, C-130.  About 20 minutes from the time they showed to wheels up.  10 hours later….

North Island in the middle of the night and we now have to try and find transportation, phone calls were made blah, blah, blah, my best friend in the whole world shows up.  Sleep, rental, trip to SFO to STL and….

Dad and Hannah

Dad and Hannah

Hannah and the boys

Hannah and the boys

My little girl isn’t quite so little anymore but she is still my little girl.  I suppose most fathers of daughters feel this way.

The trip out to Pick up Hannah at her Aunt and Uncle’s house in St. Louis to bring her back here to Okinawa was, we  believe, PLANNED by God.  Everything fell right into place, from missing the Patriot Express, to my best friend in the whole world picking us up to St. Louis.  Sometimes we had to wait a few minutes to get a car or a ride or the next plane but all in all the trip went so smoothly it is hard to believe.  A plan that was 12 years in the making.

To be continued….