Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Residency: "Your Extension Has Expired."

"Your extension has expired on your passport." This was not good news at all when we were greeted by our attorney, it was devastating. We would be required to immediately exit Guatemala, fly to Ohio, and begin the whole process again.

The morning began with an early start, kids melting down around the house, the dog barking, a quick shave, a cup of coffee, load up the Terracan, drive up the lane, clear the guard... and crawl into traffic. Our 20 minute drive into the city was a merciful 40 minute trip. Often it can take a great deal longer. 2 closed streets, 1 police checkpoint, countless maneuvers that would land me in jail were I to drive that way in the U.S.

We pull into the parking garage deep into the Capital, get our ticket to reclaim our car, make our way up to ground level, navigate the structure, and find our way to the attorney's office fifteen minutes early. Of course we are in Guatemala, so this means that we are more like 30 minutes early. Time is a bit more relaxed here.

Sterling plopped down onto the couch in the attorney's office while Kellie and I were signing the freshly translated documents. I looked back to see her flopped and relaxed upside down and I felt the tension fly away as I laid my head back and belly-laughed. 

Mr. Morales, our attorney was laughing along with all of us, then he turned with a smile and said, "a small problem, I noticed that your passport extensions expired last week." The air was sucked from my throat as laughter turned rapidly to shock and then acceptance. We've been here nearly two years and we've weathered our share of storms and setbacks. This would just be another tale on an incredible journey.

Mr. Morales continued with a smile, "but it's not a big deal, I think I can get them to accept it, you'll just need to pay a small fine, about 100 Quetzales total (about $13.00). Kellie and I just smiled and laughed an easy sort of laugh. Yes, God's got this... even when we goof on the easy stuff.

We took the elevator from the 6th floor back down to the lobby, walked through the mall, onto the outside walkway, and crossed the street below, exiting down to the street level. We walked through a parking lot, two blocks down the street, and entered the Guatemalan Immigration office. The metal detector buzzed red as I passed through it like always... and again the guard waived me through (I've actually twice entered with a knife). I love this country.

"No Photography Please"
This is a covert shot with my phone resting inside my read of the day,
The Hebrew Prophets and Their Social World, I am always captivated by the
different sorts of people immigrating to Guatemala. You can see a lady head-to-toe
in black fabric, a world-class dread-lock dude, a hippy chick, a red-head, and our attorney
on the right, holding a green folder of great value to our family.
Kellie went to pay the fine and Mr. Morales helped her navigate the official. A couple of hours later our packet went for review. We nervously waited because it was essential that their were no errors. The clerk called us up with an announcement... 

...Kellie's passport number had been recorded incorrectly on a document from one of our verifiers.  After all the ups and downs, this was enough to invalidate our application. Our eyes turned downward as we inhaled deeply. Of course it couldn't be this easy. Well, so it goes. We'll get through this.

Mr. Morales, never losing his smile, stepped forward and said, "you'll need to get it corrected and forwarded to Immigration for the file, but they still accepted your application. You are now in process."

These words were what we were most hoping to hear. Our application has been accepted! This means that we don't need fingerprints again, we don't have to spend the $800 per person to fly to Ohio. We don't have to exit Guatemala this month for a mandatory exit. We are on the path to residency!

Once again we are reminded by God that He makes the way. We simply must be willing to say yes. Even when we misstep, or mistakes are made... God makes a way. We are thankful for our attorney, a follower of Jesus, Mr. Morales. For an added bonus, he and I even got to talk U.S. politics on the walk back. 

God's hand has woven our lives, for 20 years this coming May, and the weave is resting here in this place as our family together takes this essential step in our participation in the story of God. It is no mistake. Our extension has expired. And that's just ok... because we don't need it anymore!

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