Thursday, June 28, 2007

I have finally made it back to the motherland. Canada, eh?

It's been a long, 17 year road. One that included Mission work in Arizona, a stint in Tennessee, a term in Nebraska for college, a wedding in Arizona, mission work and the introduction of a family there. We ventured off into Arkansas territory only to be turned away to California where we really felt like we found home. Six years later, we were booted out of the sunny left coast and stationed again in Arkansas to re-learn a lesson in God's timing and guidence.

And so... it's been seventeen years for me. And, it's soooo good to be back.

The kids and the hubby look to me from time to time to explain things to them. "Is this just how Canadians do it?" "Is that normal here?" "Was it like that when you were here?" These questions are asked regularly.

What's funny is this: when I left I was just entering young adulthood. I didn't know the rules of driving. I didn't know what heated the homes... or how to pay for that. I paid rent on an upstairs suite. I had a job. I walked to and from it. I went to church. And, that was it. That's all I knew.

Okay, that's not all I knew... it's just all I knew about "settling in".

What has delighted me the most is the pleasant nature of the people here. Ready to laugh. Joking with eachother. A ready-made family. The way I remember. Shoes off at the door. The down-to-earth nature of the people. No class-systems. No castes. No "down your nose" looks about your education or lack-thereof. Just real people being real.

A new adjustment for me is realizing I am the preacher's wife again. I had forgotten that it comes with expectations. I came ready to just be me. And, I'm not entirely sure that our congregation has formalized their expectation of their preacher's wife... but from time to time I am subtly reminded of the role... and the need to fill it. But how?

I really thought I would never again struggle with expectation vs. reality. I thought that I would find a place and a time where I could just be me. And, I thought that those two roads crossed here. And, maybe they do. But... I suppose I'm still haunted some by old expectations that weren't met. Failures of my own that linger in the memory.

And, maybe I'm too hard on myself. Maybe I don't give others enough credit. Maybe they're ready for real. But are they ready for me? Am I?

Ah too deep.

I have changed in so many ways since I left Canada. And, God has been gracious to me. I am not perfect, but forgiven. And, I love imperfect people. Which covers most of us.

I just hope that my opinionated self, my flighty artistic natured self, my "not your typical preacher's wife" self will be welcomed here. And, I hope I grow here... I hope it is God who uses me just the way I am... and that his Holy Spirit directs me to change in the ways that aren't godly.

Okay, I'm all over the place here.
To sum up: Made it back. It's good. Finding my personal bearings again. God is good and he will guide... the end.


Monday, June 18, 2007

So, the biggest thing to happen to me in a few years has happened, and I haven't written about it? Have I gone mad? Am I completely nuts?

Yes.... I mean... NOoooo.

What an adventure!

So, the passports arrived after much, MUCH, much effort on my part. I e-mailed the passport agency. I called the passport agency. I e-mailed the kind lady at the Little Rock Library where we applied for passports. She sent me names of 2 Arkanasas State Representatives to harass. I called them. I called two CA state representatives...

On a side-note here - as much as I dislike Nancy Pelosi... the folks in her office are awfully nice!

After the two CA state representatives were on the case, I got up at 3am to start the phone lines in where ever they are in the Eastern Time Zone. I called at least 3 times a minute for 45 minutes (do the math) before actually reaching... no... not a person... a different message. But, after 15 minutes on that message, I spoke with a REAL, LIVE, ACTUAL passport agent. They DO exist!

A few numbers and details were exchanged and then Dick (that was his name) says this: "I have a note here that says that you have congressional help on these passports." To which I reply "Yessss....?" To which he blandly states "But, there isn't any note that says to expedite them, so we didn't." To which I reached my hand through the phone and grabbed his scrawny neck and raised my right hand and...

No wait... I didn't do that. I just sighed.

He continued... "Would you like them to be expedited?"

Can you just hear me screaming inside my own head?

I responded so softly you could barely hear me... "Yes, please."

And it was done!

13 weeks. 5 days on the road. 20 some e-mails, over 200 phone calls. Hundreds of dollars... and it was done.

Thanks, Dick.

The following morning, we met with some old friends for lunch. I wasn't holding my breath for those passports. So many promises. So few kept.

One of our friends works for the Fed Gov't. I remembered that because I was always afraid he'd deport me, but I never thought to ask him for help (because I was always afraid he'd deport me... did I mention that?). So... at lunch... he hadn't arrived yet, but our mutual friend, Nate had. Nate listened briefly to our passport troubles and then said "Ask Rog." "He's great with this stuff. He calls in a few favours on his cell and "boom", it's done!" Nate then tells us a few stories second hand about how Rog can find anyone, ANYWHERE in the U.S. Something to do with cellphone tracking and detective work. Creepy stuff.

As if on que, Rog walks in to the restaurant.

Rog is a big, black man. He wears shades ALWAYS. Day, night, inside, outside, rain or shine, he wears shades. I've never EVER seen his eyes. And we were close friends for years. When he sits, he folds his arms across his chest. When he stands, he folds his arms across his chest. He rarely chats in public. He looks like a bouncer, but he's actually the greeter at his church. Gotta love Rog.

After hearty hugs and a "how are ya?", Nate tells Rog about our passport problems.

Rog interrupts Nate and says "hold on." Rog pulls out his phone.

Nate looks at us, smiles and nods. "See?"

Rog calls someone... says "call my phone back and search it for this number", a few minutes later the phone rings. It's the passport agency. It's the Passport Agency CALLING HIM! I was stunned.

Rog asks for a few names and numbers and then flips his phone off.

"Your passport will be over-nighted via Fed-Ex. You can expect them by 10am tomorrow."

So, there you have it. Old friends, high places.

Then he turns to me and says - "So, you're Canadian? I didn't know that."

To which I reply "Yeah... that's why you can't find me on your little lists..."

We had a great lunch. Rog bought desserts all the way around. Kids made us proud and licked the plates.

I have more to tell you about returning to the motherland. Immigration. Old, new friends. But I'll save it for tomorrow. I think I'll take a minute and flip through some passports for old times' sake.