Thursday, May 16, 2013

While you were sleeping...

We have some exciting news share!  WE HAVE HAD OUR CONSULATE APPOINTMENT!!!!!

Today was a "lazy day" where our group requested to move our somewhat daily activity with our travel group to the evening. We slept in, barely made the breakfast buffet in time, and were rained in for the morning.   This uneventful day was mostly made up of Randall and Eliana playing in the room and riding up and down on the elevators while I worked on a letter writing campaign to Senators and Congressmen.  After closing the computer for the morning, it was already lunch time.  After lunch came a nap for Eliana.  We were due to meet our travel group at 4pm in the lobby to go see a famous landmark tower in Guangzhou once Eliana woke from her nap.  Randall went downstairs to cancel our flights with Delta.  Once Eliana was down for her nap and Randall returned from cancelling our flights, a sadness washed over us both.  This was the first, real, tangible action taken toward our extended stay in Guangzhou, and the weight of that was heavy.

That's when the phone rang!

"Can you meet us in the lobby in thirty, umm...., thirty six minutes?!  We are going to the Consulate!"

We've never moved so fast in our lives!  We were still in pajamas (mostly) and had to get ready for our appointment.  So many questions were running through our heads.  "Is this an appointment before visas are submitted?"  "Is the US government simply granting us some exemption?"  "I thought the consulate was closed this week.  What happened?"  Randall, Eliana, and I were the first of our group to arrive in the lobby.  To say we were excited would be an understatement.

Once the whole group arrived, we all got onto the bus.  After a 20 minute bus ride, we were at the Consulate!  It's amazing how many things had changed between 2:30pm and 3:30pm. Our sadness had been completely replaced by hopefulness and optimism!  After some security screening, we were allowed inside.  We were not allowed to bring electronics or cameras, thus no pictures.  

We joined about 60-70 other adoptive families in the waiting area.  We listened for our daughter's Chinese name to be announced, and when it was called, we joined the Consulate worker at the banker's-style window.  A mere two minutes later, our paperwork was complete!  Now, all that lacked completion was the oath.  After all 60-70 families were served, it was time for the oath.  

I'm not sure what is normally done, but I assure you, this was anything but normal.  All 60-70 families were asked to stand and raise their right hand.  At this point, it was mine and Randall's duty to speak for Eliana and swear the oath that all applicants for immigration must swear along with every other adoptive family in the room.  And just like that, we were done!  By 5:15pm, we were walking out of the Consulate with a promise that (Lord willing) the visa we wanted so bad would be delivered to us most likely by Friday or Saturday!  We could leave the country this weekend!  Three hours took us from "the valley" to "the mountaintop!"  Praise God!

"I know Who goes before me.  I know Who stands behind.  The God of angel armies, is always by my side!  The One who reigns forever, He is a friend of mine!  The God of angel armies, is always by my side!" - Whom Then Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies), Chris Tomlin

Randall and I decided to celebrate the most American way we knew eating Mexican food!

Now, nothing is assured, but we are hopeful to find a return flight to Birmingham departing late Saturday or early Sunday!

We still need your prayer.  The change fees we will incur per ticket are already looking to be pretty high.  The cost of a few extra nights in the hotel are small potatoes next to these change fees.  God has already found a way for us home.  We don't know if it's his will for us to take on these extra costs merely for changing our flight, but we are praying that the fine folks at Delta can see the extenuating circumstances for what they are and waive these costs.  The Lord be praised either way!

Thank you for your prayers, assistance, and encouragement.  We are blessed so much to have friends and family like you who have our backs in time of need.  

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