Going, going, not quite gone

It was 10:30pm last night and our packed bags were all lined up at the door for our early morning departure. I’m always stressed for the few days before going somewhere, no matter what I do, how organized I get, how determined I am to “go with the flow.” Our house was clean and ready for some of Rees’ coworkers to stay here, with some of our most important things put in a room we would lock when we left. We were topping off the charge on some electronics and I had just sent an email to our friends/family about the trip we were heading out on early the next morning. Rees was doing one final look through our documents, you know – the neurotic umpteenth time you check to make sure you have your proper identification and such. He had just looked through it all five days prior, while getting the permits we need to go to the Pamir region of Tajikistan.

“You have got to be kidding me.” Rees said, with a tone that alarmed me.

“What?” I replied, with a tone that said, “You’d better not be freaking me out for no reason.”

“I can’t find our visa!” He exclaimed.

So the paper shuffle seeking started. And we still couldn’t find that visa. So taxi drivers were called and told to please not come tomorrow and we shot up prayers to heaven, not remarkable ones, just the “what do we do now, Lord?” kind. My quiet, internal prayers also started, “Please help me not say something I’ll regret to my husband.” Those who know Rees know that organization is not is not in his top twenty skills. When I’m in a more charitable mood, I tell him that God couldn’t allow someone other than his Son to be perfect, so he made sure Rees was messy and disorganized. But I’m disappointed and frustrated that, once again, he’s left something somewhere.

“It could have happened to anyone.” I assure him.

“Nope. You wouldn’t have lost our visa.” He says.

Here’s where grace comes flowing in. My memory is not as good as it used to be, prior to motherhood. I’ve just landed on the other side of massive sleep deprivation and I have to set alarms on my phone to remind me of stuff. Kind of worrisome, but at least it works (as long as I remember to set an alarm!). I am suddenly struck by the reality that although I don’t think I would have lost that visa, it actually is a real possibility that I would have. I know, in fact, it truly could have been me and if it had been me, wouldn’t I want grace extended? Any more, I actually feel grace sweep in and enable me to do what I’m not just naturally able to do. Then the grace-door sweeps open and more grace comes flowing in. What if we are being spared some kind of trouble on the road tomorrow? And I’m certain of it, even this is some grace-gift.

“I have to think that even in this, there’s a gift of grace.” I say, glory to God, honestly.

“I think so too.” Rees agrees.

So we go to bed last night, disappointed – yes, not knowing what we are going to do – yes, but resentful toward each other – no. That was God.

This morning the kids were surprised when they woke up on their own and we weren’t scurrying about trying to get out the door. They were disappointed we weren’t leaving yet, but goodness they are remarkable. Hannah asked me, “Well, if we aren’t going anywhere yet do you think we could get our Guess Who game out of the bag and play it?” and off they went, playing their game. Another amazing thing is that in this fatalistic culture, the neighbors take it in stride, saying it wasn’t our fate to leave today. They just aren’t as surprised by us Westerners by hiccups that happen to plans. There’s plenty to say about that but I’m not getting into it. In true rural Tajikistan style, one neighbor sent over food, knowing that we’d emptied most of our cupboards and fridge and another had her son bring over big piles of freshly cut grape vines for our sheep. Isn’t that thoughtful?

Rees found our visa, arranged a new ride, and we’ll give it a go again tomorrow.



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