Continued from yesterday's post:
I got up early the next morning hoping to get a jump on all our business. I made out a to-do list and made sure to put on there that I needed to stop by the pharmacy for malaria medicine for Tom as well as lozenges. His throat was on fire.
My first tasks were to go buy a bank check to take to Immigration and get the work permit extension form from Immigration and make sure of the hours of business. I got the form, confirmed that we could drop everything off at any time (though this turned out to not be true), and then found the bank we needed right next to Immigration. Perfect. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the bank had a computerized number system that would tell you what desk to go to and call your number when it was time. This was such a relief compared to the long lines, pushing and shoving and inefficiency that is found in many other banks. Of course people still have to get accustomed to efficiency as I heard a man commenting behind me, “This system is very cumbersome!”
Unfortunately, our account still has a mistake in it saying that we have to have two signatures to do any transactions other than deposits. Since we weren’t at our home branch there was no point arguing. It looked like Tom was going to have to get out of bed, sick or not. I called ahead and told him I would bring his medicine with me.
When I got to the pharmacy they said they didn’t carry the medicine we usually use. I bought what they had and then called our doctor to get some advice and she suggested bringing Tom in for an injection of malaria medicine before starting on tablets because it would get him feeling better much faster.
I got back to the hotel, settled our bill with the desk clerk (we have to pay ahead of time), and then got back in the taxi with Tom. We hurried back to the bank because we were really trying to get everything done before noon. At the bank they took the form we had to submit for a bank check and told us we could come back the next day to collect it. No! You don’t understand! We. have. to. have. this. today! After speaking to the manager he said it would actually be ready in an hour. We took this opportunity to head to the clinic and get Tom his injection. The nurse was very nice and professional which was a help since Tom hates needles.
Once this was done we headed back to the bank to collect the check and then sat in the taxi to fill out the form for Immigration. Now, a little back story is necessary for you to understand this part:
Every two years we have to renew our work permit to be able to work (for free) as missionaries. Last March when we renewed the permit they did not give us the usual 2 years which we attributed to the fact that our passport would expire in 2010 so they couldn’t give us a permit into 2011. Tom was away in the States when I picked up our permit and noticed that we had only received one year. All last year we looked at that permit, talked about how we’d have to renew it earlier than expected, renewed our passports a year early in preparation. Did all the prep work (including getting the letter from the Chief) and now were sitting in the taxi doing the last bit of work—filling out one tiny form.
As I got to the part on the form that said: Date Permit Expires I asked Tom to read it out to me and he flipped open the little book and read the date for the umpteenth time: 3rd November, 2010! What?!? Not March 11, 2010?
We have lived on this side of the world for nearly 8 years. We know that the U.S.A is the only one that does the date
right with the month first. We use dates daily and correctly. How on earth did we mess this one up so badly?
Now we were unsure what to do. Would Immigration accept our renewal forms a full 9 months in advance? We had a check already made out to the Immigration Dept. which was only good for 30 days. Would the bank take it back? After speaking to a supervisor and explaining our situation and throwing ourselves on her mercy she agreed to accept all the forms and payment but they would only process everything in August. What a relief! We made the payment and wrapped everything up by 12:40. Just in time for all offices to close for lunch.
We were still feeling a little shell-shocked. How had we made such a massive mistake? Was the whole trip a mistake? Were we off God’s chosen path for us? We drove to a nearby shopping mall for lunch feeling quite downhearted. Surely things would begin to look up….