Billy sent this photo on Wednesday…

Bus engine, wheels and frame

On Thursday, Billy sent this photo…

hoisting bus engine

More Green Card Madness

This Green Card situation is driving me crazy. (I know…it’s a short drive.) My plan for Thursday, was to drive to the Homeland Security Office in West Palm Beach, which is about a 75-minute drive. I thought I could walk in and talk with someone about the situation. To recap, here is the problem: Ecarlatte and I will pick up her letter to travel on March 14th at the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince. On Sunday, March 25th, Ecarlatte will travel to Ft. Lauderdale. She has her second round of lab test scheduled for Monday, March 26th. She has a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday (3/27). She returns to Haiti on Thursday, March 29th, so she can be with the kids on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. So, she has one day to deal with immigration: Wednesday, March 28th.

When we filled out the form to replace a lost Green Card and paid the $575 fee, they sent us a message indicating they will schedule a biometrics exam and sent us the date and location in a letter that will be sent to our home address. Of course, there will be no one in Florida to receive the letter. Moreover, the immigration agents do not know the date she is traveling to Florida. So, more than likely, the biometrics appointment will be on a day we are in Haiti.

What I had hoped to accomplish on Thursday was to explain all the extenuating circumstances of her travel and make an appointment for March 28th, so they could stamp her Haitian passport with a notice that she is allowed back into the United States to complete the process of replacing her Green Card.

When I went on Map Quest to get directions to the immigration office, I was surprised to see they had an office in Ft. Pierce. I was really happy…no long drive to West Palm Beach. When I arrived at the office, I was told that the office only handed criminal cases that required visitors to be deported. They told me to call the office in West Palm Beach. They gave me a number. I called. It was impossible to speak to a live person. None of the options offered applied. So, I simply drove.

When I arrived, security was extremely tight. I put my phone and wallet and papers in a basket. An officer asked if I had an appointment. I said no. He said I could not enter the building without and appointment. I asked him if he would be so kind as to listen to my problem. I told him about what happened to Ecarlatte’s passport, that we filled out the proper papers at the US Embassy in Haiti. I said my wife missed a medical test. I needed to talk with someone about her scheduling an appointment with immigration at the end of March. He said he would let me in only to speak to a receptionist who would tell me the proper procedure. I waited on a short line and repeated the story to the receptionist. She said I could not see an immigration agent that day. She suggested I leave the secured area and use a kiosk in the outer lobby to schedule an appointment for Ecarlatte. When I got the kiosk, the machine was so complicated I was ready to explode. I kept at it and finally was able to enter Ecarlatte’s name and date of birth and press a bottom indicating “make an appointment.” It only could book appointments for the next two weeks. I felt as if nothing will ever happen. I spotted the guard who let me in, and told him my tale of woe and my mounting frustration. He told me that I had two choices. One, return to the office in West Palm Beach on Friday morning at 6:30am. He said that each day they leave a few appointments open for “walk-ins.” He said they open at 7:00am and I should be able to get in. Second, go on line at exactly 7:00am and try to book an appointment for Friday. Even if I get an early appointment, say

8:00am, it does not matter if I can’t get there by 8:00am. Everyone with an appointment will be seen. My problem with the second option was: what do I do if there are no appoints open. I’m cooked. So, I will leave today at 5:00am and make that drive again, and hope that I will be permitted to speak with someone. If all fails, I could also try on Monday.

It is so maddening. I’m still sick, but feeling a little better. Nor am I getting rest. I missed one of my nebulizer treatments yesterday.

Shannon’s Back

Shannon Mulcahey, who is 22 years old, will graduate nursing school at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska this coming May. Shannon and some of her classmates spent a few hours at our Peguyville location in the summer of 2016. She reads the Journal every day. I first met Shannon in 2005 when she was a 9-year-old middle school student in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I was in Iowa to give my “poverty & prayer” presentation at Mount Mercy College. I was invited to give the presentation by Shannon’s dad, Bill Mulcahey, who was the director of campus ministry. Two years later, in 2007, I returned to Mount Mercy College with my friend Fr. John Dear, the internationally acclaimed peace activist and author. We did a joint presentation on peace and poverty. Bill invited John and I to have dinner at his home and Shannon had many questions for us. Bill Mulcahey serves on the Pax et Bonum Communications board of directors. Shannon will return to Nebraska on March 11th. I am looking forward to spending a few days with her when I get back to Haiti on March 6th.

Sannon with crowd of kids

Shannon with Peter Francis
Shannon with Peter Francis

Lenten Reflection 10

I love Lent. Lent is a journey to Easter, a journey to resurrection. I need Lent because I get busy and I forget that Christ rose from the dead. And in my fog of forgetfulness, I lose sight of how that unique event needs to have continual meaning for me, that this gift of new life still happens for me. But worse than forgetting, I fail to live the reality of the Resurrection, and in doing so I turn Easter into nothing more than an annual commemoration.

The gift of new life that the Resurrection of Christ gives to each of us should dramatically change the way we view the world and the way we live life. But the reality of the end of death quickly fades into a dream. Yes, we will die, but Christ forever changed the nature of death. It is no longer an ending, but a passage—a Passover—to eternal life. Yet we forget, distracted by a thousand things, 995 of which are trivial. Christ made us partakers of His resurrection; that is the core of the Christian faith. But, sadly, it is not the core of our daily experience.

Living a life of “faith, hope and love” seems virtually impossible because of our inherent weaknesses. God continually asks us to put God first, and seek God at all times and in all things. We want to put God first, but we are busy, engulfed in so many distractions and preoccupations that we forget and we fail to do it. Our forgetfulness makes it easy for sin to sneak back into our lives. Slowly, the new life of Christ recedes back into the old human life. We become shallow and stingy. Joy loses its smile and our faces turn dismal. Life loses its meaning; everything becomes pointless. God has left the building…or so we think. But no, God never leaves. It is us who turn our backs on God, and step by step walk further away. Until Lent rolls around, and prompts us to turn around and begin our journey back to God. The God we found, but lost…and who mercifully gives us an endless number of second chances to find Him again. Lent helps me see and taste the new life in Christ I so easily betray. Lent is a time to repent and return to the Source and Sustainer of life.

I love Lent. Lent helps me find what I have lost. Lent helps me fall in love again.

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