Monday, May 29, 2017

Made it safely to SA!

Sanibonani kusukela South Africa...

We just wanted to get a quick update to you after a successful wrapping up of the Christian Heritage School year.  We had planned to give an update from our long layover in London, but met some unexpected challenges there that brought us to our knees and seeing God's favor coming through in the last minute! (will share more on that in a bit:)

CHS Graduation
Busi had a great 1st grade year, filled with many field trips, increasing friendships and an even greater love of learning.  We are so grateful for her teacher Mrs. Frederickson, who is also over all the Elementary department, so both Thandi and I served under her leadership.
Busi finished with Honors in Reading and the got the highest award in her class for Penmanship.  She also received Character awards for Generosity and Enthusiasm!

Thandi finished strong with her 4th graders and did a great job affirming each of them on their graduation day.  She is still praying about her committment for the next school year, but knows she wants to take the mornings to homeschool Elisha since he will still not be old enough to enter the Reading (Kindergarten) class.

I also got to help run media for a CHS Senior graduation ceremony held at the local church we attend.  We had graduates from Colombia, South Korea/Syria and China.  Surprisingly, no Americans but not too much so as it is a school run by missionaries!  I was blessed to hear each of the graduate's testimonies, especially two of the guys I had the privilege of coaching in soccer and track.  One of them, Andres, said this that I thought was such an amazing takeaway:

"If I was really proud of being a Colombian when I arrived, now I am more proud of my culture and the history of my people and what Colombia represents in the world. I don’t want to give up on my people. I want to dream with them, grow with them, and teach them."

Just before school got out, a local news channel did a special on CHS that does really well to explain why we are doing what we do.  They had asked Thandi to do an interview for it, but she chose not to.  However, you can catch a glimpse of Busi in there:)

Now, getting back to the drama/stress of our flight here, British Airways said plainly when we tried checking in for our final flight that we could not.  The reason was we had been misinformed about needing the original unabridged birth certificates for our children.  We thought we just needed copies of them with their passports.  To make a long story short, I was running back and forth between BA and American Airlines desk (15min shuttle between) trying to see the best way forward.  AA was most helpful with the local supervisor phoning various government numbers in South Africa to see if they would accept us once we landed, but it ultimately ended with the conclusion that they would put us up in a hotel for two nights (since they were not supposed to let us on the first flight to London) while we arranged a courier to ship the documents and get our last flight rebooked at a cost of well over $1000 since they weren't flexi tickets.
It really did seem like the only way, even though one of the Port of Entry guys in SA we spoke on the phone with said they could not refuse us entry since both our kids were born in SA.  But we didn't need to convince him, we needed to convince BA officials!  As I got back with Thandi and the kids and explained the situation, I felt I would try once more with the current BA supervisor since it had been nearly 6 hours since we first tried to check in.  Well, God led us to an elderly employee who heard my explanation and saw the photos of the originals on my phone and had the authority to let us was remarkably simple!
I knew he was taking a risk in letting us through and was still a bit worried when we faced Customs upon our arrival, but Thandi kept assuring me it would be fine.  After all, it definitely felt like a miracle that we got on our original flight at all!

After all that, once it was our turn at Passport Control in Joburg airport, the official didn't even have a problem with the certificates being copies!  We, however, do need to renew Busi's SA passport, as they said we should be travelling on that and not her US passport.  But thanks be to God that we got through without a hitch!
It was really cool to see an African American brother again at baggage claim, after he had been next to us at the beginning when we got the news we would not be going on the flight, and AA may even make us fly back to Dallas.  He was just as thrilled as us that we made it, and we got a chance to pray for him, as it was his first visit to SA.  You could tell he was touched by our joy and prayer, and asked to keep in touch.

We are now enjoying time with Thandi's family, and, though still heavily jet-lagged, excited about what God has in store for us and through us on this trip.  Thanks so much for your faithful prayers and keep in touch!


Stefan Forge said...
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