Friday, June 1, 2012

Chapter 9: Passports and Visas and Mailboxes, Oh My!

The signatures were collected, the expensive stamps stamped, the pictures taken, the documents copied, and the packets stapled. All I was waiting for was the Secretary of State to send back my notarized documents with an authentication seal. It seemed to take forever. Though, really, it was only about three days. I'd organized all of the other documents over and over again in anticipation, keeping them in the pre-addressed envelope the Church Travel Office had sent to me, ready to stick in the last papers when I got them back and mail it all off. I admit, I was getting nervous. Every day, it seemed, I was hearing "horror stories" of missionaries called to Brazil who didn't get their Visas in time and had to be reassigned to a state-side mission for weeks, or months, until their visas finally came. How long had those missionaries taken to send off their documents to start the Visa process, I wondered? Every passing hour seemed to doom me to another week in the Provo MTC (Missionary Training Center) instead of the Brazil CTM.
My fingernails were all-but-gone by the time I heard my mom call out, "Railee, your papers came in the mail!" It was already two weeks past the deadline I'd been given to send my papers in, so maybe you can imagine my anxiousness to send everything off as soon as possible.
With the treasured documents clenched in my eager little hands, I rushed to get the envelope that had everything else in it and, after organizing it all over and over again, counting and re-counting, checking and re-checking to be sure that nothing was missing, I slid (well, stuffed, actually) every golden ticket into the envelope that was not nearly big enough to house such prized papers with the space they deserved. Mom had gone off to the gym by that point, and holding the hefty envelope, I remember thinking that it seemed too big to put in the mailbox, but I was in such a hurry to send it off that I just put a bunch of stamps on it, hoping that it would be enough, and tossed that baby into the mailbox.
It felt a little better, knowing that at least the work for my Visa wasn't going to be held up by me anymore, but something felt a little weird to me about all of that important information sitting out there in such a public place-- my Passport, photocopy of my driver's license, birth certificate, etc. all right there on the sidewalk, practically. What if someone stole it?
Nervously, I walked back out to the mailbox, where I said a little prayer over the envelope that it would make it safely and quickly to the Church Travel Office. I felt better after that.
.... Until mom came home and heard what I'd done. "That's not going to work," she said. "We need to take it to the post office." But the mailman had already taken it away. I started to panic. Oh no, oh no! What if it all got lost in the mail? What if someone stole it? "It'll just be returned," mom assured me, "and then we can take it to the post office."
I was so frustrated with myself. In my haste I'd been pretty thoughtless, and now it was going to take even longer to send everything off!

I was too embarrassed to tell anyone.

A week passed, and the thick envelope with the three stamps was never returned. I tried not to freak out. Especially whenever people would ask, "So, how's that Visa coming?"

Another week passed, and still nothing. I hoped it had all miraculously made it to the Church Travel Office.

And then, on Tuesday of this week, I started getting text messages from an unknown number-- some guy who said his name was "John", and who was under the impression that I was a blond babe he'd met somewhere scandalous, named Railee, and that I'd given him my number. He wanted to take me out for a cocktail on the waterfront. All of my claims that I was not the Railee he thought I was and my demands to know how he'd gotten my phone number only elicited things like: "Babe, why u bein this way? Ur hurtin my feelings."
Finally, I realized what had happened.
Someone had stolen my important documents! Some gangster man who stole people's identities and sold them to other people for large amounts of money. He'd sold my identity to some blond tramp who was too young to get into bars and needed a fake ID! Now she was going around giving out my number to weirdos she didn't care about for laughs.
I realized that she must also have my Passport. She had everything she needed to get a Visa, too. Great scott! She was going to go to Brazil-- my Brazil-- and enjoy the golden sunshine and turquoise water and wonderful people in the wrong way!
Now angrier and more frustrated than ever, I told this John fellow: "I'm sorry, but you have the wrong number. I would never give my phone number to anyone who would speak about me in such a disrespectful way."
I didn't hear from him again. But I knew this wasn't over. I needed to go to the source. I needed to find little miss party-girl Blondie and beg her to give me my life back! I felt like George Bailey, ready to run out into the snow with a wild glint in my eyes, scanning the town of Beaverton, dodging cars and wandering wildly through cemeteries that have my name on the headstones.

But maybe I was getting a little ahead of myself. First, I needed to calmly call the Church Travel Office and ask if they'd ever received my papers. If they hadn't, then I could go crazy.

Sadly, I missed their office hours, so I sent a desperate email instead. I got a reply this morning from Chelsea Morris, the woman in charge of my travel needs, stating that yes, all of my documents had arrived on May 18th and had been sent to the consulate of Brazil. Birds started singing, the sun broke through the clouds, Bowser and Delilah started doing a happy jig, and the dish ran away with the spoon!

And so all of my worries have been put to rest. My part is officially done and now all I have to do is the fun stuff, like shopping and studying the scriptures, while the Brazil Consulate looks over everything and decides whether or not I can be trusted to cross their border.

I'm really hoping that my Visa will come in time for me to report to the Sao Paulo CTM on September 5th, as I'm scheduled to, but if it doesn't.... That's really ok. I'd actually love to experience the Provo MTC. After driving past it so many times and getting so excited to go inside "someday", I admit that it was slightly disappointing when I realized that I wouldn't get to go. I got over that disappointment pretty quickly in the excitement of getting to go to the one in Brazil, but still, I really wouldn't mind going to both. Whatever happens, I'm sure it'll be for the best and that I won't regret it. So I'm just not going to worry about it for now.


  1. Eek. That sounds so nerve-racking! You had me freaking out at least three different times in this post, especially at the end thinking someone had stolen your passport! I'm so glad all your papers ended up in the right place though. Good luck with the Visa! I'm sure it'll come soon :)

  2. Hahaha! I love it. Railee, you are so dramatic in an entertaining way. I love the whole experience you just took me through wit the blonde chick and the George Bailey adventures too! Great post. Glad I can finally read them now!

  3. From the first two sentences of this post, I knew something was going to go wrong. As I kept reading I was feeling nervous, frustrated and worried! What a great ending to your entertaining/intense (and very dramatic) story!

  4. I love your updates - it makes me want to go on another mission!

  5. Hahaha you're so funny!! I love your pictures too, and I love your comparison to George Bailey ;)