It seems that every missionary letter I have read always includes a request to pray for their visa to be approved or to speedily arrive. I never gave that request much time or attention, but casually prayed that their need would be met.
Today, we joined the ranks of those who have experienced the immigration office of a host country.
It seems that our paperwork was not completed correctly for processing on the American side of things to be sent for the Ugandan side of things, so we are still in the land of visa limbo. In great effort to proactively arrange details a month in advance, we located the immigration office in Kampala (a non-descript building without a sign, situated next to a tobacco leaf warehouse where one smells the leaves drying), secured a parking spot (a muddy patch on the side of the road), and did the divide and conquer move that parents so often do (one stays in the car with kids while the other hastily runs the errand). After my bag was checked by a security guard, I wandered around until I found a woman behind a piece of glass who stared at me and continued to repeat that I needed to apply for a special pass and take this paper and that paper and then go here and there. When I explained that I would love to take care of these things now as we live 9 hours away in a remote area, she told me that I have time and I need to come back closer to the date it expires. So, I got the various papers and decided it was time for PLAN B.
Plan B was to do the parent swap. This time Travis went in and I stayed in the car. As it was now 12:30 and there were no snacks in sight, the kids were hungry and getting cranky for being car bound. We tried to count boda bodas (motorcycles), tell stories, and then gave up and just did what everyone does to us, stared at people. Travis called from inside with hopeful news that all was going well and he had all his papers filled in, he was just waiting for the immigration worker to eat lunch. And he really meant it, she was eating right in front of him. After another hour, after she finished her lunch, she decided that she was going to run an errand and would be back in 30 minutes. Rescuing me from insanity in the car, Travis drove us to a nearby shopping area for the kids and I to eat lunch (now 2 o’clock). Upon returning, he waited again and then was directed to a different woman who decided not to process his papers and told him to do what? Apply for a special pass. She then scolded him and told him that the team leader for WHM Uganda should come and talk to her about this problem. Travis did not have the heart to tell her that she was, indeed, already talking to the team leader for WHM Uganda. Empty handed and discouraged, Travis returned to us. So, now we are on the paper trail for that special pass until our work visas are secured. And now we are in the ranks of missionaries who are having visa issues and are now requesting that you to pray for our visa to be approved. Or at least for them to give us a special pass!