Missionaries have a thing for autobiographies. As in, for writing their own autobiography. And it must be said that they have some great stories, so more power to them. I have read several of them, including this one on the hospital we visited in 2007. Tenwek has a pretty popular one.
After you've read a couple, you will realize that there seem to be a few, unwritten, formulaic elements. One of them is that there will be a chapter where the missionary describes how God answered their prayers by giving them a visa for a longer period of time, say four years or even (in the case of one I read from Rwanda) for a lifetime.
I have always found these chapters particularly hard to engage. I mean, the people are entering foreign lands, starting new hospitals, treating exotic diseases, hunting large game animals, riding motorcycles, and getting trapped in civil wars. Just to name a few. I mean, can't they just skip the immigration office and get back to the part where they have to stave off dehydration by drinking milk from the mammary glands of the wildebeest they just shot?
No, they can't, and I must say that I think I'm coming to see their point of view. Because the visa is so essential. We have known multiple families who had to fly out of the country, at least temporarily, to deal with visa troubles, which is both expensive and disruptive to life and work. Not to mention the time in going back and forth to the capital city's immigration office.
So it was that we trekked down to Atlanta for our French visa appointment, without which we couldn't depart for language school, just over a month away at the time. Mountains of paperwork after streams of emails and trying to sift through confusing lists of requirements online. We thought it went well, with only one more piece of documentation to send in.
And then we waited. They would mail it to us when it was complete. And it should be ready, though if there were further problems, it might easily encroach on our departure time. We prayed, and remembered those under-appreciated biography chapters.
Yesterday we got the word: Our four passports delivered with one-year visas to France. In pretty record time, actually. The work God has started, he is faithful to complete. This means that Carlan is the only person still waiting on his visa, and his appointment is coming up soon.
We are not writing a book. And though I still wouldn't include a chapter on God's faithfulness in the visa process, I do have a growing appreciation for it. So, maybe just a blog post.