So, last Tuesday evening, we received an e-mail from our agency stating that sometime in the very near future, Ethiopia will no longer issue visas on arrival. The change in policy is supposed to go into effect at some point during the month of April, although no one seemed to know if it would be April 1, April 8, April 23, or some other random, unknown date. The Ethiopian Embassy in Washington DC was telling different people different things, so AGCI and our travel agent strongly suggested that we get our visas prior to our trip. This, of course, means that we had to send our passports off to Washington DC to have the Ethiopian Embassy put a visa inside each of them. To those of you who are seasoned travelers, this probably doesn't seem like a big deal at all, but it was sort of causing widespread panic among several of the members of our agency's Facebook group. There were quite a few of us leaving for Ethiopia fairly soon...for us personally, our departure was only 12 days away. Traveling internationally brings out my inner OCD, and I guard our passports maniacally for days beforehand. I can pretty much guarantee that between David and I, we will check our carry-ons for our passports about 10 times on the way to the airport next Monday. I was NOT keen on sending them out just days before our departure. One of our fellow traveling families dubbed the entire thing "Visa-gate 2012", which I thought was rather appropriate!
Needless to say, I spent Wednesday morning of last week speaking to a courier service, frantically gathering documents, filling out applications, getting passport photos taken, and buying money orders made out the the Embassy of Ethiopia. By the time I got the package sent out, I was kind of a wreck. "What if something goes wrong? What if UPS loses my package? What if the Embassy burns to the ground and the courier service can't get the visas in time? What if the plane that is carrying my package crashes and the passports land in a body of water and sink to the bottom never to be seen again????" (You get the idea...my what ifs were getting more and more ridiculous as I obsessed.) The other issue with the whole thing was that it was costing us around $300 more than getting visas on entry would have. $300 is a small sum in the whole scheme of this adoption, but I was just feeling overwhelmed by one more unexpected fee. As I complained and fretted inwardly, I felt God asking me to calm down. I felt His Spirit saying things like, "Let's see, Larisa...so you trust Me to lead your family together from 2 different continents and across an ocean, and you trust me to heal your child in Ethiopia, but you don't trust me to return your passports on time? Don't you think that I love S far beyond what you do? Why would I lead you this far and then forget to handle the little details?" I knew He was right, but I was still doubtful. "Yeah, but this is costing us even more money, Lord!" Again, He answered, "I own the cattle on a thousand hills...$300 is nothing to me!" I could feel myself calming down, but my rebellious heart wanted proof of His provision. "Okay then, You're right, Father. Still, if you somehow miraculously provide us with an extra $300 this week, I will know that You're completely in control of the details of this whole visa thing." Ridiculous, right? When will I learn to just TRUST what He is saying, without asking for additional "proof"? That afternoon, Yikealo and I spent some time reading books together on a blanket in the back yard. As I stretched out on my back in the beautiful sunshine and looked up at the maple branches against the bright blue sky, I finally allowed His peace to overtake me. I breathed in the beauty and knew it would all be okay.
The next day, when I arrived home from work, there was a message on our answering machine from a dear friend. She said that she had some donations for us to take to Hannah's Hope. I called her back, and she brought the items over a few minutes later. She also handed me a check and said that their family had decided that they wanted to contribute to our adoption as well. I told her that it really wasn't necessary, but she assured me that they really felt led to do this. I set the check aside with the donations, and we talked for a few more minutes. I told her about the whole visa situation, and asked for their prayers over it. After she left, I carried everything into the kitchen, and as I put it on the table I looked at the check for the first time. The amount stared up at me in what seemed like 10 foot high numbers....$300. I suddenly remembered my frustrated plea from the day before, and felt so ashamed of the way that I had doubted my Father. He provided exactly what I asked in less than 24 hours. I am so grateful for the way He chooses to lead me through my times of silly doubting. He wouldn't need to do this at all....He has already provided so much for us....and yet He chooses to reveal Himself over and over along the way. I've been confident since that moment last Thursday that His hand was guiding the whole process.
A few minutes ago, the UPS man delivered our passports...