I know some of you must be thinking, where has Grayson been? Well, since my last blog post (the one regarding my hospital visit) I have been very busy. After a few weeks of recovering from surgery, I started to really prep for my trip.
It all started when I realized that I was mistaken about the ease of getting a visa. I had heard from several people and I had studied the South African website and was under the impression that it was an easy process that required very little documentation since I am just going as a “tourist.” However, I soon found out that I was severely mistaken. The application and gathering of all the paperwork actually required a staggering amount of hours and energy, all capped off by a long journey up the east coast to Washington DC which I made last week. Where it gets interesting; however, is when I arrived at the South African consulate in DC. Once there, I quickly found out that the word “Intern”, even “UNPAID, VOLUNTEER intern” is not a fan favorite. The man saw a letter that was included in my documentation that he didn’t like, and without hesitation told me that there was no way I was receiving a visa. I sat and tried to “sweet-talk” him for roughly a half hour before realizing I had exhausted all efforts to persuade him. I am usually quite persuasive, but no luck this time.
As I left the building, I was filled with anger and disappointment. I had driven 12 hours alone to get the Visa and was denied because of a single piece of paper. It seems so pointless to deny me this. I decided, however, to take this as a learning experience and ask what good can come from this experience rather than why did this happen. Not everything always works out the way you plan it, so you have to take the hand you are dealt and learn and grow from it.
After really thinking it through and talking with my mom about the good lessons that were coming from this tough experience, I had peace. God made it clear to me that he was in control of the situation as he has been with the rest of this trip. We have another plan for getting the visa, so we are back on track and nothing but God will stop me from going on this trip! I learned a lot from this experience including the need to do more thorough research next time, but really good experiences came out of my trip as I got to spend time with my aunt, uncle, and grandparents in Richmond which was an unexpected blessing. Also, I took the longest solo car ride to this date. Another step in my journey of life…
Thank you all so much for keeping up with me, I am back to posting regularly now that this stressful two week period of my life is over! My flight to SA is scheduled for Tuesday, September 12 so I will touch base before I go and once I am settled there. Please pray that the rest of my prep time goes smoothly and that God continues to prepare my heart for my mission in South Africa.