Saturday, July 9, 2011

Europe Part 1

I'm back!  And my trip was amazing!!  A memorable adventure for sure.  It's been a bit of a struggle to get back to reality around here and plunge into our summer routines, but it's so good to be home.  So the trip was amazing... but it didn't go quite as I had planned.  (Does it ever?)

I spent the last couple days before the trip tying up loose ends- making meals for the kids, arranging a schedule for the babysitters, grocery shopping and last minute packing, and thought I was finally all ready to go.  After months of memorizing and preparing for this ONCE in a lifetime experience, it felt so great to finally be ready to fly away.  So the night before I left, I went to pack the last and most essential items...

and noticed my PASSPORT was MISSING!!!!!! 

I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT.  I had it carefully tucked away in a drawer for months.  I would even check on it often- just to ensure that wouldn't happen.  So when I noticed it was GONE, I just. about. died. 

Jon and I stayed up most of the night frantically looking for it.  I figured it was somewhere in the office, so I was keeping my cool because I thought we would find it.  But after realizing we were running out of time, we got the kids out of bed at 4am, and asked if anyone had seen it.  That's when Celeste remembered seeing Jakey with it when the kids were coloring in the office.  And I connected the dots and figured out what must have happened.  The passport was on the floor with all the coloring papers while the kids were coloring with papers scattered everywhere.  I asked Jakey to help clean up, and he scooped all the papers- and the passport- and threw them all away.  And of course, the garbage man had already come that week.  So when I realized what had happened, I just lost it. :(  Could not stop crying.  I was just devastated.  It meant all my work memorizing for MONTHS, my excitement, the chance to finally spend some quality time with my family, not to mention the COST was all wasted.  And I assumed there was no way to make the trip happen since it usually takes 2 weeks- minumum- to get a new passport.

But Jon was so sweet.  He just held me while I cried.  And he was determined to find a way to still help make it happen.  So he looked into getting an expedited passport.  And when he found out about the outrageous cost, plus the cost for the change in airfare he said, "It's ok, Sweetie.  I'd gladly pay $1200 to get a couple extra days with you.  Actually... it's a good deal."

I mean, seriously!  He earned brownie points for LIFE just for that one single comment. :)

But after a little research, we found a passport agency in Chicago, so I decided to drive there myself, and there happened to be a flight out on Tuesday afternoon- just 3 days after my original flight!!  So that was such a relief!!  But it was still risky to assume I'd get the passport in time for the flight.  We called the passport agency, and they said we most likely would make it if we got there first thing in the morning.  So we decided to go for it.

On Tuesday morning, I got up at 5:30 and said my goodbyes- hoping all would go well, and drove to Chicago to get my replacement passport and hoping to fly out by 1pm.  After getting lost in this enormous city and parking, I finally made it up the office to the 8th floor of this huge skyskraper, totally out of breath.  But by the time I got there, the line was out the door. :(  But I thought- there is NO way I'm missing this flight too!  Where there's a will, there's a way.  So I just prayed and prayed.  When I finally got near the front and it was almost my turn to submit my paperwork, I overheard the woman in front of me say to the clerk, "My flight leaves at 2pm today, I'll be able to have my passport by then, right?"  To which the clerk rudely and adamantly responded without looking up, "Not a chance Ma'am.  The next batch of passports won't be completed until 2pm.  Next!"

Well- I was supposed to fly out at 1pm!!  My heart completely sank.  But I just kept praying, and asking Heavenly Father to help me make it happen if there was any way.  So I walked up to the counter... and just begged.  I told her the situation- calmly, but pleaded with her from my heart.  The lady paused and actually looked up.  She gave a little smile and said, "We'll do what we can Ma'am.  Just take a number and have a seat."  So I did- but I kept praying.  About 20 minutes later, the clerk came with my completed passport in hand.  I burst into tears, and thanked her profusely.  She had personally made my passport.  I'll be forever grateful to that woman- whoever she is!!

So anyway- my trip got off to a stressful start to say the least!

But I learned a lot.  I know that God works in mysterious ways.  On the airplane to Frankfurt (a 7 hour flight), I was reading the Book of Mormon, and the woman next to me asked me about it.  She told me she had been investigating our church.  She had so many questions, and we talked for hours- and completely connected.  I ended up giving her the Book, and she committed to reading it and praying about it (There's a promise in the book that if you read with real intent, the Lord will manifest the truth of it to you by the power of the Holy Spirit.)  So I don't know if that opportunity was why I missed my original flight, or if it was just wonderful coincidence.  But I DO know that things happen for a reason.  And we are to trust the Lord- and all things will work together for our good.  Not always in our timing, or how we expect or prefer things to happen, but in His way, and in His timing- under His divine guidance and wisdom. The whole experience was a powerful reminder to me of that truth.

Oh- and one other special benefit of missing my flight...

I got to spend June 11th with this cute Birthday Boy!

So that was the start of the trip.  Unfortunately, that was not the end of the troubles and frustrations though.  Let's just say, the drama was not limited to the stage! ;) More on that later.


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Julie Jardine said...

Wow! I can't wait to find out what happends next! I wondered what happend with your passport and everything. Post soon...


Neoma said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Nicole. Your life is amazing. Your family is amazing. You are amazing! I can't wait to hear about the rest of you trip.

Kinsey Pistorius said...

you have left me hanging! So glad you had a good time and look forward to hearing more about your trip. :)


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