Once upon a time, there was conceived in the mind of Fr. Steven Borello a mission trip to Kolkata, India with a group of seminarians. The first year was a success, so he began planning year two. As the twelve seminarians began to sign up, visas, passports, and prescriptions were on everyone’s mind. Most guys had a fairly straightforward process in acquiring theirs, but there were a few cases in which extra measures were needed.
Ryan applied for his passport over the summer (approximately 6 months before our trip). After waiting two months, he still had not received his passport, so he called to find out about the delay; they informed him that there was no record of his passport application and that he needed to submit a new one. Thankfully, there was still time, and the seminary was kind enough to cover the cost of the second passport, and to be safe they expedited the next application. He finally received his passport around November (two months before the trip) when he was contacted and informed that there was an error on his passport and that he needed to get a new one. After three attempts, Ryan finally received his passport and was set to go to India.
I personally had issues with acquiring both my passport and medicine for malaria prevention. My situation was a bit more complicated than some of the other men as I will be going to Rome to study abroad after Kolkata, so I needed to account for both countries. This meant that I needed to submit my visa application with my passport to the Italian Consulate in Chicago and get it back in time before the mission trip. This is not normally an issue, but in the week before the trip (the week of Christmas), I realized that I might need to do something about this. I went to the consulate on Wednesday where I was informed that they might be able to get me my passport by Friday, but they made no promises. Keep in mind that we were leaving that Sunday, and the Consulate office is not open on weekends. I left the consulate a little dejected with the intent of coming back Friday regardless of whether or not they contacted me. On my way home, I decided to pray a rosary, and not more than five minutes after finishing, the Consulate called to inform me that they would have my passport available on Friday.
The other issue I encountered was in acquiring malaria medicine. I had gotten a prescription from the Health Services office at my school, and I brought it to my local pharmacy the week before the trip. Everything seemed to go okay after I handed in the prescription, but I later received a call notifying me that I needed the doctor who filled the prescription to fill out a pre-authorization form for my insurance. Again, this is not normally an issue, but since the doctor was from the clinic at my school, they happened to be closed that whole week due to the holiday break. This meant that this form could not be filled out by that doctor before the trip. I was able, in the end, to have another doctor make the same prescription and fill out the form. I finally got the medicine (and my passport) on Friday, two days before we left for India.
To top it all off, James misplaced his prescription for malaria medicine. He did not realize this until the day before our flight when he was no longer at home and did not have the convenience of his own doctor. He resolved the issue by going to an urgent care facility and simply asking for the necessary prescriptions. The doctor, thankfully, wrote them without question, only asking to listen to his lungs.
After several other last minute scramblings to acquire necessary documents and supplies, we finally reached the day of departure with everything we needed.