At this point, the only way to proceed, from what we see (short of the tree in our front yard bursting into flames with the voice of God) is to go and visit each place. The McLaughlins will be leaving Sept 6 to spend a week at Hope Africa Univeristy in Bujumbura, Burundi. The Faders will be leaving Sept 4 to spend a week in Mahajanga, Madagascar. Come November, the Cropseys will be flying to Monrovia, Liberia to visit Elwa Hospital. And possibly in January, some of us will be headed to N'Djamena to look at opportunities in Chad. Then perhaps a final decision can be reached by early 2011. We're excited about this next step, and hope to share our thoughts and observations with you upon our returns. There is a lot that can be said about each country, but we'll save it for later.
For now, we're asking for your prayers at this leap of faith. Traveling in Africa is completely different than traveling in the US and developed world, even for those of us who consider ourselves experienced travelers. First, we need to get visas. While all of these countries have embassies in the US where you can get visas, we're not in the US. And not every country has an embassy in Kenya. So that leads to adventures in a) finding a Burundian embassy in Nairobi, or b) finding a Liberian consulate in the Lebanese embassy (obviously), or c) applying for an exemption to getting a Chadian visa because there's no Chad embassy within 5 countries of us. Yikes. Then there's plane tickets. Expedia is not so much a helpful search engine when looking for flights betweeen Nairobi and Bujumbura. In fact, Eric found one flight that left Nairobi and flew to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, then to Kampala, Uganda, then to Kigale, Rwanda, and then finally to Burundi. Really? Here to Bujumbura is approximately the distance between Des Moines and Dallas! Finally, there's the issue of cash. We are used to flying around the world equipped with only a piece of plastic which goes into machines and magically spits out money in the currency of which you need. Are there ATMs in Burundi? No. What currency do they take? US dollars. Huh. Not so accessible when you live in Nairobi. Many issues to figure out.
So, please pray for travel plans, logistics, safety, and above all, discernment. We really just want to follow God's leading here. May our ears and eyes be opened to His calling.