Monday 2/15: “Mom can you grab my passport and visa so I can make copies before I fly out tomorrow.”
*step step step shuffle shuffle shuffle* pause
“I thought I gave them to you?”
“You can’t find them?”
“Hold on let me look again…”
Three hours later the what-seemed-tiny house (until you’re looking for crucial documents) had been flipped five times and still no pass or visa.
I am sporting a blotchy red, tear-stained, puffy snotty face. Shame is suffocating my heart. I want to blame myself, mom, God, construction men, the dog, the cat who doesn’t move, ANYONE who touched our house in the last two months. How can I lose the most important docs? I have been waiting to fly out for two months and I didn’t think to periodically check for them? How does one make such a HUGE mistake?!? I begin to score the internet for super-expedited passports and visas and try to conivnce myself that the super sketchy sight saying pay us 400 dollars and we’ll send you a valid passport is real but nothing works. I make phone call after phone call and nothing works. Reality hits- I won’t be stepping on a plane tomorrow. And God said WAIT.
Tuesday 2/16: 23 phone calls by nine am. Only option is to go to a passport agency and get a new passport, closest one in Chicago, soonest appointment in a week. Can’t apply for a transfer visa until I have physical passport (sending by mail all documents to Washington DC hoping they take shorter than the typical month). BEEP BEEP BEEP ANXIETY BOMB. My loving and merciful father (the one on earth) suggests we drive to Arkansas (nine hours) to the passport agency where we can apply the next day. I grab all important application materials, including passport photos taken that day at CVS (who is certified for taking pass pics).
Drive drive drive, listen to indelible grace, cry at humbling/truthful Sandra McCracken song, jam to Avetts, pray a lot, mull over my stupidity a lot more, arrive at Grandparents (1 hr from agency).
Wednesday 2/17: Arrive at 8:00 am to agency. Opens at 8:30. Closes at 3:00. Hoping for passport in a day (highly unlikely). Security says: “In my 56 years of working here this has never happened… We are opening at 10:00 today.” And God said WAIT.
Two gas station coffees later, we are back at 9:30. Pray pray pray, first inside. Room fills up right behind us. Lady looks at passport picture. “These won’t work- your headband is covering your hairline.” Me: tears. Dad: alright we will be back in ten minutes. And God said WAIT.
We RUN to the car (tears flying behind me of course) and SPEED to a Walgreens (I went back to CVS later and got money back and sent an email to the company explaining my frustration, I know, self-righteous) and God definitely allowed the right lady to be at hand and we SPEED back (ten min total trip) and cut all the people waiting (but not really because we were first right?) and are put in the next line to be approved.
Dad manages to get a place up and I am assessed by a bearded fellow and in the one minute I am outside retrieving my wallet Dad says something magical to the man that convinced him we needed it same day. “No promises, but come back at 2:30 and check.”
We spend the day in Hot Springs Arkansas (mix of Gatlinburg, Asheville, and Mississippi) touring the old bath houses (1920s: “Friend, let’s go hang out today! How about bathing?”) and of course visiting the huge goodwill and getting a car wash and eating Mexican food where Dad was disgusted that I mixed salsa and queso (I am my mother’s child what can I say) and after the waiter delivered the food he awkwardly said “is everything good” and we said “yea” and he said “good.. ha-ve a nice day..” except then was back in two minutes to see if everything was good.
Back at agency at 2:00, Dad works on sermon and I strangle my heart as it attempts to beat out of my chest. We go inside, man comes out with passport and I almost puke/cry/perform Nacho Libre leaps out of the joy I am feeling. I exclaim “Hallelujah!” to the kind security guards on the way out.
36 hours: 22 hours driving. 8 hours sleeping. 6 hours applying/waiting.
Lessons learned: My dad loves me a lot more than I deserve, and my Father in Heaven loves me a TON more than I deserve. I have a glimpse of understanding at the weight of Christ’s sacrifice that enables me to receive God’s mercy and favor despite my unworthiness.
Thursday 2/18: Print and fill out Visa Transfer Application (why do I always capitalize that). Run to UPS with envelope in hand (including passport). Burst through door, breathe heavily, and demand the fastest shipping service offered. “65 dollars.” I swiped my card, not thinking twice. I’ve never felt richer.
I then proceeded to call the Washington application center a million and one times to see what they can do to expedite it. All avenues lead to one answer: “You probably won’t make it to school in time. You will probably wait three weeks minimum.” And God said WAIT.
But then Dad’s past intern “came in clutch” (he really did) and long story short helped to get my Visa to me YESTERDAY. THE 23rd. Joy to the Lord, Hallelujah, Sing Praises. I think we may have set a record. I received this news in the car and immediately the tears rushed down in torrents and I shouted thanks aloud and had a moment of joyful cursing as I realized that I would be stepping on a plane that week!
Friday 2/26 (2 days in future): I will be hopping on a plane this day with my passport and visa (I have checked on them every night). Yes Yes Yes.
This experience has been a blessing. I have seen the extent to which my family loves me. I have been able to use the extra time to help as my mom is busy getting used to her new job. I believe that God was at least somewhat using this to knock down my idols- I struggle with trusting in my own abilities and doing things alone; I work and I achieve and I need no other. I am a happy independent. Maybe this is why God said wait. I have experienced the true love of the Lord, one that has no requirements or expectations. I don’t have to feel shame- it has been placed upon Christ who was sacrificed so that I might rest apart from the burden of sin, knowing that I have a father who says “come as you are” and promises a perfect, glorious world to come. HALLELUJAH.
“[The righteous man] is not afraid of bad news.” Psalm 112:7