After the breakfast finished, CM and a couple of the other men came over and patted me on the back and told me what a good job I'd done. Some of the men came over to ask questions, hear more of my story, and grab a brochure. It was both extremely satisfying and a major relief that a group of men I had never met before respected me as a fellow man and admired what I was doing.
For the next few hours, things remained pretty quiet, with almost no one coming or going. Around noontime me and Dad decided it was time for some lunch, so we decided to get our first ever Chick-fil-a meal. My adoptive family friends were supposed to be arriving within an hour or two, so I figured it would be better to be running on a full tank before they arrived.
Shortly after Dad left, however, I began to notice the color of the pavement in the parking lot was growing darker. And puddles were forming. And that there was a steady, driving ripple sound on the roof. It was rain. Torrential, pouring, driving rain. Looking at my watch, I surmised that the Moreno family, who was travelling from about an hour away (who adopted Baby J from Russia), probably hadn't left yet, and the Eubanks family (who adopted Shawna and Lindsay from Julia's room) was probably about half-way through a three-hour trek. Not the weather I had hoped they'd be traveling in.
I decided to go into the worship center and say a prayer or two for my friends who were traveling in this crazy weather, as well as for my family and friends back home. When I came back out, Matt (the youth pastor from the 7-3 shift) had dropped by to make sure we were doing well, and I met the other youth pastor who had been working with CM to get me down to Texas, Shawn. As Matt left to get himself some lunch, Dad came back with the Chick-fil-a, which forever changed my standard for fast food.
Thus the waiting continued. Matt eventually came back, as did a few other teens from the night before. After contacting both of the families to see where they were at, I realized the waiting was going to last even longer, due to traffic and weather. That afternoon of waiting taught me to patiently wait, pray, and enjoy where I was and what I was doing while it was happening, and to trust God with whatever experience He intended me to have.
Within an hour, the Eubanks Family arrived, amidst much hugs and hellos, even in the pouring rain. Both of the girls, from when I had last seen them over a year ago, had grown so much. Both were healthy, happy, growing little girls, far beyond my wildest dreams for what I hoped they would become. Naomi (formerly Shawna) was quite the snuggle bug, cuddling with anyone and everyone she could. Hannah (formerly Lindsay), on the other hand, loves her running around and exploring. The Eubanks' three biological children, Sarah, Nathan, and Joseph, clearly love their little sisters and were a joy to meet.
An hour after the Eubanks arrived, Marj dropped in to meet the Eubanks family and the Moreno's, who were on their way. Ashley, Ethan, and Juliana arrived in an hour or so, and the joy continued to build as the Reece's Rainbow population did. We were quite the site for all going in and out of the prayer vigil, but there were few better ways to prove the cause I was advocating for then to have 3 children adopted from that situation sitting right there in the flesh, a living proof of the miracle of adoption.
I feel the need to caption the photo above. Junie decided she wanted to be a photographer like her new buddy, and luckily momma had a camera on hand that she traded her in place of mine. As you can see, she was clearly trying to copy my intense concentration :D
After the Moreno's had been around for about a half an hour, me and Dad had to quickly bow out for Mass down the road. Luckily, Marj, Ashley, and Ethan (the Eubanks were heading out when we were) were more than willing to run the table and keep the video running while we were gone. I was beyond grateful for their understanding, support, and willingness to fill in for us.
After braving torrential rain to and back from church, we got back and hung out together with everyone for another 45 minutes or so before Ashley rounded up her crew to head back home, as it was getting pretty dark. I couldn't thank all 3 of these families enough for braving the rain and traffic to come and see me. As I was quoted as saying this summer at the RR reunion, On the Internet we're close friends, in real life we're family. It really has proven to be a true statement :)
After everybody had left, Marj and Ryan were awesome enough to bring us some hot barbeque briscuit to fuel our tired bodies as the prayer vigil was done by then. It was AWESOME. I had hoped to get a real taste of southern food while I was down there, and little did I know there was even more awesome southern home cookin' to come.
Thus a 24 hour period of endurance, love, prayer, advocating, friendship-making, and so many other great things came to an end. It really had been an amazing, powerful, growing experience that I will never forget. I was still excited to get back to the Ochs' house and get some rest though, as tomorrow would bring an awesome opportunity to go with Compass on a Mission Trip around Dallas.
Little did I know the fantastic experiences that awaited.......