contributed by Jim Dawson on behalf of all the Messiah friends of Lawson Jallah.
Two years after a 2014 Fund Raiser concert, Messiah member Lawson Jallah will board an airplane on September 12 that will take him to Monrovia, Liberia. There he will meet his family and fiancé whom he hasn't seen in eighteen years.
Much has happened over the past two years. The African Ebola outbreak during 2014 and 2015 caused enough concern for us to postpone travel plans. We researched immigration laws to determine the best way to get Lawson and his fiancé, Dekontee, back together. From this research we determined the best plan may be for the couple to marry in Liberia, with Lawson returning alone, followed by Dekontee later after approval by U.S. officials. This approval for Dekontee to immigrate may take another year.
We spent considerable time finding reasonable airfare, eventually finding a round trip ticket for just over $1,800 through an organization that supports church-related travel. This trip will take over 36 hours with several lengthy layovers in large airports. To accommodate Lawson's blindness, we have arranged for an attendant and wheelchair to meet him at each stop to make sure he can navigate crowded airports and make the necessary connections. He will board a United Airlines flight in Portland on Monday and arrive in Monrovia late the next day. Lawson's return trip to PDX will be another two-day jaunt in late October.
You might think luggage would be a simple step, but we actually spent quite a bit of time on this. The airlines will allow two bags with a maximum total weight of 100 pounds, plus a carry-on and personal bag, which must meet specific size requirements. Since oversize and overweight charges are considerable ($500 for each), Lawson did a practice pack to make sure we could stay under 100 pounds. While Lawson already had large bags for checking, we needed to purchase a new carry-on bag with the correct measurements. We also helped him with how he will carry his valuables.
Recently, Lawson completed immunizations for yellow fever, hepatitis, MMR, and others. We discovered these shots would have cost over $1,000 with Lawson's health coverage, so we found and set up better coverage that included immunizations for travel. He also will need to start taking medications for malaria before departure, throughout his visit, and after his return, and carry anti-diarrheal pills.
Last week the Liberian Embassy approved and returned Lawson's visa. This was the final detail to his boarding his flight. Congratulations Lawson and God bless!