by Valita Jill Patterson
Travel is a lot about getting in lines or in queues, as some say—lines for baggage drop off, lines for security checks, lines for boarding, lines for disembarking, lines of traffic, lines at border crossings, lines at immigration offices, lines, lines, lines… Waiting in line is a part of travel or living overseas.
Many times, it is hurry to get in line and then wait and then hurry to get in the next line and wait. Those of you that have traveled will recognize the truth of this.
And, then, there are those that do not know how to stand in line. A study could probably be done on countries and nationalities of people and how they stand in line. Some are orderly and polite. Others are the exact opposite—disorderly and rude. We’ve noticed that Germans and Czechs are very orderly while Italians and Romanians will push and shove. We were once at an immigration office in a small room packed with people and one door that we were all waiting to open so we could enter to see the officer. While our family patiently waited along with the others, some people entered behind us and tried to push their way to the door explaining that they wanted to go in the office. I said, “That is what we all want to do, get in line!”
As we live overseas, we have to obtain a residential permit. This month, it was time to renew for the year. My husband and I stood in line for an hour. After approaching the window, the immigration officer told us that we needed another paper. My husband went home to make the requested document. I told him that I would stay and get back in line so we could save time and keep our place. That day, I was in line for three hours and even though my husband’s paperwork was accepted, mine was not. It was back, again, the next week…
Oh, and have you gotten in line to find that you are in the slowest line and then you change and find that the line that you just left speeds up? I’m sure everyone can relate. It might be a good suggestion to keep your eyes on your line and not those of others.
I’m reminded of a Romanian friend who told us that under communism that there were a lot of lines. And, in those days of few commodities to see a line was a positive thing because it meant that there was something to be had. So, they would go get in line before even knowing what was being offered. Then by asking those in front of them, they would discover what was being offered.
After our first missions term in Romania, we were anticipating a return stateside and wondered if we would be allowed to return to continue in missions work. As we expressed our concern to our leadership, Evangeline Rodenbush said, “There’s no line to come to Romania, don’t worry.” There’s merit to being number one in line.
When the line has been endured and the goal is reached, there is celebration. Even after years of crossing borders, I still get a wonderful feeling when we’ve successfully crossed a border. When entering the USA, many times the immigration officer will say, “Welcome home.” That always sounds so good.
So, get in line and get ready to travel. Something is happening! Something is being offered! There are places to go, people to meet, things to do, missions to accomplish.
Missionary Valita Jill Patterson has served on the mission field, along with her husband, for over 25 years. The Pattersons served on AIM for 3 years in Germany and now they are fully appointed missionaries to Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania. Sis. Patterson plays the piano, sings in 3 languages, teaches Sunday School, and leads ladies ministries. She, also, serves the Europe & Middle East region through children’s ministry and prayer ministry.