Calm Amidst a Storm

Starting with a storm…

I should have already been on a plane to Johannesburg by now. But we had a slight mishap with my passport. And since I have time and access to internet, I thought I might as well fill you all in on the story…

Key characters:
Hannah: friend who lives in Atlanta
Ellen: Hannah’s mom
Rebecca: Hannah’s sister
Aunt Becky: Hannah’s aunt
Christina: friend
Haley: friend

Key settings:
Milwaukee airport
Atlanta airport
Ellen’s couch (where I am right now)

How the story starts:
I departed home early Saturday morning, and flew from Milwaukee to Atlanta, where I was taking the international flight out later. Aunt Becky picked me up at the airport, along with Christina and Hannah, who had gotten into Atlanta yesterday for Hannah’s wedding weekend. Okay, that’s how it starts…so let’s skip ahead to my departure…

Time to say goodbyes again…
(I hate crying in front of people, but sometimes I just can’t hold the tears.) I cried when I hugged Hannah goodbye, and the sadness only got worse when I hugged Blayne and Haley goodbye. As much as I thought I was ready for Swazi, I really was not ready emotionally. I was already homesick, and already questioning how I was going to make it 9 months without my family and these people that I love. Nevertheless, no turning back now. I was all packed up and ready to go to Africa as Ellen drove me and Christina back to the airport. (Becky had already taken Haley who had an earlier flight.) We both were flying out with Delta (Christina back home, me to Jo-burg), so it only seemed logical to me that Ellen could just drop us off, we could hop out and check in together, and save Ellen any unneccessary extra time and money to park. However, being the wonderful woman that she is, she insisted on parking saying, “I would feel a lot better if I can see you both check in.” I liked this response, since I was already getting nervous for the flight, and quite honestly was not looking forward to arriving in Africa.

As we parked the car, I thought, I’ll just grab my passport out of my carry-on right now, so I don’t have to zip through it in the airport. So I unzip the front pocket where I put it…not there. I unzipped the second pocket…not there. My heart skipped a few beats. Uh oh. I tried to remain calm as Christina and Ellen waited for me. Maybe I put it somewhere else inside the suitcase. I opened it up…not there. My heart is not just skipping beats; by now it’s literally pounding all the way to my ear drums. I know it’s in here somewhere. I am frantically looking through the suitcase as Christina joins in and we tear through some other suitcases. Nowhere. I start crying. I am freaking out inside and having an emotional breakdown. God bless Ellen and Christina for helping me through it. Ellen grabs my hand and says, “Okay, let’s stop and pray.” So we pray right there in the parking lot. We head inside, Christina and I say goodbye so she can catch her flight, and Ellen is takes all the logical steps for me, since I am an emotional mess. Talk about the worst thing that could happen to start off a 9 month trip to Africa…lose a passport.

Ellen takes us to the passport office and tries to see what options we have. The earliest I could get passport would be Wednesday…and $700. “Okay, tell us a more feasible option,” Ellen tells the passport lady. She says we can drive to Washington. Ha. Or I can go back home, and wait a few weeks to get my passport which would be much cheaper. I am still in tears and trying to hold it together. We go to a table in the airport and Ellen helps me literally dump out every suitcase just in case it got stuck somewhere in my luggage.

Okay, so it’s not there. What are the options? I immediately think someone stole. Because I am thinking worst case scenario. Ellen helps me logically think through things. Okay, I know I packed it in my carry-on. I know I had it at the Milwaukee airport when I left. But even knowing these things wasn’t enough because my mind was playing tricks on me already. Maybe you just thought you packed it, Kate. I call home again and again; of course, no one picks up. I finally get a hold of my brother Garret…but he’s already at school and can’t help look at home. I finally get ahold of my sister and they look through things at home. Nothing. My other thought was maybe it fell out at Milwaukee airport. My bags were overweight so I was shuffling things around in different suitcases including my carry-on, so maybe it fell out, or maybe my parents took it home with some other extra books I had them take back. Nope, still no passport.

I call Garret again. “Garret, I need to hear you confirm that you saw my passport in Milwaukee.”

“Yes, Kate, I saw it. You had it in your carry-on,” and he went on to explain where and what it looked like…just so I could confirm it for myself that I wasn’t going crazy. So I started thinking…maybe it fell out at the Aunt Becky’s house after she picked us up from the airport. Ellen calls Becky and she looks through the whole house…not there. Becky asks me, “Are you sure you had it?”

“Yes. Positive.”

At this point we finished every suitcase and my next option was about to find a flight back home. Ellen answers her phone and says, “What?! You have it?” It was Aunty Becky. When she heard me say I was sure I had it, she looked everywhere, knowing it had to have fallen out somewhere. Sure enough…of all the places…under the backseat of her car! It must have somehow fallen out when we took my luggage out of her car. PRAISE THE LORD! We have the passport!

However, at this point, my time to check in was dwindling fast. Becky jumps in the car and starts speeding to the airport (which is an hour away) as we go to the check in desk and tell them the whole ordeal. Ellen asks if I want to talk or let her. Of course I want her to talk since my mind is still muddled. The man at the counter gives us the same response that we had been getting all day… “Wow,” (and they avoid eye-contact…as if they just said, “you’re screwed.” The man tells us there’s no way I can catch the flight because my passport has to be there in 10 minutes. Not possible. Then it’s the whole money issue. I’m wondering how much it’s going to cost for a flight the next day. Fortunately, he said I only had to pay the change of flight fee and not the change of ticket prices! Again, PRAISE THE LORD! AND, the best part about it, was that on Friday, my Uncle Mike gave me a card for my trip and a Visa gift card for “emergency funds.” WHAT A GIFT!

So…here I am, sitting on Ellen’s couch…her and Rebecca have been such a blessing to me and pampering me and making me feel right at home. I can’t thank God enough for providing them as the calmness in the midst of a storm. Needless to say, I basically slept with my passport last night and will not let it leave my hands. Better for something like that to happen here, rather than there. And I am much more excited to get on that plane today. (And…another woman at the desk yesterday said, “Maybe we can get you a better seat for tomorrow; so apparently the missing passport helped me get a better seat for 16 hours. lol.)

God is good. So faithful. So good. I am ready for this journey together. It’s a good lesson to start the trip…knowing that the Lord can make goodness come out of any bad situation, as long as I trust Him.

Sometimes He calms the storm, other times He calms His child.

Recent Comments

  • efarish59

    Thursday, 09 Sep, 2010

    Hope all is well in Swazi. I have been thinking about our airport adventure – what a story. I have become a "follower" of your blog. Not exactly sure what that means but if it means that I get to hear about your work at the bridge school its perfect.
    Take care and write soon.


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