One family's journey to hear God's calling, overcome our fears, and be obedient to Him!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Trip to Haiti

The Trip to Haiti to pick up the girls went smooth.
We landed in Port-au-Prince early on Thursday 12/13/12. 
The girls were waiting for us at the airport.
This is just after arriving.

Our first stop was to see our Haitian attorney,
Madame Nathalie Cyprien. She had the girls'
IBESR Exit Letters, Passports, Visas, and
U.S. Customs Documents all prepared.

Then we stopped for lunch. 
Our friends Jabet & Marieflore drove us around PAP.

Jesula was happy to see us again.

Redjina was happy too.

A very nice restaurant for downtown Port-au-Prince.

Pork, Beans, Rice, Plantains, and Pikliz.

The streets of Port-au-Prince near our hotel.

A remarkable contrast from the streets of Port-au-Prince
to the other side of the gate at The Palm Inn.

Trees and shade highlighted the beautiful grounds
inside the small compound.

A Christmas Tree just outside our room.

A simple room with two beds and a bathroom.

The only thing the girls brought with them for the trip
home is what they are wearing here and a smile. They
left the rest of their things with the girls at the orphanage.

Around the Palm Inn.

Redjina sitting at the pool.

Redjina relaxing in a new dress with some orange juice.

Jeusla and her new dress.

My precious girls.

Sunset at The Palm Inn.

Breakfast at The Palm Inn.
Haitian Omelet, Fresh Mango & Pineapple, and Coffee.

Friday morning 12/14/12 just before leaving for 
the Port-au-Prince airport and The Trip to America.

The Trip to America coming soon...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

First Things First

Ramblings about a few of the girls' first travel experiences...

Airports & Planes

Bringing the girls home was such an interesting experience. They had obviously never been to an airport, likely never even seen a plane. Entering the airport the morning of departure they were both understandably nervous and quiet. They certainly found passing through security interesting. And for some reason in the Port au Prince Airport you have to pass through three security points before finally entering the terminal boarding area. So, that's three times of taking off jackets, belts, shoes, etc. and having those items pass through scanning machines and then putting everything back on. I have no idea what the girls were thinking. Based on their puzzled expressions I would imagine the first time their belongings went down the conveyor and into the big metal box they figured they would never see them again. Maybe they thought they would go home barefoot. When their things came out the other side perhaps they thought they had been washed. But then we had to do it again, and again. It must have all been very bizarre in their minds.

They were very quiet waiting to board that first flight from Port au Prince. As we boarded the plane the girls had a very tight grip on our arms. Neither one had any interest in looking out the window. Both glanced out momentarily when the plane began to move to taxi out. As the engines roared to push the plane down the runway for take-off, both had pretty big eyes and a solid hold on our arms. During the planes initial climb we experienced one really good bump of turbulence. Redjina let out a "whew". Jesula never made a sound. After the flight leveled out they appeared to relax. They enjoyed the juice from the flight attendants. Their eyes were constantly scanning the environment around them. I told Redjina I was going to the poddy (lavatory), and she said "Popi, the plane has a poddy?" So, she went too. The noise of the descent into the Miami airport and the big bumps touching down onto the runway seemed slightly less scary to them than take-off.

Once off the plane in Miami they were fine. Jesula almost tripped. She likes to slide her feet when she walks. That works great on the concrete floors in the orphanage, but didn't work so well the first time she has ever walked on carpet. Then she kind of kicked at it trying to figure out what it was.

Over the course of our next two flights on the journey home they both became more comfortable with air travel. Redjina ventured to the lavatory on every flight. Jesula never left her seat. On the final flight into Knoxville they both wanted to sit by the window. Jesula slept for a little while. Then she stared out the window never making a sound. At one point we were flying over a solid mass of white clouds as far as could be seen, and Redjina said "Popi, is that the sea?"

Hotels & Food

After arriving in Miami and clearing passports and immigrations, we headed for the Miami International Airport Hotel which is located inside the airport terminal. On the way we had to take three long escalators which Jesula didn't care for at first. She had a hard time negotiating the getting on and off process. But by the third one she thought it was fun and was giggling as she jumped on and off.

The girls were fascinated with the hotel lobby which had a beautiful Christmas Tree, and the check-in process. They were fascinated with my visa card which happens to have their picture on it. The elevator ride up to our floor was interesting. Jesula didn't want to get inside the elevator but decided she would since we did and she didn't want to be left behind. Up and away came with big eyes and then smiles. The small white plastic card that opened the hotel room door seemed strange to them.

The rooms were not spectacular, but very nice and comfortable compared to our room the night before in in Haiti. I will never forget seeing Jesula and the look on her face, within minutes of walking in the room, spread all out on her back on the soft pillow-top mattress and a sea of fluffy pillows. Jesula loved the big flat panel television, the remote control, and the number of channels to surf through. They had never before experienced hot water or lying in a bathtub. Needless to say, they loved the warm bath.

After trying to explain food options, the girls decided to try pizza for supper. So we headed down to the California Pizza Kitchen in the terminal mall area. The two ladies working there were Haitian. They were fascinated with us, and the girls, and went on and on about how beautiful the girls were. Redjina got a personal size peperoni and Jesula a personal size cheese. They both ate every bite. They love it. They had orange juice to drink. For that matter they had orange juice on every plane and with every meal along the way. We are already on gallon number two of orange juice on the third full day of being home.

More firsts to come!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Adoption News ~ Welcome Home!!!

Praising the Almighty

Welcome home Jesula Cunningham and Redjina Cunningham

The girls officially became United States Citizens on Friday, December 14, 2012 when they stepped off the plane with us in Miami and cleared immigrations. The girls arrived at their new home on Saturday afternoon, December 15, 2012.

This picture is just after arriving in the Knoxville airport today 
to reunite with Ashley and Matthew!

I want to again thank all of our family and friends who have provided prayer support, financial support, and much needed encouragement throughout our 27 month journey to adopt Jesula and Redjina and finally bring them home. We could not have made it without each of you and for you we are very thankful. Our God is an Awesome God!

Lord, you are my God: I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things. Things you planned long ago, have now been accomplished.  Isaiah 25:1

Sunday, December 2, 2012

God Works in Mysterious Ways!

Our adoption case file had been in the hands of the U.S. Embassy in Haiti for three months. During that time immigration services and the consulate would occasionally ask questions, or request additional documents. A United States' government process that typically takes two or three weeks to finalize a foreign adoption appeared as if it would never end. Then during church service at Faith Promise Church on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, one of the pastors prayed over us. He prayed specifically for U.S. Immigrations to finalize our adoptions in the coming week and schedule our girls' visa interviews. It was an emotional time. Within a few days God answered those exact prayers.

The girls' cases were quickly approved and they had their visa interviews. Just like that it was time to make plans to go get them. We hadn't really thought far enough ahead to consider the cost of the trip we had been praying would happen for 27 months. The cost of final immigration services, medical exams for the girls, airline tickets, hotels, final Haitian legal fees, etc. will be about $5,000. That is a daunting amount of money any time, but even more so just before Christmas. I got a little stressed worrying about the cost to say the least.

While I was on my laptop shopping for airline tickets, I saw a Joel Osteen tweet on my phone. It simply said "You can't worry and trust God at the same time". I had one of those wow God moments. I stopped and prayed. I basically said "God, thank you for delivering me to this moment in the adoption process. You have brought me this far, so I am going to trust You will provide the finances needed to see this through". Well, He went to work.

Within a few days we received unexpected donations totaling almost a third of that cost. We received a contribution through the blog from a friend from my high school days around 1980. I didn't see her for many years after high school. A year or so ago she contacted me on Facebook wanting to give us clothes for the girls and for Haiti. We received a check in the mail from a little sister from my college fraternity. I have only seen her one time since college after we reconnected on Facebook. She has supported us continually with prayer and finances throughout this entire process. We received another check in the mail. This time from a fraternity brother from college that I haven't seen since 1986. It included a note saying his family had been following our blog and that they felt led to help.

It's not surprising that God answers prayers. He says He will. God has answered our prayers and provided time and time again throughout this long adoption process. But it has been amazing to me to see who God has selected to help us. I am so very thankful for each and everyone He has chosen. In my daily struggle to let go and just trust Him, I can't wait to see who He picks next.

God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares The Lord. Isaiah 55: 8-9