Paperwork is a part of life here in Colombia. For many years now, significant amounts of my time have been and are occupied by securing some license, paper, or permit. Many times the paperwork has absorbed weeks and weeks of efforts as I tried to keep everything legal for living and working here in Colombia. Over the years, different Colombian presidents have promised to make Colombia more efficient by eliminating so much paperwork. To their credit, things have improved somewhat.
But still, here in Colombia, everything from paying a bill to renewing a driverâ€™s license requires several hours or even days of standing in line first at one office and then at another; offices that are usually located on opposite sides of the city. For one simple example, two and a half years ago, Susy applied to renew her Colombian I.D. card on a trip down. I check on it every month or two and now a full thirty months later, it still has not been issued. While that may be an extreme case of delay and inefficiency, paperwork is still a part of life if I am to live and work here in Colombia.
This trip down, I have had to renew my Colombian resident visa. I began the paperwork two weeks ago now and spend several days each week shuffling papers from one government office to another. Even though it is one process that should be a simple renewal, I have been in government offices located on three of the extremes of the city. In each case, I begin by standing in very long lines for several hours. Finally I am given the information I need to take the next step. That involves photocopies and pictures and filling out form after form. Finally I am ready for the next step and so head off to the next office.
After two full weeks of spending a good part of my time in this effort, I am still a long way from getting my visa renewed. This week I applied for a police certificate in order to prove I am not a wanted criminal and that I have been in the country legally. Lord willing, that document should be ready by the end of this week or early next week. Then I will need to head to the Ministry of Foreign Relations in order to apply for the actual renewal of my visa. Until now, all of my efforts have been to fulfill preliminary requirements.
I look forward to finishing this batch of paperwork so I can return full time to the work I am doing here in Colombia. Please pray with me that the paperwork for this visa soon be completed and that I am able to successfully renew my resident visa for working here in Colombia. And then when I get the visa renewed, I can begin on the long process of renewing my Colombian driverâ€™s license!