Archives for July 2010

Home From Colombia – Getting Settled

As I was pouring a glass of Dr. Pepper today, a small brown face with a toothy little smile peeked around the corner of the cabinets at about knee level. Another moment that felt frozen in time. There have been a number of those little moments since we returned from Colombia last Friday evening. Moments where the reality of what has final taken place sets in. Precious moments that we are putting away in baby books of our hearts.

The flight from Bogota to Atlanta was long, but Cameron did great! On both flights we ended up with the whole row all to ourselves. This made it very nice. We got to Atlanta and made it through immigration with enough time left over to have dinner at On the Border! We even ordered empanadas, which we had a lot of in Colombia! Guess we just weren’t ready to leave it all behind just yet. However, one thing that we did leave was the emontional weight we had been carrying during the whole process. All of the paperwork and interviews, the steps and potential problems. Once we got through customs and were just regular US citizens again, there was definitely a sense of relief. The wait was over, the process was complete, our family was truly beginning.

Mary Ann’s family was able to drive over from Alabama to meet us at the airport and they stayed through Saturday afternoon. Sarah, Mary Ann’s sister, had to leave for Guatemala on Sunday morning, but we are grateful that things worked out for her to meet Cameron before she returned. We had dinner with my family on Saturday evening and by the time Sunday morning came around, we were exhausted. We decided that it would be best for Cameron (and us) to take things slow as he adjusts to his new home, so we just hung out around the house on Sunday. It was the first time since we got Cameron that we were truly alone with him. We had always had other adopting families and children around, so being able to truly be alone…together, was special. The alone time has strengthened the bond that was begun several weeks ago. It has been nice just to have time to laugh and play without having to worry about courts and processes.

For the past two days we have been introducing him to new things and watching his eyes fill with wonder. He and Bama have been slowly warming up to each other. Bama loves meal time because Cameron isn’t the cleanest eater around! Cameron is still learning to be gentle with her, but we think they will be fast friends before too long. We are looking forward to the welcome shower on Saturday. We feel like he will be settled and ready for the attention by then. He is a wonderful little boy and we can’t wait for everyone to have a chance to meet him.

Until then, here are some photos and videos from the past couple of days. Thanks again for all of your prayers and support! We know that God has been at work in our lives through you. God Bless!



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Video taken by Mary Ann’s sister as we arrived at the airport in Savannah, Georgia.

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Cameron’s first look at his new room.

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Cameron’s first bath in a real bath tub! Remember, they don’t have bath tubs in Colombia.

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Cameron and Bama by the back door. He has tired to lick her nose several times now. =)

Colombia Day 25 – Final Day

That is right, today is our final day in Colombia!!! We will be flying home tomorrow morning at 9:30 AM and arriving in Savannah around 8 PM. We are looking forward to getting home and introducing Cameron to his new life!

The first week or so will be a transition period for him. The “experts” say that it is important to give him plenty of time to adjust to his new surrounds and to give him time to adjust to his new schedule. I am sure that it will be an adjustment for all of us, including Bama our 4 year old English Springer Spaniel! I am not sure she knows what she is in for! We plan on taking things slow and giving him the time he needs to feel safe in his new home with his new family. Cameron’s big public début will be July 17th at his Welcome Home party (for information on the party contact Kim Maner).

Our final day in Colombia was focused on two things. First, we needed to pickup Cameron’s visa at the US Embassy, and second we needed to get our plane tickets changed. The first couldn’t be done until 3:30 PM so we had a little time this morning to do some last minute sightseeing.

We started our walk under the same dark looking clouds that have been hanging around all week. We keep saying that if we would just stay inside the sun would probably shine. Every time we have gone for a walk here in Bogota, it has rained. Well, today was no exception! We walked for about 20 minutes and then it started to pour! We kept running from store to store trying to stay out of the rain. When it would let up a bit, we ran for the next big store. It was fun!

When we got back we took little nap and then had lunch. At 2:30 PM we where picked up by our driver, Johnny, and Carmen to go to the US Embassy. We walked in and they had the visa ready, no questions asked! It was so fast and easy.

Then we headed to a Delta office to change our tickets. This did not go as well. We arrived at the office around 3:45 PM and did not leave until 6 PM!!! It was crazy! It took longer to buy a ticket for Cameron than it did to get his US visa from the Embassy (the physical time that we had to be there anyway)! There was some sort of mix up with his ticket and the vouchers we were issued on the flight here. It took a couple of hours for them to fix the problem. In the end we somehow ended up paying more for his ticket and were not able to use the vouchers at all! On top of that they charged more to change our tickets than we were told, so needless to say I think I may be writing the airline a little note when we get home! =)

Anyway, after a lot of waiting we finally got all of our tickets arranged. We headed back to the hotel for some dinner, some packing, and hopefully some rest. I am sure that 4:30 AM will come quickly. We have to be at the airport 3 hours ahead of time so our driver is picking us up at 6 AM.

This will be the last update from Colombia! I will try to do a couple of more updates over the next week, just to let everyone know how we are adjusting. The last adoption update will be posted after Cameron’s Welcome Home party on July 17th. We will be sure to post pictures of the event.

I was able to take a few pictures of our outing this morning. Nothing really exciting but here they are.

Day 25 Photos

Colombia Day 24 – US Embassy

Today we visited the US Embassy in Bogota to apply for Cameron’s US visa. However, before we could do that we needed one more piece of information from the National ICBF office. We  left the hotel around 8:30 to visit the ICBF office. Carmen, one of our contacts here in Bogota, had already called to make sure the letter of conformity, as it is called, would be ready. We arrived at the ICBF headquarters only to find that there was still a bit of confusion about the change we had made from the I-600 process (pre-Hague Convention) to the I-800 process (Hague Convention) that we had to file because our I-600 paperwork had expired. Fortunately, I had brought a copy of every important document we had just in case and we were able to settle the differences without too much trouble.

Once we had the conformity letter in hand, we headed for the US Embassy. The embassy was very nice, but seemed a bit like a fortress in the middle of Bogota. Hundreds of Colombian citizens were waiting outside to get in to apply for visas to visit the states. At first I thought we would be there forever! However, a quick flash of our US passports and the word “adoption” and we were assured into the main gate. Once inside you enter the main processing area which was a really large covered area, but still open to the outside. It was very nice with a coffee bar, refreshment area, and seating for several hundred people, and there were probably that many there. There were special windows for US citizens so we followed Carmen to that area and submitted our papers. After about thirty minutes they called us to a window to confirm Cameron’s identity and a few details about the adoption. Five minutes later we were called to the cashier’s window to pay the $400 visa fee. Ten minutes after that we were called to another window for the interview with one of the vice-consulates. She congratulated us and asked us one question, “How old is your little boy?” We told her and then she informed us that Cameron’s visa had been approved and that we could pick it up tomorrow at 3:30 PM. That was it, very easy. I really felt sorry for some of the other people that were obviously having to wait for hours. Carmen told us that they always process infants as priorities. Made us feel a little guilty, but we were glad it didn’t take too long. We were back at the hotel for lunch.

After lunch we took a little nap and then went out for a walk before dinner. Of course, it started raining while we were out. We figure that if we would just stay inside then it wouldn’t rain on anyone else. It always seems to rain when we want to go for a walk!

Tomorrow we plan to pick up Cameron’s visa and then head over to the Delta office to try and change our tickets. We hope that there will still be some seats available so that we can leave Friday morning. If not, we will try some creative flying to see if we can make it home before Mary Ann’s sister has to fly back to Guatemala.

Here is a cute video of Cameron waking up in the morning. He always wakes up with a smile! It is amazing. We are so blessed to have just a loving and happy little boy.

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Cameron waking up in the morning. It is a little dark, but you can make out his little smile when he pokes his head through the bars of the crib. If you listen carefully you might be able to hear his little monkey noises he makes too.

Colombia Day 23 – Doctor’s Visit

Not much to report today except that the US Embassy doctor says we have a health baby boy! We had our appointment this evening at 5 PM and everything went fine. He gave us an envelope with the necessary documents to submit when we apply for the US Visa. It was very easy and painless.

The only problem that we ran into today was some confusion about our original paperwork (go figure) and whether we needed the ICBF conformity letter in order to apply for the visa. Somehow the office in Cali didn’t think we needed it, so they didn’t fax the necessary papers to the Bogota office last Friday. This meant that we weren’t able to pickup the conformity letter today. Carmen, Isabel’s assistant, made some phone calls and got the paperwork submitted today so the plan is to go to the ICBF offices first thing in the morning and then over to the Embassy before 11 AM to apply for the visa. If all goes well in the morning, we should have Cameron’s visa by Thursday at 3 PM.

The one thing that is worrying us right now is the flight home on Friday. I checked the Delta site this evening and there are only a dozen or so seats left on the flight. That could cause us some problems so everyone please pray that we are able to get our tickets changed without any problems.

Sorry, we didn’t really get any pictures today, again. Hopefully we will be able to get some tomorrow, though we can’t take the camera to the US Embassy. They don’t allow any type of electronic device to be brought in by visitors. Fun.

However, I do have a never before seen video of Cameron at bath time. I didn’t put this out here early because I feared I would scare his ego for life, but Mary Ann said it would be okay. He is just too cute!

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Cameron Loves Bath Time!

Colombia Day 22 – First Day Back in Bogota

The Hotel Paris in Bogota

Well, our first day back in Bogota has been an adventure. Breakfast was provided by the Hotel Paris staff as are all of the meals, just like at Hotel Pension Stein in Cali. We met several families from the states this morning. Many of them are returning for their second or third child, so there are a lot of older children here in the Hotel Paris. It is very full.

We were surprised to learn that several of them have been here in Bogota for more than eight weeks! The court system here in Bogota is much different than in Cali. They told us when we started that the court process in Colombia could be up to eight weeks long if everything took the maximum about of time allowed by the law, and in Bogota I guess it does. They are always surprised to learn that we are only in our fourth week and are preparing to return home. We, on the other hand, are very grateful that God worked everything out the way that He did.

Speaking of which, we also learned that starting July 15th, the passport process in Colombia for adopted children will begin to take eight days! That is a lot different than the 30 minutes it took for us to get Cameron’s passport. All of that said, we would still adopt another child from Cali in a heart beat if the money were available to do so. Maybe it will be someday and we can adopt a sister for Cameron.

Anyway, after breakfast we waited for Isabel, our Bogota contact with Bethany Christian Services, to call on us. She came around 10 AM and we talked for awhile about the next couple of days. Isabel is a very sweet lady, and we look forward to working with her in the final days of our process. Isabel told us that the American Ambassador was having a Fourth of July party at his house and that American citizens were invited. She said that it is a very nice event and asked if we wanted to go. We said sure, but when we tried to get the address from the US Embassy, they didn’t want to give it out. They said the event had been change to Thursday, so it didn’t matter anyway, but is was fun to think about for a moment.

Many of the museums where closed today because of the holiday so we decided to head out on our own to explore a shopping mall and market that some of the families told us about. We didn’t even think about the big black clouds that were rolling in as we left the hotel on foot. About four blocks from the hotel the rain began to come down hard so we slipped into a big grocery store to wait out the showers. Most people in there right minds would have turned around and gone back to the hotel, but not us! When the rain let up a little bit, we headed down the street in the direction we thought the mall was, stopping at times to huddle under our little umbrella when the rain got heavy. We must have been a sight to see! However, we weren’t the only crazy people out in the rain. There must have been some event today because hundreds of people, young and old, were out riding their bikes in the rain. One side of the street was closed for the riders heading in the opposite direction as we were going. About eight blocks later we finally made it to the mall. We were wet and quite out of breath! We had forgotten how much higher Bogota is then Cali and the thinner air took its toll on us! But it was fun! =)

We explored the mall for a bit (it was really big) then decided to get some lunch. We were going to go to the mall’s food court, but it was so intimidating. Fast food means the people in line want you to order fast and there was no way that was going to happen! So we decided to sit down at a pizza place. Not wanting to miss a Colombian experience we ordered the Colombian calzone, which turned out to be a mix of meats and vegetables. It was really good. We also ordered another calzone just in case we didn’t like the first one. I figured a regular beef calzone would be safe. Turns out the word Burger is pretty much the same in English as it is in Spanish, so we ended up with a Hamburger calzone! It had it all, hamburger, lettuce, onion, tomato, pickles, and mustard! It was good, but not what we expected. The experience was fun and it gave us a chance to see how Cameron would do in a restaurant with just us. Of course, he was fine and really liked the little cheese appetizer that we ordered. =)

After lunch we wondered around a little more hoping the rain would stop so that we could check out the market. The other families said it was a great place to buy authentic Colombia items. Unfortantely, it only started raining harder and Cameron finally went to sleep in the stroller, so we decided to take a taxi back to the hotel.

Taxis are always fun. Both in Cali and here we just put a couple of business cards in our pockets and hand them to the drivers. They always smile politely and take us back to the hotels. When they do ask questions, we just smile politely and say “si” hoping that they aren’t asking us if we want to take a tour of the city! So far, so good. =)

Back at the hotel we tried to put Cameron down for a nap, but he wasn’t having anything to do with that. We think that he is having trouble with the gypsy lifestyle that his new parents seem to be living. It will be good to get him home and adjusted to his new life.

After a couple of hours of entertaining Cameron, we ate dinner, gave Cameron a bath and put him to bed with his new little elephant we bought him today at the mall. We are going to name him Colombia the Elephant, or maybe just Bogota, he hasn’t decided yet. Cameron likes to bite the elephant’s nose, so we will see how long he lasts.

Unfortunately, in all of the craziness of the past 24 hours, daddy forgot to take the camera to the mall today so we don’t really have any new pictures. Hopefully daddy won’t forget it tomorrow as we plan to go to the ICBF national headquarters to pick up our final conformity letter and then off to the doctor’s office for Cameron’s pre-visa visit (is it a sign of insanity to talk about yourself like that? =). If all goes well tomorrow, we will plan to visit the US Embassy on Wednesday morning to apply for Cameron’s visa.

More tomorrow…thanks for your continued prayers. We hope to be home soon.

Colombia Day 21 – Departing for Bogota

Today is our last day in Cali. We were sad to leave because we have loved every minute here. We have made new friends at Hotel Pension Stein that we hope to see again someday in the future. Cali will definitely be a vacation place for us as Cameron gets older.

Since our plane didn’t leave until 6:35 PM, we had plenty of time to participate in the Sunday activities planned for the families by Enrique. Today included lunch at a nice restaurant and a trip to the Transportation History Museum.

The resturant was our second experience trying to order from a menu. This one had pictures though which made it easier (of course Enrique told us what was good). Mary Ann ordered the ribs and definitely got the better deal! She couldn’t eat all of them so I got to help her. Yummy! (pictures below)

After lunch we went to the Transportation history museum. It was very interesting, mostly because of how much America has obviously influenced the world’s transportation. As you can see from our pictures, many of the exhibits were American military exhibits. They had a huge train model that has taken them 8 years to put together and they are still working on it. It is patterned after Philadelphia in the early 1900’s. We took a lot of pictures that you can view below.

After the musemum, we went back to the hotel and gathered our things. We said goodbye to Enrique and headed to the airport. Then the fun began!

Magnolia had mentioned to me that the flight we had booked was an international flight that was originating from Spain and stopping in Cali before continuing to Bogota. We didn’t think much of it until we ended up in a line were everyone was being frisked!! After that you had to go through a mini interview were they asked about where you had been and where you were going. They were taking everything out of the bags, making people turn on their computers and handheld devices, etc. It was a little intimidating. Men and women were frisked separately by a solider of the same gender, so I ended up getting to the counter first. Mary Ann had Cameron so when they asked me what I had been doing in Cali, I just pointed to that cute little boy in her arms and said that we were adopting him. The solider smiled, asked where we were heading, unzipped my backpack that was FULL of electronics, zipped it up and said, “Have a nice flight!” Man!! I am sure that when he grows up it won’t be this way, but I am taking advantage of it right now!!! =) Mary Ann got through just as easy and we got in line to board the plane.

I was a little excited about the flight to Bogota, because we knew that the airline, Avianca, was a very nice airline and I had gotten to pick our seats, so we had two seats together, by themselves (it was one of those big planes with the 2-4-2 seat configurations with two asles). As we were boarding the plane, Mary Ann pointed out our seat assignments and I immediately realized that they had changed our seats from the ones I had requested, seats 19A and 19C (yes, they were together). A little upset about the change, we boarded the plane and worked our way to the new FIRST CLASS SEATS that we had been assigned too!!!! Whoa! That was cool!!! Don’t know how that happened or who’s heart Cameron melted for that little bonus, but Praise the Lord! It was perfect for our first flight with him. We had lots of room, nice headphones and a nice big screen to watch cartoons on…and Cameron was happy too! =)

The flight from Cali to Bogota was great and Cameron couldn’t have been better. It almost seemed that he enjoyed it! It might have been the Cheerios and cartoons, who knows. We got into Bogota on time and I was thinking man, this has been really easy.

When we got off the plane, those passengers that had gotten on in Cali where loaded on to shuttles to be taken to the domestic arrivals baggage claim. Everything was fine until daddy decided to get off at the wrong stop! Instead of ending up at the arrival baggage claim, we ended up at the domestic connections terminal! Ugh! Why didn’t I learn more Spanish! After talking to several very nice people that were thinking the same thing about me, we finally found someone that spoke English who told us that we had to take the airport shuttle to the domestic arrivals terminal. After a 15 minute shuttle ride, we finally made it to the terminal, but they wouldn’t let us in! I could see the bags spinning around the claim belt all by themselves, but my feeble attempts to communicate, “THOSE ARE MY BAGS, RIGHT THERE!” was lost on the security guard posted at the door. Meanwhile, Mary Ann had made contact with our driver, Johnny, who had been standing at the door with a sign waiting for us. He didn’t speak much English either, but realized what was going on and was able to take me around the corner to a special claims window were they worked out getting the bags.

While they were getting our bags, Johnny explained that he was going to get the car. We smiled politely and said, “si” hoping he would be back because we didn’t understand, but got the word “parking” and figured he would. =) We got our four bags, but there was no stroller. The thought of not having a stoller while trying to walk around Bogota was not a nice thought, so I started trying to explain that our stroller was missing. I am sure I looked like a dork and a very nice lady in the crowd had pity on me and came to the rescue. Twenty minutes later…we finally got the stroller. It had ended up in some other terminal. Glad I wasn’t the only one lost! =)

Finally, at almost 10 PM we arrived at the Hotel Paris. The staff greeted us and very graciously offered to feed us! We were so hungry so we took them up on the offer. Ironically, our second meal in Bogota, was the same as the first…spaghetti! =)

Isabel had asked us if we minded staying in a smaller room because all of the hotels are so full right now. We told her as long as we had some place to sleep and a hot shower, we would be fine. Our room here is definitely small, but they offered us a discount rate, so we will make do. Cameron is having a little trouble adjusting, but I am sure he will be fine. Hopefully it will only be for five nights and then we can fly home.

The room has two twin beds and a crib. I feel like I am in an old Disney movie! =)

More tomorrow….good night.

Day 21 Photos

Day 21 Videos

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Getting ready to leave for lunch…activity on the front porch.

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Cameron in the hammock.

Colombia Day 20 – Sugar Cane Plantation

Today we took a trip to a very old Sugar Cane Plantation about 30 km outside of Cali. I am not exactly sure what the name of the place was, but it very WAY out in the country and it was a very pretty place. There was a old plantation house that was built around 200 years ago. There was a path that lead you around a beautiful garden that showed you the history of sugar cane processing. It was very interesting and a good distraction for our next to last day in Cali. We came back to the hotel and had a wonderful dinner at the Hotel Stein before heading up to our room to pack. We leave for Bogota tomorrow evening. We will spend the day at a country club where we can swim and have lunch. Enrique says it is a very nice place. He will be driving us to the airport about 5 PM and we should be in Bogota by around 8 PM. I will try to post something tomorrow evening if it is not too late once we get settled in.

Day 20 Photos

Day 20 Videos

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Here is some video from inside the 200 year old plantation house.

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There was some interesting water ways all around the house. I never got the whole story, but it was pretty neat.

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This is the system they used 150 years ago to process the sugar cane.

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This is the US aqua machine that was used to process the sugar cane.

Colombia Day 19 – Passport Day

We met with Magnolia and Elena this morning to finalize all of the legal paperwork. We were given copies of Cameron’s original birth certificate, as well as copies of his new birth certificate declaring him as Cameron David Mulvehill Hatmaker, and the son of Patrick and Mary Ann Mulvehill! Along we several other documents, we received all of the paperwork that we will need in Bogota to apply for Cameron’s US visa. We said goodbye to Elena, the lawyer, as we wouldn’t be seeing her again. We are very thankful for her diligent work on our case. There were a few tears shed as we said goodbye. We feel that she was more than just our lawyer, she is also a good friend.

With the new birth certificate in hand, we were off to the passport office. Magnolia said that the lines at the passport office can often be very long and that we should plan to be there for two to three hours. The rain had been falling most of the night and off and on throughout the morning. As we approached the passport office, Magnolia commented on how few people there seemed to be. We parked across the street and walked right into the office! About 45 minutes later we were on our way back to the hotel!!! It was so quick. Several things worked in our favor. First, the rain seemed to have sacred people away. Second, Brazil was playing Holland in the World Cup and Colombians love their football, especially where Brazil is concerned! They even had the game playing in the passport office. But most of them just stayed home, or at least away from the passport office this morning. The third thing that worked in our favor was being with Magnolia. She knows the system and the system knows her. They always take people with children first and Magnolia made sure we got processed as quickly as possible. We left the office with Cameron David Mulvehill’s Colombian passport in hand!

Once we got back to the hotel we said our goodbyes to Magnolia. We won’t be seeing her again on this trip. We have declared her “Aunt Maggie” and hope that we will see her again in the future. She has family in the states so maybe she will visit us soon. She has been the most incredible help during our time in Cali and we owe her so much. Thank you Aunt Maggie!!

It was almost time for lunch so Cameron took a quick nap before we headed down for lunch. After lunch we decided to walk around the city a bit. We walked through an interesting “cat” park and down some new streets that we hadn’t walked before. It was a wonderful afternoon followed by a quick dip in the freezing pool, another nap, dinner, bath, and now bed. Cameron loves the water! I have some great video of him at bath time splashing around in the tub. He is so much fun to watch!

The weekend will include a trip to the Sugar Cane Museum and a water park. We will be flying to Bogota on Sunday evening around 6:30 PM. Monday is a holiday so we aren’t sure what we will be doing in Bogota on that day, but the next three days will be spent getting Cameron’s visa and preparing to come home. If all goes well we still plan to be flying home next Friday.

Day 19 Photos

Day 19 Videos

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Cameron wanted to play in the rain while Daddy was getting the final paperwork from Elena. Watch carefully and we will see him stick his tongue out to catch the rain.

Colombia Day 18 – Birth Certificates

Buga - Where Cameron is From

Today was the day to get Cameron’s new birth certificate. Our lawyer, Elena sent an associate to Buga to pick up the new certificates. Unfortunately, a number of details came together today that are going to make it impossible for us to make it to Bogota tomorrow as we had hoped. Monday is Saint Peter and Paul day in Colombia and it has made traveling on the weekend a bit difficult. That combined with road construction in Bogota would make it impossible to get to the doctor’s office in time. So instead of flying to Bogota on Friday, we have decided to hang out at the Hotel Pension Stein until Sunday (all flights were booked on Monday). Hopefully we will be able to visit the ICBF and Embassy Doctor on Tuesday. Then we will be able to apply for Cameron’s visa on Wednesday, pick it up on Thursday and fly home on Friday. That is as long as there aren’t any other delays.

We went out this morning to get a few last minute supplies since we thought we might be leaving tomorrow. We took a different way back to the hotel just for fun and got to see another few blocks of the city. Other than that, we spent the day hanging out at the hotel waiting for news. We are supposed to meet Magnolia and Elena tomorrow at 9 AM to go and get the passport. Hopefully we will have more news tomorrow.

Thanks for all of the continued prayer and support. God Bless!

Awaiting His Coming,
Patrick, Mary Ann, & Cameron