Monday, August 17, 2015

Fijese que.......

"Fijese que" is an expression used in Guatemala a lot. Literally translated is means "pay attention to", but as I recently read in a travel magazine on Guatemala it really means "bad news". When someone starts off a sentence with those words you can expect bad news. Lately we have been receiving a lot of bad new with regards to some of the papers work we have been working on.
In 2006 Lia and I and our twins were given resident status in Guatemala. Since that time we had two more kids and we assumed that they would automatically also be awarded resident status. However, that was not the case and to avoid the hassle and costs of getting a normal residency we opted for a special residency which was easier to get and much cheaper. In 2013 we were awarded our new residency and we thought we were done. We asked at immigration what our next step was and they told us that there were new rules and because our children are under aged they did not need to do anything else. Well, apparently that was not the case and we found that out when Lia tried to leave the country with the kids several years ago. They detained her and the kids for an hour while I talked to them on the phone to explain what had happened. They thankfully let her go. Since then we have been trying to get this paper work filed, but first Lia and I needed to get our new ID cards. This took close to a year because they had made a mistake on one of Lia's name. They had put an accent mark on one of the letters of her name and they said that needed to be changed. Lia was asked to fill out a form which was so badly copied that she could not make out what the questions were. After weeks of hassling with making this change, Lia finally received her new ID card. Well, I wish that I could tell you it was smooth sailing from there on, but this is Guatemala. Things that appear to be routine quickly become complicated and time consuming. When we went to file the paperwork for Jesse and Tristan we were told that the document we have for their residency has "expired" and we need to go back to immigration to get them to put another stamp on it. While this seemed simple they wanted to see the original receipt of payment which we did not have on us. We are currently still working on this and hope that we will soon have this document and can finish this paper work so that we can go to Canada this summer.
Another issue Lia and I have been dealing with has been the renewal of our Guatemalan drivers license. Again we assumed that this was going to be a straight forward process since the time before it went smoothly. However, this time around it has been a real hassle. Lia and I received new ID cards several months ago, but these ID cards only have one last name on them. In many Latin American countries people have both their parents last names on their ID card. Our former ID cards had both names, but the new ones only have one. While this might not be an issue in NA it is an issue here and we found that out while trying to renew our license. Our license has both our last names on them so they told us that we needed to go to the government office and get a document stating that we are the same people whether with one last name or two. I went to the government office to get this document and they told me it would be ready in a week. A week later I went back and they told me they did not have it and that I should go to the central office and ask for it there. Lia and I went last week and spent 3 hours waiting in lines for this document which they said would be ready in 5 days. I went again a few days ago and after waiting for 5 hours I walked out with the document. Now with this document we were supposed to go to the ministry of transit and get them to make the changes. Well... what do you know, we get there and they told us we needed to go to a lawyer and get him/her to draw up a document stating that we are the same people with either one or two last names. With that document we have to go to another office and get them to add that to our file and with that document they will make the changes and then we should be able to renew our license. This is going to take several weeks for this to all be done and by that time some of the other paperwork we had done for our license will have expired and we will have to redo that again. In the past we could hire someone to do a lot of this work for us, but the government does not allow that anymore. These things have to be done personally and it is something I just hate doing. It is frustrating work as they send you from here to there and each person will tell you something different.
I just read Jaco and Andrea Devisser's blog about some of the challenges they have adapting to a new culture and the things that "irk" them. We can relate to that and there are things that still "irk" us even after 15 years. Perhaps they do not "irk" us as much as in the past, but they still do and I doubt I will even get used to it. I guess the biggest issue is the feeling of being powerless. Please pray for missionaries as they deal with these kinds of frustrations and challenges in their life abroad.