Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Stop Me If You Think That You've Heard This One Before

"Misplacing" items is a part of life. House keys and car keys go missing and no one cares. If you misplace your wallet or purse, you make a couple of phone calls to the credit card companies, and life simply goes on, possibly a few dollars the poorer, but life goes on. Certainly eyebrows are raised and anxiety goes up if you misplace your baby or young child. But misplace your passport and life will never be the same. Your name lives in infamy, and seldom do you see a friend without being reminded of your past transgression. My unfortunate story begins in ebeye, home of chaotic happenings and the epicenter of all things misplaced...

It's mid December and the year long project is at its conclusion. Our barracks that housed sixteen people must be taken apart loaded into containers and shipped of to one of our future projects. Tools, house supplies, lumber, and "personal items" all must be packed into containers as well. The construction crew is dwindling in size. People are moving as rooms become fewer,and we are still putting the final touch on the kingdom hall and missionary home. There was a lot going on.

I had moved a couple of times within a short period of time, and I wasn't planning on being in ebeye more than just a cople more weeks. So I never really unpacked. All my belongings were in a couple of suitcases and a couple more plywood boxes. Although there was a lot going on, everything was moving along according to plan. All were working hard and everything was falling into place, except for two things. 1) our final aircargo from Guam that was needed to complete the project was delayed because of all the freight being moved around the holiday season. 2) the cargo boat was delayed and no specific time had been given for its arrival into ebeye.

Early one morning I received a call from the container company(matson),they said the ship had arrived and they were on their way to pick up our final container. Point being.... ANYTHING that we needed to ship out had to be in that container ASAP. All other activities were put on hold and items were packed into the container with a quickened pace. I quickly assessed what I could bring on the plane( I was going to be the last to leave the island) and what I needed to load into the container. We successfully loaded the container and had it shipped away to Guam, home of our next construction project. A sense of relief and peace came over me. All that was left to do, was wait for the cargo from Guam. And wait we did. Earlier in January united airlines finally flies our cargo to Kwajalein. In order to pick up our freight we need to take a ferry to kwaj. and then receive clearance from the military to be permitted on the military island. The end is near.... Or so I thought. As I approach the immigration counter I reach for my wallet to show my ID. It hits me... I forgot my wallet at the missionary home in ebeye! How stupid!.... And then it hits me....my ID does me no good, I need my passport!... Where is my PASSPORT???!!!...whatever joy or relief I had been experiencing up to this point had now fled. Disbelief reigned supreme. "Surely I didn't pack my passport into the container headed for Guam. It MUST be at home hiding under a sock or in between two pairs of under clothing. As soon as I got back to the missionary home I went looking for my "Misplaced" passport. As many times as I searched is as many times as I came up in want of a passport. As embarrassing as it is to lock yourself outside the office during your night watch somewhere in the middle of nowhere, it is infinitely more embarrassing to realize that you have trapped yourself on a little island the size of a thumbnail, somewhere in the middle of the pacific ocean. My passport was on a boat headed to Guam, and I was stranded on the island of Ebeye.

Believe me, being stranded on Ebeye was not the horror of this story. I really enjoyed living there. The nightmare was informing the Branch of what had happened. As a side point... It's amazing how quickly news like this spreads. When I finally made it to Guam, EVERYONE knew of my story. Not just the friends at the Branch, not just my friends in the construction crew and on the island, but even my friends on ALL the other islands knew! The greeting was always the same.... I heard about your passport! Always accompanied with a smile and a laugh.... I want to explain how it's not my fault that this happened, but there is no excuse to be found nor any reason that I can come up with to shift this blame. I'm THAT guy. I put the baby on the top of the car and then drove away.