Australia Ministry Trip (Sept 26-November 10, 2017)
From September 26 to November 10, 2017, my husband, daughter and I will be on a ministry trip in Australia and New Zealand. The places we will be visiting are shown on the map above - along with the dates in which we'll be in these places (and what we'll be doing while there). Please keep this ministry trip and all of us in your prayers! Blogs will appear daily throughout this time, as I have written them and scheduled them in advance. I welcome your comments - and enjoy them! Just know I will not have Internet access for much of this time. So, I will look forward to reading your responses upon my return. Thank you for your understanding! And please keep reading to complete the "Reading the Bible in a Year" challenge and blessing! I am very grateful to Claire for her faithful blog comments (please everyone - join her in sharing each day as a discussion blesses everyone so much more!) And I am thankful that Claire has graciously agreed to add a bit more into her daily comments during my time of absence. Please direct special comments or questions which require immediate responses to her (on this blog). Blessings as you continue your journey through God's Word this year!
In our Bible reading from today, the Scripture that especially caught my notice was at the end of Mark chapter 4. The Saviour is sleeping in the boat with his disciples. There is a storm - great enough to terrify seasoned fishermen. They cry out to Him for help. He stands, speaks to the storm, "Peace. Be still." And all is calm. Can you picture that moment? What did the disciples take away from that experience? A deeper awareness of Christ's Authority, Power, and Protective Care. Who is this? What sort of Person is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?
What about you? Have you experienced any overwhelming storms - situations so terrifying or so devastating that there was no human way out? Did you cry out to God, like the disciples that stormy night? Did you see His loving Power manifested on your behalf? Did He speak into your life with the words, "Peace. Be still"?
If He doesn't still our storms, it isn't that He is powerless. And it isn't that He doesn't care. His lack of intervention is more likely because we do not ask in for His Help, crying out to Him in faith that He really will save us, lest we perish.
On our trip to Canada, we saw some of God's saving Power. We did cry out to Him, in an overwhelming situation - and He did speak Peace into our impossible storm. Last Monday night, we were busy packing to leave. We planned to leave for Canada early the next morning. My husband, daughter, parents and I were all planning to drive up to Manitoba, Canada (a 27 hour drive) in order to attend my son's wedding the following Sunday.
I'm sure you can imagine the state of our home as we worked to get our suitcases packed and prepared for the big trip. Suddenly, my husband gasped, "Oh no!"
I stared at him. "What's the matter?"
In his hand he held three passports belonging to himself, me, and our daughter. "Look at this." He held out a passport for me to see.
As I looked, I noticed the problem, "Oh no," I echoed, "They're expired!"
His head was in his hands. My heart was in my feet.
It was the night before we were to leave. And somehow we had misread our passport expiration date when we looked at them before. We had thought they expired in 2018... But the expiration dates on all three passports clearly said, "February, 2017". It was June 12 of 2017.
Knowing that it takes at least two weeks to get a passport, with paying extra to rush the job, we could see no possible way to attend our own son's wedding, which was taking place on Sunday, June 18, 2017. We were devastated!!
My husband began frantically looking for any suggestions online. It was too late in the evening to call any office. We both began praying, crying out to God for help.
It was an impossible storm! We were without hope for a solution. But do you know what God did? He spoke Peace. And miraculously we had three, legal, fully renewed passports by 4:00 pm the very next day - less than 24 hours later. Impossible? Yes! But nothing is too hard for God!
Mark found a long-shot possibility online that night. So, the next morning, instead of driving towards Idaho and continuing Northeast, we headed to Seattle, Washington. It was about 6 hours out of our way, but it was where God gave us our miracle.
The Seattle office is the regional passport headquarters for the whole northwestern US. If anyone could rush a passport process through, it was this office. When we arrived, it was nearly 2 pm. The office closed between 3 and 3:30 pm. And the waiting room was packed with probably 75 people, all needing passport help, just like we did.
Two armed security guards patrolled the waiting room, making sure no anxious waiters turned road-rage ugly. Passport agents stood behind Lexan, bullet-proof glass, calling people up to their windows by speaking into a speaker system which broadcasted loudly in our waiting room area.
"G2714, Now calling G2714 to window 12". Really? My thoughts raced. If this was our long-shot, we still needed a miracle!
My husband had possessed the presence of mind to call ahead. He had gotten an appointment. So, instead of starting at the back of the line, we were directed to the appointment line. We now waited behind about 15 people, instead of 75. But time was against us. The sign on the door stated that passport office closed at 3 PM. It was 2:30 pm by the time we were called to the window.
Looking at our passports and listening to our story of how badly we needed the passports, the agent shook her head and replied, "You should have come earlier in the day. Maybe we can rush this through in the morning, but..."
"We'll be grateful for whatever you can do," we responded. Praying quietly. We knew that if we didn't get the passports and get on the road, we'd not be able to make the long journey in time. And flying was not possible considering the cost for the five of us (my folks were riding with us) all the things we needed to bring for the wedding (cameras, microphones, etc., etc...).
The agent shook her head again and glanced at the clock. "We'll see what we can do."
We sat down in the waiting area. Praying. Praying... And somehow we just knew, God was going to come through for us - to His glory. The room quieted down. 75 people dwindled to about 10. Still we sat. 3:00 pm came and went. But they didn't tell us to leave. So we waited.
At nearly 4pm, the agent called us back to the window. There in her hand were three beautiful, new, passports - one for me, one for my husband, and one for our daughter (my parents already had valid passports). Our hearts sang for joy as we left that building. We stopped together before the steps, bowed our heads and thanked God.
I am writing this post from our hotel room in Manitoba, Canada. We made it to our son's wedding! And yes, we are singing praises to our Almighty God, who speaks - and even the winds and seas obey Him.
What winds and seas overwhelm you? Don't forget, the Master is in you boat! Cry out to Him - in faith.