Yesterday morning, I woke up and reached out to push aside the mosquito net, but found nothing, despite groping around. “That’s strange,” I thought sleepily. “I’ve never managed to accidentally remove the mosquito net during the night before.” At that point, I actually opened my eyes and remembered that I was back in Ji-Parana.
I returned to the city at about 10:30 AM on Wednesday, but hit the ground running (in reality, walking very fast, because it is too hot to run much) and thus have not written until now. The past 45 hours have been full indeed, with various activities.
- Recovering from the trip. I get very carsick on that dirt/mud road. The Neno family I caught a ride with likes to travel early, so getting up at 4:30 AM didn’t help. The neck and back muscles which had been stiff and sore for over a week, only became worse with all the jolting around on the road. Thankfully, I am feeling well again now, however.
- Visiting with missionaries here at the base.
- Calling and catching up with family. Have reached everyone in the immediate family except one brother and one grandma, but will try again today.
- Reading e-mails. Have not responded to any yet, but will start soon.
- Grocery shopping.
- Farmer’s market trip to load my backpack with fruits and vegetables, which are a welcome treat, and about half of my food intake here in the city, where we have the luxury of access and refrigeration.
- Phone calls about an upcoming appointment, visa, chiropractor, and a surprise debit card issue.
- Federal Police.
That last item requires more explanation than a bullet point, so here is the story of God’s hand at work on my behalf. Since the walk to the Police is 40 minutes one way, I called ahead, as usual, to make sure I had everything that would be necessary to go in early Thursday morning. Marcio, who is very pleasant, friendly, and patient, answered the phone, and my questions.
You may remember that the police officer who assisted me back in November was extremely grumpy, as if he had gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, and made a couple negative comments about foreigners and about allowing them to live in this country. He also gave me some incorrect information about laws and passport validity. His disposition was similiary unhelpful back in April, and he was the one behind the desk the day I registered my address change. All of that documentation was subsequently lost, requiring me to make an extra trip to complete the same exact process a second time. While there is no way to know who was responsible for whatever error occured, it makes me wonder if that officer tries to make things difficult for foreigners.
Flowers and butterflies I noticed on the way to the Police, bringing to mind Matthew 6:27-34, which is not only good advice, but Jesus’ command for all of us who sometimes worry about tomorrow. I felt the Him challenging my heart, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall [I] eat? or, What shall [I] drink?” or, Will Marcio be the officer who processes my documents? or, Will my visa renewal be successful today? “for your Heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of all these things.”) Since God knows and cares and is able to care for these needs and all others, I have no business worrying about anything!
Either way, because of these previous experiences with the other officer, I prayed that I could deal with Marcio instead. Imagine my relief and delight when I walked in Thursday morning, and Marcio was the only one behind the desk! In chatting with him about his holidays, he mentioned that the other officer was actually on vacation. Thank you, Jesus!
Marcio printed out the “boletos” for me. This is a process I have never seen in the USA, so I am not sure if there is an English word for it. A boleto is a document that states how much you owe to the other party, in this case 315 Reais to the Police. I took the boletos to the bank and paid with cash. The bank then gave me proof of payment to take back to the Police, who would then accept all of the documents and register my renewal request.
Unfortunately, in this case, the bank is about 3 blocks from the mission base, which meant a total of four 40-minute walks yesterday, just for the visa renewal. On the bright side, it was a pleasant day for a walk, and an enjoyable time spent in prayer, listening to music, and a couple chapel messages from NBBI, the Bible school I attended. I certainly got my exercise for the day, and on the way back, at lunchtime, bought a chicken and cheese pastel, a delicious deep-fried treat that is filling enough for a meal. I did take advantage of the taxi bus on the trip back to the bank, to diminish the time by about 20 minutes, making it possible to return before the Police went on their 2-hour lunch break, so my afternoon would be free for other errands and phone calls.
It all went very smoothly, with no surprises or complications, thanks to God, and to Marcio, who I believe was on duty instead of vacation yesterday by His divine scheduling. I now have a “protocol” (legal proof of permission to be in the country) which is valid until April, when my actual card will be ready. The card will be valid until next January, when I will visit the Police again. That is one small step closer to permanent resident status, my friends. I am so thankful that God prepared the way before me and granted such a successful trip. And thank you to all who have prayed about this situation over the past months and years!
The above picture fits some of the lyrics of a song I sang yesterday on the way to the Police.
Hearts open wide, hands lifted high,
over the clouds up into the blue sky.
You will never run away; You’re forever mine.
You will never run away; You’re by my side.
Listen to the whole song by Rend Collective.
I am so thankful that Jesus will never run away. Jesus is Love, forever mine. He takes me by the hand and leads me in the truly wild dance of knowing Him and taking His love into this dark world. The whole ongong visa adventure has been frustrating and overwhelming over the past few years, making me want to run away at times. Yet Jesus has always been by my side, giving me the courage and fight to persevere, and the joy to laugh at impossibilities and praise Him even when things seemed hopeless. And no matter what challenges or obstacles the future holds, Jesus will never run away. And by the continued grace of Him who is able to keep me from falling, I will never give up or run away from Him, or from His work and heavenly calling.