We took Dima back to the airport Thursday morning and he has returned to Latvia. The last few weeks with him were great! We were blessed to have very few challenges. Over the next few weeks we'll likely be filling in on how things are since he has returned home and what the future holds for Dima and our family, but for now we'll focus on the events of the last few weeks.
|King and Dima paddling on the creek.|
On our way back to Charlotte, we took a quick detour through Chapel Hill so Dima could see "our university." We drove through the main part of campus and had dinner and dessert on Franklin St. In case you didn't hear, we were able to quickly convince Dima that UNC was the best school to cheer for, especially once he learned that Michael Jordan attended.
Dima completed all of his dental visits with flying colors. He was nervous during the first one when he got one cavity filled and one tooth pulled. Once he realized that the pain was not what he had experienced in Latvia, he was more relaxed and was one of the most confident patients going into his second visit. We would like to give a special shout out to Dr. Julianne Colvin for donating her time and services to take care of Dima's teeth. When we told Dima that Dr. Colvin had donated everything, he was amazed that a complete stranger would do that. We were able to explain that she was a Christian like us (she actually plays the keyboard at our church) and in response to Jesus loving her so much, she wanted to share the love of Christ with him in this way. He was even more surprised when we told him that his eye doctor, Dr. Amanda Barker donated her services for the same reason. Thanks you both for everything!
The Sunday night before his departure was the first time we started to see some anxiety from him towards returning home. This was still relatively mild, but it was clear that he did not want to go back to Latvia. We tried to make it easier by reminding him about the people he knows back in Latvia. This was a minor comfort, but did seem to help a little getting through the last days. The final few days were spent getting last minute items, including a few small gifts for children back in Lativa who were unable to come to the US for the summer. We also squeezed in Star Wars, Episode I, the only Star Wars movie he had not seen since being in America (he LOVES Star Wars!). Wednesday night we had dinner with the Burgesses, the family that Casey has been nannying for this summer and who have also grown close to Dima. They gave him a few cards and his own Carolina Hurricanes jersey, with his nickname G-MAN printed on the back. He LOVED it! After dinner we stopped to develop pictures of the summer to send home with him and then packed up everything. Not surprisingly, all three of us got a little emotional during this process. However, even through the emotion we were able to share about God's love for us and to use this opportunity to teach about Him and His plans. We were able to explain that while none of us knows what the future holds that God, as our Creator knows everything about us-and did before we were even born! We encouraged Dima to pray when he needs comfort and to seek out God's will. This became especially important at the airport!
Thursday we woke up early to meet with other families at 7 AM at Charlotte-Douglas. We checked him in (his filled-to-the-brim bag weighed in at exactly 49 lbs!) and had about an hour to hang out before the kids and chaperones went through security. While we were talking during the last hour, Dima looked around and said, "There's Marks!" Marks is Dima's best friend and one of his roommates in Latvia. We knew Marks had been hosted as well, but Dima was adamant that he was in Los Angleles. It turns out that not only had he been in Greenville, SC all summer, but Marks' host family sat with us at our table during training before they arrived! Once we said our final good byes, the two friends connected immediately and went through security together. This was a blessing in so many ways because the boys were able to reconnect and help each other through this somewhat difficult good-bye and transition back home.
Slightly before boarding, Dima looked at Casey and said that this was a bad day. We used this opportunity to say that this was not a bad day, but rather a day given to us by God. We told him that all days are blessed and that each day we should take our concerns to the Lord. This was yet again another opportunity to teach Dima about prayer. We told him that God cares about every little thing in his life and wants him to talk to Him about them! We encouraged him to pray about wanting to return to America one day, but also explained that God can say yes, no, or not now when we make requests before Him. Dima connected with this and agreed that praying about his desire to return to America was a good thing. Right before it was time to go, we all fought back tears and gave our final hugs and said our last words. When Casey put her hands around his face and told him that we would miss him and enjoyed having him here, she also added in a we'll be praying for you and a "We love you." His response, "And I you."
So there's a brief summary of the last few weeks. We're still definitely processing our thoughts, emotions, and where to go from here, so your prayers are still appreciated. We also pray for Dima to become re-acclimated to life in Latvia, to continue to read his Bible and pray, and that we will be able to contact him frequently. We are still waiting for information on the best way to stay connected, but have been assured that we will be able to do so.
Thank you all for your support and encouragement this summer, we certainly couldn't have done it without you-and GOD! He has been amazing and is continuing to teach us throughout this process.
As we mentioned earlier, we'll still be making updates on special moments throughout the hosting process and using this space to let you know how God is working in our lives and the lives of those around us, so keep following our blog!