Furlough schmurlough

Furlough – A word all missionaries are very familiar with and delight in!  A time to see family, to eat foods that are familiar and comforting, to shop in stores that seem “normal,” to hug family anytime they want to, to rest, to recuperate, and to prepare to head back to the foreign land they now call home.  Our furlough was supposed to start this coming Sunday, June 8– a day we have been looking forward to since our tickets were booked in January.  This furlough is even more special than others in that it is not a “working” furlough.  We don’t have to do any fundraising, not much speaking, etc.  This time in North America was set aside especially for us to spend time with our families, for our children to make lasting memories with their grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles…  to enjoy this gift that God has given us called FAMILY.  We are so incredibly blessed with the family we have, and we have been so looking forward to being together.

Supposed to…

Unfortunately, that is not happening.  It is too long and boring and frustrating of a story to try to explain in a blog, but I will give you the abbreviated version.

To live in South Africa, we need a South African visa.  We applied for our visa extension (our 4th extension) in March.  The last time we applied, we got our visa in 3 weeks.  For some reason, Home Affairs has gone backward in their efficiency and we are now in week 10 of waiting for our visas.  We have made numerous trips to Home Affairs and no one can even tell us whether they have our application anymore.  They have no real tracking system.

Up until last Monday, our plan was still to go and just pay the fine upon exiting the country (as our visas have now expired.)  On Monday, May 26, a new law was put into effect that no longer allows foreigners to leave the country with an expired visa.  If we leave, they will ban us from the country for one year and we will be marked as “undesirable.”  

That news threw us into a tail spin that, unfortunately, continues…  We honestly did not know what to do.  We have visited Home Affairs again with no help at all.  We have sought prayer support from all over the world for these visas to be approved.

Yesterday we went and got all new paperwork, new chest X-rays, new doctors letters, etc. to try and apply through the South African Consulate in Canada (couriering everything over to them.)  But we are not sure that they are going to accept our application as we are missing a few documents that they require.  We picked this route because they guarantee that your application will be processed within 10 business days – and we have NO guarantee that South African Home Affairs will ever look at our application!

(I told you I was going to tell the short version.  I really did, I promise!)

So today my husband gets to cancel our 5 international flights that are to depart on Sunday the 8th of June.  We do get some reimbursement but will still lose a lot of money.  We will also lose out on precious time with our family.  I am sobbing as I type this – anyone who knows me knows I sob a lot, so nothing surprising about that. 🙂

I am in mourning.  I feel like dressing in black.

I am mourning the loss of time with our families.  We don’t yet know if this furlough is going to happen.  We pray it does, but are not confident that it will.

We are really trying to handle this with grace and trust.  God is sovereign.  If we are to see our families this year (it has been 2 1/2 years since our children have seen their grandparents,) then God can make a way.  We know that.  But so far He hasn’t pulled that miracle out for us, and we see our furlough slowly slipping away.

So my new tactic is to treat it nonchalantly…  furlough schmurlough….  because I can’t be a sobbing mess whenever someone asks me about it.  Yesterday as I was waiting to be called for my chest X-ray, a sweet lady from church happened to be in the same waiting room.  She asked me how things were going with the furlough plans, and I promptly burst into tears!  How embarrassing.

So this blog was part of my therapy!  Get all my tears out.  (And believe me, there were quite a few shed in the writing of this entry.)  Thankfully blogs are not written on paper first, as that paper would not have survived the tears!

We hope and pray there is a follow-up to this blog that has our new flight details!  But if God decides there is something different He has planned for us this summer, we accept and won’t stomp our feet.  We might cry a bit!  😉  But the small trials in life prepare us for big ones and we want to honour Him in this small one.

Christmas 2011 – Happy memories
















25 Responses to Furlough schmurlough
  1. Ruth Reply

    I think i will cry with you.
    Trusting that SOMETHING beautiful will come of all this.
    SIGH my friend……

    • Michelle Reply

      Okay, sobbing again. I cannot even fathom not getting to go to Kentucky with you. So just not even going to think about that. Thank you for praying with us. Thank you for being my sister! I miss you tons!! Trusting God wants us to go FN! 😉 He will make a way!

      • Ruth Reply

        I’m not cancelling our appointments yet!!!!! : ) Is that hope? ; ) Big hug and honestly I’ve never viewed you as a sobber, but rather as a strong woman who can feel. Courage dear. Still wanting to drive to KY with you. : )

        • Michelle Reply

          Yes, don’t cancel… definitely still holding out hope!! 🙂

  2. Zaak Reply

    Yeah, I’ve seen you sob, it isn’t pretty.

    Really sorry to see you guys going through this. It is a feeling of being trapped isn’t it, mixed with a little guilt for feeling entitled, while being frustrated at the injustice of not being welcome in a country where you are in fact sacrificing personal benefit to serve – but it really comes down to missing home/family. Not a good cocktail of emotions.

    We continue to hope you will make it to Canada so we can see you guys.

    • Michelle Reply

      Thanks Zaak… I know you and Amber (and other ex-pat kind of people) understand very clearly what we are feeling. Appreciate the empathy so very much! And after reading your comment, my ugly sobbing got uglier. Thanks! 😉 We certainly hope we get to see you guys too! Last week we were about to send out a letter announcing the dates we were going to be at parks in Calgary and Edmonton so that all our friends could come see us… but also, that letter did not get to leave my outbox! 😉 Not sobbing… not sobbing… not sobbing….

  3. Catarina Livingston Reply

    Ahhh Michelle I’m sorry to hear this
    Have you tried speaking to the home affairs scottbrugh? They seem more
    Really hope it still happens

    • Michelle Reply

      We are not allowed to use Home Affairs in Scottburgh… we have to use the one on Umgeni Road as it deals with us foreigners. 🙂 Thanks for trying though !

  4. lee Reply

    Michelle, Your are in our prayers, and I’m sobbing too we were so looking forward to seeing you, We’ll keep you in our thoughts and prayers, Love you all Uncle John and Aunt Lee

    • Michelle Reply

      Thank you Aunt Lee. We are certainly TRYING and hoping and praying that we will get to salvage some of our trip. 🙂 Thank you for your prayers!!

  5. Tara Robertson Reply

    Oh you guys! I am so so sorry 🙁 Praying everything gets worked out quickly!!

    • Michelle Reply

      Thanks Tara. So many amazing people are praying with us (including you!) and it brings us lots of comfort! Trusting!!!

  6. Jo-Ann Grimwood Reply

    Well, I am really not too sure what to say with this pain in my heart for you all. To many of us outsiders, some would say you have already sacrificed so much to follow God’s calling…. We know we are to encourage you to look for the blessings God is or will send, however, I just feel like Satan needs to be yelled at and told to stop trying to knock you all down (if it is ever possible to knock down the Waldrons). So, for now, I send prayers and virtual hugs, (as I will never forever the incredible feeling of love and acceptance when I met you Michele and when Nate took my hand, while saying grace with a small group.) Always Love and Prayers, Jo-Ann

    • Michelle Reply

      Beautiful memories of that lunch together, Jo-Ann! Thank you for that sweet message! We are choosing to trust! But it is a choice… it certainly isn’t coming naturally. 🙂

  7. Kathy and Grant Reply

    Michelle and Carl, We DO still believe in miracles but having said that… if you are detained for whatever reason we know that it is part of God’s plan. Having said that we are in tears here also especially for the grandparents and family nearby and for those in the States who were ALL SO looking forward to your visit.We were anticipating a short visit also and are sorely disappointed. We will be praying for you as you and the children try and imagine how this could be happening. We are thankful you have friends and church family there that will hug you through this and we will certainly be praying for God’s peace through the outcome. You are so special to us and to God. He will give you peace and joy…even in this. Love and lots of hugs, Momma Magwood and my better half

    • Michelle Reply

      Thank you dear Momma Magwood! You and your better half are very special to us too! Thank you for loving us (and the grandparents waiting on that side)! Hopefully we will get that visit!!

  8. Shauna T. Reply

    ((((((Hugs))))) I am praying for God Speed, on this one <3<3

    Shauna T.

    • Michelle Reply

      And God’s speed is the best! 🙂

  9. audrey hely Reply

    BOO HOOOOO……Home Affairs slack!!!!!Feel your disappointment xxxxx

  10. Michael Reply

    This sucks! There’s no better way to put it. Nonetheless, you and your family will be in our prayers.

    On another note, I think it’s kind of funny that your kids haven’t seen their grandparents in 2 1/2 years while mine haven’t seen theirs in about 4-5 years…and we live in the same country. Although, I think the cost to fly from SA to here is about the same as from here to NFLD.

    Anyways, just hang in there Michelle. I believe you guys will be here soon enough.

    • Michelle Reply

      Thanks Mike! We sure hope to get to see you this summer! I can’t believe your kids haven’t gotten to see their grandparents!!! Horrible! It is like Newfoundland is a different country! 😉

  11. Darlene Reply

    I’m so sorry about all this stress and disappointment you are having. I’ve just come across your blog on FB and read a couple entries to learn about this. I am another friend on the prayer chain for you. Not sure what has happened, but will try to follow up. Love you forever friend!

    • Michelle Reply

      Thank you sweet friend! Means so much to have people praying all over the world for us. We still are not sure what is going to happen… we have rebooked our tickets for June 22, but our visas have still not come through, so waiting…. if they don’t come by then, we will have to cancel the trip. My parents have just moved to Chattanooga last week, so our plans were to help them get settled, etc. We are waiting and trusting…

  12. Amanda Reply

    Arg!! No words to express that disappointment 🙁
    We do (kinda, in a weird way) feel your pain though. We were supposed to leave Tanzania on furlough on June 18, but I got massive kidney stones and had to leave in an emergent way to get back ASAP. So we bumped our tickets up, and at the airport were held by customs because of our expired visas… we’ve been waiting 9 months, NINE, for our visas and they are still not approved. We had the reciept saying that we applied for them, but someone didn’t have their cup of chai that morning and they were NOT happy. They held us at customs, me in pain with my kidneys about to burst, our three year old trying his darndest to be patient and none of our Tanzanian contacts deciding to answer their phones. They didn’t let us on the plain until one of the flight attendants got off the plane and came looking for us because they wanted to leave. Sheesh. They did let us on, but only after a LOT of dirty looks and a long lecture about letting visas expire. Psh. Like we LET it expire. Anyway, sorry you had to go through all this – we can relate and we’ll be praying for a speedy return of your visas and a good trip back to the States!

    • Michelle Reply

      Hi Amanda, Nice to hear from you. I checked out your blog and read a few of your stories of life in Tanzania. I do pray you enjoy your furlough. It doesn’t look like we will get ours. We are going to cancel our flights if nothing comes through by tomorrow. 🙁 So sad. They are talking about revoking the law that would ban us from the country, but that won’t happen in time for us. Anyway, there have been worse tragedies, that is for sure. Hope your surgery went okay. Can’t imagine traveling with that pain! God’s richest blessings on you and yours!

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