This past week has been pretty fun if you ask me. I have had a great time. In fact, I almost got deported!!! Okay, actually, it wasn't that bad but I had some residency issues that I had to take care of which put a lot of stress on but it makes for a good story.
When you first come to Spain as a missionary you have to do your "empadronamiento" (like a census) in the city in which you are living. After a little bit you finally get a national residency card with your photo, fingerprint and signature. That is the national form of ID in Spain. The Spaniards have a different one, but it is basically the same thing. Well, the first one you get is only valid for one year. Mine expired back in February but since the paperwork is an extremely long process and such, I just got the paperwork to solicit my second residency card last week. I opened up my packet, and the letter from our lawyer, Oscar, said that he wanted me to go to Alicante (a city 30 minutes away by train) ASAP to get the stuff done. However, the official government paper said that they requested to see me in Almería (a city 5 hours away by bus). The official cita was at 1030am on Tuesday. Well, I tried calling Oscar many times to ask about the contradiction but he just didn't answer the phone over the weekend. I later found out that his number was misprinted on the paper and I had been calling the wrong number the whole time. Well, now it's Monday and I finally got the right number. He told me to go to Almería the next day, so I then called Elder Thornley who is our mission secretary. He told me that I likely wouldn't be able to get it done in Almeria since I wasn't even living there anymore.
(Each province in Spain has an office where the foreigners go to request the card. I was now living in the province of Alicante, but the paper and Oscar wanted me to go to Almeria. I had previously lived there earlier in the mission but obviously not anymore. The problem is that to request the card in a certain province you have to live there. It would be like me trying to request a national ID card in Washington even though I live in Oregon.)
Anyways, I listened to the secretary's advice and went to Alicante instead of Almeria on Tuesday. Well, the people in Alicante told me that they can't do anything for me because the official government paper said to go to Almeria since that was where I lived when I started the papers (Another thing: I don't know when I started because it is all done in Madrid for me. So Oscar must have started the papers for me while I was living in that province). Well, now I realize that I can't do my papers in Alicante, but my cita in Almeria had already passed, so I called Thornley and he told me to get on a bus straight to Almeria, and in the meantime he would call and reset the cita.
On Tuesday night we took the five hour bus ride from Elche to Almeria to make our cita on Wednesday morning. Well, we got there and there was a gigantic line in front of the building. Well, after waiting forever we finally made it in, and it was pretty stressful just because if they didn't allow me to get my card we would be in trouble. Well, we waited for awhile and then when it was finally our turn we went up to the desk and the guy must have been having a bad day because he didn't let us do anything. He said no and then no and then no again. I was trying to explain myself in Spanish as best I could but I didn't even understand fully in English. Eventually I went to the supervisor to talk to him and after a long conversation with him explaining the whole situation and all he finally let us do it. So that was that.
Then we had to catch a local bus to the bus station to catch our bus to Elche that left at 330. We got lost and missed the first local bus that left at 255. There was one more local bus at 309, and we got close to the local bus stops but we couldn't remember which bus it was so we asked the locals and two or three of them told us it was not the 2. So as the 2 passed on the other side of the street we didn't worry about it. We later asked the bus driver of the bus that we were going to get on and he said that his bus doesn't go to the bus stop but that the 2 does..... unbelievable. We had such a long morning and now we were going to miss the only bus to Elche that day. We needed a miracle. We were in the middle of nowhere, 45 minutes (on foot) from the bus station. We just needed a miracle. The bus to Elche left in 15 minutes. I don't think I ever prayed so hard in my head for a miracle. Well, that is when we saw it. The beautiful sign of an available taxi. He was on the other side of the street. We just couldn't believe it. A taxi would never drive over here in this part of the city. So we crossed the street even though it was red and weaved between the cars and pretty much jumped in front of the taxi. STOP!! We yelled. How long to get to the bus station??
"I don't know €5 or €6."
"NO! How fast can you get us there. Who cares about the money!!"
"Oh, umm... 10 minutes?"
"Okay, Go! Go! Go!"
I prayed the whole way. Just hoping that somehow he would sense our urgency. How "lucky" we were that we caught every green light and our driver was a maniac driver. We hopped off, paid the man, and ran in to the bus terminal. There it was! Our bus was still there. We ran on and showed our tickets, and then sat down in our seats. We could do nothing but laugh. What a great tender mercy from the Lord. Literally one or two minutes later and we would have missed the bus.
Then we arrived in Elche five hours later and I met my new companion. (Elder Redd had left the day previous and Elder Mardones' companion left the day before as well so we were temporary comps for that day.) I met Elder Barbosa. He was born in Africa, but lived in Portugal for 8 years or so and then Spain before coming on the mission so he knows Spanish fluently, but doesn-t know any English. It will be a great transfer though. We are already having a blast. Perhaps some more miracles are on their way.