Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
the Nanty Glo in My Mind'

My flight and why I'm not on it

Jon Kennedy  

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A couple drove down a country road for several miles, not saying a word, both nursing an earlier argument. As they passed a barnyard of mules, goats, and pigs, the husband asked sarcastically, "Relatives of yours?" "Yep," the wife replied, "in-laws."


. . . popular culture is the smog in which we must live at least part of our lives.

— Bruce Frohnen

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JONAL ENTRY 1262 | February 28 2013

My flight to Ireland took off from San Francisco Airport twenty minutes ago (as I begin writing this), but as you might guess, I'm not on it. On February 13 I received a letter from the British Consulate in New York asking me to send a new photo for my visa, which I did the same day, sending it via an overnight letter from the post office (with postage of $19.95). I also enclosed, as the consulate requested, a money order to cover the expense of their overnight letter to send my visa back to me. There have been 15 overnights since then and I've waited each following morning for my visa, including this morning (I could have left for the airport as late as the noon hour) but it has not come.

And the visa is a stamp (I'm presuming) that the consulate rubber stamps into my passport, so for that reason I also had to send them my US passport, and without your passport, you can't board an international flight. I've tried calling the consulate but the machine that answers calls to the "published" number informs callers that no information about visa applications being processed is given out.

Which is why—even if that explanation raises more questions than it answers—I'm sitting in my livingroom writing this blog instead of getting ready for an early dinner on the overnight flight to London (and then on to Dublin, and then overground on to Belfast). Though my travel agency and airline will give me a credit for the ticket I had to cancel, they charge over $300 for doing that, plus any additional cost for the new ticket they will issue when I have my passport and visa in hand. And lest you think I was too hasty in booking my flight before getting my visa in the first place, your arrival time in the UK is one of the questions you have to answer when applying for a visa (visas are required for longterm work—even unpaid volunteer work like mine—there, though advance visas are not required for American tourists visiting the UK; British agents stamp your tourist visas into your passport when you go through customs).

I waited until it would have been impossible to get to the airport in time for my flight before canceling my reservation, not believing that this was happening. But especially in consideration of my reason for flying to Ireland in the first place—to do missionary work in writing, teaching, and web development in Belfast—all I can say about the disappointment and the additional cost is, "Glory to God for all things" and all the money is His, not mine to worry and fret about. I expect it will be at least several weeks before I can get on a substitute flight, and by that time I expect to be, literally, homeless.

That's because, after realizing the cost and responsibility of maintaining my home in San Jose while away would be my greatest expense and frustration, coupled with the realization that when I do return (if that's in God's plan) I'd rather be living in a senior housing apartment like the one my brother lives in a three-hour drive north of me than in my present house, and that not having to pay monthly rent for my space in the mobile home park would greatly enhance my disposable funds in Ireland. So, after asking around and finding that selling is not only feasible and that I could probably get more money for my unit than I would have guessed, three weeks ago I put my mobile home up for sale.

And last Saturday I received an offer too good to refuse and a down-payment check several times larger than I'd expected. On Tuesday we (my daughter Chris, who has done most of the work of making my house saleable and who agreed to oversee the sale in my expected absence) opened escrow and, presumably, if the buyer qualifies for residency in the mobile home park (which I expect he will), I'll be without a place of my own in two weeks. Most of my stuff has already been moved out. But a good friend and his wife have already offered to let me use their guest room, so I'm not in the market for a pup tent.

Last Sunday my parish gave me a great send-off, so it's going to be really embarrassing to show up there again this Lord's Day (not to mention all the send-off lunches and other meals family and friends have given). Someone suggested I announce my arrival next Sunday with "just kidding!"

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If you missed my earlier entry about my new venture in Northern Ireland, check it out here.

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