Written on February 13, 2003
Our passports and Carnets WERE RETURNED to us tonight at 6:30pm!!!! God still does miracles! Thank you for praying! If you want more details, read on!
Today, Thursday, February 13 was the 17th day after I had lost our passports on a van.
On Monday, we had given up the idea that our passports would be returned. We called the American Embassy in Lima and found out that we could not get passports in Peru; only temporary passports could be issued outside the US, which would do us no good. So we were looking at a much longer and more complicated/expensive process of applying through the US (new security measures since 9/11). Since Tuesday, we have been trying to get the right sized photos for our passport applications. Last week we got some pictures taken for passports, but when I read the requirements, I realized the pictures we had were too small. Tuesday, we went to a professional photographer and had our photos taken, but they were too big. So Wednesday morning, all five of us took our third trip into town to get more pictures taken. But when I went back to pick them up, the photographer showed me the film. The lab had opened it up in the light and exposed the film! Frustrated, we all went back Wednesday afternoon and had our fourth photo session! We were trying to see the Lord's hand in this process, but were getting pretty frustrated.
This morning, I picked up the photos around 11am and brought them home. We were planning to go to the American Consulate this afternoon, which didn't open until 3pm. Karen was at a ladies Bible study until almost 4pm, and just before she got home, we got a phone call from a lady we met in Ica who told us that she really wanted to help us learn our way around Cusco and help us in whatever way she could. She and her daughter showed up just after 4pm and didn't leave until 6:15pm. The trip to the Consulate would have to be put off another day.
Karen started getting dinner ready and asked me if I'd go up the hill and buy some bread. When I left the house, I saw two Quechua ladies coming down the hill. But something was different, because in very non-typical Quechua fashion, the ladies approached me directly and spoke to me. One of the ladies said to me "Excuse me, do you know someone who is looking for this?" and she held out my Carnet. In disbelief, I took it from her, opened it up, and showed her my picture. I told her that we were offering a reward, and asked her if she had the other documents. She told me that they had heard on the radio that our documents had been left on a van, and that's where she had found them. We talked for a bit and she told me that they had been trying to find our house, but had been looking in the wrong neighborhoods. I explained that we had lost seven documents in total. She told me that she had them, but kind of hemmed and hawed. So I told her that I'd wait at our house for her to bring them and when she brought them, I'd pay her the reward. Then she told me that if I had the reward, she had the documents!
I looked them over and they were all there, with nothing missing!!!!! I paid her the reward, thanked her profusely, and instead of going to the store to buy bread I returned to the house to share the good news! After telling Karen and the girls, we all kneeled down and thanked God for returning our documents, sang the Doxology, and literally wept for joy and gratitude.
Had the photos been done right the first time, our applications for new passports (and a very large sum of money) would have been on their way to the US by now. Had we not had unexpected visitors, we would have turned in our applications today. God, in His incredible timing, has shown us His hand of mercy, as well as His perfect orchestration of events, in order to show us that He is in control!
We are very grateful for all the prayers of everyone. We attribute this to God's people standing in the gap for us. We know that people were stil praying even after we had given up. We heard about people putting us on their prayer chains, praying for us and passing the word. Thank you for praying, and thank you for all the encouraging emails that were sent to us. It is a blessing to us to know that so many people are praying and thinking of us!