This is the second part of a blog post series. If you haven’t read the first one, please do so at the link below before continuing. Things will make a lot more sense that way! Thanks for reading!
The next few weeks were filled with collecting documents, writing emails, putting things in the mail, making phone calls, doing whatever we could think of to get our visa extension approved. We wrote an email to the immigration department in Dublin, telling them about the trip we’d had planned to the Philippines, and about Branden’s trip to the UK. Their response was quick and definite – if we left the country without our visas being secure, we’d be denied re-entry at the border.
The boys and I were meant to fly on Thursday, October 25th. We’d submitted our documents and request for the extension and gotten a letter in the post saying everything had been received. I had a peace from the Lord that it would be approved. What I didn’t know was when. As the days and weeks went by, I began to settle in my heart that we most likely would not be joining my family in the Philippines.
People were praying for our visas, that they’d come through and quickly. Those that knew about the trip were heavy-hearted with us and praying that somehow things would work out for us to go. Some days I was fine, successfully entrusting my emotions to the Lord. Other days I was a mess. Branden would find me crying by myself. He’d pull me close and just pray.
We weren’t supposed to be able to go. Why would God provide, knowing that the timing wouldn’t work out? I was relieved I hadn’t told the boys. I made the phone call to my mom. It was awful. Not a lot of things worst than watching your mom cry over FaceTime.
The Sunday before we were supposed to get on the plane, my friend Barbara caught me at church. She and her husband own a jewelry business in their town. She said there was a politician who they were acquainted with, that had his office there.
“You should go in and try to meet with him, let him know that you have this trip coming up, and that you need his help with your visa!”
I had all but resolved that we wouldn’t be going. She talked with such determination, that we should explain that we’d had this trip planned for so long, that all we needed was a letter saying we could get back into the country.
“Maybe pop into his office tomorrow, and see what he can do!”
Later, she texted me his location and phone number. I talked to Branden. In the morning, we drove down to his office.
His secretary told us he wasn’t there and asked what we needed. We explained our situation. They let us know that their office couldn’t really help us, but that there was a place in the city centre that helps with visas. They wrote down the details and sent us on our way. We drove to the city and found the office. Two and a half hours later, we finally sat down with someone. Someone who had never dealt with our particular visa. She pulled up the website we’d already been working from and read the info aloud, mostly to herself, and apologized she couldn’t be more helpful. Another discouraging day.
Barbara called me the next day to ask how things had gone. Not great. I really didn’t see how things were going to work out for us to go, but she only seemed more determined!
“Why don’t I meet you in the morning, and we can go back into the politician’s office together?”
In the morning, I left the boys at home with Branden and met Barbara. Part of me felt like it would be useless. It was Wednesday. We were supposed to get on our flight at 8:15pm on Thursday night. We’d been trying everything we could for weeks with no progress. Another part of me thought, “Hey, it can’t hurt right? This might be just how the Lord wants to work things out.”
We walked into the office; the secretary recognized me from two days before. She walked to the counter with a pen and paper. I explained our visa situation again and that we’d followed their advice and had gone to the place in the city, but that they’d been unable to help us. Then Barbara spoke up.
“It’s just that they have this trip planned, and they really need someone to sort something before tomorrow! Please, anything you can do to help. Is there someone you can call? Anything!”
I had to smile at how passionate she sounded. Barbara also has family living abroad, and I knew she knew how important it was to be with your people. The secretary wrote down my information and said to keep my phone nearby, that their office would call another politician’s office in a different town, who might be able to do something for us.
Barbara and I left and went to a coffee shop where we chatted for a while and waited for my phone to ring. Nothing. We walked to our cars and I told her I’d keep her updated.
2pm – Barbara texts me to ask if anyone’s called. Nothing.
3:30pm – She texts again. Nothing. She messages that she’s going to drive down and go back into the office. Twenty minutes later my phone rings. It’s Barbara. She greets me and hands the phone to the secretary who tells me she’s going to send a message to the immigration department in Dublin. She tells me to keep my phone on, and that someone will call me before 5pm. At this point, I’m really thankful for Barbara! Even if things don’t work out, she’s fighting for us!
5pm comes and goes. My heart settles back into resolved disappointment. We tried right? We really did. Maybe it’s just not the Lord’s will for us to go. And I don’t get it, but that’s okay. It’s going to be okay.
I cried on and off the rest of the night. “There’s still time,” Branden said, trying to encourage me. “Let’s give it until noon tomorrow.”
“There’s just no more time Branden. It’s fine. Even if they did call by noon and somehow emailed us our extension letter, we’d still have to go down to the Garda station to get them to update our file. The last time we went down there, we were in that line for four hours. I haven’t packed anything. We’re not going be able to go, and it’s fine.” I was telling myself too. It’s fine. It’s just one of those things that I don’t understand. But God is still good. I would see my family in the spring, Lord willing, when we go on furlough. It’s okay.