Monday, February 4, 2008

Back in the States with Josiah

I can’t even begin to tell you what a whirlwind trip Kim and I have been on the last 5 days. In that time I’ve seen Minnesota, Holland, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Liberia, Freetown (another city in Africa), Morocco, and are currently in New York. We’ve been in the air more than we’ve been on land.

We landed in Monrovia pretty much on time yesterday. It takes a good hour to an hour and a half to de-plane and go through customs and gather your luggage. The Roberts Int’l Airport in Monrovia is currently under construction, but most of you, unless you’ve been to a 3rd world country have never seen anything like it. First off you are not allowed to take photos or video of any kind, which of course I was doing because I wanted to capture every moment of our trip to share with our kids down the road. So fortunately the flight attendants had me stow it away quickly so it wouldn’t be confiscated. You de-plane in the middle of the runway, board a bus, and proceed to immigrations. There is a large UN presence there, so several men in military uniforms wielding guns. The heat didn’t seem too bad at that point. It was 87 and a slight breeze, because it was approaching dusk. But they herd you like cattle into a tiny room with 3 desks and they check your passport and visa. We were traveling with Tim and Kim Tormey and Mike and Pat Joyce. And as we were preparing for the “airport experience” on our trip over from Brussels, Tim and Kim realized they did not have their WHO (World Health Organization) Yellow Fever vaccination card. Kim is 7 months pregnant so she didn’t have to get one, but all that was required for their Liberian visa, so they didn’t know they needed to bring it with them. And Tim’s in the military, so his military doc wrote a note because he’s already had it from the Marines. So we began to pray for them that there would be no trouble through immigrations, and they got through without a hitch. Then they herd you into another room and there are about 100 of us who were on the flight. And 5 at a time they release you into another room to gather your luggage. Actually they take you outside to a tent where all of the luggage is gathered. Coincidentally every couple that was adopting, were conveniently filtered out to where we were the last people released to get our luggage. Fortunately all of our luggage was there, they verified the luggage tags issued in Brussels, and then they randomly search your bags for something. But once they found out we were with AoH, none of us were searched. It was pretty chaotic out there because there were guys grabbing your bags left and right trying to load them up. Fortunately Richard from AoH was there and he had specific guys helping. There were 6 so I tipped them $6 even though they requested $20. Richard was only expecting 2 couples because we were all told to not travel on Thursday and then on Friday told it was ok to travel again. So Richard really didn’t have enough room for eight and all or luggage. So All our luggage was thrown on top and a guy traveled on top to hold the luggage down, and we proceeded to the main terminal where Buster from AoH was with another AoH vehicle. So they transferred all of the luggage from the top to the other vehicle and we were set to go.

That’s when everything turned upside down. Patty Anglin is in Liberia right now and she called and requested to speak to me. Mind you we are in the parking lot of the airport, we’ve been in Liberia about 2 hours so its 8pm. She begins to inform me that she received inside information Saturday that they are indeed going to put a moratorium on children leaving the country, to be handed down by the Minister of Justice on Monday morning. Boimah was issued his Visa on Friday and she was recommending we get him out of the country immediately. There are three other children (Joyce, Odell, and Naomi (pardon the spelling) to be escorted by Daiku (again pardon the spelling) an AoH worker. She was leaving the choice up to me but she recommended we leave, because even though all the paperwork was finalized for them, she didn’t know what the judgment was going to be come Monday. Perhaps they would have still let them since their paperwork was done and visas issued, but she just wasn’t sure and didn’t want to risk it. As a parent I responded yes, get him out. That is why we came. But at the same time I felt incredibly guilty. In the short time on the plane, we grew very close to the Joyce’s and the Tormey’s because of our common experience and journey. So why us? Patty asked me to keep it to myself but that they had to order tickets quickly and she didn’t want the other parents to panic. So at this point, everyone of course is wondering what is going on. Fortunately Kim and I were sweating in the way back of the Landrover. Kim immediately began to cry because she thought that Boimah had died or was extremely sick or something serious. But I was able to assure her everything was ok and that she needed to trust me. So we begin the trek to the Guest House which is about and an hour to an hour and a half. But on the way, Eric calls Richard and says, “are one of you going home tonight?” Eric needed exact spelling from our passports to order tickets. If any of you ever doubt that AoH is fighting on your behalf. I saw first hand how hard they worked for us, through the night on a long weekend to see that we got Boimah home.
Anyways, because of all the conversations, Patty sat down with us over dinner to explain what transpired over the weekend and what she “thought” was going to happen this week. It was such a very difficult situation to be in. The same conversation was joy for us, but it was tempered with the fear and grief that the other couples were experiencing. Everything we had planned for all of our weeks changed in an instant. Just as I made a decision as a parent to fight for my child, they too were adjusting their week to see what could be done to expedite receiving their visas and such. According to Rachel, no policy change was handed down from the Minister of Justice in Liberia today so as far as we know the Joyce’s and Tormey’s are proceeding as planned. But suffice it to say, they need a lot of prayer to continue to have hope, to be steadfast, and to trust in a God who is in complete control of their circumstances.

Kim requested that she be able to see Gabriella, so they brought Gabriella, Boimah the three Frye girls over to the guest house and we had 3 wonderful hours with Gabriella (We will have to go back later at sometime after the DNA test is completed or will have here escorted) Then around 12:30 we headed to the airport for our 4:20 flight to Morocco and on to New York. All the kids were real troopers. All of them were up all night, and yet they’ve all been very well behaved and pleasant. Probably the funniest experience was their first encounter with an escalator in the Moroccan airport. Other than that they are such a joy to be with and whatever heartache and sacrifice and struggle we’ve experience to this point, it’s been a great joy to be with them. Daiku is staying back in New York and we are continuing to escort the three girls to Minneapolis for their reunion with their Ma and Pa Frye. So I'm sure there will be much excitement in MN in 4 hours.

Lastly, I did find out that my grandmother passed away yesterday at the age of 87. She was a wonderful woman who always made holidays special. When I think of Grandma, I think of food because she was a great cook. She always had your favorites and my mother has continued that tradition. Grandma made the best bread and rolls, and she always had my favorite candy around – Kit Kat’s probably because they were one of my grandpa’s favorites too. I have so many fond memories of going up to her cottage in Crivitz and just being together on holidays and family get togethers. If anyone knew Mabel, she was the ultimate worrier, but I knew it was only because she cared so much. Even in her later years when grandpa was struggling with Alzheimer’s, I enjoyed our Sunday afternoon visits. She always loved the kids coming to visit because they brought her joy. So I’m going to miss my Grandma, but the consolation in all this is that I will be home for the funeral, which means so very much to me.

Well we have more flying to do, but I hope to have another update tomorrow with pictures.


Brandi said...

Oh my dear! We will definitely continue praying for Pat, Kim and their families. I'm so sorry that your experience was so quick and hurried. However, I'm so glad that you are home with your little guy now. Can't wait to see pics.

You guys are sill in our prayers,

Brandi said...

I have another question. How did he get his visa without your adoptive parent interview?

Just thought I'd ask!


Jocelyn said...

Praise God you got the one out! It will all work out to get your little girl home. I have always been impressed with how hard the Liberian staff work to get things done. You have to love Eric, Buster, and Daku!

Thanks for the update!



Rachel said...

im so thankful that patty was there and all of the other staff was working to help you get josiah home as well. praying that your gabriella gets home soon too. hugs, rachel hagemeyer (Aoh family, Josie Chea's mama)

julie said...

It's great to hear that you are home! Well now, what ARE we going to do with all those carvings???hehehe. I guess Mark will have to ship them to us! Please call me when you have some time. I realize you will be bombarded right after getting home so when you can I would love to hear from you.

Becky said...

I'm shocked at the whirlwind you have been through. I can't imagine how exhausted in every sense of the word you must be.

I am so thankful for the good news and the way that God worked on your behalf. I'm praying that He will do the same for the Tormey and Joyce family.

I'm sorry that this happy time has to include sorrow over your Grandma's passing, Dale. Your whole family will be in my prayers.


jeff & katie said...

wow... I am tired just reading this! What a crazy ride, but you have your boy!!
We need to keep up the prayers for all the other families waiting to bring home their kids!!
Praying for rest and peace for your whole family!
Katie B.

Missy said...

Oh my, I know you must exhausted. I'm so thankful you have Josiah. We'll keep praying for your baby girl to join you soon and I do so hope that you are able to go back and see a bit more of Liberia under more relaxed circumstances.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that was quick! But thank God you are safely home with the one you knew you would be able to bring home. Adoption off and on has problems in Liberia but God is definitely on the side of the kids and wants to see them home.


Kami said...

WOW! That is a trip and a half all in a few days. So glad to hear that you are safe. I'm praying your little girl comes home soon and that you have safe travels back home. I am also very sorry to hear about your grandmother.

From Five to Eight said...

My husband and I were leaving on the flight right after you landed. We heard all the news as well and were praying like crazy for you guys just arriving. I'm so glad to hear that the Frye kids left with you. We were going to bring them at one point but Patty thought that might look a little strange..2 white people with 6 little Liberians! Can't wait to hear from the other two families. What a trip you had! (I won't complain about our layover again!)
Teresa and Dave Cechota