Late yesterday afternoon (Thursday 29 March 2012), after a long wait and “assertive” discussion with a consulate representative at the Embassy, I went home without a visa. Islamabad (capital of Pakistan) had not sent through approval to Pretoria Pakistan Embassy for our visa, despite our visa application being in the Embassy for four weeks ago, and despite the inviting pastor, Sarwar Masih in Lahore, going to their Ministry of Interior with letters and copies of passports, etc. It’s rather disappointing.
We were scheduled to fly today (Friday 30 May), but have now cancelled the ministry trip, despite Sarwar Masih having done posters and organised the whole pastor’s conference, etc. Our friend and Vineyard colleague from Norway, Odd-Ivar, who planned to join us as part of the team, will arrive in Lahore on tomorrow and will participate in the conference.
I found the Pakistan Embassy a shambles of disorganization and rudeness. I had been personally three times to the Embassy and made well over ten phone calls over four weeks. Yesterday they said my passport was locked in the office of the commissioner who had left the Embassy early and no one had keys to go in and get the passport. I waited for over an hour and talked to no fewer than three people, and then made a phone call to a Pakistan official, before a senior consular official came.
He explained that Islamabad had not yet sent a reply, so the visa was not approved in time for our trip – after having our passports and application for four weeks – have you ever heard of such a thing? I expressed my strong disagreement and dissatisfaction with their process, then simply insisted in getting our passports and begin our hour and half drive home – two hours in traffic! Anyway, after further insistence on my part they managed to get our passports and I came home.
Thanks for the prayers. I am relieved its all over, but sad that my son and I will miss our ministry trip to Pakistan. And I’m sorry for Sarwar and the pastors there, but I feel relief. God’s in charge and I believe he will work this for our good. Part of the good is that I have some uninterrupted time this coming week – when I was supposed to be in Pakistan – to work on my book “Doing Spirituality – Introducing Christian Spirituality as Discipleship to Jesus and his Kingdom”. I plan to write fourteen chapters and right now I am at the end of chapter six. I’m excited to have a week to write, it’s like heaven for me!! I always think of the athlete in the movie Chariots of Fire who, when he ran, put his head back and “felt the pleasure of God”. When have uninterrupted time to write I put my head down and I feel the pleasure of God – it’s one of the things I was made for!