Tuesday, February 11, 2014
“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning do to do afterward.” ― Kurt Vonnegut
In 2012, the government of Tanzania decided to recall and invalidate all existing residence permits—all of class A, class B, and class C (which are for missionaries). All of us missionaries in this area had to turn in our current residence permits and fill out the pages and pages of new forms to get new permits. This was required to be done by December of 2012. There are just three of us, but other missionary families were of five to seven people and each one had to have new paperwork. Even though our permits were still valid, we had to turn them in along with the forms—and we did. Then we waited, and waited, and waited. Karen and my residence permits (even though we had not yet received the new ones) expired in August of 2013, but even though we had still not received the new permits we had been promised eight months earlier, we had to fill in and file all new forms and pay the required fees ($1,100 for both of us). All we got for all of our work was a verbal agreement that we had done all that was necessary (we did keep copies of all that we turned in), and we got a receipt for the money we paid for our fees which had to be in American currency. To this day, that is all we have to show that we are legally in Tanzania. We have no stamps in our passports and no permits just payment receipts. This week, John’s residence permit expires so Shaban and Pastor Nyansa (the church’s General Secretary) have spent two days and one night in Musoma with two trips back to Bunda to get other papers immigration decided they needed. Shaban just came back by bus, leaving Pastor Nyansa in Musoma to get the copies of John’s original permits. And, when all is said and done, and immigration has decided that John can legally be a resident of Tanzania (after granting him the same eight years in a row, since this will be his fifth permit), all we will receive is a receipt for the $550 in American currency that we paid. At least all three of us will be in the same boat with no permits or passport stamps to show—just receipts for the money we paid. Mr. Vonnegut (see quote above) says to laugh about it. We are just not there yet. Hopefully, unlike the lions that used to live all over this area but are all gone (see picture at right), we will still be here till God has no more use for us. Keep us (and immigration workers) in your prayers.