We thought we had it all covered. We checked and double checked with multiple people in multiple offices last year before heading back to the states. They all said the same thing…”No problem.” That should have been our first clue that something wasn’t right.
We knew that our visa would expire while we were in the states. That is not a good thing to have happen. So…before we left, David went to the gov’t offices and asked for either an extension or for permission to do all the paperwork for a new visa before we left China. Everyone said those options were not possible, but don’t worry. (Travelers hint #1 – always worry when a foreign government tells you there is nothing to worry about.) We could come back on a tourist visa and change to the business visa after we arrived back in country. (Travelers hint #2 – really, really worry when the solution to your problem isn’t solved by the person you are speaking with but will take place sometime in the future with some unknown person.)
So, silly us. We came back on the visas we were instructed to come back on and when we went to have them changed…we were told that it is no longer possible. Not only is it not possible, but we should have known this before we left last year. ?!?!? We now have 48 hours to leave the country to renew our tourist visas once again. (Our tourist visas are 1 year, but you have to leave every 90 days which can get really expensive.) (Travelers hint #3 – always have extra cash on hand and paperwork ready so you can leave the country quickly if necessary.)
Thank goodness we were able to get all 6 of us on the same flight to S. Korea. Friends of ours have been trying to get flights for a smaller group for over a week and all flights have been booked. We leave tomorrow morning and return to Yanji in about 4 days. (Travelers hint #4 – travel light, be flexible, and, most importantly, keep your sense of humor. Trust me on this one, we’ve lost ours a couple of times during the past week. Not fun!)
Everyone has their backpack packed, dogs (ours and the one we are dog sitting) are at the kennel, weekend events are all canceled, meetings being set up in SK with friends, and our house is in order, sort of. ☺ Come on…I am definitely not wonder woman!
We may still be required to leave for a month to get our visas completely switched, but at least it won’t be during the busiest time of year and we will have time to collect all the documents needed to start the process over from scratch.
The greatest comfort in all of this is knowing that even when we are shocked, surprised, and unprepared for what our host country might throw at us (Traveler’s hint #5 – if you stay in a foreign country long enough, you will be shocked, surprised, and unprepared for some things that country will throw at you.), we know that our Father is never caught off guard and is always prepared and ready to help us through it all.