Thursday, January 8, 2015

Be Glorified

Exactly one year ago we were standing in line outside the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo.  We had left Jarabacoa at 4:30am, driving the two hours in darkness.  
Parking is always interesting in the capital.  Even though we parked on a public street, we had to pay a self-proclaimed parking attendant 200 pesos (around $5.00).  To refuse to do so meant risking an ‘accident’ where our car might be keyed or a window broken or a tire slashed.  I’ll take very good care of your car, señor.
We had spent many hours putting together the various documents we needed, and now we were going to turn in the application for Carlos’ Visa. 

Our Washington D.C. attorney had told us the process would likely take 6-8 months once the application was submitted.  In my mind, however, God was going to show His glory by allowing us to do it all in just one day.  They would review our massive stack of documents and be so impressed that they would pass us through. 
What an incredible story we would have to share of the miracle God worked!  It was going to be awesome.
We walked up, the manila folder of documents clutched tightly to my chest.  More than 100 people already stood outside of the Embassy, even though it didn’t open until 8.  Carlos had told me to expect this, but it was still a surprise.  We were asked why we were there, and sent to a much shorter line.  Oh, yeah, my plan was coming together!

For the next 30 minutes the lines continued to grow.  Families with little ones dressed in fancy clothes, nervous-looking young couples holding two and three photo albums, Carlos even saw a professional baseball player!  Dominicans don’t need the 18-inch personal space bubble we North Americans like, so the amount of people pressing in was incredible. 

At 7:30 the official staff members came out, dressed in dark blue polo shirts and khaki pants, Embassy identification badges around their necks.  Here we go!  The people in front of us were asked a few questions, then given tickets and sent up the ramp to go inside. 
Finally it was our turn!  Why are you here?  I’m a U.S. citizen applying for a Visa for my husband.  In my mind I was thinking Did you get that?  This is my Embassy.  I belong in there!  I smiled confidently.

No, no.  Not today.  That window is only open two times a week, from 8am until 11am.  You need to come back tomorrow.
I smiled and thanked her.  What else could I do?  Getting angry or trying to argue wouldn’t accomplish anything.  Being rude to the person standing between me and the Embassy door was not wise, especially since I was one of very few gringas in line, making my behavior more likely to be remembered.

See you tomorrow then.  Frustrated and disappointed, we turned around and went back to the car.  The attendant was surprised, as we’d been gone less than an hour.  Next time you come it will be free, señor.  We smiled and thanked him, all three of us knowing that was a lie.
That was the beginning of a journey that took far, far longer than I anticipated.  The return trip the next day would also be unsuccessful.  It would be another month, and four more early morning trips, before our initial application was finally submitted.  Several months - and another two-inches of documents - would be necessary before the Visa was ours.

Looking back I can see how my plans, my timeline, my way, were short-sighted.  Yes, God could have worked it out so that we sailed through the process in one short day.  As Carlos frequently reminded me, no government can stand in the way of God’s plans. 
But, I am thankful that He desired more for us than just the easy way.  Because there were so many things we needed to learn through the process.  Things about trusting Him.  Things about going through difficulties and disappointments as a married couple.  And yes, things about God’s glory.

Now, I look out at another year.  Once again I find myself dreaming about how God is going to be glorified.  Once again I am tempted to assume that means things will unfold with few problems or barriers, and of course with immediate and overwhelming success.  Could that bring God glory?  Sure.  But, I have a feeling that might not be how it all unfolds. 
Regardless, I want my prayer to be God, be glorified.  In Your way, in Your perfect timing.  God, be glorified in my life, in my successes, even in my failures.  God, be glorified.

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