One great thing about living in Windhoek, is that we are only a few hours away from the beach. The beach town of Swakopmund lays about three to four hours to the west of us. Over the last few years we have taken several little trips there to relax and recharge.
Since we have been back from furlough we have been quite busy, the days have passed in a blur. But something interesting happens in Namibia in December. Everything shuts down. People in the city return to their homes in the North, businesses close shop, government agencies grind to a halt. We decided to go to Swakop for a few nights, we could then get away from the oppressing heat in the city and spend a few days relaxing with the rest of the country.
We headed out on Monday morning with Paul and Auguste, another couple here on the base, we split the gas bill and stayed in a BB so it was a nice little break. We played in the waves, went sand boarding, attempted to stalk Orlando Bloom (who is currently filming a movie here,) and ate out at some restaurants. By the end of the three days we were ready to get back home and jump back into things.
Now in Namibia they have police stops set up at every entrance of every major town in the country. Most times you are just waved though, but sometimes things get tricky. If you remember the stop that happened in April when the CCCB team was here, that one ended with our car being impounded. As we were leaving Swakop we were pulled over at the stop and they asked to see our passports.
David and I are currently on expired work permits, they expired in October, but we turned in our renewal application in August. The unofficial rule here is that if your renewal application is turned in you can wait in country for the outcome. They have this rule since it sometimes takes the department of Home Affairs a loooooooong time to reach an answer. So we handed over the passport to the iimigration officer working at the police stop and he asked for a copy of the receipt showing that we had in fact turned in the renewal. We did not have that little piece of paper with us.
So they asked David to step out of the vehicle and they took him into their office, he was in there for probably 30 minutes when he walked back to the car and said “They want to arrest both of us! They said I will have to go to jail and await a court date for a hearing, but they will let you pay a fine so you can take care of Reese.” Initially I would just have brushed it off, usually one can talk ones way out of a situation like this one, but then I remembered them taking our car and I started to worry. What was funny was every time the officer told David, ok come on let’s go to the police station to book you in, David would say “No, wait let me call so and so.” So we called everyone and anyone we could think of and everyone agreed that we had a legal right to be in the country. The only lady that could have helped us was the head of immigration but she was out of town on holiday. The man that was detaining us at this point then said that even if we had the receipt it would not be enough and that he was going to teach Home Affairs a lesson by putting us in jail.
He then brought up a second option. He said that we could take a 48hour notice. This would mean that we have 48hours to get out of the country. That would be enough time to make it home throw some bags in the car and then race to the border. This would have been a disaster as it would go on our permanent file and would cause untold problems for us in the future. So we refused that to.
We were stopped at 11 it was 1pm now. Brian, our YWAM leader here, agreed to drive to our office to fax the receipt to the immigration office in Walvisbay, about 45 minutes fro where we were. So at one, the officers left for lunch but told us to drive to the immigration office to wait for them there. All the while being adamant that the receipt would be useless and we were probably going to end up in jail. The officer also kept David’s passport so that we would not be able to run off.
We drove out to the immigration office were we were told the man would return with David’s passport by two. The receipt also came through while we were waiting there. The man finally showed up at 3:50, and when he walked in the lady working there told him “Here is their receipt just let them go to Windhoek to sort it out.” This seemed to catch him off guard, as he was the ONLY one going on that the receipt was not enough, but this lady was the first one to say it to his face. So HE LET US GO!
We made it home right as the sun was setting. It was another adventure for us. In my head I kept seeing that show called “locked up abroad,” it was a scary few hours.
Thank you so much for all the prayers, we would be lost without them. And please continue to pray for our work permit. We are still waiting for an answer!