Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Up Till Now (written on the plane)

**Note: this is a super long post! Sorry! Yes, since we are able to post this. . .you guessed it. . .we are here! We are in the hotel in Ghana. It's actually really cute. You can see it if you google shangri la in Ghana. We are resting now and trying to figure out what we want to do. Sleep? or Shop? I would like to swim, but I think I'm the only one! I'll write more later tonight. . .just wanted to get this posted as well!

Almost there. . .I just woke up and we are about 1 hour away from landing in Ghana. Seriously? One hour from stepping foot in Africa? That just seems crazy. I can't believe we are actually at this point. I can't believe that I'll be in Africa. This has been a dream of mine as long as I can remember. My heart soars at the very prospect! Not only that, but in a matter of days/hours we will be in Liberia. The country of our son's birth. The country that has stolen our hearts!!!
Oh yes, but I promised you the story up till now. It may seem silly to take a whole blog post to write about passports and visas, but the LORD has shown up in such a mighty way that I can't help but record it! I hope to write down all of the details now, so Davis may one day read this story and know how His Father worked on his behalf.

We decided to travel on Friday, 16th. Deciding for sure over the weekend? Not our best plan! It makes is so much harder to make decisions and plans! We had already decided long ago that we would travel straight to Africa on a direct flight as opposed to traveling through Europe (mostly Brussels) like most families. Yep, we had to make the difficult choice! ha! We just wanted the flights that allowed Greg the least amount of time stuck in a small airplain seat as possible!! Also, my dad had agreed to let us use ALL of his points for our travel. So, I go on to the Delta website and get to work. I found amazing flights through Dakar, Senegal and was pleased as punch with myself. Well, then I began to look around for flights from Dakar to Monrovia. Shocker of all shocks but Monrovia is not the hit tourist destination you would imagine!!! There was exactly ONE airline that flew from Dakar to Monrovia, SLOK Air. Ok, I figure I guess we are gong for it! So, I book SLOK air online and get my confirmation code. I am thinking we are sitting pretty. Wait, how are we going to pay them? So, the next morning (Monday morning) we wake up early and call The Gambia, the small West African country where SLOK headquarters out of. "I'm sorry, but all of our planes are in maintainance right now". Great. . .now the real journey begins! Remember how I said that there is only ONE airline that flies from Dakar to Monrovia? Yep, I was back to square one on Monday, November 19th!!! Aaagh! So, quickly we realize that I cannot make all of these arrangements with both kids at my feet and Gracie repeatedly calling, "mommy, mommy, mommy". Greg decided to take Brayden to work with him and work on gathering paperwork for our visa application and we called Jan (my mother-in-law) and Laura (my sister-in-law( to come gather Gracie for the day. Good thing we did, too, because if you didn't already know this, planning a trip to LIBERIA is not as easy as booking a flight into, say, New York City! I spent the next 3 hours on the phone with Delta and searching the internet for African Airlines! We decided the best route was to go through Accra, Ghana and take Bellview Air from Ghana to Liberia. So, I call Bellview and find out that they have flights on Monday, Wednesday and Friday heading into Liberia. Just great considering, Delta only has flights arriving in Ghana on Tuesday of that week! No problem, I figure, we'll just spend the night in Ghana. (more on that in a minute). Breathe a sigh of relief, flights are found. Now, we just need to pay for them. The total number of points needed is 330,000 points for adult tickets. My dad hastily calls Delta / Amex to move points around. What? He only has 270,000 points. He grows a bit frantic. "What can I do?" He quickly calls the black card concerige (one of the first times this service has really come in handy!) "Well, sir, we can allow you to buy points if you would like. Or, we could advance you points on your account, but only 60,000 points." That is EXACTLY the amount we needed! Praise the Lord! Then, in making Davis' return ticket we realized that Greg and I had almost the exact amount needed for him (we did have to buy 1,000 points for $30)! Now, our flights are confirmed and we can rest easy.

Wait, we need to figure out this visa thing. Now, we need 2 visas. One for Ghana and one for Liberia. I call Travel Docs and they say, "absolutely not". I then call Delta. "What do you know about visas? I heard you could get them in the airport???" Delta has no clue about that idea but has a couple of numbers listed for Ghanian embassies. He reads me off the 2 embassy sites (NY and DC) and says, "Wait, there is a 3 number too". So, I call this 3rd number, one out of Texas. I am a little surprised when a sweet, Texas woman answers the phone practically cursing at her fax machine. Oh great, I think, I have some random person's home phone number. "I'm sorry, I was looking for the embassy of Ghana" "Well, you've got it," she replies with her Southern drawl. Ok, off I go to explain the whole situation. She immediately springs into action and says, "here's what I want you to do. Overnight / first delivery me a package with all of your stuff. Then, include an overnight/ first delivery envelope for me to send it directly to the Liberian embassy and include an overnight / first delivery envelope for them to send it back to you. But, make sure you call there and get someone to promise to do this for you b/c it is Monday now and they are closed Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving!" I replied, "thank you and by the way, what is your position in the Ghanaian Embassy?" I ask. "Well sweetheart, don't you worry, because my husband is the Ghanian Consulate General." Yes, Delta Airlines (read: GOD!) gave us the home phone number to a Ghanian Consulate General in Texas!!! Alright, well, as nerve racking as this is (we have to have these visas and they have to have our passports to give them to us!) we embark. By the way, I'm pretty sure all of this may have given Greg an ulcer! Our packet arrives on Tuesday morning at Ms. Webb's home and she is able to process everything immediately and send it off to NYC and the Liberian embassy. It arrived at the Libieran embassy on Wednesday morning and our sweet new friend at the embassy processed it that same day and sent it back to us to arrive on Friday. (this section had about 3 phone calls confirming it's arrival and departure times and method of travel since we had not one day to spare!) Well, here's the problem, our travel companion's passport had not arrived at the Ghanian Consulate by 7 o'clock that evening! So, in the middle of Stephani's wedding rehearsal and dinner, I spend hours on the phone with UPS demanding, begging and pleading with them to please deliver that package to the Ghanian Consulate immediately b/c they were leaving on vacation the very next morning. Finally, at 10 pm (after about 25 calls back and forth with the Ghanian Consulate's dear wife!) the package arrive and she promised to issue the visa and send it right back. Breathe! Well, by Friday afternoon (they day she should have recieved it since we sent it priority overnight/ first delivery) it was nowhere to be found! So, another evening spent on the phone tracking passports!!! Praise the Lord, after involving every level of USPS employee possible, it arrived at it's destination on Saturday afternoon!!!

The Lord had literally done the impossible! Shipped our passports throughout the United States in one week, that happened to include a Nat'l holiday!!! Is the Lord good, or what?!

One more cool thing before I go, (that is, if anyone is still reading this terribly long blog that you all had hoped included SOME african information or pictures!). While Greg was copying our paperwork, he checked again our health insurance on Davis. You see, you have to have proof of insurance on your adopted child to submit your dossier to the adoption agency. So, back the first week of JUNE, I had made arrangements for this. Our current health insurance will NOT cover him b/c he has lived in a 3rd world country. So, we had purchased immigrant insurance. Back in June, the man wanted a name and a date to be effective. . .neither of which I had any clue. Well, we convinced him to just put child since we didn't know the name of the child we would need insurance for. "You have to choose an effective date, though," he told me. Fine, put December 7th. Did you read that right? December 7th. Yes, the very day we will step off the plane (Lord willing( into the US with our new son! Yes, that was 6 months ago!!!! Isn't the Lord just sweet?
More to come from Ghana!


Jess said...

So fun, God is so amazing!!!! Wonder where we can find the husband of the Liberian Conselate?
I hope you guys didn't decide to go swimming, I am looking for photos ...and I have seen that before. Go see Africa, you live in Florida, you can swim almost everyday!

Tama said...

Aint God Great!!!! Thanks for the details. NO WE ARE NOT BORED, MORE PLEASE! KEEP THE DETAILS COMIN'!

Tama said...
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Scott and Erin said...

this post makes me so excited about the way God works :) LOVE!!!!!

Cassie - Homeschooling Four said...

It has been so fun to watch you guys walk this journey and how God has provided every step of the way. I'm sure you will be soaking in every minute of Africa.

Kami said...

Brandi, my head is spinning! WOW! Dec 7th it is! Oh my goodness!!!

Christina said...

Wow. I read every word, don't tell your Dad 'cause I'm at work and it was a really long blog. But, wow. I'm so excited! I can't wait for you guys to get home now!!! Yeah!!! Love you, your occasional blog stalker.

Missy said...

Wow!! I've been out of the loop for a few short days and look what happens!! What an amazing leap of faith you are taking. You will be in my prayers every step of the way. Love, Missy

Anonymous said...

Love it, Our God sure does care and provide! I know he's having a great time watching all of us live this out and wait for his miracles-his LOVE! Loveya!!!!!! Denise

Jackie Sue said...

I love the stories He gives us to tell of His faithfulness. Stories to tell to our children, our grandchildren and then some. What an AWESOME God we serve!

From Five to Eight said...

OH MY GOODNESS!! I feel like I've had my head in the sand this last week! I had to read and re-read your post :)
God is before you and behind you. Do not fear. Be strong and courageous (I think you've done that part already!)
Can't wait to read more. God bless all your appointments!

Lori said...

WOW! I'm so excited for you guys. Thanks for the posts. They're never too long. I can't wait to see all of your amazing photos! God is so good!


loving my life said...

Oh wow, just found out you are in Africa. My prayers are with you guys! God bless you!!!