Since I'd been up all night, I laid down to close my eyes for a few minutes... while Rebekah held the baby and Jon and Elsie sat in their strollers and played with the toys in their carry ons. Rebekah woke me up 45 minutes later - they'd called for our flight to board! Just about that time, the mother of one of our missionary friends, who was also on the flight, showed up and helped us navigate everything onto the plane... and kept prompting the flight attendants to make sure all of our needs were being met. :-)
Arriving in Niamey, once again the flight attendants and airport staff were incredibly helpful, helping to carry bags and just woken up children down the steep stairs used to exit the plane. On the bus ride from the plane to the airport, a kind gentleman offered to help get the kids into the immigration department, even reading passport and visa/residence permit numbers while I filled out the immigration paperwork for all 5 of us.
Safana, our houseworker, had persuaded the security folks to allow her to come back into the airport to help us (normally everyone has to wait outside), and the airport staff enjoyed observing the kids' delighted reactions at seeing one of our favorite persons! By the time we had cleared immigration, our porter had already collected all of our luggage (same guy we always use, so he knows us and even recognizes our luggage tags!), waved at the customs officials as they oohed and awww-ed over Mary's full head of silvery blonde hair (I did have to convince one of the ladies that if she really wanted to keep Mary, she'd have to come and talk with Mary's daddy first, since he'd never yet met his baby), and walked out of the airport to see the rest of the family.
So, all of that to say - Thank you to the Lord for providing us with a "so much better than I ever could have dreamed or imagined" trip! And thanks to so many of you who remembered to pray for us. We surely felt the power of those prayers. We are so thankful to be back together - it has been delightful to let everyone meet Mary Michelle, to hear our gang exchanging stories and experiences of the past 3 months... even to hear them fussing at each other again.
And... after having shoveled snow almost every 3-4 days for the past 8 weeks, I'm delighted to announce that I'm happily back to the full time job of keeping the Sahara Desert from moving into my house!