Getting Carolyn off to Europe was a huge project - twice as hard as getting her off to college. Her junior year abroad was based upon an alliance between Alma College and Oral Roberts University. All of her arrangements had been made through ORU and, of course, required a passport. Carolyn did not have a passport. When we learned it would take four to six weeks to receive one in the normal manner, we made a trip to Chicago to request a special time dispensation. Although this whirlwind trip turned out to be fun, it also created a certain amount of stress. When we returned home with the treasured passport, I decided to put it away for her so that she could easily locate it when it was needed.
On August 25th, my sisters, Mazel and Ruth, came for a four-day visit. They wanted to have some quality time with Carolyn before she left for Europe. My sisters knew Wade and I had some problems, but they thought it was the normal husband-wife kind of thing. They had no idea Wade was not living in the house. Wade didn’t come over while they were visiting, so they assumed that he was on an out-of-town assignment.
We had a lot of fun with my sisters. Each day, I would pray that The Lord would open a way for me to tell them about the divorce. Finally, over Sunday dinner, Mazel opened the door.
She said, “Inez, ever since we arrived, I have sensed that you are under a great burden. During my prayer time, I told The Lord that I was going to ask you what it is so Sis. (Ruth) and I might help you.”
“Thanks,” I said, “but there is no way you can help me. As of a week ago, Wade and I were divorced.”
My sisters looked at each other and some unspoken thoughts passed between them. They very quietly asked me what I was planning to do. I told them I was going to get Carolyn off to Europe and then I would think about it. They did not press me. In fact for the rest of their stay, I had a greater appreciation of them than I had experienced since I was a very young child. As they were leaving, they asked me to consider moving back to Flint. I told them that I knew I could not do that. I had to determine whether I could support myself, by myself. Personally, I believed that new challenge would be a lot easier if I were 2-1/2 hours away from my family.
September 1st, the day before Carolyn’s departure, I was in a whirlwind. As I put myself on “God’s Time,” I finished making Carolyn’s three blouses on my old White treadle sewing machine and took them to Pastor Bill’s Mother, Bertha McPhail, who made the button holes on her more modern machine. On my way home from there (because we only had one car), I finished Carolyn’s last minute shopping. Then I took Carolyn to the bank for traveler’s checks. The two of us were up until 4:00 a.m. packing and repacking her bags.
We had learned that Carolyn was only allowed to take two bags on the plane, each of which had to be a certain size and weight. My Carolyn was expected to spend a year in Paris, France, with only two suitcases of clothes and a carry on? This was the same girl who had taken a foot locker and three suitcases to get her through the school year, in addition to having boxes sent on ahead! The very idea seemed just short of a catastrophe. After much agonizing, she figured out how she would manage it. I was so proud of her!
September 2nd, we were up at 6:00 a.m. and by 9:30 a.m., Wade and I had taken her to the airport, put her on the airplane and waved her off. She was to meet up with her group in Canada. I went home exhausted and relieved, but for some reason, my spirit was not at ease. I cleaned and rearranged furniture all day. By about 4:00 p.m. Carolyn called from Montreal. Carolyn’s chaperone wanted to check passports. Carolyn didn’t have hers. I had put it away for safekeeping and both of us had forgotten all about it.
“Mom, the rest of the group is leaving for France. They won’t let me get on the plane without my passport. They can’t wait for me. The chaperone says I’ll have to stay here overnight and fly out tomorrow.”
My mind raced way ahead of her complaint. My daughter was being left in a strange country overnight by herself. I needed to make her secure for the night and make sure that she left for France the next day. I told Carolyn to go to an airport hotel. I gave her the number of my credit card and told her to have them call me to check its authenticity. I assured her that she did not need worry. I told her that she would have her passport when the next Air France flight reached Canada. That was a mother speaking to keep her child from being frightened. I had no idea what I would have to do to get that passport to her. My diary states what happened next:
“I called Wade, and then left for the airport. For over two hours, I discussed with various administrative officials the ways and means of getting a passport to Canada in time for the next Air France flight to Paris. North Central could not help me. They said it would cost me $73 to send a passport (they wanted to put it into some special package), but they couldn’t guarantee its connection with Carolyn. I didn’t have $73, and I needed a guarantee. I called Wade and Pastor Bill from the airport. Between railings of how could I have done such a thing, Wade tried to be helpful. Pastor Bill was comforting, but neither of them had any practical suggestions.
“Finally, I went back home to wait for Carolyn to call me. When she did, she told me that she had to pay $30.50 for the International Hotel in Mirabel, which included $5.00 for bus transit. She also gave me information she had received from her chaperone: ‘If I could get the passport on to United Flight 783 out of Muskegon at 8:04 a.m., it would reach Chicago at 7:35 a.m. Then the passport could be given to Jacques (a supervisor) at Air France. Jacques would be able to put it on his flight to Mirabel Airport in Montreal. It was needed for the 9:30 p.m. flight to Paris, France.’
“I praised the Lord by faith. On my knees, I pleaded with Jesus to provide the $73.00. The Holy Spirit assured me He was already helping. Carolyn should have paid $10.00 for the trip to the hotel and back on bus transit. Somehow, half of the amount had been deducted. Somewhat pacified, I climbed into bed. I prayed for Carolyn’s safety in the hotel room and fell into a fitful sleep.
“September 3rd, I was up at 6 a.m. I went to the airport to send the passport off on the United flight. The Airport Manager was very curt with me and wouldn’t guarantee anything. He said stewardesses were not supposed to accept passports unless they had a passenger to go with it; and the pilot was not supposed to take a passport from a stewardess unless there was a corresponding passenger on the plane. I began to cry. Between sobs, I convinced him that something had to be done. Just to get rid of me, I think, he finally agreed to give the passport to a stewardess, if she would be willing to take it.
“He wrote down the information (all the while telling me that Air France was two miles from United at the O’Hare Airport). Then he hurried away saying over his shoulder, 'I hope she (meaning Carolyn) gets it!' I just cried all the more. These were not people I knew. For all I knew, they might take the passport and sell it on the black market. I had no natural assurance that things would work out well.
“Still in tears, I left the building as they were announcing the departure of Flight 783. Outside, I stopped and decided to go back for coffee. I wasn’t sure I could handle driving. I enjoyed coffee and a roll, but I ate with tears rolling down my cheeks. I could not stop them. Halfway home, I remembered it was supposed to cost me something to send the passport.
“At home, I began trying to reach Air France in Chicago...nothing but frustration. Muskegon information operators gave me all the wrong direct-dial numbers … finally, I stopped trying to dial direct and asked the long-distance operator to try. She tried all the numbers I gave her. She told me that she would see that the wrong numbers were removed from my bill. We would be credited for them…. She finally reached the New York office for Air France. We were told that Jacques was scheduled in at 10:30 a.m. We never thought to ask Michigan time or Chicago time. So the operator called at 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. Michigan time.
“Meanwhile, I used dictation records to bone up on my skills: 90 words per minute dictation for five minutes with 20 minutes to type it up in a final form. I was pleased. Jesus was helping me. For half an hour, I had been thinking of something other than the passport dilemma.
“Suddenly, at 11:10 a.m., Michigan time, while I was waiting to hear from Chicago, it dawned upon me that the Word of God could help me (I am slow sometimes). Although I had been praising the Lord through tears all morning, and claiming that 'Jesus doeth all things well,' as soon as I started praying the scriptures, I knew everything would be all right. I don’t know how I knew. I just knew that I knew. It wasn’t in my hands; it was in hands more dependable than mine.
"Psalm 37:4 and 5 says, 'Delight thyself also in the Lord.' Frankly, I don’t know how to do that, Lord. 'And He shall give thee the desires of thy heart.' Jesus, I don’t know how I will pay for these long distance calls. Only You know! … I thank you they are already paid, by Your Grace. 'Trust also in Him.' ... Jesus, I pray to the Father for the sale of our home (clearing over $2500 for me), for a job for me and a home for me to move my belongings into. … 'And He shall bring it to pass.'
"Psalm 37:7 and 8 says, 'Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him! And 'Fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.' Jesus, you know that I’m willing to pay whatever is necessary to get that passport to Carolyn. I don’t have much money, but it’s all at your disposal. Father God, in the name of Jesus, show me how we are to get these things done that need doing so badly.
"At 11:30 a.m., the operator tried to reach Jacques again. His office says he won’t be in now until 12:00 noon our time (11:00 a.m. their time.) Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever. O Lord, what am I to do? Answer: 'Hang on to that which you have...your faith, your praise, your wisdom and knowledge.' Psalm 37:39 “The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord! He is their strength in time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them; and He shall deliver them and save them because they trust in Him.'
"Bonnie (not Jacques) was reached at Air France, in Chicago at approximately 12:15 p.m. our time. The passport was on her (Bonnie’s) desk. She will call Air France, Montreal to tell them Carolyn’s passport will be on the plane.
"When Carolyn went to get on her flight, a stewardess met her at the door of the plane with her passport. Hallelujah!
"Carolyn and I had passed a test, and my faith had 'stood me in good stead.' This was a saying I had heard my mother say on many an occasion. I never understood it until now."