The Journey Home to Liberia
At 4 AM Saturday morning, my sister and mom, Kathleen and Charlene Matthews, along with Kreig’s dad, Stan Ecklund, arrived to help load our ten suitcases, five carry-on bags and our family of five into two vehicles - thus beginning our journey “home” to Liberia.
Although we’d been looking forward to the trip and preparing for months, all of a sudden it felt real – we were really returning to the place we had been “trapped” in as a family.
When we adopted Keyara in 2007, we were promised an easy immigration by the first US Consulate we talked to - but it took us 2 years and two new US consulates for us to actually arrive back in the US. This was not the way we would have written the script, but as we reflect back on our time in Liberia, we know it was exactly what God had in store for our family. Although Kreig and Kaitlyn returned last summer to register Keyara’s Gift as an NGO in Liberia, the rest of us hadn’t been back since we left in December 2009.
As we’d talk about our trip to Liberia, Keyara kept saying, “I know what to expect”! But I wondered - how would she really respond? After 30+ hours of traveling, and three flights later, Keyara sat by the window next to Kreig for the short flight from Freetown, Sierra Leone to Monrovia, Liberia. She wanted to be the first to see Liberia and as we got closer, you could sense her excitement growing!
I tried to capture Keyara’s first moments in Liberia - but after getting yelled at by airport security for filming, I decided to put my phone away for the rest of the airport reunion.
We were pleasantly surprised to see Rev. Francis Kollie, our Country Director for Keyara’s Gift, who had talked his way into the arrivals area and back to the immigration desk where we were standing waiting for our passports to be stamped and allowed entry. He greeted us warmly and said to the Custom’s officer, “these are my people!” He then helped us collect all of our luggage and fought off the many “helpers” as he escorted us through the crowds, like royalty. As we exited the airport, we heard screams of excitement as Mamie, Keyara’s nanny and one of our staff for Keyara’s Gift, came running like a football linebacker straight at us! She gave me one of the biggest and strongest hugs I’ve received in all of my life and I literally thought she was going to throw us both to the ground!
After a 45 minute drive from the airport, we finally arrived home on the ELWA Campus. We took a picture with our airport arrival team, just some of “our people” in Liberia.