For the past year, HUM has had a trip back to the States to help do support development planned for me. So everything was set for me to leave on the 5th of October, until British Airways announced they were canceling all flights to/from Uganda effective the 3rd or October. I was definitely more than a bit shocked since I’ve been flying BA since I started coming here as a kid. But they were good about reworking my itinerary and got me rescheduled to be on their last flight out of Entebbe.
Little did I know that would be only the first hump in the road to me getting back to the States. Amidst the usual craziness of handing over all my other responsibilities to other people, packing, and wrapping up all the final details, I was told there was also a problem with my visa.
6 days before I was supposed to pass through immigration and get on a US bound airplane, I found out that my visa had only been forged. This after all the commotion of having my passport stolen, then having it replaced, then getting a new work permit stamped in my passport. Apparently the guy who worked on my visa thought the rather large amount of $750 would prefer to be in a pocket than a bank. so he tried to forge a fake work permit in my passport.
Thankfully, Jesus has me in His hands, and for some reason, the guy confessed to the leadership of the ministry before I showed up at the airport and they arrested me for forging a visa. So I found out with only 6 days before my flight was to leave, and the next days were filled with trying to figure out what to do and how to find the best legal means of sorting out my papers. Also thankfully, I have people here who have been looking out for me and working on my behalf every step of the way. Last night, I packed my bags and set my house in order without a passport in my hands, and no guarantee of getting it back in time with a valid visa. Talk about nerve-wracking. I know I probably should have been a wreck, but Jesus honestly provided an incredible amount of peace with however things turned out.
When I think about all the possibilities that could have happened, I am amazed all over again. I could have shown up at the airport with a forgery and been arrested immediately, missed my flight, lost my money for the ticket, and spent who knows how many days trying to sort things out. I could have missed my flight because Ugandan institutions in general operate with the efficiency and speed of a inebriated snail. There is no end to the negative possibilities that my mind can think up right now. But I am so thankful that that is all they will ever be. I serve an incredible God works miracles for His children.
It was not until lunch time on the very day I was I supposed to fly that I received my passport back, stamped with a special pass that would allow me to leave the country legally. The forged visa had also been stamped with a cancellation stamp and my team here will continue working to get me a genuine visa while I’m in the States. You can imagine the kind of relief and joy that all of us celebrated with as I held that passport!
I was reminded again of what a miracle it was at the airport as I tried to pass through immigration. When they found the forged visa, they asked for my account of how it got there. After they accepted my explanation I asked for them to explain how they could tell it was a forged one. They kindly showed me a whole list of elements that identified it as a false one, and stated, “It sure is a good thing you have a valid special pass. Otherwise….” How glad I am I won’t ever need to know exactly what would have been contained in those ellipses!!
It didn’t sink it until Nat and I were sitting at the gate waiting to board that it really was finished. I had left the country peacefully and legally, without any detention or even extensive questioning at the airport. All of our prayers for a smoothy, uneventful exit had been answered. Praise Jesus! Now, as they continue to work for a valid visa, I would appreciate your continued prayers for that one to come through quickly and uneventfully. I have yet one more story to prove just how much Jesus hears and answers prayers. Many times in a most dramatic fashion! :-)