Monday, July 28, 2014

Panic and Oops at the Canadian/American Border

            This weekend was the first time we were able to travel up to Canada to visit my in-laws since moving.  We were only gone for a day and a half but we were so glad to be able to visit.  It’s a nice change to be a short three hour drive from them.   Over the years that I’ve traveled back and forth over the Canadian American border, we’ve collected our share of funny stories.  But the one last night may be up there with my top few.  The funny thing is that I was thinking right before we crossed back into the US that we hadn’t had any major hiccup this time, I thought too soon.
            It was raining hard yesterday in Windsor and I thought that it would be a better idea to take the tunnel back to the US.  This border gives two options either a tunnel or a bridge and somehow hanging high suspended in the air as I could see lightening in the distance didn’t seem like a good idea. 
            We waited our turn and found our way to the immigration officers booth.  All was going great until the officer asked us for the registration of the vehicle.  We were driving my dad’s car.  If you remember last year this happened while we were driving one of my parents' cars and we never did find the registration though it had been in the vehicle the whole time. That officer had been sympathetic.  This one wasn’t.  Dan and I began to frantically search.  We couldn’t find it.  Rain was coming into the car and we both were panicking.  My oldest daughter and I saw the officer put our passports on a side shelf.
            “Can I make a quick phone call sir?”  I asked the border guard. 
            “Sure make it quick” He gave me a reluctant answer.  I called my parents, and quickly the registration was found.  I handed him the registration, he asked us a few more questions and he handed it back to us and told us we could go.  We were happy to be through the border, but now we were semi lost in downtown Detroit (Not a place you want to be lost in) trying to find our way to the highway.  We finally found it.  We drove for about 10 minutes.
            “So did you put the passports back in my purse?”  I asked Dan as I drove trying to see through the rain.
            “What passports?”  I could hear Dan’s fear in his voice.
            “The passports, where are they?”
            “You never gave them to me.”
            “I don’t have them.”  I pulled on the side of the highway, while we searched through everything.  We never were given them back at the border.  We were so excited he let us go, that we’d forgotten the passports! 
            The exit we were stopped at would have brought us back into Detroit.  We didn’t know where we were going, and by this point the GPS was confused.  I just starting driving toward what I could tell was downtown.  I was too focused to be that scared but the neighborhoods we were in were scary.  I was driving through trash; we stopped to ask a stranger for directions that he reluctantly gave.  We were lost. I am so glad it was daylight.
            When we finally found the exit of the border tunnel, there is no way you can drive up to it because the traffic goes in the opposite direction.  I pulled off to the side of the road letting Dan out to see if he could walk up to the border office.  Honestly I didn’t know what they would do to Dan for walking on foot towards the office.  How would we ever even find the right officer?  How would we get to where our passports were?  The kids and I started to pray.
            It’s amazing how God still takes care of His people even when they make mistakes.  When Dan walked up to the border there was an officer who just so happened to be outside of the office looking at another car.  This is several feet away from the booths to where the cars drive up.  He started to ask him about the passports.  The officer that was  searching cars outside away from the booths,  just so happened to be the same one that had interviewed us.  He knew right away why Dan was there, and right away took him in the office and got us our passports.  No one ever stopped me while I was parked on some sort of ramp waiting for us.  All in all, our detour probably only took 40 extra minutes tops.  It all worked out and we made our way back to Ohio.  All in all it was miraculous if you think about what goes on at the border and all the people that are involved.  Dan asked the man what they would have done if we wouldn’t have gotten them back.  The man told him that they would mail them to the address on file.  The problem with that is that those passports would have gone my last house in FL, to get forwarded to our rental we had in FL, to get forwarded to OH.  We would have either never seen those again, or it would have been a very long time had we not have gotten them back if we did.
            My family and I are realizing more and more, that we make some silly mistakes when we are a bit frazzled and panicked.  We don’t blame the border guard for this mistake.  It was a mixture of all of us.  He forgot to give them back and we forgot to ask.  Philippians 4:6 talks about not being anxious for anything.  I have often discussed this scripture about anxiety about the future, but the more I see this pattern the more I realize it can also be about day to day stuff.  We all have to teach ourselves how to be at peace in every situation.  Because when one is anxious and not in peace is when one makes less than good choices. 
            Now my family has a new funny border crossing story to add.  I’m grateful at how God got us out of our own mistake, and I’m learning to be at peace in stressful situations.  I think we all have had those moments.  I work on making mine less and less.  Grin.  God is so good. 
            God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited.

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