Yesterday morning, the six Trumbles, along with Beth’s brothers Doug and Bill, and Bill’s wife, Julie, piled into Bill & Julie’s 15 passenger van (modified so it only fits 11 now but has more storage space in the back) with a bunch of our junk. This is the vehicle I refer to as “The Prison Transport” but Julie prefers to call it the “Party Transport” or something like that. Anyway, we piled in and drove the approximately 300 miles from Oskaloosa, Iowa, where we’d been staying with Beth’s folks, to Minneapolis, Minnesota where our flight was scheduled to depart at 7:45 pm on Monday night, January 11.
We arrived at the airport and got our enormous volume of stuff inside and worked on adding labels and stuff and then when I went to check in, a funny thing happened: They wouldn’t check me in.
Leah, the agent we were working with, didn’t like the fact that we had one-way tickets to Malawi but no visas for entry into Malawi. Her system told her this was a requirement. At some point, Leah’s supervisor was also brought into the discussion. So, what to do? I called Malawi between about 2:00 and 2:30 am Tuesday morning in Malawi. Apparently I was supposed to have a letter from African Bible College stating that my Temporary Employment Permit paperwork was in process. I didn’t have the letter but the president of ABC (who lives in Malawi) someone with the home office in the United States and I eventually received the letter via email. The airline people didn’t really care about the letter. Jan Harper from the ABC home office spoke to Leah’s supervisor but the airline folks still were not satisfied. Eventually, the supervisor’s manager also weighed in on the situation but the song the airline people were singing really didn’t change. Apparently this basic process has worked frequently in the past with other ABC missionaries but perhaps after the recent attempted terrorist incident on Christmas Day or for some other reason, the enforcement of the rules has been changed.
In the end, we did not resolve the issue in a way that would allow us to board our flight and thus we returned to Iowa. The Trumbles arrived back at Dad & Mom Boender’s house at about 2:00 in the morning after stops by Doug’s and Bill & Julie’s houses to drop them off at their homes.
Donna Palmertree, one of the ladies that works in the home office in Mississippi, sent a message today and part of what she said is quoted below:
I’m so sorry about the little hiccup in your plans … we were all blindsided but ultimately, we have to know that God’s in control and He sees things we don’t. What an extreme blessing that you have family that you get to enjoy a few more days before leaving the country and as I was told on one of our mission trips to the Ukraine about a situation we were in “It just adds to your mission testimony!” It will be cool and encouraging to see how God works this out.
Well said, Donna. God IS in control. We do not know exactly what His purposes are during this time but we can trust that He knows what He is doing. So, we have a bit of an adventure on our hands (and a bit of extra time which is also a blessing)!
Please pray that we would be able to obtain the necessary visas quickly. I am told that the processing of the Temporary Employment Permit can take months. Please pray for miraculously quick processing of my application and that approval for our full family would be given quickly. As long as we are able to use the tickets within a year, we will not forfeit the cost of the tickets so that is a blessing. We might face some change fees for the tickets but that is a much better situation than if we had to walk away from the full cost of the tickets.
Elizabeth was running the camera for much of the time and did a pretty good job of capturing some of the events. Below are a few pictures but if you want to sort of see the progression of events, You can view pictures here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=141443&id=650243390&l=b9bca7b3ce
Thanks for your prayers for our family during this time!
Here's me with Leah (the agent) in my left ear and someone from ABC in my right ear.
I bought internet access and sat there working with stuff. Fun times!
Stephen taking a break