I had to know if my university diploma survived the fire. This was more than a feeling of sentimentality for me.
In order to stay in Papua New Guinea or any other country for any length of time, we need a visa from the country. (A visa in this case is authorization to enter the country, not a credit card.) To get a visa, we need a work permit. To get the PNG work permit, we need two documents of education, such college degrees or a high school diploma. PNG will not take transcripts. Period. They require the certificates.
So I went looking for my university diploma among the charred remains of the attic after the fire. I found it about three feet from where some plastic coolers had melted down from the flames. Which is more miraculous: the fact the paper survived, or that I found it?
I looked for my high school diploma as well, but I still couldn’t find it. I started the process of getting a replacement from the school, but I felt prompted to drive back to the house. The restoration company was there, packing out what they could of the attic. A pile of charred rubble sat at the foot of the attic ladder. I asked one of the women, “Have you seen a high school diploma?”
“Was it red?” She meant the protective cover.
Yes, it was red.
She went to a box and pulled it out. Like my university diploma, it was a little singed, but it was intact.
I thought then that I won’t ever again doubt that God will protect and provide the necessary paperwork for international travel. It so often bedevils missionaries, but I couldn’t imagine ever worrying about it again. Well, maybe I would someday, but not anytime soon.
Shows what I know.
Debbie has her college diploma for one of her certificates, but lost her certificate for Life Coaching in the fire. At least, we think she did. We have gone through dozens of boxes that the restoration company packed looking for it. We never found it. Debbie called up the school asking for a replacement and they told her they send them out only once a month. That meant we had to wait a month. That month has come and gone. So has the first ten days of February. It still hasn’t arrived. We’re already getting behind in sending in paperwork so we can leave in August, and there’s not a thing I can do about it. That makes me very tense.
Yes, I believe God kept my diplomas safe, and I believe he helped me find them, but remembering that hasn’t helped. So I forced myself to remember that in the end, when all is said and done, this is not my ministry. It belongs to God. If the lack of a piece of paper throws all plans into chaos, it’s his problem. I’m just doing what I’m told to do.
(Update: the certificate came four days after writing this entry.)