I am totally procrastinating at this point because I'm overwhelmed with packing. I am very eager to go; but I hit a wall with packing. And the problem is, when I am overwhelmed with packing, I over pack. So, I am stepping away from the crazy bin of things upstairs, and going to sit here and write a blog post! The good part is that the over packing seems to be all the gifts that we take for people. So, that means we'll have more room on the way home!
Many of you will know this; but here is the story of the last few weeks. On February 8th, at 6pm, I received an email from our agency social worker to call her. However, as soon as I saw the email, I called her and her phone was dead. Around 6:45, she was finally able to get her phone charged and tell me that we had Travel Approval. We had a record 7 day TA! That's a miracle. The average is 10-21 days.
Now, usually that means we are booking plane tickets within 24 hours. However, this was a Friday night. Friday night before Ch**se New Year. That means the US Consulate was closed. It re-opened very briefuly on the 14th and 15th; but that only allowed our request for a Consulate Appointment to be received. We were hoping to travel still on February 28th with a March 12th CA appt.
On the 13th or 14th, I received a call that due to some logistical challenges we were requesting March 19th as our consulate and not March 12th and we may not get approval for that until Feb 19th or 20th. So, this was quickly becoming the shortest TA wait, and longest CA wait in history.
I am going to tell y'all the flat out truth. I was devastated. I could not stop crying. I was frustrated, and even rather angry. I did not get it. That two weeks felt hard and horrible. Looking back, I also believe that the stress of waiting had just pushed me over the edge. I had not had a good cry about this in a long time. All the nerves and excitement just spilled out. After I understood that our agency was making this decision for our best interest and so that they could be fully available for us, and that they had a team going in on medical trip with doctor's who volunteer their time and understandably dictate when they can go, I was able to see the bigger picture. The agency needed all their translators and team available for us, and they couldn't do that if they were spread out all over the country at the orphanages.
But, before I could grasp it all, I was a mess. And I didn't want to talk to anyone at the agency because I was so bummed and I just wanted to get on a plane yesterday. But, they were persistent in reaching out and allowing me to be emotional. I was even more impressed even though they aren't at all just putting on a show of being the most impressive agency in the US. They are living out the Gospel and entering into the nitty gritty of adoptive families.
As in typical-Jessica-fashion, after my big emotional drama, I was able to settle down and ask God to show me what he had for our family in the next few weeks. It quickly became very apparent that God had some things to do in my heart and Travis'. I wouldn't say that we were "benched"; but I would say that God pretty clearly let me know that I was not indeed ready to go.
A group from our missional community was heading to the Empowered to Connect Conference in Orlando. Travis and I had hoped to go to this; but we thought we'd be traveling during this conference. It seemed too close to travel to leave our boys, too costly, etc. However, God had a plan for that, and I ended up getting to meet a friend who lives in Florida who let me stay with her (for free) and two of our awesome JTM families let me ride down and back with them (for free). So, after a $20 ticket, I was able to sit for 2 days listening to the ETC team share about connecting and doing the hard work for children who come from hard places. As soon as I arrived in Florida, I knew that was where I was supposed to be. I knew God had some things to do in our hearts, and not just for Meili Joy; but for our boys, too. And again, time with our awesome community is invaluable. I think this is my 4th road trip with Sharon Lyon!
I came home, and Travis had experienced his own God-encounter weekend, and not just because he kept the boys for 2 nights without me home! That's his story, so I won't tell it; but it was really great to come home and know that God had planned to work on both of our hearts that weekend even being a part and in different ways.
So, on my 35th birthday, we received the call that we had our consulate appointment and could start booking our plane tickets! However, we were not sure at this time if we were going to be able to use the miles we were donated. Every time we went on line, all the dates required more miles than we had. We needed 55k or less for each leg of the flights in order to get all 3 of us home. Most of the options required 70k miles.
After spending 10 hours on the phone with American Airlines, my agency, a travel agent (who quoted us $4k for the tickets if we couldn't get the miles to work), we were able to figure out a route from NYC to Hong Kong. However, we had to buy round trip tickets from CHS to NYC and then use the miles but we would have been buying tickets from BJ to GZ either way. We did have to leave on Thursday night instead of Friday; but we got the first flight out of HK (we can't leave GZ until 7pm on 3/20). So, we are flying up to NYC a night early to spend the night with my BFF, Abby, who just so happens to be Meili Joy's godmother and was adopted from S. Korea when she was a baby. And we just so happen to clear customs in NYC on 3/21 in time to also let her meet Meili Joy. Can you so amazing? So very special.
And, it just so happens that miles we are using at 55k each way are business class... and many of you know that I have some issues with my connective tissue, and this is a big deal. We are so very grateful. This has been an amazing gift for us. The family donating them would like to remain anonymous; and we are respecting that. But, we are so grateful.
(Okay, again, it's taken me 4 times longer than necessary to try to type this all out. And if I don't hit publish now, I'll lose my window of time.)