Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

...cabs and jeepneys too! Many months and time waiting, papers and more papers, and pesos and some more pesos but today we were finally able to submit our applications for our missionary visas.

Here are the latest details of this long, character-building game of Calvinball:

After the whole ordeal with getting our documents authenticated, yesterday we were told we needed an original document that only one person could provide and her office was located in Quezon City but she would not be in until today. But by God's grace we were able to contact her by cell phone and she promised to have the needed document ready for pick-up at 10 a.m. this morning. So Thomas, along with a Filipino from the YWAM Balut base, left early this morning and took two different jeepneys and a train to travel about an hour or so to the office and then took two different trains and a jeepney to return to the base. Knowing the government offices close for lunch, we got ready so we would be first in line at 1 p.m. (This was after having Adriana quickly change her clothes since we previously learned no one wearing shorts is admitted into immigration.) Rather than needing to walk the kilometer we usually do to catch a cab, one was ready right outside the base. This was just another blessing as walking in hot, humid Manila in pants is not too fun (but without pants, we might get arrested). We arrived at Immigration and within moments were at the front of the line. We presented our thick file of gathered documents to the official. Ironically, he handed us some back saying they were not needed. Imagine that...much better than what we heard four months ago. But he said we needed a different type of folder to submit our papers. We were thinking, "Great, we have done all this and now we have to leave to try to locate the requested type of folder." Once again, our prayers for favor were answered as he reached into his desk and gave us just what we needed. We did not even need to pay for it. This is quite amazing when it seems the government offices get money for everything possible. We had to fill in a few more places on our application and assemble the inch of papers and get back in line. Just when the gentleman that had previously helped us was about to sign saying we had submitted all that was required someone new came along and he handed our file to her. She pulled out a new checklist and started looking through all our papers. We patiently directed her to our marriage license that had traveled five times between home and the Philippines to be authenticated when asked. But our hearts beat a little faster when she asked, "Where are your missionary credentials?" thinking what we had submitted was not sufficient. We breathed a sigh of relief when she had just overlooked it. There were nine items and all but one was checked off and I was afraid to ask. No need to be concerned just stand in line at a different window and let them scan each of our passports into the computer and then go stand in line at another window and pay the list of fees one being 500p each so we can have that last needed item checked off. (The second official kindly pointed out that with four children we would pay many fees.) We were in the process of counting out the many needed pesos (totalling much more than the 500p listed above) when without a word the lady closed up her window and walked out of her booth. After a bit she returned and requested we supply exact change. We managed to come up with just the right combination of bills. Then we were told to go make copies of the official receipts and return to the second window we had visited. For this we needed to go to a different building and pay a little more pesos. Less than two hours from entering Immigration, we were able to successfully submit ALL of our applications.

We thank all of those who prayed for us. It went well. We are now waiting in Manila to see if we can be granted an expedited interview so that we do not need to make the 13 hour trip from Bontoc to Manila in a month or so. We ask your prayers for this. We did make our request at the legal department of Immigration today but were told that was impossible many times. We know that nothing is impossible for God. We left with the department's phone number in hand and a weakening of their claims of "impossible" with "call next week."

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