Thursday, February 14, 2008

It's Just The Way It Is

When people think about how missionaries spend their time, they think about us tromping along jungle trails, witnessing to native chiefs, and holding worship services in quaint thatch huts surrounded by tiki torches, just like in a Hawaiian luau.

While I have actually had the chance to do all of those things (not here in Porto Alegre, mind you, but up North, and never with tiki torches), unfortunately, the reality is often far different. Porto Alegre, is a big, modern city with big, modern problems and big, not so modern bureaurcacy, which is (or should be) linked into the bureaurcacy in the land of the thatch huts. What am I talking about? The Department of Transportation (DT).

My driver's license was issued in Maranhão, where we used to live. Weeks ago, I started the renewal process. I first went to the DT during business hours to find that they were closed. I went back another day, and was handed a list of documents that I needed to get. I gathered the documents, and went back to the DT. There, I was told that they couldn't find me in the system, so they would have to search for me and call me back. They called (which was a pleasant surprise), and told me they still couldn't find me and they would keep looking after Carnaval (5 days later). They called after Carnaval and told me that I needed to get notarized copies of some documents to mail off. I went down to the notary, spent part of the afternoon there, finally got my copies made, and went back to the DT. They stapled my stuff together and told me they would mail it off to the immensely inefficient and unworkable bureauacracy that is the DT in Maranhão (you don't even want to get me started on that) and that they would get back to me.

Meanwhile, my license has expired. Sigh.

If they ever do find me, I'll still need to do a medical exam, a psychological test, and some other stuff - not to mention a few more trips down to the DT.

So, do your missionaries spend all of their time doing exotic ministry? Unfortunately, to do our ministries, we need to spend a lot of time doing things like wearing out the sidewalk on the way to the DT.

So, when you pray for your missionaries, don't just pray for our ministries, pray for the other stuff as well!


Bill Cook said...

Ya know, Jeff, I seem to recall that none of the apostles had driver's licenses, and yet they managed to evangelize the entire Roman world anyway...

Couldn't you adopt an 'Amish Gaucho' lifestyle and just travel around in a donkey cart?

Jeff Dunson said...

Donkey carts were up North. Here, they use horse carts. Unfortunately, if you have one, it means that your job is to sort through people's trash and pick out the recyclables.

They give you a month to renew after it expires, so I'm not quite ready for the career change just yet :)