[Here’s PART 1 if you missed it.]
We cleared customs at O.R. Tambo International Airport, producing our passports from The Plastic Envelope.
Let me explain about The Plastic Envelope.
For two weeks abroad, we’d guarded The Plastic Envelope with greater paranoia than we’d guarded our kids. As in, ‘Have you seen Scott anywhere in this massive crowd?’ ‘No. But I have The Plastic Envelope!’ The Plastic Envelope held our passports and the boys’ unabridged birth certificates and we’d kept it in our careful clutches for the duration of our trip.
Waiting for our bags at the designated carousel, we put The Plastic Envelope into the basket of the airport luggage trolley. Our bags were finally conveyed to us by the conveyor belts and – great excitement! – the doors of Arrivals at Terminal A opened and there were my folks to take us home.
We loaded all our stuff into the car and the trolley was wheeled away and parked. If this was a film, we would now be in soft focus in the background, and there would be a close up of what was left behind in the basket of the luggage trolley:
The Plastic Envelope.
We told my parents all our stories at a rate of about 400 words a minute. We got home and the dogs nearly wagged their tails right off while we unpacked and put washing in the machine and made lunch.
Scott came into the kitchen and said, ‘Mom, can I have my boarding pass, to stick in my journal?’
I said, ‘Sure. It’s in The Plastic Envelope.’
Again, if this was a film, the next bit would be in slow motion. Murray’s eyes met mine. I went very hot. And then very cold.
He said, ‘I haven’t seen The Plastic Envelope.’
I said, ‘Me neither.’
Frantic fumbling through all our stuff ensued. Nothing. We called my dad – he scoured his car – called back – nothing.
We phoned my sister and said We’re dropping the boys at your place then driving back to the airport start praying!
I phoned airport security. Lost-and-found. The police. Any passports handed in? Nothing.
We prayed silent, stressful prayers as the highway blurred past and if we didn’t break the land speed record we definitely lost points on our Discovery Drive profile. I awfulized about the Home Affairs queues that loomed ominously in our future. I lamented all the wasted, still-valid visas.
An engineer of flawless precision, my dad could describe to us the exact location of the parking spot his car had occupied some four hours earlier.
We parked and Murray launched his strategy for Operation Passport Reclaim. We’d split up and search every parked trolley in the diminishing hope that The Plastic Envelope was still lying in one of them, quiet and unnoticed by lurking car park criminals. If we found nothing and if our hopes had not completely coughed and died, we’d try the airport police again because, you never know.
Murray went right; I went left. I came across a mess of trolleys haphazardly parked. I could see the envelope wasn’t there but I looked anyway. Looked and looked. Moved on to the next lot of parked trolleys.
Then a thought struck – I think I might have missed some trolleys in that last lot.
I turned back and saw three trolleys parked around a metal dustbin. Again, I could see from where I was that their baskets held no Plastic Envelope.
And then, the miracle moment.
A sentence dropped into my thoughts. I saw the words line up in my brain:
Look In The Dustbin.
I walked up to the bin –
Looked down –
And there it was.
The Plastic Envelope.
I could see the passports through the plastic before I even lifted it out. It was heavy with worth. Everything still freakin’ there!
I screamed Thank You Jesus then I screamed Murray Murray Murray and didn’t care about the crazy-lady looks I got. I found Murray interviewing a semi-circle of half a dozen security guards. (Upon whose authority he had rounded them up, I’m not sure, but they were politely and intently cooperating with his inquisition.)
I was shaking with happy incredulity and Murray drove home quite slowly, really, and we talked a LOT because WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?!
And I knew God was sending the same message:
I’ve Got This.
Because like Martha I’m anxious and troubled about so many things and I forget that, like our passports, once I was lost but now I’m found and the God who found me is strong enough and loving enough to take care of every present and future detail. Against all odds He can take care of us and our passports and our children’s passports and with or without visas and options and opportunities –
He commands our destiny and we are free indeed.
For today, that’s enough.
. . .
Yay for the weekend! Next week, Part 3!
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