Alas, I am finally able to share with you about our visa story...I know all of you are waiting with baited breath for this:
Our adoption agency was having a hard time getting us plane tickets home from Ethiopia (ET from now on). We could get tickets to ET, but all the flights back to the USA were booked. So finally we were able to get a round-about ticket from Addis to Rome to Atlanta and finally to Phoenix. The problem with this itinerary is that a transit visa is required for our daughter to stop in Rome. It is the policy of the Italian embassy that it takes a week to get a transit visa. We did not have an extra week to wait around.
We had to get our US visa for Zamara on Wednesday and then take that to the Italian Embassy to get our Italian Transit Visa on Thursday and then leave ET on Friday night. Rachel and Robel (our in country guides through the adoption agency) had talked with the Italian Embassy and set up a special 1-day turn around on our visa. This was amazing new news since the next available airline tickets wouldn't be available until the end of August. It seemed like everything was coming together.
So we headed off to ET with 3 other AWAA families to pick up our children. On Wednesday we went to the US Embassy and got our US Visas-no problems! The plan was for Robel to take our US visas to the Italian Embassy on Thursday and get those completed. So on Thursday Rachel picks us up at the hotel. We were planning on going to visit the Kids Care Orphanage and then go to lunch at an Ethiopia Restaurant. We were at Kids Care for only a few minutes when Rachel said we had to leave. Apparently the Italian Embassy was telling Robel that they could not issue the transit visa's in less than a week. Whatever they had said several weeks before about getting special expedited visas was no longer going to work. They were very rude to Robel and from what he said, they were not very happy with him.
So Robel left the Italian Embassy and headed to the German Embassy. He had heard that we could get a special German Visa that would work for all European Union countries. However, the German Embassy closed at noon. It was already 11:45am. We had to stop by the hotel to get our paperwork. We ran in and got the papers and drove to German Embassy. They had stayed open just for us. All seemed good. We finished the paperwork and were about to be issued our transit visa's then a German representative came out and told us that a German visa would not work in Rome. We were broken hearted!
We left the German Embassy and headed back over to the Italian Embassy. We spent about a half hour pleading our case to the officials there. They were not happy with us but finally said that they could issue us epidited visa's on Monday (Remember today was Thursday). Since we all had plane tickets for Friday Night (early Sat morning) that was not going to work. However, we thought that maybe we could all change our tickets to Monday night.
So, back to the hotel we went to talk with an Ethiopian Airlines representative. Rachel found out that there were NO tickets available to leave Ethiopia until the end of August. So here was the situation: WE HAD TO GET OUT OF THE COUNTRY THAT FRIDAY! WE HAD TO GET THOSE ITALIAN TRANSIT VISAS!
We headed back out to the Italian Embassy. Rachel admitted on the ride there in the bus that we needed a MIRACLE. We had to get these visas within 24 hours. The whole situation seemed very bleak.
We arrived at the Italian Embassy and Rachel got on the intercom. She was very firm and said that she had to talk with an Italian Representative. We all waited in the bus for over an hour while she was inside the embassy pleading our case. During that time we were all praying and praying. Finally Rachel came out and said that she needed our paperwork RIGHT NOW! After talking with several different people and all of them denying us visa's she finally found someone who would help us. She rushed back in with our paperwork. About 45 minutes later she came out and said that they would have our visas ready the next morning. It was indeed a miracle.
Here's where it gets even more amazing. The last official Rachel was talking to--the guy that finally said "yes" to her--had been saying, "no", "no", "no". Then Rachel said his face completely changed and he said, "yes, I will give you your visas." We asked Rachel about what time this all happened and it was at EXACTLY the same time my mom was praying inside the bus. My mom was praying that God would open up the heart of whatever official Rachel was talking to. Ok, so it gets even more amazing...back here in the US my sister was up late in Newberg Oregon on Wednesday night. She said she couldn't sleep and that God was putting on her heart to pray about our visas. (she had no idea what was going on in Ethiopia) She said she just kept praying for us. She had no idea we needed an Italian Visa or that we were having trouble getting our visas.
The whole story is an absolute miracle. Robel picked up our completed visas the next morning with no problems. Let me just say that God is amazing! He has proved his existence over and over on this trip. I am convinced that God has a special plan for our little children. Satan was working so heard at putting up road block along the way. We had many other difficult issues that I could tell you all about related to getting our children out of the country, but this is enough for now. If you are reading this and are not sure about God, please be encouraged to know that He is real and he does answer prayers!!! There is no other explanation for what happened. God is good an our little ones are safely at home.
My mom took this picture outside of the italian embassy. I thought it was a beautiful picture of a woman taking firewood to sell at the market.