I first want to say that I know there have been MANY, MANY people praying for us through this journey. I truly can feel them and thank you. As we get closer to leaving, I have several prayer requests that I would like to share with you. Feel free to pass these prayer requests on to all the prayer-ers you know because "the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective" (James 5:16). Also, these are not listed in order of importance. They are ALL important.
1. Please pray that we can get all the stuff we need to take with us in 6 bags...four to be checked (maximum weight 50 lbs. each) and 2 carry-ons. I know that it seems we shouldn't need 200+ lbs of stuff, but considering that I may be there for 2 months, the weight adds up fast.
2. Pray that we will will not be rushing around at the last minute getting things ready. Pray that both Garth and I will manage our time wisely so on Thursday night we can have a somewhat relaxing evening at home (well, as relaxed as we CAN be) before we head to the airport on Friday morning. (I know...some of you are saying "Is blogging spending your time wisely?" I can tell you that when you are asking for prayer requests...it is).
3. Pray that there will be no travel delays. We will leave next Friday from Omaha and fly to Chicago and from there to Washington DC. We will stay overnight in DC and board Ethiopian Airlines on Saturday morning and arrive in Addis Ababa approximately 12 hours later at around 8:00 a.m. ET (Ethiopia) time. Addis is 9 hours ahead of us in the Central time zone.
4. Please pray for my ears. I sometimes have severe ear pain from the pressure changes. It doesn't happen all the time but when I do have it, it usually brings me to tears. It can also take several days for my ears to quit popping after we land.
5. I know that it is very unlikely that we will get very much sleep before we finally meet our boys but please pray that we get some. I don't want to be a complete zombie when I finally get to hold our boys in my arms for the first time.
6. During the night of March 9 while you are sleeping, Garth and I will go in front of a judge telling him/her that we want to adopt our boys. He/she is going to ask us some questions like why we chose Ethiopia, have we met our boys and spent time with them, etc. Please pray for favor with the judge and especially that all documents will have arrived. We would obviously like to pass court that very day.
7. On Friday following court, we will be traveling down to the Sidamo region where our boys are from. This is about a 5-1/2 hour drive so pray for safety during that trip. We plan on going to the Shalom Home orphanage that our boys were at before coming to the AW transition home. Please pray that we will be able to talk to some kind of an administrator there to get more information about our boys. We will stay overnight somewhere in Awassa so we have as much time as possible to soak in the region that our boys lived for their first few years of life. Sometime on Saturday we will head back to Addis.
8. Pray for Garth as he returns home alone the following week. Pray that he won't have any travel delays and that he will get home as planned. Pray for him as he works on other projects around the house to get ready for our boys. Pray for both of us as we are separated from each other for the longest period of time ever since we got married 6 years ago.
9. Pray that the boys will start bonding with us right away and that bonding will continue throughout our time together. Pray that we don't miss any opportunities to have "special" moments with each child that will help them learn that we will be there for them for the rest of our lives.
10. Pray that I will find the best guest home to stay at for the duration...whether that be staying at Yebsabi guest home or finding another guest home that will meet our needs for a lower price.
11. Pray for my mom as she plans to come to Ethiopia when we get a confirmed Embassy appointment. Pray for safe travels for her with no delays.
12. Pray that we will get a quick Embassy appointment and that there will not need to be further investigations into the adoption of our boys. If the US Embassy does decide to open an investigation, it can take up to 12 weeks to process...that's 12 weeks beyond the 4 that I will have probably already been there.
13. Pray that I will know the exact right time to bring the boys out of the transition home (TH). I know that I had previously told you that once we passed court I would take our boys out of the TH to come stay with me right away, but Garth and I have made the difficult decision to NOT do this. As I think I mentioned in another post, there have been some delays with the adoptions of children from the Sidamo region recently. I will not be able to say in ET indefinitely and we really haven't planned on me being there more than 2 months. That said, if for some reason we still can't bring our boys home in a certain amount of time then I will have to come back home without them. Once we take the boys out of the TH they will not be able to go back in. So, while we are still praying and believing that I will be able to bring the boys home within that time frame, we need to be prepared that it won't happen that way. At this point my thoughts are that I will keep them in the TH until we have a confirmed Embassy date, but that means that I will only be spending about 4-5 hours a day with them. Also, they will still be depending on others to care for them when the whole purpose of me staying was for them to get used to ME and learning that I will care for them.
14. After court, we will be meeting the birth dad of our boys. Please pray for all of us as this will undoubtedly be a very emotional meeting. There are so many questions that I would like to ask him but know that I won't be able to ask all of them, so please pray that I will know the RIGHT questions to ask. I would like to be able to video the meeting so we could potentially show the boys when they are older. Pray for healing for the heart of this brave young man who has made the very difficult decision to allow his boys to grow up with a family halfway across the world. I can't imagine the anguish he must have gone through to make this decision and it makes me cry just thinking about it.
15. Please pray for fairly reliable internet access. Ethiopia is a 3rd world country so I know that it's not going to be like it is here, but Garth and I will be using Skype to stay in contact with each other while we are apart and I would like to have at least 5 minutes a day with him so we can pray together, see each others faces, and say "I love you." I have also been asked by several people whether I will be blogging while there and my answer is "I hope so." Mom and Garth have both agreed to post blogs for me if I can't do it so hopefully I'll be able to keep everyone informed of what's going on and of course once we pass court we'll be able to show all of you pictures of our handsome new sons!
16. (From Garth) Pray that Carmen puts full trust in our Lord Jesus Christ on things that will occur that may seem like mountains at the time. Help her to cope in a strange land after I leave.
17. Finally (and in my opinion most importantly) please pray for our boys J*** and S***. Pray that they will quickly learn that we love them and will be there for them in all circumstances. Pray that they will have as easy a transition as possible when I take them out of the TH and ultimately when we bring them home.
If you have made it to the bottom of this blog I thank you for your time. I know that the Lord has this whole process under control and that His way is perfect even if it doesn't look exactly how I would have it. We cherish all your prayers so please keep them coming.