The first time I traveled to a foreign country, I was more or less in the position that Naomi is – the child of parents who decided to transplant our family to a new location because of their calling to teach English internationally. This time I’m the parent, and this past weekend, Naomi and I traveled from Seattle to Seoul. Perhaps needless to say I was somewhat anxious about being the sole parent and adult our little traveling party.
I know that many people were praying for us, but I’m ashamed to say that I have not spent much time in prayer or communion with the Divine at all in these past few weeks. There was very little time to relax or think of much of anything on the plane, as I was entertaining Naomi or responding to her millions of questions, observations, and demands. That we would get a visa to enter Korea has never been a certainty. At least, a visa for any considerable length of time. We did not apply for a visa’s as Joe’s dependents so I was counting on our Canadian passports to get us six month tourist visa’s. But we don’t have return tickets and more than once, both by the Korean consulate in Seattle and by the worried looking check-in agent at the Korean Air desk in Seatac Airport, that it’s all up to the customs agent and Koreans don’t like it when you come into the country without a return ticket. Thus, when I was on the plane, and Naomi had finally fallen asleep in the final hours of the flight, my prayer was simple and direct: God, may we go through customs smoothly. I said this on repeat as I watched the miniature plane on the screen in front of me get closer and closer to Incheon on the map.
I thought that if I landed at the airport in the state I was in, and I was asked even one question like, “Do you have a return ticket out of Korea?” (no) or “How long are you planning on staying?” (a year) I would probably start crying. I was lugging a tired and pee-stained preschooler, my bags and hers, and had not slept for about 24 hours. And yet the customs agent barely glanced at us long enough to verify that we were the people in our passport pictures. A quick stamp and a scribbled ‘6 mos’ and we were through the doors and waiting for Joe.
Five or six months from now, when Joe and I and Naomi are returning from our yet unplanned vacation through Asia, I hope God is listening again!