I boarded an Emirates flight to Dubai that evening. It is about 14 hours from NY to Dubai. The Emirate plane was surprisingly nice (nicer than American KLM or British Airways planes I’ve been on). The flight was long but not bad. I slept, watched movies, and read books.
I got to Dubai on Wednesday evening. The airline will put you up in a hotel if you have an overnight connection (which I did) so I got the shuttle to the hotel and spent the night in Dubai. The next morning I got up and to the airport in plenty of time.
My next flight would take me to Ethiopia where we had a short stop over and then on to Uganda! I got to the airport in Uganda on Thursday afternoon. Robin, Blessed (who works with Robin) and Mayer were waiting for me at the airport. I had been away from Mayer for a month and I had no idea what he would think when he saw me again. When I walked out front and saw them standing there the first thing I thought was that I couldn’t believe how big Mayer looked. Blessed was holding him and he looked like he had grown so much in the last month, it was amazing. I went right up to him. He stared at me warily. I reached out for him and he pulled away so I decided to give it a bit. As we were talking I reached for him again and he came to me reluctantly. It took him a couple of hours once we got back to the house to start to seem comfortable but by the end of the day he was running to me for hugs and kisses, wanting me to hold him and snuggling.
Thursday late afternoon I called the Embassy several times to confirm that our visa was ready. I finally talked to someone who told me it wasn’t printed but would be by 11am Friday morning.
Friday morning we headed in to the Embassy. We were early so we have a drink and snack at Cafe Java’s first then headed over. I got in quickly and was told they were “finalizing” things and I needed to wait. About 45 minutes later the Consular Officer came walking out with a large packet of paperwork. She called my name. There in the waiting room she handed me the packet, opened Mayer’s passport, showed me his visa and said “here it is, good luck!”. I know I walked out that building with the most ridiculous grin on my face. :) I wanted to jump and dance but settled for doing it on the inside. WE HAD A VISA. That precious piece of paper we had fought so hard for. Amazing.
I started calling and texting people to let them know. I could hardly believe it was over. I found Robin out front, we celebrated together then headed to visit my friend Annie at Baby Watoto. We met a couple of the special needs babies I’m trying to help then headed home so I could celebrate with Mayer! We got home, I hugged my boy tight and took what has become one my all time favorite photos.
Saturday and Sunday were restful days where we hung out at home with Robin and waited for our flight on Monday. I was able to go with Blessed to a village and meet a malnourished precious little girl that Acacia Tree is helping and hear their story. I will tell it soon.
Packing Mayers bags to go home Was like a dream come true. I could hardly sleep Sunday night I was so excited. Our flight left Monday afternoon. We told Mayer over and over we were going to go on an airplane and go see daddy! Robin dropped us off at the airport and she tried to get a good picture of us in front of the departures sign.
The first security agent at the airport we saw asked to see our guardianship paperwork. I had separated our paperwork in my bags – i hid the large packet the Embassy gave us that was for the US Customs officials in JFK. We knew (and were told again) that this should not be opened until we get to the US. So I had that packed away so the Ugandan officials would (hopefully) not see it and want to open it. I kept out a copy of our guardianship paperwork as well as his passport/visa. I handed those to the security agent who read them carefully, looked us over then waved us on. First hurdle down.
I was still SO NERVOUS at this point that something was going to go wrong and that immigration in Uganda wouldn’t let us out. We got our tickets and boarding passes without problem. During all this Mayer sat so patiently in his stroller eating his snacks. We got to the immigration guys who stamp your passport. I prayed we would get someone nice who wouldn’t try to get a bribe to let us go. I walked up to the woman agent (there were two) and handed her our passports. She asked to see Mayers guardianship paperwork. As she was reading it I was listening to the agent and poor man in the next booth. The agent was demanding a bribe from this man of several hundred US dollars to let him leave the country. I started thanking God that we hadn’t gotten that man. This woman asked for our big packet. I pulled it out but said we were told that only US customs officials could open it and to please not open it. The woman nodded to us, gave us our paperwork, stamped our passports and waved us on. Big hurdle down! Wow.
We made our way to our gate. As we were walking through security one of the women security agents looked at us, stopped us and said something very rude. I’ll post a post on that later.
We finally boarded our plane. Mayer (since he is over 2) had his own seat, which I had originally been sad we had to have to pay for, but was so happy he had it. He did so great on our first flights. Watching TV, sleeping, playing, eating. The flight attendants were amazing and brought him lots of little stuff to keep him busy. The flight went fairly quickly and we were in Ethiopia before I knew it.
More coming soon…..