passport photo-shoot for the baby – 2008
Now it’s only three days until we leave. Well, that’s how it was supposed to be.
You see, last Wednesday we attempted to complete the final formality – paying for the US visa waiver, which we are apparently entitled to as Kiwis.
After typing in pages of details for each one of us, providing credit card details, and hitting the APPLY button, we received an AUTHORIZATION PENDING notification. Talking with friends at dinner that evening, they seemed surprised – having just been to the States, they had gone through the same process, and they seemed to recall it all being instant. The obvious reason was that this was a large group that for some reason required special checking, but my brain went into overdrive…..and I suddenly realised with a sinking-stomach-feeling that I had checked the passport requirements for France, Spain and England (because we were aware that the mother and children passports would expire just five months after the end of the trip), but we hadn’t checked for the US. A quick online search revealed that, indeed, for entry to the US one’s passport must be valid for six months beyond your intended stay. The European countries are not so strict – valid is good enough for them.
“Don’t worry about it,” FatherBear sagely suggested.
Heeding his advice, I tumbled into bed and tried to go to sleep.
But my brain does not switch off until the Worst Case Scenario Plan B is in place. So I worked it out.
I would ring the embassy in the morning and find out the chances of being denied – we could not afford to wait for the possible 72 hours that this decision might take to be made through the official channel. If there seemed any chance of refusal, I would start filling out nine application forms for new passports. We would not faff round taking our own photos – we would pay someone to do them FAST, choose a long-suffering friend to witness them all and hopefully have them couriered to Wellington by the end of the day. That would give Friday, Monday, Tuesday for the speedy (and expensive) applications to be processed…and hopefully returned to us by Wednesday. Then we could pay the US again, redo all those questions (but now have to state that we had once been denied), in the hopes of receiving an immediate authorization (unlikely given the last bracketed statement). Yes, it would cost a hundred dollars for the photos, more than a plane ticket just for the passports, and require a second payment for the visas, but there would be a slim chance that it might all work out and we could still fly on Thursday. Indeed, we might not even know until Thursday morning, but there would be HOPE.
I went to sleep, only to wake frequently and tell myself that I could do nothing about it so there was no point being awake. Finally, when it was not too early to be up, I stole into the study and turned on the computer. No confirmation email. Ah well. At least it was not request denied! Hope remained.
At breakfast we explained the situation to the children. There were some forlorn-looking faces stretched around the table. And then there was Micaiah.
“We’ll just have to ask God for a miracle,” he informed us.
There wasn’t time for discussing the theology of God-as-Santa-Claus, there wasn’t time to lead by example in giving thanks in all circumstances, there wasn’t even time to ask for a miracle….not wanting to prolong the agony unnecesarilly, FatherBear was quick to inform them that even before we had whispered a prayer, God had answered and the miracle had already been worked. While I was checking emails, he was logging onto the site itself, punching in our group code and discovering that while we had been tossing and turning the night away, someone was approving our applications.
We gave thanks.
Of course, there’s every chance that on our way back through LA, we will not be allowed to leave the airport, but missing out on Santa Monica is far preferable to missing out on the whole trip!