We started the process of renewing Gerdine’s entry permit in October, and after months of waiting for it – getting to the stage that we’d mentally settled into expecting a long delay. There was a time pressure to be ready to travel before my allowed time in the Netherlands expired, but as the day drew closer that we’d be forced to leave the Netherlands we resigned ourselves to waiting a long time.
Oh well, time to book a ferry, find a place to live in England and arrange another international journey. We’re really glad the testing requirements to enter England were dropped, we didn’t feel like spending another £100 on pre departure and day 2 tests!
We were offered a guest room at NTM’s training center in England for as long as we needed, but it’s tricky not knowing how long you’ll need to be somewhere. Will it be a few weeks or a few months? Do we need to find ourselves a vehicle (North Cotes is in the middle of nowhere!)? Should we get winter clothing in the next size up for the girls? So many details!
The constant practical/logistics challenges get tiring, especially when being in limbo tends to suck your motivation and energy out of you.
Nevertheless our journey to England went really well. We’re so encouraged to have friends at both ends willing to both drop us off and pick us up from the Ferry.Oscar loved exploring the ferry, he particularly enjoyed the play area we found and we even all got a good night’s sleep with everyone crammed in one room 🙂
As we arrive in North Cotes we get an email from PNG, Gerdine’s entry permit has been approved! We can move onto the next step which is mailing Gerdine’s passport to the embassy in London to get the stamp put in.
Also in the news is that there’s no longer a requirement to apply for permission to enter PNG because of Covid. Suddenly there’s a step forward and the following step got knocked off the to do list!
Yesterday I sent the passport off to the embassy and if it’s fast we could even get it back this week, and suddenly that’s the final paperwork step we need!
We might be busy booking flights next week! We’ve not even unpacked our suitcases from our last move!
So now we’re thinking to ourselves how soon can we go, and how soon can we comfortably go? I have to laugh that the day we move to England to set ourselves up for a long wait we find out that the end of the wait could only be a week away!
You might imagine the mental and emotional gymnastics we have to do as we start to think “are we ready to go?”. The practical questions have changed to
“How do we get down to Heathrow?” “Should we stop in Bracknell?” “Do I have enough pairs of shorts?”, then onto “Is there space to stay at a guesthouse in Goroka in March?”, “What food supplies do we need to get for Kovol once we arrive?” “Should we book a helicopter already?” “What are our coworkers up to in March?”.
Our first instinct is to go on an Amazon shopping spree to get “everything we need”, when ironically we just spent the last week saying “We have too much stuff – we need to get rid of some” as we tried to squeeze our possesions into a resonable number of suitcases for footpassengers on a ferry.
The conclusion we’ve come to is we just need to get out there as soon as we can. The mental and emotional adjustement will just have to catch up once we get there. Let’s just get to Goroka and take things from there.
Well that’s asuming the passport comes back from the embassy this week…
It’s nice to know the Kovol people are missing us. One of the villages put on a big feast to “bring us back” and everyone is terrified that we’ve left for good. No, we’re still commited to Kovol, but a year of twins, Covid and paperwork delays certainly add up to a long home assignment. We’re very much looking forward to getting back, even though we know that in so many ways life is much harder out there.
But we’re getting there! We need another 12-18 months to finish Kovol langauge study and we’ll finally be ready to start on their literacy program, to translate God’s word and to start preparing Bible lessons. Thinking about it that’s an awful lot to do, but on the other hand we’ve come so far already – it’s exciting to be getting nearer some of these key ministry milestones.
Back to the practical details though – do we need to buy some more milk? Let’s wait to see if the embassy respond today or tomorrow! 😀