By the time we had Brendan’s police report, medical clearances (sealed in unopened envelopes), birth certificates, death certificate, copies of current passports and the copied stack of all the original application paperwork, we only had a few weeks left until our wedding. We had booked airline tickets for Brendan and the kids because we felt confident that we had trusted God and followed the steps he put in front of us. The only way now was if he came through. I confess that we were sweating a bit and our faith was stretched pretty thin.
The final step was procuring the actual visas for their trip here. I researched both online and on the phone to make sure we knew exactly what to do, where, how much it would cost and what time frame we could expect. The information given clearly stated that Brendan could hand over the sheaf of required papers and if it was all there and in order (which we knew from checking it a hundred times it was), they would probably–no guarantees– stamp the approval and hand over his visas within two days. Maybe even that very afternoon.
Now, it may seem like at that point it should have been easy, but Brendan and the kids had to fly to Sydney, a three hour flight, and be there when they opened at 8 a.m. in order to schedule an interview for the elusive visas. Of course that meant booking flights, taking kids out of school and arranging for them all to stay with Brendan’s brother-in-law. Not impossible, but certainly challenging in some proximity. And, as I reminded my darling absent-minded professor type, “Don’t forget the paperwork, honey!”
We were pretty anxious that day, vacillating between excitement and fear. I barely got to sleep as Brendan boarded the plane. His flight for America left in two days time so if they didn’t give him the visas, we didn’t know what we would do next. At home, my bridesmaids all scurried about with me completing the final details for flowers, reception food, dresses and jewelry as our wedding was only twelve days away. Not only that, but I had moved into the house we hoped to live in and was buying beds, bedding, towels and all the necessities Brendan and the kids wouldn’t be able to bring with them. And still we didn’t know if the groom would arrive in time.
At Brendan’s house, friends were selling off his things and packing up the rest to make room for the people who would be renting it. I still don’t know how they all did it, but I am eternally grateful!
Brendan arrived at the consulate in Sydney with the kids and presented the papers with the hopes of coming back later that afternoon to pick up the visas. They assigned him an interview time later that afternoon. With a very small thread of hope, Brendan and the kids went to spend a few hours with their uncle Eric. Finally, Brendan returned at the designated time and handed over the papers. The interview took only a few minutes.
“Ok, it looks like everything’s in order.” (Letting out breath in relief)
“You should receive your passports with visas in the mail in just a few weeks,” the clerk told him cheerfully. (Stopped breathing again.)
“What??” Brendan gasped. “We were informed that if everything was in order, we could pick up the visas in person later in the day. I don’t understand.”
“I’m sorry sir. We don’t do that anymore. It’s all by mail now. We could expedite it.”
“That doesn’t work. We have to catch a flight for the States the day after tomorrow. Isn’t there any way you can make an exception? I’m getting married in less than two weeks!”
“I’m very sorry sir, but there’s nothing I can do. I’ll enter all the information in the computer, but it has to clear in the United States so it will take a number of days.”
He punched in the information…B E N N E T, B R E N D A N and listed each of the children as well. Upon hitting the enter button, he turned back to Brendan as if to apologize again, but something on the screen caught his attention. He did a double-take.
“I don’t believe this. It cleared. I really don’t understand how this happened. This NEVER happens. But you’re all cleared.” He stamped everything and handed them to Brendan. “Here are your passports and visas. Good luck, mate.”
In stunned amazement, Brendan called me immediately to share the news.
“Oh my gosh, Brendan. Thank you Jesus! I can’t believe it. I’m so relieved!” and we both cried.
“Hey, darl, what time is it there?”
“Uh…a few minutes before five in the morning. Why?”
“Well, that means that even in New York it isn’t 8 a.m. yet, right?”
A moment of revelationary silence and then,”So offices aren’t even open…” we said together in awe. God had done it again.