Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Great Visa Expedition

New Blog - Visa Expedition

Good news, friends - we have visas!

Up until an hour before closing time of the South African Consolate’s office yesterday, there was no certainty as to whether all three of us would have visas to depart today. The good news we had was that Hannah and Rachel were likely going to have theirs and would thus have no difficulty departing the next afternoon. The bad news was that the same was not true for me.

As a result of the previous story I shared about them going home to get proper background checks with their State Police offices and me getting mine only over the phone, there was question as to whether or not mine would be adequate enough. From the way the letters were written, it was clear to the Consulate that I had not presented myself as requested. I was also missing the fingerprints the other two had turned in. This did not mean I would be turned down permanently, but it did mean I may have to return home after all to make up for these missing pieces.

Fortunately, our beloved Gail who is our Regional Executive (based in NYC) and who is from South Africa, decided she was going to do everything possible to get me that visa in a timely manner. So she gave up on such conversations over the phone and presented herself in person, even saying she would camp out (and that we would join her) until we got that visa. Oh, how we love her!!!

So down to the office Gail went, and when they told her she would surely receive two but maybe not three visas that day, she voiced to them how and why that was absolutely unacceptable. Gail tells us that rather than take no for an answer, she proceeded to yell (as much as Gail yells) at them, insisting they were wrong. It went something like, this:
(Gail) “Jen Tyler? You aren’t really going to turn down Jen Tyler, are you? You’ve got the wrong gal! If anyone should be allowed into South Africa, its Jen Tyler! Do you know that she rode her bicycle all the way from California to Delaware to raise over $100,000 so that people in southern Africa could have clean water? She of all people should be allowed into our country!”
(Consulate Secretary) “Is that true?”
(Gail) “Of course it is, I can’t make this stuff up!”

The she walks away. Sure enough, when she returned, we had three visas!! That’s right, friends, they decided I’m not a criminal and that I am in fact worthy of a visitor’s visa because of that epic bike tour called the Ride:Well Tour I embarked on the past two summers.

I would always have been the first to tell you Venture Expeditions and the Ride:Well Tour changed my life for the better in monumental and indescribable ways, but who would have thought it would also be the gateway that literally allowed me a visa to move overseas as a missionary? Thanks be to God!

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