God is unbelievable. As a matter of fact, God is awesome. Now, those of you that know me know quite well that the words “unbelievable” and “awesome” are used quite a bit. OK, a lot. But I have to tell you that I am amazed a lot and it really doesn’t take a whole lot to do it. This is but just another example of how amazing and unbelievable God truly is.
Torch is launching into Brazil for the first time this year. I have dreamed of going to Brazil since I was in 7th grade at Davis Hills Middle School. I was in geography class and my teacher assigned everyone a country to do a report and a presentation in class. I was assigned Brazil. It wasn’t my first, second, or even tenth choice, but never the less I got it. But, after doing my research I decided that I would go there someday. Lofty dream for a boy growing up in northern Alabama. For most, just leaving the state of Alabama seemed like a pipe dream.
Yet, here I am, a week away from seeing that dream come true. Finally. Let me share with you another “God thing” moment. It happened today, on Memorial Day. A national holiday honoring our fighting men and women, past and present, who have guarded the freedoms of this country.
Plans began for Brazil about 2 ½ years ago. Danny Bratcher, long time Torch veteran, decided to sell his possessions and go to Sunset School of Preaching to get his degree in bible and go into the mission field in Brazil. We began discussing the idea of a Torch team going to Recife to work. Last summer plans began in earnest for our trip. Information about the trip went out in November and by March of this year our team was assembled.
Now, to go to Brazil you have to apply for a visa. I have never had to do this but it seemed to be a fairly simple procedure. You have to fill out an application, send a photo, your passport, and a check for $110.00 to the Brazilian consulate in Miami, Florida. How hard could this possibly be? Plenty hard, I can assure you!
My first mistake was waiting to the last minute to send off my application. I was waiting for 2 of my students from Friendship Christian to get all of their paperwork and money to me. I wanted to send all 3 of them together. Now, Danny had given me VERY SPECIFIC instructions on how to till out the visa application. He told me that if we made any errors on it that it would be rejected. I should have known this was true since 2 members of our team were rejected and they had to reapply.
My second mistake was not signing my passport. I just renewed my passport this year and I forgot to sign the new one. My application had been gone for about a week when Margaret asked me about it. Knowing that just one mistake could reject the whole thing, I began to worry. Actually, I had already started worrying because I sent off the applications 3 weeks before we were suppose to leave (and it takes 2 weeks to process the applications).
My third mistake was not paying close attention to the visa instructions. It clearly states to attach a passport photo to the application. Although I did attach a passport photo to my application we did not attach passport photos to my student’s applications. We used school photos that we got from the yearbook staff. One of the team members that were rejected was because he did not use a passport photo on his application. When I found that out I began to worry even more. (A lot…)
In my state of Worrydom, my wife told me to turn it over to God and stop worrying about it. Let HIM handle it. In my sarcastic little way I told her OK. (Can I say easier said than done here…?) So, Sunday night (May 27th) I finally did laid it out there in prayer and turned it over to God. I also got in touch with Brian Steffy to let him know that he might be leading the trip. (I am such a believer, aren’t I?) I figured I needed to make plans in case God decided that I didn’t need to go this year…
Monday morning. Memorial Day. National holiday. The banks are closed and so is the U.S. Post Office. 11:30 am the doorbell rang. I am outside in the back yard working. Margaret answered the door to receive a package. A package being delivered on Memorial Day??? It was the U.S. Postal Service delivering a 1-day express delivery envelope from Miami, Florida. ON MEMORIAL DAY. I really thought my heart was going to stop beating. It was from the Brazilian Consulate. Judgment day was about to take place.
And to my surprise and great pleasure, 3 approved travel visas were inside. And a great big invisible note from God with a smiley face on it. I guess nothing, including the U.S. postal service or a national holiday, can keep God from making a delivery!!!