Wednesday, April 26, 2017

“Getting through the red tape here is like hacking a path through the Amazon forest. By the time we go a hundred yards, the undergrowth takes over again.” ― Edward Luce

Shaban is off on a ten-hour bus ride to Dodoma to get some more of Karen’s paperwork done for her labor permit.  John and I have ours, but Karen’s residence permit doesn’t expire until July, so we started working on her labor permit in January.  The red tape here is frustrating, time consuming, and costly, but what can you do?  After Dodoma (our legislative capital), Shaban will travel to Dar Es Salaam to do more paperwork on said labor permit.  He should be finished by next Monday or Tuesday when he will fly back (you can’t fly to Dodoma).  We are very appreciative of all his efforts on our behalf.  Can’t imagine how we would have gotten by here without his help.  When we first came, we only needed a residence permit.  Now, we have to have a labor permit, a residence permit, and a national identity card.  Each of these has to be paid for with American currency whether you are Australian or German.  Total cost is about $800 per person which is not too bad, but our Australian missionary friends have a family of seven—so that adds up.  Still, so far we’ve been able to meet all the government requirements and see no problems with continuing.  Just another of the inconveniences and costs associated with serving as missionaries in a foreign country.  
We’ve learned to roll with the punches and come up smiling no matter what the obstacle.  For twelve years we’ve gotten along with no dishwasher, no washing machine, no dryer, no vacuum cleaner, no microwave, and none of the other electrical things so common to most of you like: crock pots, electric toothbrushes, electric razors, fast food, pizza delivery, and all the little things that make your lives easy and fun.  We do all right and are not suffering at all.  It’s hard to miss things that no one has, and, after over a decade, we’ve forgotten what most of that stuff was like.  We do have birds singing to wake us, no road noise, no sirens, and the sounds of little children laughing and singing every day.  I look out my window and see a mango tree full of fruit, bananas growing on the tree, and occasionally watch cows and goats walk past us on their way to find grass and water.  The pace of life here is very, very slow, and it feels really good.
We just learned that our oldest son, Chris, and his wife are coming to see us for a couple of weeks in July and that they are bringing my younger sister who has never been to Africa.  You can imagine our excitement at having English-speaking guests who are also family.  The only downside is that they know all my stories, so I’ll have to listen instead of talk for a few days.  They will first safari through the Serengeti, so my sister will have lots to talk about and lots of pictures to take back to Houston where the wild animals are Astros, Rockets, and Texans.
              That’s all the news from Bunda in equatorial Africa for now.  Keep us in your prayers as we pray for you every day.
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