2am that warm, September night, the plane touched down in Saipan. I had been travelling for 20 hours to get there; three flights and too many layovers.
As I followed the mass of tourists into the terminal, I shivered. This was it. After two years of waiting, I was finally here. My new home. I had one last hurdle to clear before I was in the arms of my love – getting through US Border Control with my Visa. I just prayed all my paperwork was in order.
There must have been almost two hundred people ahead of me, and only a few customs officers on duty. It was past 3am by the time I reached the counter and handed over my documents. The customs officer opened my passport and, scanning the visa, asked, “Moving here?”
“Okay.” He handed me my passport. “Take a seat and someone will help you soon.”
I sat with two other people, figuring it wouldn’t be too long before my turn came.
How wrong I was.
The other two had complicated cases. One poor lady had forgotten her green card when she left home. It made me sick to see a customs officer constantly leave his station to come over and berate her for being stupid and forgetting it.
For two hours I sat there, unable to contact my fiancée who stood outside. Unable to let her know I had arrived safely, that all was going well. I was just waiting to be dealt with.
I sighed with relief when, at last, I saw the customs officer signalling me. He asked a few questions and sent me back to the bench.
Trying to calm my mind, I sat back down. Hoping I had everything I needed. Praying for a kinder fate than that which had befallen the lady next to me.
I’m grateful God provided an opportunity for me to pray for her while we waited. It transpired that she too, was a Christian.
She was still sitting there, in tears, by the time I staggered out of Border Control at 5:30am.
The baggage carousal had long since stopped moving, and my bags were stacked near it. I gathered my belongings and wheeled them through customs. Now I could finally go and say hello to my love for the “last” time. No more flying to separate homes after this.
I walked out of the airport, and there she stood. After two years of distance, seven months of fighting for a visa, and five months since our last hug, we had made it.
Our happy ending was us standing at the airport, exhausted, sweaty and locked in embrace. Laughing, crying, and unable to wipe the goofy grins off our faces.