Well, we got it!!
Alethia’s visa is in my possession!
We made the 3-hour trek from Jinja this morning and arrived at the embassy around 10:30. We checked in, waited for our name to be called, paid for the visa, waited a few more minutes, and then were presented with THE packet. The one containing our ticket home–the precious visa that will allow our little treasure to legally step onto US soil.
It was such a surreal moment. The consular attendant who presented it to me is a lady that we’ve gotten to know very well over the last few months and who has consistently remained positive and encouraging (ooh, sounds like a good slogan for something) throughout the process. As she handed me the packet, she was beaming from ear to ear, genuinely happy for us and excited to be the one to present it.
The interaction took less than five minutes. I couldn’t believe it. With all the hurdles and difficulties we faced along the way, for something to work the way it was supposed to almost seemed, … well, wrong. Ha! (Thank you all for your prayers. Tasha and I really cannot say it enough. It is your prayers and intercession that has held us together! Thank you!)
I thanked the kind lady an insane amount of times, and then Alethia and I made our way back down the winding path toward the security gate singing and worshiping and laughing together. Was it the Hallelujah chorus? Well, not exactly. My mind couldn’t stop spinning enough to grab onto a single thought or idea. So it was more of a hodge-podge of scattered notes combined with both English and Luganda words of adoration and thanksgiving to God pouring from hearts overflowing with gratitude. I wouldn’t say I was a blubbering fool. More like a happy drunk! 🙂
When we arrived back at our vehicle, it immediately filled with shouts of thanksgiving and prayers of thanks from the motley crew who accompanied us–two dear Ugandan friends who have walked with us through all the highs and lows of this journey. They shouted things like “God Is Great.” And “Katonda Mulungi!” (“God is Good!”). It was as if the celebration was for them. And maybe in a way it was. And for all of you who have followed our journey so closely. Who have cried with us. Prayed with us. Donated time and money. Watched our kids so we could clear our heads and think straight. 😉 All of you.
So tonight is Shabila Naikoba’s last night in Uganda. It’s her last night as a residing citizen of this country. Tomorrow we get on the plane that will literally project her toward a whole new life–her life as now Alethia Grace Via. It’s hard to know how much she really and truly understands what is about to happen to her. But in some weird way, I think she knows enough. I believe she understands deep down in the recesses of her heart that though she was abandoned and orphaned, she is now loved, cherished, and forever welcomed into the open embrace of a family who will never leave her again. And her contagious and unending smile seems to tell me that it’s enough for her.