So for anyone who knows my (Grace) last travel story to GB, this one was uneventful compared to 2012! Travis and I left Atlanta for JFK and then on to Morocco. Morocco has a modern airport where we thought we would spend our 16 hour layover. Thankfully the airport gives you a free voucher for a hotel if you have a long layover. That was amazing! We slept most of the day to make up for the long travel time.
We left Morocco around midnight on Valentine’s night. We were running about an hour late and found out upon landing that they were waiting to take off until a dead body could be removed for burial from the GB airport. Not sure I needed that piece of information!
We were quickly greeted by people wearing full protective gowns with masks and mouth coverings. Ebola is in several bordering countries and Guinea BIssau is working very hard to prevent the spread into GB. It was a bit overwhelming to say the least. We were doused with hand sanitizer, temperature was taken, and we filled out an extensive medical history in Portuguese. Still not sure what all I answered. Thankfully Travis and I both passed inspection and we were officially on GB soil.
Last time I landed in GB I remember being so nervous I could hardly function. This time I had such an excitement I wanted to run through the doors and just breathe the air and hug everyone I saw. This was a first trip for Travis and I loved hearing him talk about his first impressions. Guinea Bissau is a country that just grabs your heart and never lets go.
A little funny side note. When we were landing a very nervous European man came and spoke with us. He was asking all sorts of questions about our knowledge of GB. The man was TERRIFIED that he was going to be killed as soon as he stepped out of that airport. I wanted to hug him and say, I FEEL YOU MAN! I remember the terror well!! We encouraged him to enjoy his stay and thankfully his guide was waiting on him as soon as we made it through customs. I hope he did get to explore a little. GB really does have some beauty in the midst of so much hard.
I also learned a few things from the last trip. Like caring about your hair and make up is completely pointless. COMPLETELY! It is 100*F in the winter and for the love these people don’t care if I have straightened hair or frizzy. So packing was much lighter this go round. Minus the hair straightener and other such nonesense and bring on the high powered flashlight. Because WHO HAS TIME for black mambas. Not this girl. I can say with complete joy that I made another trip to GB without spotting a cobra as they are called in GB. Every snake is called a cobra, and every snake is a dead snake once spotted. I will save some Travis + snake stories for another post. Stay tuned for real.
We arrived around 5 a.m. on Sunday so we made it to GB just before daybreak and went to bed. Of course I sent Travis in first with the flashlight to spot out cobras. After all, if one of us has to go……We spent a few hours resting and then headed out to find some kids. It takes about two seconds to be surrounded by kids begging for attention. Blancas are a rare sight in GB so we attract attention no matter where we go. The kids are precious and giggle when they realize I only speak one language. They speak Spanish, Portuguese, Creole, and some speak their native tribal language. Thankfully Travis is fluent in Spanish and quickly picked up some helpful creole.
It was so fun to see some of the older girls that cared for my daughter before we brought her home in 2012. My heart ached inside seeing the kids who were in cribs with Elda now older toddlers. The contrast in health, environment, and attachment was overwhelming. Casa is a loving environment for the kids but an orphanage can never replace the love of a family. We spent a lot of time trying to hold individual children, walk quietly holding their hands, looking into their eyes and sharing sweet moments.
I know that the LORD maintains the cause of the afflicted, and executes justice for the needy. Psalm 140:12
I love the way God views those we often overlook.
Not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. I Corinthians 1:26-29
I sit on the edge of my seat watching with anticipation the story unfold for these little ones that He cares for so deeply.
Next in the adventure we meet our sponsored children and venture outside the walls to Prabis and beyond. Stay tuned for some amazing updates!