Yesterday afternoon our future ministry began to feel more real than ever. We received an email from the Baptist Union of Chile; attached was the official letter of request to use for our Visa. We were so excited to receive this letter, but then the inevitable question came: What’s next?
I went online the Chilean Embassy’s website to search out the list of requirements for a visa. Immediately a timeline began to fall into place. This document can be no more than one month old, or that report will take six weeks to process. Once all the paperwork is ready, we have to go to Washington D.C. and then, once our passports are stamped, we must enter Chile within three months.
We were very excited. So right away we began to plan, and first on the list of documents to obtain is a FBI background check. To do this we need our fingerprints, so we looked up where to have that done in the city, found the website, and today during lunch we took off.
We first got caught in traffic; thanks to roadwork on I-285 (which of course ended up being five trucks parked in the road with no visible work occuring) a trip that should have been 20 minutes took 45, but no worries. We made it to our destination. We went in, passed through screening, found the right office, and we were relieved to see there was no wait! We went up to the window and said why we were there.
“Do you have the fingerprint card?”
“Yes, right here!” Bekah responded.
“How about your money orders?”
“What?,” we asked. (Please, don’t think we’re naive. We know that the government does nothing for free, but their website said nothing about cost, so we brought wallets and checkbooks just in case. Of course, they only accept money orders…)
“Yeah, it’s $20 each.”
That’s right. For five minutes of an underpaid public servant’s time and not even enough ink to fill a ballpoint pen the city of Atlanta wanted $40, and we have to provide the paper! We contemplated getting ourselves arrested; then they would do it for free! Instead, we decided just to leave.
Needless to say, we were a little upset. In the car on the way back to work we peppered each other with the typical questions: “Why do we pay taxes?” “Do they not think they should put the cost on the website?” “Criminals get this done for free, but we have to pay?”
There was no way that we were going to pay. The FBI’s website says that fingerprints should be done by a technician “if possible.” We think $40 is a reason for it not to be possible and will fingerprint ourselves, thank you very much.
On the way back to work we picked up some lunch and ate it in the car. Our very unproductive lunch hour lasted almost two, and while this was a frustrating experience, we are still excited. We are excited about what God has in store for us in Chile, and, even though we know we have more of this ahead, we can’t wait to see where this adventure will take us.