I dreamt Texas dreams all night last night. I woke up thinking I was in my NaNa’s house and immediately started overflowing with prayers of gratitude, warm fuzzies and hometown giddiness. I was just about to get up with a morning dose of sass for my mom.
“WHY have I been in Texas for A WEEK and have not gone two-stepping yet!?!”
And then I looked up and saw a spider on my ceiling.
And I remembered.
Toto, we’re still in Africa.
These Texan toes haven’t two-stepped in a year and a half! There are new family members to meet, new flavors of Blue Bell to eat, and my NaNa… She’s made of perfect, and I’d swim to America to see her. For real.
But there has been no twirling with my mom or Dancing with the Stars marathons with my NaNa for a long, long time because something is broken.
My volunteer visa expired at the beginning of this year, and I was totally prepared for it y’all. I had the system down, the paperwork complete, and turned everything in for a renewal just in time.
Just in time…
Just in time for a presidential election that stopped paper-pushing and time itself.
Just in time to remember I don’t have anything down; I’m not prepared; I have no control.
Just in time to realize this doesn’t actually have anything to do with time.
Here’s the deal:
I re-applied for volunteer visa in February.
Just in time for a colossal paper jam. Right after I submitted my application, the laws changed so that if I leave the country before I have the new visa in my passport, I will not be allowed to reapply for re-entry for 1 – 5 years.
I was prepared for the 4 weeks to 4 months of visa limbo ahead of me.
This ain’t my first rodeo, people. You gotta just go with the flow.
Under. Control. I’d be home for mine and NaNa’s Labor Day weekend birthdays.
August came and went. No visa. No NaNa. No Texas. (But Texas DID come to me!)
In September, I finally got a number to call to check on my case. Since then, I’ve called weekly with no new news. I’ve asked a bazillion questions, offered to make the 4-hour drive to the capital city offices, and done everything I know how to do – and then some.
Welcome to visa purgatory.
I actually begged a guy to reject my visa so I could at least reapply to get the process moving again.
He said it’s impossible.
And not to call him again.
And no one with answers would talk to the public or agree to see me.
This is not under control at all.
We joke, (well it’s kind of a joke), about “Africa time”.
Africa has its own rhythm. Usually, when we talk about “Africa time”, we are talking about how, when an event starts at 1pm, that’s usually when people start thinking about getting ready for it. Or, when offices open at 7:30am, that just means they’d like to try and get the day started earlyish so they can go home early. Time is a suggestion because Africa doesn’t run by seconds and minutes as much as by sunrises and survival skills.
There’s a culture clog. Without the efficiencies of running water, personal vehicles, or even common language in the third world communities that I spend my afternoons in, things take longer. I think about these things as I write this from a café just down the road from those communities, where I just ordered an americano, a filling breakfast and am enjoying free WiFi.
(edit: I finished writing this blog on GoGo’s couch with GoGo-biscuits while a midget dances on a too-loud TV, Zodwa boils water to bathe, and two tiny grannies stand outside hanging freshly washed clothes and tilling land for a garden.)
There’s a gap between these worlds.
Not by time or by space.
There’s a gap between the system and the people.
Not by rhyme or reason.
There’s a gap in realities. And it hurts.
It’s heavy. It doesn’t make sense.
I was fine. I was actually at a newfound depth of trust and thankfulness with God in all of this unknown. I have been committing to telling Him, “YES” daily and thanking Him for trusting me with what I don’t understand. His plans, His timing, His ways. That’s what I want to be all about. That’s what I should be writing this blog about.
Even when my driver’s license and bank cards expired. Even when there are so many things in Texas I need to attend to. I was fine. I was thankful. And I was confidently saying, “Yes, Lord. Your ways and not mine.” But, let’s just be real, when my black bra and my iPod broke on the same day, there were some tears and… some words. But those tears finally washed up an even more sincere and resolute, “Yes, Lord.”
“It hurts, and I’m sad. But, yes, Lord.”
But today, after Texas dreams and yet another, “I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can do,” from home affairs, I feel like there’s a boulder on my chest. Not because of passports or Texas or two-steps or black bras or iPods.
Because it’s broken.
Because there’s a gap.
Because I fell through the cracks 9 months ago, and I feel like a piece of gum, chewed up, spit out and stuck under somebody’s shoe.
Because I know a little super hero who doesn’t even have record of existence, with no piece of paper to get jammed in a system.
Because there are thousands of cracks and millions of people that have never lived a day any different than the way I feel this day – who don’t know there is anything but the bottom of that shoe.
My visa’s pending.
Pending in some sort of visa vortex that feels like a black hole.
I can’t leave this country right now.
That’s real life.
My residency has nothing to do with my visa or my passport.
My home and my citizenship are in heaven, and I am just here as an ambassador for my Father’s family, wherever I am on this earth.
That’s the Way, the Truth and the Life.
He knows that visa vortex, those places between the cracks, and the underside of those heavy shoes.
He has every unwritten name etched in the palm of His hand.
He’s coming soon and very soon. And he will not delay.
The Father who sets the lonely in families, and Who definitely created the two-step and NaNa, does not run on Africa time. Praise the Lord.
So today, on a Texas-sized teardrop day, as I write you from this fancy café and with red mud stains on my shoes, I’m sending out an all-call for prayer.
He says His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.
Today, I just can’t understand how when He sees and knows all these people, all these cracks. How can He be so light when He knows all those unknown names and chewed up hearts? How could He leave Home and become the cracks, get scraped off of shoes, and become unknown and unnamed so our names would never be forsaken or lost?
He did. He does. And He is just in time.
Time and space bow down to Him. His love and power are so much deeper and wider than a visa vortex or a broken system.
So will you pray? Pray for me to remember that His burden is light. Pray me out of this visa vortex. Pray for Batman’s birth certificate. Pray for all the people in all the cracks. Pray for just in time to come now.
Now is the time for His Kingdom to come.
This is the time for justice, restoration and abundant life.