We are in the process of renewing our residence visas that will allow us to remain in the Canary Islands. Now to understand this process would take more time than I care to write--it all began in the States over a year ago when our family had to go to New York City to get the ball rolling at the Spanish Embassy. They sent all the necessary paperwork to Madrid for their approval and we were granted temporary residency which allowed us to come to the islands, and after we got here last year we submitted more paperwork. Only a fellow missionary would understand all the hoops you must jump through to meet the requirements: police records, fingerprints, apostille seals (special seal--not just a notary) on all official documents, sponsorship, etc.
After all we had been through to get our initial residencies approved, we thought getting our residency papers renewed would be relatively easy. My husband started well in advance of the deadlines, made sure he had everything in order, etc. He had his appointment two weeks ago and was approved with no problems. He had everything they asked for, and now he just has to go again and get "re-fingerprinted."
Yesterday was the appointment for me and the kids. Doug brought all the papers they requested on the email, and then some, just in case. You never know what they are going to ask for, and quite frankly, it all depends on who waits on you. We got to our "appointment" only to find that we had to take a number. It was very similar to going to the department of motor vehicles in the states--our number was 752!
As we were waiting, I observed each worker, looking at their faces--which ones smiled, which ones looked like they were eating sour pickles--hoping we would get a "friendly" one. Our number was called, and we proceeded to the desk. Most people were processed in less than 10 minutes--so what we thought would be a quick process of merely handing over our required papers turned out to be a 3 hour ordeal. It seems like from the very start she was "looking" for problems. She asked for things that weren't even on the list. Doug was pulling everything he had out of his briefcase. At one point she disappeared for about 45 minutes--she went upstairs to have a "meeting" with the man who had approved Doug's papers earlier. When she came back she had an angry countenance. I wondered what had transpired in their "meeting."
So now my husband has to go back in a few weeks to take her the things she said we needed, and hopefully we can proceed to the next step-- another appointment to go back again to be "re-fingerprinted." Why they can't do this all at the same time is beyond me--but that would be too logical.
Sometimes it can be frustrating when you feel you are getting the run-around--going from office to office, in what seems to be an inefficient bureaucratic waste of time. I am reminded of a veteran missionary, who wisely called these trials "divine appointments." If we look at things from this perspective, we are reminded that God is in control. He may be directing our steps in paths we do not understand--maybe to be a witness to someone along the way that we wouldn't have met otherwise. Or maybe He is just testing our patience : ) .