As I boarded a plane in Penticton for a short flight to Calgary and then a connecting flight to Toronto, the attendant scanned my passport and informed me it was about to expire soon, really soon: 'It's okay today but if you try to use it tomorrow it won't be valid'. In all the details of putting this trip together I had neglected to notice my passport was expiring. (My trip included three days in Boston, so a valid passport seemed important!)
For the next hour as I sat on the plane there was nothing I could do but upon arriving in Calgary I contacted Janice and Scott; all three of us began to research passport renewal and border crossings. I knew immediately it did not look good. U.S. customs requires a valid passport for the entire time of your visit and renewal would be a least a two day process. As I boarded the plane to Toronto it appeared as if we would have to cancel our flight to Boston, motel reservations and seek to re-sell our tickets to the Bruins' games. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I literally felt sick about what was happening.
Just before shutting down my phone I texted Scott to say we might have to come up with a 'plan B'; I expressed my disappointment to him. I received a quick reply: I was disappointed when you said we might have to cancel our trip to Boston but then I thought, I get to spend three days with my dad and that's what's most important.
Though we had planned this trip to connect around a couple of games in Boston, my biggest reason for going was a sense that I just needed to spend some time with my son and to see my mom again. I began to gain a measure of perspective; not quite what I was planning, but we'd make the best of it -- maybe stay a couple of days in Niagara Falls; a place where we had visited often when the kids where younger. We could just hang out and watch the games together. It would be okay.
Yet, I was still disappointed as the plane lifted off; my head was spinning as I thought about all the little things we would need to address to alter our plans. I replayed the words of a conversation I had with Janice and her words, 'I'm praying for you'. In the midst of a sense of panic, I really had not shared this with my heavenly Father. I closed my eyes and in my spirit began to talk to the One who has been so faithful and good to me: Lord, I'm okay if this doesn't work out the way we had planned. I don't need to go to Boston but if there's some way that it can work out, I think it would be a blessing to Scott; either way Lord I just want to enjoy my time with him.
Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
I'm not sure if the thought came to me in answer to prayer but somehow I sensed a leading from God to seek to cross the border -- perhaps hoping the agent would be sympathetic to our situation. We had planned to cross the next morning to catch a flight from Buffalo to Boston but decided to head to the border that evening while my passport was still valid; at least we would know if there was any possibility of continuing as planned. In the car I texted Janice: heading to the border. The reply came back: praying for you.
To make a long story short, we crossed the border without incidence; the agent looked at my passport and either did not notice or was not concerned with the expiry date. I used the same passport to board the plane in Buffalo and then again on the return flight from Boston. We still had to cross back into Canada, but somehow that seemed less daunting.
Again, we crossed without incidence. I spent the next couple of days visiting my mom, watched the Bruins game with Scott on Saturday night and returned home the next day, using my driver's licence to board the plane in Toronto and Calgary. I have my passport renewal form filled out and ready to be dropped off next week!
A lucky break? Maybe. A coincidence? Maybe. But I really did have a sense of God's peace and leading as we made our way through the border on that Monday evening. And I have no doubt my heavenly Father was looking after us. I think He smiled as Scott and I walked into the TD Gardens on Tuesday night. Maybe I should have prayed for the Bruins; they lost both games!