Holy Cow, it has been a crazy, but wonderful last couple of days! Friday morning I checked e-mail at 5:00am on my way to the gym, and saw the email from Addis Adoption with the subject, Clearance-Shawl. (Yes, they did spell our name wrong!) I sucked in my breath, opened it and read the words I have been hoping to read for so many months, YOU ARE CLEARED TO COME FOR YOUR VISA INTERVIEW!!!! Aauugghh! I started crying and laughing, ran upstairs and woke up Aaron, ran back downstairs and re-read it over and over. Aaron came down pretty quickly after that, I did not make it to the gym, and we just sat there, overwhelmed and feeling like we were in a dream.
Then we started looking at plane tickets, talking about when we could leave, and thanking and praising the Lord for such a wonderful gift. It appears that the embassy has openings for interviews right away, like next week, but we need to confirm a time with them which we are hoping to do on Monday. Right now we are thinking tentatively about leaving Sunday, Christmas day, and being there about a week. I haven't allowed myself to really think about this step for so long, or prepare for it at all, so Aaron and I are both feeling a little overwhelmed about this next week. My response to everything apparently is to do the things that are of least importance, like planning her outfits, while Aaron's response is to do nothing while continually lamenting about how much he has to do. We are quite the pair right now! :) But so, so, so thankful for the Lord leading us to this next step, and praying for His continued guidance and wisdom.
I have also been so thankful for the many friends and family around us who have walked with us through this process. One good friend of mine brought a "celebration lunch" over on Friday, and it was especially sweet because she was the same friend who brought dinner over after we got back from our first trip. It was so great to celebrate with her this time with tears of joy instead of sorrow. And there are so many others who have prayed for us faithfully, listened, spoken words of encouragement and wisdom, and truly helped us carry this burden. I know we are beginning a whole new stage of this journey, that may well be even harder than what we have gone through already, but I just can't wait to tell Hope all about everyone who has loved her before ever knowing her.