Friday, July 1, 2011

To the end of the world and back...almost

Sorry, this is long, but I really wanted to capute these moments, because we can't make this stuff up!! 

We’ve often said that we’d go to the end of the world to bring “E” home. We surely would! On our way to get our last 2 authentications, I was thinking that’s what we were doing. Obviously, I’m joking, but we had quite an interesting 2 days.

We work within 45 minutes of the U.S. State Department and the Ethiopian Embassy, so last time, we hand-carried our dossier in lieu of hiring a courier. When we had our first dossier authenticated, it was a very quick and easy process. We were in and out of each office within 30 minutes. So, we had no reason to expect anything different. (that’s the problem with expectations!!).

We had a slightly different experience this time. . . let me just give a little scene setting… it was about 95 degrees with about 98% humidity. It was like a sauna, even at 8:30 in the morning. The metro was overwhelmingly crowded this day.. and of course, we were right in the mix of morning commuters. We left our home very early (like we do most days), made our way into the office by 6:00 a.m., worked until about 7:15 a.m., and then hopped on the metro to our first destination, the U.S. State Department, Office of Authentications. It would be about a 40 minute ride on the metro.

When we arrived at the State Department, our first sign of trouble was that the waiting room was completely packed. We quickly took our ‘number’ and waited for it to be called. Soon, our number was called and we surrendered our beloved documents, hoping they knew what to do with them (like they haven’t done authentication of adoption documents before! Ha ha…) We waitied… and waited… and waited . . . After about 1.5 hours, they called our number again and our documents were complete! Yay! That wasn’t too bad.. at least we were sitting in a nice comfy air-conditioned office. This is what we needed:

Next, we made our way back to Metro Center to switch metro lines and go onto the Embassy. Thank goodness my hubby can navigate well in the metro. I am definitely not a city girl (even though we work down there). If it were up to me to use the metro to get from point A to point B, I’d end up somewhere around Point Z in the opposite direction! Anyway, if any of you were ever personally to the Ethiopian Embassy, you know it is located on International Drive in DC. It’s really neat to see all of the other Embassies… but, if you were ever there.. you also know about the HUGE hill that you have to walk up to get to the Ethiopian Embassy. As we trekked up the hill towards the Embassy, we took time to look at the beautiful plants and flowers along the way. We were happy.. this was our last step then we could mail off our documents and be done plus, last time we did this, it was January and about 25 degrees… this was a much nicer trip, despite the thick, summer air.

As we walked thru the gates to the Embassy, we saw people standing in what resembled a line, that was stretched out into the courtyard. Certainly, we thought, this couldn’t be the line WE needed. Ummm.. yep, sure was! NICE! We took our place in line (dripping with sweat) among mostly Ethiopians waiting for their visas or passport updates. Everyone was very nice and considerate. They were all speaking Amharic, and oh how I wish I knew what they were saying. Unfortunately, there was no air, and we were still standing outside in the sun. Fun times! As we inched closer to the window, I notice a sign on the window that says “WE ONLY ACCEPT CERTIFIED MONEY ORDERS”… oh boy, my heart sank. I had a Certified Bank Check (which is what the information on the website said to bring). We were torn as to if we should get out of line and scramble to find a post office or drug store that we could get a new MONEY ORDER, or if we should pretend we didn’t see the sign and beg for forgiveness when we got to the window, after all, I took a Certified Check last time we went.

We decided to pretend like we didn’t see the sign… as our turn came, (after about 1.25 hours) we approached the service window. We smiled and slid our documents through the slot in the window and told him what we needed.
He said, "ok, that’s $189.60."
I took the check and slid it into the window and said, “you take Certified Checks, right?”
He said, “Hmmm… let me see it.” (oh boy, here we go.. we’ve waited this whole time in line and we are going to have to leave, get a new check and come back, and their office closes at 2:00 – we’d never make it!).
The man said, “Yes, it is fine”.. (whewww…. Thank you Jesus!)…
then he said, YOU COME BACK TOMORROW.”
(uh.. what did he just say?? I stood there for what seemed like hours staring at him.. he couldn’t have just said we have to come back tomorrow, right?  I must have heard him incorrectly… then I blinked back into reality…Brad, on the other hand, almost threw up on the plexi-glass.. ha ha..)
I said, “you mean come back to pick up our documents tomorrow?”
He said, “YES, tomorrow, between 10 and 2.”
I said, “we can’t wait for them today?”
He said, "no, too busy," as he pointed towards the line 
OH MY WORD.. you mean we have to do this all again tomorrow?? What’s worse is that we typically do not "do DC" or commuting on Fridays. Traffic down there is horrible on Fridays with daily commuters plus sightseers and people heading to the beach, etc.  Plus, I was terribly anxious to let my original documents with them overnight! Can you imagine if they were lost? 

On the way home we devised a plan of attack for the next day. The boys would go to our cabin with my parents and we would bring baby Faith along with us. Everyone at work wanted to see baby Faith anyway, so we’d swing in, let them meet Faith, and then head to the Embassy, get our documents and overnight them to our Agency. Maybe we’d even stop for Ethiopian food on the way home.  Life is good. 

Everything would work out… we were back on our path and were determined to get this done! Until . . . . Dylan woke up at 2:30 a.m. SICK. (are you serious – we can clearly see that the enemy doesn’t want us to get these documents back over to Ethiopia!!)

Ok, DETOUR… so, long story short, I stayed home with Dylan and Faith.  Brad made the trip by himself,  hoping that both of us didn’t have to be there to pick up the documents… Anyway, after another 7 hour round-trip (along with waiting in a huge line again and a possible scare that they'd lost our documents), Brad returned with this:

Yay!  Even through detours and unmet expectations, God is always faithful!

Our documents headed over to Ethiopia today to get translated and filed in court until our Court Date!

One thing we learned in this journey is patience!!!  I can honestly say that "us" Americans are in way too much of a hurry.  Just spending a few hours in the Embassy, we can tell that most other cultures are not in a hurry :)  I say that with respect.  No one else waiting in line at the Ethiopian Embassy (besides Americans) seemed to be bothered by the wait.  People would get up to the window, need a form, get out of line to get the form, fill the form out, and then go back up to the front of the line to submit their form.  Try doing that at the DMV...haha...    I think it was Pastor Perry Noble that said we are the only culture that tells a microwave to hurry up . . . I'm sure we will learn much more as we travel to Ethiopia. 

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