Last week on Thursday we left Montreal for Monsey just for the weekend. Having started the whole immigration process we were told that it was quite possible we would NOT be permitted to enter the United States. Once a name is in the system, I guess they are concerned about us moving down illegally and living there without being given the USA immigration seal of approval. (It’s the people that do it illegally that could ruin it for the honest folk).
I was advised to bring proof that I have a life to come back to in Montreal, and hopefully that would help in allowing us into the country for a few days. So – how do you prove you have a life to come back to?
I prepared well. I found the copy of my lease – however, my lease was written specifically for the first year that we lived in the apartment. The way it works here is that your lease is automatically renewed annually UNLESS you give notice. Therefore, in order to prove I still have a lease, I asked my lovely landlady to give me a signed letter stating how long I had been a tenant, and when my lease is up, and that I had the option to renew. I had bills with me that had just been received in the mail – proving I live where I say I do. I had a letter from my attorney. I had a letter of permission to take the kids and bring them back from their other parent. I had a letter from Mr. CarMan allowing me the use of his vehicle and when I had to have it back by. I had proof of upcoming appointments for me and the kids here in Montreal. I made myself nuts getting all of this information together, but I wanted to be as prepared as I could be.
I had explained the situation to the boys and told them that I had done my Hishtadlut (due diligence) and now it was up to G-d. I also told them that while we were driving to the border I needed them to say Tehillim – psalms, in order to boost our chances of being allowed into the States. I also repeated border etiquette. Do not speak unless spoken to. Do not volunteer any information other than that which is asked of you. Do not lie. Look the agent who speaks to you in the eye – take off your sunglasses in order to do this. Do not joke with the agent.
We grabbed a bite to eat before we left. We got into the car and I said Psalm 91 aloud. A friend had told me that it was a good one to say – the Hebrew letters for 91 spell out the word “tzei” – which means “go out”. I had the boys then open their Tehillim and say all the psalms for Thursday (each day has a group of psalms to be said for it) as I drove towards the border. My oldest also said the Tefillat Haderech – the prayer for safe travel.
45 minutes later we were at the border and my stomach was in a knot, my hands and legs were shaking. I gave the kids and myself a pep talk. “It’s all in Hashem’s hands. Whatever He decides is what’s best for us”. I gave it into His capable hands and I had to trust it would all be for the best. The kids were still praying as we got to the Border Guard’s Booth.
There were four open lines and all booths were empty. We picked one and when I drove up I saw there were THREE guards there as opposed to the usual ONE. Gulp. This didn’t bode well. I had the passports ready and had easy access to all the other papers I had with me. I handed over the passports and held my breath. It soon became obvious to us that this particular guard was a trainee as his superiors in the booth with him were telling him what to ask, or what they would have asked. He had wanted to ask me why I was travelling alone with my kids – and where their dad was etc, but he obviously had no experience asking that. I helped him out. I told him we were divorced and that I was the custodial parent. I gave him the permission letter. He was being fed questions all the while. He scanned through the passports. No beeps or alarms went off.
He proceeded to ask me all the standard questions – am I bringing in $10,000 in cash (I wish), any drugs or firearms, any articles for resale….., and after 3 minutes that seemed like 30 he returned our travel documents and waved us through. No awkward questions, no making me sit in a back room while they grilled my kids (yes I had imagined 100 different scenarios) – he waved us through.
We drove for 30 seconds then I let out a HUGE whoop of joy followed by a tremendous release of tears. The kids were so excited and thrilled. I had one of them immediately text the KoD to tell him we made it, and then we called one of my Montreal Mommies (Lucky me, I have a few!!) to say we made it into the States safely.
I told the kids, and I firmly believe I am right, that their prayers helped us get through. I know that every time until we get the visas there is going to be a chance that we are turned back – but I am prepared for it. Maybe the computer didn’t pick us up yet, or maybe they saw that I come and go often and can be trusted not to stay illegally. I don’t even want to know the why. I am just accepting it and am thankful to G-d.
G-d was definitely watching over us that day as He is everyday. I am glad He didn’t test me, though, by having us turned back. I wonder how I would have done.