We arrived in Addis Ababa Ethiopia tonight in such better shape than when we arrived here back in November. Business class on that long of a flight is where it’s at! Being able to recline and not be so cramped makes a huge difference with how you physically feel after 14 hours of flying time (over 24 hours of overall travel time). We both got some sleep on each leg of the journey. Maybe more importantly was not being so bewildered in the visa line at the Addis airport, or when exchanging money, or running our luggage through security. We were already familiar with the process, the fees, the steps. No problem.
We did not, however, know if there would be someone waiting to pick us up. We had a backup plan, the phone numbers of a couple of cab drivers we’d used before who speak English well and frequently drive adoptive families for AAI. We also had a leftover prepaid SIM card from our last trip, and a juiced up phone for use here. In short, we were prepared.
But still, it’s always funny to walk out of airport security and scan the signs with hopeful eyes looking for your own name! Fortunately standing against the wall was a young man with a paper that simply read “A.A.I.” Our adoption agency. We went over to him and confirmed he was there to pick us up. SWEET!
Abram is his name, and he took over a couple of our bags and walked us out into the wonderful Ethiopian evening. We had the same schedule on our last arrival (about 9pm) and I experienced again how nice the cool evening air felt, and how clean it seemed for such a big African city. There are flowers planted around the airport, and happy families strolling to their vehicles with loved ones.
Abram took us to the little blue van that we had ridden in to visit our boy’s former orphanage on our last trip. He referred to it as ‘The Chinese Monster’ I think! It’s falling apart in the worst way, but still a very useful vehicle here for AAI. The rear doors have to be opened by reaching in through the front window, the seats are falling apart, etc. But they keep it running and it gets the job done!
After we climbed into the van, Abram handed me a manilla envelope and said it was a message from Gail. I took that as a good sign; our travel meant we were essentially out of pocket in terms of communication with her from Monday through Tuesday, and we knew that our success on this trip depended on what she could accomplish in the early part of the week. I opened the envelope and pulled out a few sheets of paper.
The first three were forms that were partly filled out with the kids’ information, and blanks for us to fill in for our own. Embassy forms, which again, seemed like a good sign.
The third page was this typed message from Gail, our orphanage director, which I began to read aloud to Charles: “This morning we received the missing document from the mother of Melkam and Alex. She is currently still in Addis and will meet you at Layla tomorrow around 10:30am.
I dropped off the documents at the embassy at 1pm today and was told at around 2pm that the case was approved…”
AT WHICH POINT I COULD NO LONGER SPEAK BECAUSE OF THE HUGE SOB THAT WELLED UP IN MY THROAT! I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I am overwhelmed that the boys’ case is already approved as we arrive. (Eliana’s has been complete for a while) We have two chances for embassy appointments this week, one on Wednesday morning and one on Thursday afternoon. Gail went on to say she was requesting the wednesday morning appointment and thought it would be no problem.
All I could think of was God’s grace and mercy, and how many of you have been praying for us and for the kids. We are so very grateful! We are so filled with hope and we cannot WAIT to see the kids tomorrow!
Here’s the rest of Gail’s message: “Congratulations! So for in the morning: You can head over to AAI around 7:30am. The staff have been told to have the children dressed and ready to go by 8am. I will come to AAI at around 8am to pick you and the children up. We will then go directly to the embassy.
Please make sure you bring with you the full visa payment amount and the forms that are in this envelope. Please fill them out beforehand. Make sure you have your passports as well. See you in the morning!”
The embassy appointment is at 9am I believe, and if all goes well, we will be officially done after that!
So that, my friends, is the story of my best birthday ever. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, but I’m overwhelmed with peace.
God’s timing is perfect. This is a light week at Layla and the Ritmo Guest House in terms of families traveling. I think we are the only one’s here tonight and without any communication from us Gail booked us into a large family room with beds for all the kids and a nice big bathroom. This time tomorrow night we will have three little Manning’s in here with us!!! Seriously crazy. Here are a couple of shots of our room:
The power is out tonight but the Ritmo has its generators running, a slow internet connection, and power adapters. I’m off to wash away the travel grime and get things organized for in the morning. Can’t wait to try out the Ergo for little Ellie (thank you JANET!), and to bring the kids back to Layla and show them their new clothes and some fun things to play with (thank you KATHI!). And thank you everyone for the hand-me-downs of all kinds that we get to begin to share with the kids.
And I really want to thank Gail for helping make this happen this week…without her willingness to push the timeline forward it wouldn’t have been possible
Signing off, one happy camper!!!