I didn't know how fast my visa would be approved. It could be very quick, or it could take the full 10-15 business days they told me at the consulate. The day after Labor Day (also my birthday), I put in my notice at work. It didn't feel real, and it was like taking a huge gamble since I didn't know when I'd be able to actually leave Lynchburg. I felt like listing my last day as September 18th was the right move, so I did it.
Every day has felt like I'm extending out my leg, taking a step, and not knowing if there is going to be ground to support the weight of my foot. I still don't have renters for my house, and yesterday morning, there were still so many more unknowns. It was frustrating, and it tried my patience and my relationship with the Lord in so many ways. Why, you ask? It was just a matter of waiting, right? Have you ever been in a period of extended waiting, not knowing if or when the answers to your prayers will be given? It may seem silly that this was such a test of faith for me (and still is, with no renters yet), but there is so much more going on than meets the eye. I have wanted to leave Lynchburg for quite some time. I love it here, I made my home here, but I've known it's time to move on for a while. I applied for a lot of jobs in another city, but none of them worked out. Then this wonderful opportunity came along, and it has been a quick process, but still has felt like ages to me since my initial application. All I've wanted to do is pick up and go, and I couldn't. All I wanted to do was to do something new, something that was a breath of fresh air, and I had to wait for an indefinite amount of time. So in the meantime, I've spent my downtime browsing Pinterest for things to do in Paris, and making so many notes of places to go and things to see. Waiting is never easy, and there are still things I'm waiting on, and just having to trust in God's provision and timing.
And that is why yesterday was a day I will always remember. When I initially applied for the au pair position, my two biggest concerns were finding renters for my house, and wondering If I would be finished my Invisalign treatment. I began treatment in April of 2014, with no exact time frame as to when it would be complete. I knew it would be around this fall, but I didn't know how close I was or what I would do if I wasn't finished and I had to leave. Around mid-August, I went in for one of my appointments, and my Dr. told me I'd be finished by the first week of September, but that they would have to prepare my retainers at that point. So the first week of September, after going to my next appointment, they scheduled my last one to pick up my retainers for (you guessed it) September 18th. I had to marvel at God's timing on that one. Somehow I end up making my last day at LUO on the same day I would be done my treatment, after starting this almost a year and a half ago. The fact that I was so so worried about what to do back in July when it came to finishing it up, and all the while I didn't have to because the Lord had perfectly scheduled it to be complete when I needed it to be over. That amazed me.
Then there was this week. Earlier this week, through other circumstances the Lord brought to my attention, I've just been so in awe of God's incredible providence and His ability to use seemingly insignificant moments in our lives sometimes years later to accomplish His perfect plan for us. I'm just amazed by the things I've realized this week. It hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows though. I don't want you to get this picture that I have been on some spiritual high this week and I've just been some perfect little Christian woman whose unwavering faith never doubts God. I can assure you, that has not been me. I've questioned God, been angry, frustrated, and through those moments, yes, I have also experienced God's overwhelming grace and love through these revelations of His divine providence. I wanted to know when I was leaving. I wanted to be able to plan and do things my way. But I'm going to be completely honest. Earlier this week, I just had a feeling that God was going to wait until yesterday, September 18th, for my visa to come. Why did I feel like this? Because I thought...if God really wanted to show off His sovereignty and timing in ways that would just overwhelm me and blow my mind, He would wait until my last day at LUO and the same date I was finished with my Invisalign. I think you can already tell where this is headed...
Yesterday at work, I received so much love and encouragement from the coworkers I've been with over the past 6 years. I was given hugs, handshakes, told how much I would be missed, and I had to say goodbye to my closest friends and colleagues that I am going to miss so very much. It was an emotional and very surreal day. On my drive home, it hit me that I no longer have any ties to Liberty University other than being an alumna. That gripped at my heart pretty bad. As I made my way home, I had thoughts about the yard sale I had the next day, with dozens of to-dos to get done before then. I wondered when I would have to call around town for a storage unit, and when I would have to ask for people to come help me move. I wondered when my visa would arrive, when I would get to go home to spend time with my family, how I would get everything finished. I wondered if I would be going to Paris, finally going, next weekend or the weekend after. Every day this week, I thought I would open my mailbox and there would be my visa, and I could finally book my flight, but it was never there. Until yesterday. I pulled in my driveway, slowly walked to the mailbox, my heart pounding, and I'm just hoping without getting my hopes up that it would be there. I took a breath, opened it, and not only is my visa there, but the final document I needed, my apostille for my birth certificate, was sitting in there too. God certainly has a knack for showing off.
Then the tears came. I quickly got back in my car, pulled the rest of the way down my driveway, and sat there uncontrollably sobbing and laughing at the same time. I kept checking to make sure none of my neighbors could see me because at this point I probably look like a crazy person just sitting in her car, ugly crying, while the worship music I had been playing continued to blare from my car. After getting a hold of myself, I ran inside, opened the visa envelope, and there it was, neatly stamped in my passport and ready for use. I opened the second envelope, and there was my official apostille from the Maryland Secretary of State. The shock and happy tears lasted for probably a good 30 minutes. I emailed GeoVisions and my host family letting them know. My host family emailed me back this morning, and there was only one thing left to do.
Tonight, I booked my flight. This Friday, September 25th, I'll fly out of Dulles Airport, hop onto an Icelandair flight for a layover in Reykjavik, and Saturday I will finally arrive in Paris and meet my host family. One week from today, I will be in Paris. It still doesn't feel real, and I have dozens of things to get done before then. I have to pack up my house in the next 2 days so I can go home and spend a few days with my family before having to say goodbye to them for a year. I am so ready, and yet so not ready at the same time. I am so excited to start my adventure, and yet so sad to be leaving my home of the past 11 years. The transition will be a difficult one, I'm sure. But this whole ordeal has been so clearly orchestrated by the Lord, I know I can handle it. I just need to take one step at a time.
If I ever cross your mind during your day, say a prayer for me. My emotions are all over the place, my stress level is through the roof, and I'm sitting here blogging among a myriad of boxes, some packed and ready to go and others half full. It'll all get done. I have to keep telling myself that. I still don't have renters for my house, so also pray for that to happen quickly. If this week has taught me anything, it's that the Lord is sovereign and ultimately in control. We are commanded not to worry, and you'd think that would have sunk in by now, but I'm only human. I want to see the plan, but sometimes you just have to sit back and trust that there is one and it's not for us to see or know until God wants us to.
Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive and interested in my journey. I can't wait to actually be over there and start blogging about my adventures.
Paris, a bientôt!