Come Back Next Week

By now, we all should know that time in Turkey is… slow.

Slowing, waiting, practicing patience– these are all traits of grace that have yet to flow naturally from my veins. My character’s tendency is to activate, think quickly, maximize time, and serve with efficiency.

There’s nothing worse than being halted in my tracks; painstakingly frozen on the bottom step, unable to move forward. I have goals, a plan. Places to go, people to see.

I see each day as a gift to be unwrapped and used to its full potential, leaving nothing untouched or wasted.

Maybe it’s the American achiever in me, or maybe it’s the genuine desire to obediently live out a life of stewardship and responsibility with whatever God puts under my feet.

These feet, however, had suddenly been forced to a standstill. Weighed down by one notably important factor determining my steps and very much affecting the future of my work: the infamous visa.

I applied for it about 7 months ago, but since Turkey’s population is daily being stuffed with new immigrants and asylum seekers, my appointment ended up befalling in March.

Nervous beyond limits for the grandeur of the occasion, I arrived on my assigned date with the necessary paperwork and passport. With the exception of a minor complication that sent me running through an unfamiliar neighborhood in stressful search of a money exchange office that would give me a receipt for proof of a heinous dollar amount, the initial visit went quite smoothly.

I left the police station with a slip stamped “April 8”- the retrieval date for my visa.

April 8 was a full day so I went the 12th instead. As long as I got it within a month’s notice I’d be fine.

Excited to finally become an official resident of this country I have come to love, I sat in the lobby with my roommate eating pre-celebratory M&M’s, waiting to hear my name.

At the sound of my name I jumped up and stood at attention before the source. He looked at me, then back down at the slip of paper he was holding, the one stamped April 8. A new stamp had pressed its inked letters unto the white surface: April 17.

“Come back next week,” he said.

Trying to refute this delay of documents, I meekly asked, “Why?”

“It’s not ready yet,” was his short reply and he turned to gift someone else their bit of bad news.

Following orders, I faithfully returned the next week where I was handed the same instructions of “come back next week” along with a new stamp.

Now, the trek to this police station takes about half a day… It’s not terribly convenient. But then again, convenient is a word I barely recognize anymore.

My third trip at an attempted retrieval followed the same suite as the first two. I began to wonder, did they lose it? As soon as familiar phrase was repeated I confronted in brave Turkish “I think you lost it. It’s been almost a month, I’ve been back here three times already!” To which he replied, “it is not lost, it’s just not ready.” Then tagged it again with “come back next week.”

Not wanting to be bested, I brought along my Turkish friend to fight for me the following week. We waited in the lobby for about 2 hours, ears tuned for the only English name in the overflowing room. Babies cried. Mothers scolded. Multiple languages were being voiced. My friend and I scripted out our response for if I was overlooked again.

She heard it, and we went up to the front. I almost didn’t believe what was happening as they pushed papers towards me to sign… then it clicked: MY RESIDENCE PERMIT WAS READY! I nearly jumped up and down.

I doubt they’d ever seen somebody as happy as I was- happy that I’d never have to journey back to the station again.

Due to the frequent trips as well as my Turkish celebrity-like appearance I had made friends with many of the policemen… As nice and kind as they were, I didn’t mind saying goodbye. I was beyond relieved. My feet were free! I was free!

Free to live and move forward as a resident of Turkey.

The wait, though painful, was worth it.

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