IMMIGRATION TALES FROM HERE AND THERE OR THE GLAMOUR OF TRAVELING ABROAD

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Whenever we went to the Phillipines, Okinawa, or Panama to start a church, we had to deal

with immigration in order to have our visas stamped.  There is no getting around this,

regardless of the cost, the inconvenience, or whatever else! Sometimes things go smoothly,

and some times not so smooth.

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The first time we went to immigration in the Phillipines, it was a bus ride from Baguio City to

Manila, a few hours away, and then a harrowing taxi ride to the immigration office from the

bus station. Really, you are much better off to hire an attorney to take care of this need, even

though it can be extremely expensive to do so.  It saves you a lot of frustration, etc. though it

may have changed since that time, which is doubtful.

 

*     *     *

Once before going to Okinawa, we went to the Japanese Consulate in Seattle, to obtain a visa.

They graciously stamped my husband’s visa and mine with a stamp that read  “Gratis,”  no

charge.  A visa is a document showing that a person is authorized to enter or leave the

territory for which it was issued, subject to the permission of an immigration official at the

time of actual entry.  The authorization may be a document, but more commonly it is a stamp

endorsed inside the applicant’s passport.

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A funny thing happened to us, though not too funny while it was happening, trying to leave

Panama when we had airplane tickets to fly to the states for a conference.  We had a lawyer to

help us through the immigration/visa  maze.  We had  contacted our lawyer to make sure we

could leave Panama without any problems.  He gave us the green light, so we were ready to go.

We got to the gate to get on the plane, but  IMMIGRATION  stopped us.  It seems we were

missing something.  Of course my husband told them our lawyer assured us everything was in

order, but they didn’t accept his explanation. Well, we couldn’t fly so we had to wait for a later

plane as we waited for our our fellow Spanish-speaking minister and associate to get back to

the servicemen’s home (a Christian outreach for our American military) so he could call the

lawyer and get us the clearance we needed.  The lawyer was one person you could hardly ever

get a hold of.

*     *     *

In the meantime we waited in their small and not too accommodating waiting area.  We prayed

and asked The Lord to work it out.  I felt peace.  I felt assured that we were in the hands of the

Lord and He knew we needed His help.

*     *     *

The other minister was able to miracously get a hold of the lawyer who contacted immigration

at the airport so we were able to catch the next plane out.  By the grace of God and after

running through the airport in the states, we caught our connecting flight!

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Once while going through customs in the U.S., there were several dogs sniffing the luggage to

make sure there were no drugs inside.

*     *     *

Another time while returning to America from Germany, pre TSA, the sausage I bought at Duty

Free (?) in the airport was confiscated.  I explained where it was purchased, expecting it was

clear to take with us being as it was sold at the German airport, but my assumption was wrong

and they took it away from us.

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My opinion on the whole matter is that immigration doesn’t play around.  Just be sure

everything is in order when you go through immigration.  Then sometimes even when you

thought everything was clear to go, you may find there is something you weren’t aware of.

I hope not!

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