~ Here we go again! ~
After 30 days in China, I told you all about my first visa extension. That was during May. The following month the school did not have my paperwork ready – due to further complications – so I had to return to the PSB (Public Service Bureau) for a second visa extension.
You see, here in China, there are many rules, but they are not clearly defined anywhere. To make matters worse, the country is big and full of bureaucratic contradictions. Each city has different visa requirements, and every visa officer exercises various levels of stringency. Last week when we tried to find out what paperwork we needed to take, the administration lady at our school that if we go to the PSB on Thursday, we would need different papers than if we went on a Friday. That right there sums up China for you – No rhyme or reason!
While at the PSB doing my second visa extension, the visa officer mentioned (in Chinese, of course) that I needn’t be applying for that second 30 day visa extension because I was married to a person who was a full time employee in China. I did not know that he had said this until I was standing at the bus stop with the lady helping me, and I asked what the officer had said. When she informed me of this, and that the visa I could have got was 90 days, I wanted to run back inside and get my papers back so that I could rather get the longer visa.
I know how this goes – Everything that happens in China, happens slowly, and this is even more so in South Africa. I could applying for a Spousal Visa here, and that would be simple, but after 4 months South Africa still has not issued us an unabridged marriage certificate. Home Affairs said that it would take 8 – 10 weeks, but it has been 18 weeks. Obviously that avenue is not an option for us!!
So why the delay with my paperwork in China?
Well apparently, since each city has different regulations, it doesn’t matter that I have worked in China before. Or that I have never violated a visa here. None of that means anything to Qingdao. However me being from Africa – now that is the issue! Our principal said that she tried to explain to the officials that I am “not black” – yes, I am serious! Amazing that things like that would be incredibly racist in other countries, but here they are said without much thought. The fact that I am from Africa – as a whole (because it’s like a country, lol) – means that I am “less favoured” in Qingdao. Not China, but specifically Qingdao.
Despite this, our school managed to pull a few strings and organised me the paperwork needed for the work visa. We quickly sent these papers, with my passport, to Cape Town. There my brother took them to the Chinese Embassy, as he did for me in 2011, and applied for the visa. Except this time, things didn’t go to plan. The officer refused to process the visa, so we asked for everything to be sent back.
Due to the school’s decision to apply for a 30 day visa (instead of the 90 day visa), and to do so a week before we need to – I was now in a tight situation (again)!!
Earlier this week I went to the PSB to ask if I could use our marriage registrar as proof of marriage to Justin. I wanted to know this because if I couldn’t, then I needed to make plans for flights, hotel, and our next move. It was shocking how rude and inconsiderate the officials were. Heather was there too and she managed to call one of her Chinese friends, Abigail, to help communicate on our behalf. No matter how many times Abigail politely tried to ask my simple question, the officials constantly cut her off, and dealt with her in such a tactless manner.
We left with our question unanswered.
In the meantime, I have been waiting for my paperwork and passport to land back in Qingdao. It has been over a week, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why it would take this long. It only took 3 days to make the journey to South Africa, but it has take over 7 days to get back here. To say that this is cutting things fine would be an understatement! Tomorrow is the last day that I can apply for the [3rd] visa extension, but if my passport does not show up by about lunch-time, my window of opportunity closes and I have to leave China on Saturday.
Not only do we have the time crunch to contend with, but we are not sure if:
1.) the marriage registrar is suitable for this extension in place of a marriage certificate; or
2.) if I am able to get a third extension (it is only possible to get TWO tourist visa extensions, however we are hoping that I fall into a separate category since I am applying based on marriage to an worker here – the PSB refused to tell Abigail this either).
Basically – Tomorrow is a BIG DAY!
If I do get the extension, we still need to figure out how I will go about getting my work visa since the Chinese embassy in South Africa say I should do it here, and the Chinese here, say I should do it in South Africa!!
For now, we are only thinking about tomorrow.
Please keep us in your prayers!!! Justin and I really don’t want to be separated!
We can barely stand a day apart… never mind an indefinite period in different countries.
This whole experience has been very taxing on us, but as we mentioned during the 1st visa extension, we are trying to trust God with all of this. Trying doesn’t always mean succeeding though, so we have had some weak moments in this past month. We have questioned why we would want to stay here, and whether these are all signs that we should leave. When things are tough, it’s hard to see the bigger picture. A great opportunity lies before us here in Qingdao, and we know that God lead us here, so we have to keep trusting that He will keep us here. However, if we can’t stay, then we also have to trust that there will be something even better for us out there. Letting go of the urge “to want to know” what is going on is demanding, but it is the only way.
I found this article inspiring: “Let Go: Let Go Fill Your Need”
“Even though it may seem during the challenges of life that you are separated from that which has been your greatest avenue of comfort, security or supply, remember: God always fills your need. No matter how great the gulf seems between you and the solution to your deepest desire, you can trust God. Tell yourself again and again: I let go. God will fill my need.
God never leaves a void… God’s power is ever at work within every circumstance. As you let go and trust God, everything is transformed – yes, everything – into a blessing. God continuously makes dark places light, rough places smooth, crooked places straight and empty places full. Full of his loving kindness and abundance of joy.”