9/30/10

Adventure back to West Africa!

Sitting on the airplane flying into Accra many thoughts ran through my head. “What am I doing? I wonder what a Togo jail cell looks like? I wonder how much my bail will be? I wonder what it is like to be deported?” Ya know the usual questions you ask while you are about to fly by yourself into a West African country without a visa. Many of you may be asking “Becca how did you get yourself into this position in the first place?” Let me back up to fill you in on the events that led to this crazy and wonderful adventure.
Once upon a time in a small country in West Africa there lived a girl named Becca. She lived and worked on a BIG white tin ship as a pediatric nurse. After working on the ship for 1 year she saw the huge need for health education. Also during this time the ship was preparing to get some new parts added or fixed up. So while the ship was going to get surgery Becca had to find something to do for those 5 months of the hospital being closed. She looked and looked. She asked many people. She googled, yahood, and even asked Jeeves but could find nothing that fit. So Becca decided to pray. ““Dear God I don’t know where you want me to go or who you want me to work with but I know that you put this passion in my heart so whatever you want me to do I will do it for you.”
The very next day when Becca got back from work her roommate and good friend said “Becca, I met a woman today who does Community Health and I told her about what you want to do and she wants to talk with you!” A huge smile streaked across Becca’s face as she knew that this was an answer to her prayer. Becca quickly ran down to talk to the woman. This woman told her all about the organization called Global Health Network and Life wind. They call their teaching program Community Health Evangelism (CHE). Two weeks after this conversation Becca had signed up to work with CHE in West Africa for the full 5 months.
Becca continued her work in Togo and in August as the big white tin ship left Togo tears ran down her face leaving this place she loved but hope filled her heart knowing she would be back. After eighteen days of sailing the big white tin ship arrived safely to South Africa. Becca then spent two nights in Durban and then was off to Cape Town. Once in Cape Town Becca gathered together her 8 pieces of documents to send to Pretoria to the Ghana embassy there so that she could get her Ghana visa. Over the next 13 days Becca ran all around Cape Town with her other friends from the BIG white tin ship. They all had a blast.
During this time Becca still hadn’t heard back about her visa. At this point Becca was staying at her friends’ house and his Mom asked “Becca since your visa still hasn’t come maybe we should call the embassy to see what is going on.” Well by the end of that day Becca heard some not so good news. The embassy had denied her the visa and said the only was she could receive one is if she was to get one while in America.
“Oh no!” Becca thought, “What should I do?” So she called the American Embassy to get some advice, they suggested that her only hope would be if she were to fly to Pretoria and ask them face-to-face. So within 12 hours of this conversation Becca had booked an unexpected flight to Johannesburg even though she knew no one there, had no place to stay, no transportation to Pretoria, and was running out of money. Becca knew this situation looked grim from the outside but she had a sense of Peace knowing that God was in control and whatever the outcome if was going to be okay. So the next morning Becca’s friend was online and suggested that he had a friend whose sister lived in Joberg. Within the hour that friend came online, and Becca asked if it would be okay to stay with her sister and she agreed. By 3pm the next day Becca was at the Cape Town airport ready to board a flight to Joberg. But WAIT, due to the time difference from South Africa to America her travel agent didn’t confirm the flight and her money hadn’t gone through for this flight change. So as Becca and her friend walked up to the counter with just a prayer and a glimpse of hope the woman looked up her flight only to see that Becca hadn’t paid and she had no seat on the flight. The lady then walked away to try and see what she could do. She came back and asked Becca to come with her. They walked over to the ticket counter manager and they said “Sorry, you have to contact your travel agent we can’t do anything about this.” The first lady then took her to a different counter and told her to wait. As Becca and her friend stood there Becca was trying to think of what else she could do. But before she could think up her next master plan the lady had returned and said “Uh, don’t worry about it, we’ll put you on the flight anyway.” A HUGE smile fell across Becca’s face and before she knew it she had a ticket in hand. She hugged her friend goodbye and off she went.
She arrived in Joberg and by 10pm that night was soundly sleeping at her new friends house. The next morning Becca woke up and was off to church. She still didn’t have a ride to Pretoria but she hoped that something would work out. After church she went back to the house and started looking up transportation to Pretoria. The cost to go was a lot more money then she expected. So that evening as they were off to church again Becca asked if there was anyone at the church that might be going to Pretoria that she could hitch a ride with. Once at church her friend talked to a girl that goes to school in Pretoria and she said that there was an extra seat in their car. Hooray!!
The next morning at 6am Becca started her drive to Pretoria. Becca knew once she was in Pretoria she would have to figure out how to get to the Ghana Embassy. Now the Ghana Embassy was only open from 930-1230 and then was closed for the following two days due to a Ghanaian holiday. Becca knew that these 3 hours were her only chance of getting her visa and being able to fly out by the next night on her scheduled flight. As they drove to Pretoria her new friends looked at the map and to Becca’s surprise the embassy was only a 10-minute walk from their campus. WOW! Once at the campus her two new friends walked with Becca to the Embassy and Becca was the fourth person in line. As she waited to talk with the woman she prayed that God would soften the hearts of those she talked with and also that He would give Becca peace. Finally it was Becca's turn as she walked up to the window the woman’s stone face didn’t show a glimpse of emotion. Becca explained her situation and the woman stood up, went into a back room, and came back with a package in hand. Becca’s heart jumped. As the woman handed Becca her passport she then said “Sorry we are unable to give you a visa.” Becca froze not knowing what to do. Over the next 120 seconds Becca stood there asking the woman if there was anything else she could do, someone else she could talk to, any other people that could call. The woman repeated time and time again, “No. No. No.” But Becca didn’t move. Not because she was trying to be difficult but because her legs WOULDN’T move. Finally the woman got fed up and walked over to the big steel locked door and said “Come in and talk to this other woman.” Becca’s legs finally moved again. As she walked into the white freshly painted office she knew this was her last hope. As she sat down in front of this woman tears started falling from her eyes. Becca quickly tried to wipe the tears away. The woman then handed her a tissue and said “Its not as bad as you think.” As Becca explained the situation to the woman, this woman then gave her some suggestions of things she could try to do to get this visa. The woman told Becca to call her with the results. So Becca quickly went off to do all that the woman had suggested. Well after 4 hours of running around all of those options came back as NO.
As Becca sat on a dirty park bench she surprisingly still felt at peace. She continued to ponder ways that she could get back to West Africa. “Hmm.. where else could I go? How else could I get a visa?” “Togo?..... TOGO….Maybe I could get back into Togo since the ship just left there.” So Becca called the Big white tin ship and asked if they thought this was possible. The man on the other end said that there is a chance that it would work but since the ship is not in port that the visa voucher is null and void, but he said that she could try. So Becca then contacted her travel agent and asked if they could make an additional flight from Ghana to Togo.
By Tuesday night Becca boarded her plane by herself to go to Togo. She had no visa, she had little money left, she had minimal communication lines, but she knew that God was with her and that everything was going to be okay.
She flew from Joberg to London and then London to Ghana. But wait, as they boarded their flight to Ghana two of the aisle lights had died and they needed to be replaced. The pilot said that this was a rare occurrence and a small issue but due to regulations they had to fix the problem before flying. Due to this “small issue” the plan was delayed one hour, which meant as they arrived into the Ghana airport Becca had 10 minutes to board her flight. By the time Becca had received her bags the flight to Togo had left. But while she was waiting for her bags she noticed a small sign that said GHANA VISAS. After collecting her bags Becca walked over and paid 20$ for a transit visa. Many of you may be asking why this is so important but now that Becca had this one day visa that meant that if she was unable to get into Togo instead of them putting her in jail, or deporting her back to America, they would only send her to Ghana. “hehe!” Since Becca missed her flight the airline put her up in a hotel. Instead of Becca staying in a jail cell she instead was at a 4 star gold trim hotel with a large bed and many pillows.
The next evening Becca took her one-hour flight to Togo praying that the documents that she had would suffice. As she walked up to the custom agent the man took her passport, glimpsing at the pile of papers and stamped her passport. Becca made it back to West Africa. Horray! Wow! God is so good.

3 comments:

Heather said...

Wow, God is Good! What a story! Glad you made it okay, may He bless the days ahead of you as you start your new work!
(From a girl who's hoping to join with Mercy Ships next summer. I've really enjoyed reading some of what you've written about working on the ship!)

Jean's Corner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jean's Corner said...

There is no way they can bail you in Togo :)
Nice story though. Our God is good. May the Lord direct your path and place on your way the right people.
Thanks for sharing this and I will continue praying for you. Jean