But our Citizenship is in Heaven, and we eagerly await
a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ – Philippians 3:20
I wrote this many years ago when I applied for my United States citizenship at the U.S. Consulate in Toronto. It was a weird day filled with errors and happenings that made it a special kind of day, where I was very aware the Lord was completely in charge of the outcome. Looking back I now find it filled with much comical error and happenings as He led me through very unfamiliar territory.
Years ago I tried for a different kind of Citizenship, that of becoming an American Citizen. I can tell you without a doubt, this was fraught with errors, anxieties, doubts, perplexities, anger, frustrations, exhaustion, accusations, impatience, sore feet, along with a consumption of great amounts of time and energy.
The reason I considered becoming an American was because my father had dual citizenship of American/Canadian. Two of my sons had moved to the States. They were hoping it would help facilitate them getting a green card. To this day it has done very little to help either one of them, but in my case, I have been well blessed for my efforts.
I proceeded in October 2005 to initiate this process little knowing (but the Lord knew) this would stand me in good stead for such a time as we are experiencing today, especially with half my children, grandchildren, three-quarters of my great-grandchildren, now residing in the States.
The next step found me on May 8th of 2006 at the U.S. Consulate in Toronto. I was filled with determination to obtain this prize fully depending on God’s hand on my back pushing me forward, while holding me upright.
Upon arrival at the Consulate, I lined up outside the front door. The guard asked me if I had any food, drink, Cell phones or electronic equipment on me. I had a bottle of water and was told to drink it and throw it in the trash, which was a little distance away. I managed to down a few gulps as I walked over to the trash threw it in before lining up once again.
Upon entering the building, an x-ray machine gobbled up my purse and jacket while I quickly slipped through the x-ray people door. I didn’t want my pacemaker getting out of whack as I am very wary of high electrical and magnetic outputs.
The guard at that point of entry, pointed out that I had an electronic calculator in my purse, and promptly sent me back outside to dispose of it somewhere. The outside guard looked at me askance and said “I thought you said you didn’t have any electronics on you?” To which I lamely replied, “Sorry, I forgot about my calculator, may I leave it here in the corner?” Wrong thing to say to an already annoyed guard who promptly told me I couldn’t leave anything on their property.
Since I didn’t have my car, I went over to a hedge on the adjacent property, said a prayer, slipped the calculator under the hedge with confidence that it would still be there when (or if) I got back out.
I stood in line once again, put my purse and jacket through the x-ray machine, slipped through the personal x-ray, was scrutinized with a wand waving instrument, led through locked doors, then through another locked door where a guard opened the locked elevator door, and closed it on me before it carried me up to the third floor.
Upon arriving at the third floor the sign said ‘Take a Number’. I looked all around but could not see a number to take, so I asked a fellow passing by and he pointed above my head stating “right there!” Being short means things are often above me in more ways than one!
I sat down and when my number was called, I went up to the designated wicket and presented my papers. She (not allowed to give me her name) found the file they had on hand from the previous October, and after much paper shuffling and questions, I was instructed that I needed two passport photos. Since I did not have any with me, I was to go downstairs where I could purchase four of them for five dollars.
I made my way down the elevator, through all the locked doors into a room where many people were sitting waiting for their number to be called for a totally different reason.
A guard showed me where to take my photo and once in the booth I inserted my money into the machine. Instructed to take my glasses off, I was looking weirdly at the controls when the first picture flashed. I quickly adjusted my stance and smiled as it proceeded to take the next three pictures. I made my way happily back through all the locked doors and elevator with my prize photos grasped tightly in my hand. I sat down once again while waiting for the calling of my number.
This time up I was informed I needed my ‘Long Form Birth Certificate’ to make sure my mom and dad were my parents. I blurted out – “Why wasn’t I told I would require this as I could have obtained it by now?”
She calmly replied, “Now why would we tell you that if you don’t qualify for citizenship and last October you did not have proof of your Father’s citizenship.” I had to admit she had me there.
She then informed me I could go over to the Registrar General on Bay Street and obtain this paper and get it to them at a later date. She handed me a form with the Consulates name, stating what was required and the item circled in red. I was also told that I needed my father’s death certificate and my wedding certificate for proof of my name change. At this point, I was allowed to pay for everything and had to wait for the papers to be processed and for my name to be called once again.
I took this waiting opportunity to call the Office of the Registrar, using a phone available, and of course I got only a machine informing me I could only go over in person if it was an emergency. I decided nothing was going to deter me, and as far as I was concerned coming back into Toronto another day, qualified as an emergency! I called my son Robert and asked him to go over with Neil to my Mom’s place in Toronto to get my father’s death certificate. Then I sat down once again and waited for my number to be called.
This time I was called to a different window to chat with a lady, shall I say, who was not in the best of moods and reminded me of a Gestapo Interrogator. Either that or they were playing ‘Good Cop/Bad Cop’ as the lady I dealt with previously, kept peeking her head around the corner and giving me an ‘I’m so sorry for you’ look.
Fortunately for me, and unbeknownst to them, I had God holding me upright and fixing up all my stupid blunders, so they didn’t stand a chance.
Bad Cop was put off that I was applying for citizenship at my age (I was only 66 at the time) and she loudly mumbled “Why would you want citizenship now instead of twenty years earlier?” To which I calmly explained about my sons working now in the States and wanting to become U.S. citizens. Wrong thing to say as she sprang on me with “What are they doing working there and what kind of a Visa do they have?” I said I wasn’t sure but thought it was an E2 Visa. This seemed to satisfy her as she stated – “Well, as long as it is for a patriotic reason.”
She then informed me I would have to get the three other pieces of info to them and then I would get my Passport and citizenship in six to eight months. “Six to eight months!” I blurted out, “Boy that is a long time to wait.” She yelled back – “We have stacks of new babies born to citizens abroad that have to be processed.” I quickly and quietly thanked her and told her I would try to get back with the extra papers as soon as possible.
This set her off again as she ground her teeth and replied… “What’s wrong with the mails, can’t you see how busy we are with people coming down here!” Feeling she was coming unglued with my obvious lack of understanding, I quickly thanked her again, turned and set my sites on my next goal —
Bay Street and the Office of the Registrar General!
THEY LET ME OUT! And my calculator was still there, thank you Lord! I headed out walking for 900 Bay Street. Little did I know how far away it was as it took me twenty-five minutes of steady hoofing to finally reach its doors.
Upon entering inner sanctum, I found that it was not the last of my walking as I was directed down a very loooooong hall where I finally found the right room.
The ‘Take a Number’ sign was right before me on a big pillar. Unfortunately, this time around there really were no numbers (up or down) to take so I walked around the pillar and on the other side was another sign saying ‘No number is required, YOU are the number, just stand in line’. Oh boy, only in Canada eh!
Good I thought, there is only one person ahead of me and it was no time at all before I got to the head of the line. Unfortunately, the person at the desk went out with that person and I stood wondering when he was coming back. I waited and waited and finally a different person came up to the desk and said, ‘Next’. I quickly went forward and told her I was there for my long-form birth certificate to which she inquired, “What is the emergency”? I whipped out the form the U.S. Consulate had given me with the request circled in RED. She showed it to the fellow at the next desk and he says… “Yes, that’s considered an emergency”. Thank you Lord for always paving the road ahead of me!
My joy was short lived however, as she informed me I must have someone willing to vouch for me such as a school teacher (I don’t think they would accept my husband although he was a retired Superintendent of Schools at that time), doctor, lawyer, pastor … PASTOR? … I can do that!
She then proceeded to tell me to go back down the very loooooog hall to the phones and get permission from that person to use their name and they will contact them at a later date. By this time, I was really missing my cell phone. I was then to come back, stand in line, and when I got back she would give me the form to fill out and a ‘for real’ number, and I was to sit down until they would call me when my number came up.
By now I was very thankful that God was the only one who really had my number.
I made my way to the phones and called Pastor Little who gave me permission to use his name. Then I hoofed it back down the looooong hall, stood in line, got another lady who once again asked for proof of the emergency. She gave me the needed form to fill out, which I did before sitting down to wait once again for my number to be called.
After a long while I noticed they were calling numbers passed mine so I made my way up to the front and getting the fellows attention, queried him about it? “Oh yes, sorry I missed that”, he said, “I will just finish with this lady and call you right up.”
After quite awhile, he finally finished and called my number. He processed everything very quickly, took my money and happily sent me on my way with a “Next”.
I called Robert from the pay phone down the looong hall before making my way to the Subway train.
After a few wrong turns, a very kind lady showed me how to find the subway entrance. This entrance was inside a store and down some stairs with absolutely no signage anywhere saying ‘Subway’. When inside, I noticed many people were heading in a certain direction so thankfully for me, the secret was out!
I was very grateful to see Neil and Robert and to find out they had obtained my father’s death certificate from my mom. I had my wedding certificate at home and the long-form birth certificate was to arrive in two days, which I am happy to report it did!
Once back in my home I packed up all the documents and very smartly sent the package by Courier to the US Consulate in Toronto. It was worth every penny I paid not to go back into the city, or once again come in contact with that ‘sweet tongued unnamed’ Consulate lady.
I’m sure she must have been grateful too that she didn’t have to deal with me again, because twenty-three days later (not six to eight months) I received a plain ordinary white envelope in the mail with no indication of what was inside. When I opened it up . . . low and behold enclosed was my — United States Citizenship Passport!
Thank you Lord for enabling me, carrying me through, and the delightful way you surprise me. Your timing always blows me away!
But most of all Lord Jesus, thank you for making my most important Citizenship into Heaven — the one You paid so dearly for — so easy for me to obtain.