New Yorker’s couldn’t resist the temptation to read our wobbling pink and yellow welcome signs, “Welcome to America!” they said. They smiled now realizing that those little kids, who may have kicked their seats on the very long flight, were the ones that we welcomed. I felt the butterflies spinning inside my stomach.

We began to see a trickle of red t-shirts after most everyone filed out of the plane. Flight escorts and chaperons mingled between older children. They dragged their bodies down the hall towards us, most of them half awake from the long flight. Then, I saw our host girls’ pretty pink coats with fur trim hugging their little faces. Their escorts held their hands and kept them from tipping over with exhaustion.

They were so little–just six and four years old. I knelt to catch their gaze with teddy bears in my hands. When I called their names, it was then that they took a few steps and tipped into my arms. It all felt so surreal. They grinned at me when the teddies were placed into their mitten coated hands– little did they know that so much more was waiting for them at home. They toted one backpack filled with a thoughtful gift for us and a change of clothes.

      It was the group photo with them that got to me though. I couldn’t control the cramping in my lips. They twisted without my permission. As the camera was clicking- I felt overwhelmed. Tears rushed into my eyes and I couldn’t fight them or the burning of my eyelids.

“You better hurry, I don’t know how long I can do this,” I said.

I felt so grateful that we were living out that moment, living out a dream to host children for Christmas, and combining our story with two little princesses we chose from a simple photo listing. The whole experience cut me to the heart and proceeded to change us all…