Thursday, November 6, 2008
Because my passport expired last June 4 (again this was two years ago), I planned on renewing it as part of my preparation for the trip to Brazil. Two days after it expired, I went to a travel agency to ask for assistance. The woman at the desk asked for my passport and quickly flipped it to see the inside front cover that bears my picture, name, and other information. She then frowned, and turned over my passport to the woman beside her who was busy typing something on the computer.
I got the same response from the second lady after she examined my passport. She then asked me, “Where did you get this?” I was beginning to sense that something was wrong but I tried to keep my peace. What could be wrong with my passport?
“I lined up myself to get that from Lucena,” I confidently said. The regional consular office of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) covering the place where I live was located in Lucena, Quezon.
“Sorry, we can’t accept this,” the second woman said, suspiciously returning the passport to me. “It might be tampered.”
How can it be? Five years ago, I went through the tedious process of securing my authenticated birth and marriage certificates, traveled all the way to Lucena, waited for hours for my turn, filled up the forms, and presented my IDs. I didn’t use a fixer. After a few days, the man at the window of the DFA issued to me a crisp, green passport. What could be wrong with my passport?
I calmly walked out of the travel agency, thinking nothing could be wrong with my passport. I quickly uttered a prayer. Lord, this can’t be happening. I need to get a passport to get to Brazil!
I decided to go to another travel agency. But when the lady looked into my passport, she said, “This is weird.” Then I was subjected to the same interrogation I had in the first travel agency.
“This is the first time I saw a passport like this,” the lady said. To prove her point, she randomly picked a sample from a box full of passports. “Look,” she pointed to the inside front cover, “all passports are laminated. Yours isn’t.”
I tried to keep my peace that was being threatened by this bad news. Be calm, I instructed myself. God is in control. If there’s trouble, God can iron this out.
The lady asked me if I wanted to leave my passport so that their liaison officer could consult the DFA about it. With nothing left to do, I consented.
When I went home, I was somewhat bothered by the thought that I might be accused of conniving with fixers or with syndicates falsifying passports. For a while, I was afraid. But before any disheartening thoughts could creep into my heart, I took hold of my thoughts and convinced myself that I didn’t do anything wrong. God will clear this thing for me. He will make sure I get a passport and that I will not be held accountable for doing something I didn’t do.
I asked all those who knew that I’ve been praying to go to Brazil to please pray regarding my passport. I don’t want to worry about the passport because that day, I needed to translate five scripts and I have an after midnight deadline. I can’t spend the rest of the day and night worrying. I won’t be fearful. I shouldn’t be.
After praying and confessing some promises from the Bible, I felt at peace for the rest of that day. I was flooded by an assurance that everything is under God’s control. I was able to finish the five scripts on time.
The following morning, I remembered the story of Miriam, who watched at a distance the basket carrying his baby brother Moses as it floats along the Nile River(Exodus 2:4). She quietly expected God to save her helpless baby brother. And true enough, God maneuvered the basket and Moses was brought to safety in the arms of the pharaoh’s daughter who was bathing at the river. That’s faith. I realized that God is perfecting in me that childlike, quiet trust mentioned in Psalm 131:2: “Surely, I have calmed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me [ceased from fretting].” I also realized that it’s possible to be like an eagle that soars above the storm, undisturbed because he is flying high above where peace and quiet reigns. It is possible when you wait upon God and trust Him to act on your behalf (Isaiah 40:31). It's not easy to wait, but it is possible. And if you wait and trust God, He will flood you with such peace. (See my blog entry last September "Why Wait?")
As for the passport, the people at DFA allowed me to get a new passport, but not without being puzzled first as to why the passport released to me five years earlier was not laminated. Well, God definitely knew about it even then, and maybe, He used that incident to test my faith and make me trust Him more. It also drew me a step closer to Brazil, my journey of faith.