Our appointment on the 27th had been cancelled, so we returned on the 28th in an attempt to get visas for the boys. Once the visas were in my hands, we would be able to fly home. I was told to bundle up for the Embassy visit because it would be cold. Indeed it was...COLD. The seating at the American Embassy in Bogota is OUTSIDE...surprise! I was expecting the building to be unheated, but NOT outside. Upon making it to the inner "courtyard", we took our seats in folding chairs and sat silently waiting for our name to be called. Eventually from a distant window, I heard it. I approached the window and picked up the telephone to talk to the agent on the other side of the glass. Things were going well. Papers were being processed. One child...COMPLETED...necessary data had been entered into the computer. As the agent began to ask questions and process papers for the second child, the data base became inaccessible because the system had CRASHED...an irreparable CRASH according to the computer technician that had been called in to evaluate the situation. A malfunction of this magnitude had only happened TWICE before that anyone could remember. With a very apologetic look on his face, the attendant told me that this was VERY rare. The only option we had was to wait for the computer to "correct itself"...maybe minutes, maybe hours, maybe days...no one knew. We had 30 minutes for the problem to correct itself before it would be impossible to get the boys' visas that day. We opted to wait, and in utter disbelief, our in-country facilitator said to me, "Kelli, let's pray...you and me, let's do it now. Let's pray." And PRAY we did. As I prayed tears rolled down my cheeks. I was pleading and praising. There was an ache in my heart and I prayed and I wept. After twenty minutes we sat in silence unable to make eye contact with each other. Emotions were running high. We were preparing ourselves for the reality that we may be leaving the Embassy without the visas...
Five minutes later, just five minutes before our deadline for things to start working, my name was called from the window. The attendant had a sheepish grin on his face. He was shaking his head...almost in disbelief, as he said, "The computer has "self corrected" and we can access the needed database. Your visas will be ready in twenty five minutes. HAVE A SAFE TRIP HOME TOMORROW." We were going home!
I woke the boys at 3:30 AM. We arrived at the airport at 4:30 AM and boarded a plane to Panama City, Panama at 7:00 AM. After a four hour layover we were Miami bound! The flights were turbulent. The boys were troopers.
Notable story: I am deathly allergic to peanuts and although most airlines have banned peanuts from their snack offerings, passengers are allowed to board with and eat their own peanut snacks if they so desire. To this point in our travels, I hadn't had any issues. Then on the flight from Panama to Miami, the woman seated next to me tapped my shoulder. She was in the middle seat, I was in the aisle. "Would you care for a peanut?", she asked as the snack cart was approaching with a drink offering. I had a momentary panic. Epipen? Where's my Epipen? is all I could think to myself because all it takes for me to have a severe allergic reaction to peanuts is for someone to be eating a peanut product in my vicinity...
At that very moment, in a split second, as the passenger next to me was holding an open can of peanuts, the plane jerked from side sending the stewardesses at the snack cart tumbling into passengers laps...drinks were spilling...AND THE CAN OF PEANUTS WENT FLYING INTO THE AIR! The plane rocked and rolled. People were tossed left and right. When it was over, people were stunned, and the woman next to me said, "I guess we won't be eating peanuts today. Sorry."
We were prepared to spend hours in Immigration upon arrival at the airport in Miami. Long story short, we were there for fifteen, YES, fifteen minutes. In and out. We waited longer for the hotel shuttle than we did to get through Immigration. The Marriott welcomed us to a room with two cozy beds where we would spend our first night in America before embarking on the final leg of our journey to NC in the morning.
Home! Home Sweet Home! Home!
First Day of School
LIFE IS GOOD.
GOD IS GREAT!