It was going to be so easy. I was going to walk into the immigration office, hand over my passport and a stack of forms, and I would be on my way to becoming a Belizean permanent resident.
I confidently slid my passport through the rounded opening in the glass partition. The head of the Department of Immigration flicked my passport open and stared at the work permit inside. "No. You can't apply for residency when you're here as a volunteer." He shoved it back to my side of the glass. "You haven't contributed to social security."
I felt my temper begin to rise. Breathe, Crystal, breathe. "So how do I become a resident?"
He shrugged. "Get a job. Do you plan to be a missionary the rest of your life?" Missionary in the way it was said here was equivalent with or below garbage sorter.
Breathe in. Breathe out. "Only God knows that. But I am a homemaker. Even if my husband would get a different job, I stay home with the children. I will never have a paying job." We both knew it wasn't true that I couldn't become a resident while a missionary. Many of our missionary friends were residents. But he was the one in authority and I was not, so his whim was law.
He shrugged. "Tell your husband to get a job and be a dependent to him."
I turned and left the immigration office, defeated. I had not anticipated any problems with submitting our applications. We hadn't even been praying about it yet. Maybe after two years would have passed and we still would have heard nothing about our applications, then we'd have started praying.
Will we be able to continue living in Belize? Or will we eventually have to say goodbye to this beautiful country because we can no longer legally stay?
I will readily admit that I don't know our future. Who does? But still, I have a mental map. We'll live here for approximately this amount of time. When our children are grown, we'll do this or that. I want to travel to such and such a place and accomplish x, y, and z.
One antagonist at the immigration office reminded me: I am not in control of my story. Thankfully the immigration officer isn't either. What's on the next page of my passport? I don't know, but Someone does.