I had decided to fly back to Bunda (well, Mwanza which is as close as you can get by airline) on Friday, no matter what, fully expecting the passport to have gotten lost in the mail somewhere. I emailed the embassy and asked them to hold onto my new passport when it came, and I would make travel arrangements to come back and get it because I could fly in and back out on the same day. It would be a lot cheaper than waiting and waiting while paying for a hotel room—even one on which they had cut the rate in half. I sent the email at around 8:30 A.M. because I knew their hours were from eight to four in the afternoon. At 9:00 A.M., I got the following email:
“Dear Mr. Wiggins, Thank you for your e-mail. We have received your passport. You can stop by any time between 8am and 4pm from Monday to Thursday and from 8am to 10:30am on Friday. No appointment needed. Sorry for the delay. I guess, the holiday season and the weather in the US slowed down the mail delivery. Best Regards, Consular Affairs”
By 10:00 A.M., I was at the embassy watching as they cancelled my old passport which had served me well for a decade—I had even had to have pages added, I had so many stamps and visas in it. I got the new one, went to an ATM to get plane fare, went to the Precision Air office and got my tickets. I will be leaving here at 4:30 A.M. to catch a 7:30 A.M flight to Arusha. I will spend a day with my good friend, Pete O’Neal and pick up my Ethiopian cross I had left there last September. That cross is very important to me as it was a gift from my wife decades ago before there was any thought of ever traveling to Africa, much less living there for the rest of our lives. I have worn it from my first full-time pastorate in Gravette, Arkansas, until last September when it fell under a dresser at Pete’s and was lost until one of his staff found it. It will be good to see him again. On Friday, I will fly to Mwanza, arriving while John is having some dental work done there and will drive back with John and Shaban Friday afternoon. I will be very happy to get back home, although the staff here has been fabulous. We couldn’t have had better care if we were real VIP’s because that’s how we were treated. It didn’t hurt that we spoke their language and treated them as equals. We know which ones are married, have children, are studying for better jobs, and the ones who have lived in and around Bunda. I am better known here as Magesa Mamba than as Charles Wiggins which is nice.