Preparations for our trip to Africa are well underway. The past week and a half have been a whirlwind as we try to pack what we need and what we can give away, finalize and collect paperwork, get plane tickets, etc.....the list goes on, but let's just save time for all of us and say it's been quite busy. However, we've been so blessed that Josiah got to come home earlier than expected, as this has given us more time in New Mexico to get things lined up.
We are so excited, and Shelly and I get more excited each day. Our POA told us she visited the kids on Wednesday and the oldest ones (ours are among the oldest) are so excited about their parents coming to pick them up!
We also found out today that we'll be able to meet Manzi, the 6-year old boy we sponsor with Compassion International. It looks like we'll go to his home (approximately 1 hour from where we'll be staying in Rwanda)...it should be an amazing experience, as we've prayed for this boy, looked at his picture on our refrigerator for the past year, written to and received letters from him, etc. We're hoping the visit to his town and possibly his home will make a big impact on Silas and help "realify" (yes, not a word, but hopefully you know what I mean...am too tired to think of the correct word at this point) Manzi/poverty/faithfulness/God's love to our oldest son (and to us).
We have a friend named Tom Wright at our church who leads a ministry called Global Outreach (check them out at http://www.globaloutreach.ws/...they are doing such important work). They make an impact all over the world, but our family has been especially interested in their work in Africa, particularly Rwanda. Global Outreach is working with a pastor in Kigali, Rwanda, who just built a large church in one of the poorest areas of Kigali (and that's saying something). The congregation includes a large group of AIDS victims, among others. Tom has such great respect for Pastor Ezechias and has repeatedly shared how this man is serving God in Kigali. I've been emailing back and forth with Pastor Ezechias, and we're hoping to meet him and attend worship at his church while we are in Rwanda. While in Nairobi, we're also hoping to spend some time with Sabina (not sure of the spelling on this one), an East African woman that Global Outreach works with to help develop micro-business opportunities for women in East Africa. In October 2008 she visited our church with Tom and spoke about what she sees God doing in East Africa. During the week before her visit, Shelly and I had felt God leading us to adopt from Rwanda (in East Africa), and Sabina's visit and testimony were a confirmation for us of the direction God wanted us to go.
As you can see, there is so much we're hoping to see and experience on our trip. Without a doubt, meeting our 2 new children and getting to know them is at the top of the list, but we hope to meet and encourage others along the way as well.
I was asked today to provide a timeline for our trip so people could follow us and pray as we live this experience. Here goes:
Wednesday, Jan. 20: Fly from Albuquerque to Houston to Dubai (United Arab Emirates)
Thursday, Jan. 21: Arrive in Dubai; overnight layover
Friday, Jan. 22: Fly from Dubai to Nairobi, Kenya to Kigali, Rwanda (arrive in Kigali at 5:45PM local time)
Total Flight Times: 2 hrs to Houston + 15 hours to Dubai + 5 hours to Nairobi + 1.5 hours to Kigali = 23.5 flight hours from NM to RW!
Saturday, 1/23: MEET SAMUEL AND SAVANNA (but they must stay that night at the orphanage)
Sunday, 1/24: More time with Samuel and Savanna (but they must stay that night at the orphanage) + possibly worship at Pastor Ezechias' church
Monday, 1/25: Hopefully receive our travel letters from the Ministry...if so, we'll be able to keep Samuel and Savanna with us 100% from that point forward
Rest of the week: Spend time with Samuel and Savanna, tour Kigali (including a genocide memorial), some adoption appointments, pick up the kids' passports, etc.
Thursday, 1/28: Drive to Gitarama and meet Manzi, the 6-year old boy we sponsor
Friday, 1/29: Josiah has his next followup bronch in Cincinnati (no, he's not going with us to Rwanda...but Silas is). His Nana will take him, and the doctors expect to find that he's continuing to do very well.
Sunday, 1/31: Hopefully worship at Pastor Ezechias' church; in the afternoon, fly to Nairobi, Kenya (US Embassy in Kigali doesn't issue the visas we need to bring our children
Monday (2/1) - Friday (2/5): Very busy with appointments in Nairobi...medical appointments all day on Monday, then other consulate appointments all week...THE GOAL: Pick up our kids' visas Friday afternoon and board a plane from Nairobi to Dubai. IF the visas aren't ready, we'll have to stay in Nairobi into the following week. IF our children test positive for TB in Nairobi (they've already tested negative in Rwanda, but a positive test in Nairobi could happen), then one of us parents will have to stay with that child(ren) in Nairobi for approx. 2-3 more weeks. Please pray (1) the visas are ready and we pick them up on Friday, 2/5 and (2) NO POSITIVE TB TESTS! If so, we'll leave Nairobi for Dubai at 11:35PM local time, arrive in Dubai at 5:35 AM local time on 2/6, board a plane to Houston at 9:05 AM local time, arrive in Houston at 3:55 PM local time, then...it depends. We're booked on a flight to ABQ that leaves at 6:05PM, but this only gives us 2 hours to arrive on time from Dubai, go through customs (we've heard it could take longer than usual since we'll have 2 new Rwandan kids with us), get to the gate, and board the flight to ABQ. If God gets all of this done in 2 hours and we make the flight (hey, He's pretty good with timing...think about how He worked out Josiah's Cincinnati experience and this adoption trip), we'll arrive in ABQ at 7:24PM on Saturday, 2/6. If we don't make that flight, we'll stay in Houston overnight and catch a flight to ABQ on Sunday, 2/7. The latter option could have some benefits, as we'd likely arrive home while it's still light outside on Sunday, which could help the kids with their transition. However, we're hoping to make it back home on the 6th so we can be home sweet home...we'll see how it turns out.
FYI, our plan is to update this blog throughout the trip...depending on Internet connections and how tired/busy we are, we'll see how it goes. We are taking our camera and FlipVideo, but have heard download speeds are pretty slow, so we're not sure how much we'll be able to share visually.
As God brings us to your minds, we'd appreciate your prayers. In addition, please know that we're traveling with a group of families who'll be going through adoptions as well. In all, our travel group consists of 9 families who are adopting a total of 12 children. The families' last names are: Clark, Dokolas, Fisher, Maddox, Snead, Thomas, Thompson, Watson, and Woodman. Please pray for our group.
Well, this post ended up much longer than I planned...not sure we'll post again until we're on our way. Only 2 more days of preparation and packing (I say that in both a grateful and frenetic way)...