Volunteer in Mission to Brazil

30 September 2005

Getting there isn't easy...

Since I've had a particularly interesting time these past few weeks trying to get a visa, I figured it's a good time to start documenting the mission.

I am key-less for the first time in 20 years. No car, no house or apartment, no office building. It's a strange yet freeing feeling. Getting rid of many of my clothes was fun. Having the yard sale to get rid of most of my possessions was less so, but friends in North Carolina really rallied to help me out. My home church, Reconciliation UMC, had a very nice commissioning send-off for me.

I've already changed my flight itinerary a couple of times--the first time realizing that I would never be able to finish sorting and packing in time for the original flight to visit family in Illinois, the second time to be able to be met by family at the Illinois airport to help with my 150+ pounds of luggage.

I knew that submitting the visa application so close to when I was hoping to depart was not optimum, but the Brazilian Embassy in Washington DC's Web site indicated that these visas were usually processed within two business days. It brings to mind that comedienne's video--"And God Said Ha!"

Due to Hurricane Rita, the consulate in Miami, where I was told to submit my application, had closed for 1-2 days and was behind in logging in the applications received. Then after 8 days, they sent my entire visa application back, saying that I had to apply in person. I saw that the instructions that they included were different from the ones I saw on the Brazilian Embassy's site. And, rather significantly, the Miami instructions indicate that it might take up to three months to process this type of visa.

So this is where things stand at the moment. I will try to see if I can go directly to the Brazilian Embassy in DC, where I at least can stay for free with family and friends while I'm waiting, to apply in person for the visa.

On the spiritual side, I'm wondering if this is just a warm-up testing of the flexibility that will be essential to possess and demonstrate while I'm volunteering, or what. I've been discerning and preparing for this trip for quite a while, so that helps to put a delay of days or weeks in perspective as pretty minor.