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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Passport (07/25/05)

TITLE: Those Two Were Different
By Sally Hanan


Brian held on a little tighter to his passport as he passed it under the plexi-glass. Isabella's eyes were as sad as Brian's. She clung to his sweater as she pushed hers through also. Noticing, the immigrations officer paused to look inside. The colors and shapes of foreign countries' stamps touched his fingers as he flicked through.

"Europe eh? Afghanistan? Hmm, Saudi Arabia. What makes you want to become an American citizen, Sir?" The question was wet with suspicion.

"It's not necessarily that I want to, but God wants me to do this, and I want to obey."

"Mr. Houlihan, can you tell me why an Irishman would leave his home country and go to a God-forsaken place like Afghanistan, em, ten years ago?"

Brian's small frame belied his strength and intellect, which Isabella now leaned on. His voice almost sang, so strong was his Northern Irish accent.

"It was when I was about nineteen. Some of my friends died in the troubles, and I had to leave and try to figure out why life was so empty and pointless. I'd heard that the best place to find spiritual meaning for life was in India, and so I took a few boats and some trains until one day I found myself in Afghanistan, as wasted as the guy beside me and my money gone." He smiled as he remembered the next part of the story. "A Jesus freak invited me back to his place for dinner, and as hunger has a way of getting the better of common sense, I went. 'His place' turned out to be a huge building full of Jesus fanatics, but the strangest thing was that they were all kind, they all listened to what I had to say (which wasn't worth much!), and eventually, they helped me to pray and give my sin to the Man Himself." He grinned. " I never did make it to India."

The officer, Tom, gave him a fake smile and looked over at Isabella.

"And you Ma'am, why India?"

Isabella was a Spanish petite, but the big god inside her raised her stature by at least 2 inches.

"For the same reasons as my husband. I wanted to get rid of this emptiness inside. I knew there was fulness somewhere, and when I found a guru in Bombay I could study under, I was so excited. I spent months meditating with him, trying to reach new levels of heaven, but it left me more confused and even emptier than before. I gave up and lived the street life for a while with the other world travellers seeking nirvana. Thank God missionaries found me and told me about Jesus."

Another fake smile hit the plexi-glass, but his interest was mounting. Most couples just went on vacation with their passports. "So why Saudi Arabia in '98?"

"Brian decided to study engineering." Isabella stopped and giggled as she pulled on her pink corduroy blazer. She always drove him crazy when she jumped in to speak for him. Brian picked up the discussion. "I wanted to build things that would help others, and my first job was to build wells in the desert for the nomadic tribes of Saudi Arabia. That's where I met Isabella."

Isabella continued. "I had been going there to help out at the regular developmental clinics. I knew that our meeting was more than chance, and so did Brian; he proposed almost the second God told him to."

"And now you're here." Tom smiled his first genuine smile. America needed more people like these two, even if they were a little 'out there'..

"Yes, now we're here." They stood holding hands at the brown glass window, trusting in God to bring to pass that which He had told them to do.

"God eh?" The officer hesitated a moment as he turned his back to them, but he went ahead and threw their passports into the bin. He pushed out their two black, clean American passports.

"You have a good day Sir," Isabella said with a smile as she stuffed her passport into her overflowing yellow purse.

"You too," said the officer in reply. As he waited for the next in line, he went back to the bin and flicked through the pages of the two passports again.

Those two were different.

He didn't even know it, but he'd began to hum the tune of Amazing Grace....

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This article has been read 1203 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Penny Baldwin08/01/05
This is really good, I didn't know where it was going to end!
Karen Ward08/01/05
Interesting, and so true that people recognise God in us without fully understanding...
Beth Muehlhausen08/02/05
The word that comes to mind is, REFRESHING! And a close second is DELIGHTFUL! Enjoyed this immensely. ;-)
Nina Phillips08/03/05
Sometimes I read through a story like this slowly to savour the flavor. It was really wonderful! Amen!
God bless ya, littlelight
Pat Guy 08/04/05
Enjoyed everything about this entry - from well written - to creative - to great!
Debra Brand08/04/05
I liked this! Witnessing should be natural and you brought that point home.
Debbie OConnor08/04/05
Great job! This is my favorite line:

"Isabella was a Spanish petite, but the big god inside her raised her stature by at least 2 inches." Awesome!

It was a very enjoyable story all the way through.
Amy Michelle Wiley 08/05/05
Wonderful story! Good job!!
Crista Darr08/05/05
What a lovely and beautifully written story! Thank God for those Jesus freaks and fanatics. Love your title and message.
Maxx .08/05/05
This story is a contender, to b esure. Well written. So, I'll pick a little. The story is about the meeting of the US officer and the Christian couple. It was mostly from the officers POV. The ending was with his reaction to the encounter. I would have liked to hear this well told story from his perspective. Have him reacting to their dialogue, asking questions, learning what was going on inside his head. BUT that's just my opinion and not worth the 2 cents since I wasn't the author! Still, a contender, indeed. Nice work!
Joanne Malley08/06/05
Very nicely written story--held my interest throughout. Your characters showed such ease in sharing God; I wish everyone was as receptive to receive the word as the clerk! I enjoyed the message of how our planted seeds begin to germinate. :) Jo
Shari Armstrong 08/06/05
Very nice :) I really liked the characters.
Linda Watson Owen08/06/05
I especially like these two images: 'the question was wet with suspicion' and 'another fake smile hit the plexiglass'. I could see and hear your characters. Enjoyed it!
Val Clark08/09/05
I love to be reminded that they who seek, find. You painted a clear picture of your characters' individual and joint journeys and the depth of their relationship. A satisfying ending.