Today is Day 14 of dealing with Immigration. Yesterday I was told to bring in photocopies of my receipt from the Ministry of Labor for my work permit paperwork, my contract with Oasis, and my criminal background check. I cringed at that. (Remember all the drama concerning my criminal background check?) I said I didn’t understand why I needed to submit more copies when they already had copies of everything on file. They explained that, well those are filed away and if we bring in copies it will “speed up the process”.
For some reason, I don’t have copies of the translations of my criminal background check or of the affidavit from the embassy. What I did with them or why I never made copies is beyond me! So my team leader and I went this morning with copies of everything I do have. Jill explained to Mr. Secretary that I don’t have copies of the translations because they’re on file there at Immigration. Once again, we were told to come back later, in the afternoon for a response about whether or not I may renew my visa.
You know where this is going. I returned alone in the afternoon, only to be told that it still hadn’t been authorized and to – altogether now! – come back tomorrow.
I’m tired. I’m feeling really worn down from all of the back and forth with seemingly no end in sight. And it’s completely out of my control. All I can do is ask my questions, then smile and say thank you each time they tell me, “Amanha” (tomorrow).
At the end of the day, as I was leaving the office, João and I chatted for a bit about my Mozambican family, whom I was on my way to see, and continents (yes, world continents – apparently in Europe and Africa children are taught that North and South America are one continent called America). At the end of our conversation, he told me my Portuguese was improving. Really? Thanks! As a comment just for a laugh, I said it was because of all the conversation practice I was getting from walking to Immigration with him everyday.
As I walked down the street, I realized my parting comment was actually true. My Portuguese has improved in the past couple weeks. I find it rolling off my tongue more easily, not having to think as hard about verb conjugations, and often even thinking in Portuguese. I attribute this to spending about an hour a day with João, whom I have always appreciated as a great conversationalist. Unlike many Mozambicans, he brings up interesting points and asks a lot of questions. He also patiently explains things to me by slowing down his speech or rewording sentences and encourages me to find different ways of explaining myself when I get stuck instead of giving in to my temptation to find someone to translate.
Then it hit me that this is exactly what I’ve been praying for for months! I’ve been so frustrated since I’ve been here that I’m not learning Portuguese more quickly and easily because I spend all day every day in front of a computer, doing work in English, and interacting with colleagues who all want to practice English. I was taking two hours of lessons a week and one hour of conversation practice but have stopped both of those due to a heavier workload. (Besides with my conversation partner, I felt like I was paying her to be my friend, and it wasn’t actually helping my conversation much at all.) I bought a TV antenna to watch local news but continue to think of other ways to regularly be engaged in Portuguese.
Then in all my frustration with Immigration, I’ve completely missed the gift presented to me of regular Portuguese conversation! It’s not how I would have answered my prayer, but obviously I couldn’t answer it otherwise I would have. I can’t imagine another way that I would have improved as much I have recently. How well God knows us! What a great sense of humor He has too.