Applying for Visas: Wisdom From a 5-Month Old

So we\’ve only been doing this parenting thing for about 5 months now, but already it seems we\’ve been taught so many lessons (selflessness, anyone?)

Last night I was taught another lesson. One I\’ve \”learned\” many times, but this was the first time my son had taught it to me. Let me explain.

If you\’ve been keeping up with my Facebook statuses (I\’m still surprised every time the spell check underlines \”facebook\” as a typo…. shouldn\’t that be in the dictionary by now??), you know that we recently hit some bumps in the road in regards to our teams\’ visas for our Brazil trip coming up in 3.5 weeks. Here\’s the scoop:

To enter Brazil, you must apply for a visa (in our case, tourist visas). Last year, Richard and I went through this process and prior to submitting our applications had heard story after story of the \”terrors\” of the Brazilian Consulate; how they can deny your visa without giving reason, etc. For our trip last year, we only had a short, three week time frame to get these squared away so these stories seemed especially daunting. The day Richard took them to Atlanta, we saturated the venture in prayer. To our [pleasant] surprise, the visas were approved no problemo and the lady who Richard had his interview with was very kind and friendly. So much so that Richard even wrote a thank you note afterward to thank her for her kindness.

Given this smooth-sailing experience, we had no doubts that applying for our team of 8 would be a cinch. We knew God had given the vision for this trip and that He would no doubt carry it through. Having said that, it\’s easy to have that mentality when you can\’t see the speed bump just over the hill….

After receiving his visa in the mail, one of our team members brought to our attention that the visa said it was only valid for 30 days. Our understanding had been that you have 90 days to enter the country from the date of issuance of your visa, so seeing the 30 day validity was a big curve ball because our trip was scheduled for exactly 35 days after the date of issuance. If we were understanding correctly, that meant it would expire before our team could even set foot on an airplane to head south.

Not good. Especially since hundreds of dollars had been spent in airline tickets already.

Immediately my brain goes into problem solving mode. How can this be fixed [in the cheapest way possible]?

My next reaction: how could the Consulate do this?! They had a copy of our travel itinerary and knew that we weren\’t leaving until the 16th of September. That would mean they knew that the visas would expire prior to our departure. I\’ll just be honest: I could have cussed I was so mad.

But, nonetheless, something had to be done. E-mails were sent, statuses were updated, and \”Google\” was put to the test. From all that we could find, our team was just going to have to reapply (and repay) for new visas in order to be within the 30 day time frame. The thought made my blood boil. Again, how could the consulate sleep at night after pulling such tricks?

Enter Elliott\’s life lesson #5: God will provide.

Last night I was putting Elliott to bed which is generally fairly uneventful: bath time, bottle, and storybook. That\’s generally the formula for success. But we got home late so it was past his bedtime and he was a bit fussy after his bath. Richard fixed his bottle but had to make an important phone call so I found myself with Elliott in one arm, trying to grab a book with the other while holding his bottle and using my foot to scoot the footstool of my rocker close enough to the chair be comfortable. (Capo was watching, no doubt entertained by my attempt to [over]multitask.) By this time Elliott was not amused in the least bit and was crying as though he had never eaten in his short 5-month existence. As I finally got situated and gave him his bottle, I said to him rhetorically, \”Well darling, that crying was a bit much don\’t you think? Have I ever just let you go hungry?\”

Yep. That\’s when it hit me.

I felt God say, \”Well darling, that worrying is a bit much don\’t you think? Have I ever called you to something and not provided?\”

Touché indeed.

So at that moment I found myself apologizing to God for my [severe] lack of faith [again]. Was I really so doubtful after all I\’ve seen the Lord do in my life? Did I really think that the Brazilian Consulate had more power over the situation than the God of the Universe? Well, my actions sure made it seem that way.

I still have some post-it notes on my desk at work with Bible verses I used before our trip last year to remind me of God\’s power:

\”…Is the Lord\’s power limited?…\” Numbers 10.23
\”Is anything too difficult for the Lord?\” Genesis 18.14
\”Be still, and know that I am God…\”Psalm 46.10

Clearly I haven\’t looked at them in a while as I found myself doubting once again.

As I sat there reading \”What\’s Wrong Little Pookie\” to my baby boy, I realized that it was time I start remembering that we serve a BIG God. One who cannot be contained and that He has a plan in place that He will see through…. and He\’s letting us be a part of it if we allow Him.

Fastfoward to today.

I wrote the Consulate one last e-mail in a desperate attempt for clarification only to receive an e-mail back telling us that the 30 day validity begins upon entering the country. Problem averted. So, while it would be really, really helpful if they wouldn\’t make the visa to have conflicting information, we were relieved to realize that we had just misinterpreted.

Looking back I wish I could say I had just been patient and relied on God. But I didn\’t.

Once again it served as a lesson learned….and this time from an infant 🙂

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