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Getting My Visa Renewed


Dear friends,

I arrived at the border with Venezuela after a long six hour journey of climbing and crossing the magnificent Andes mountains, including being above the tree line and in the clouds at times.


I went to the Colombian Consulate and found it full of people waiting. I went to the desk and, without even allowing me to say my name or why I was there, the secretary said, "Just have a seat. She will call you". I waited for an hour and half while some 40 people came and went, and I wondered if I had been forgotten. Finally the secretary saw me and said for me to go into a side room.

By this time I was rather anxious. I hoped that all 25 pages or so of papers that I had brought for my visa would be OK. The Consulate, Ziada, said, "Didn't you hear me call for those who needed visas?" I hadn't heard her.

I nervously gave her the stack of papers. As she began to go through them, she read about the beginnings of CPT, and she asked, "Who are the Mennonites and Quakers? Are they Christians?"

I answered, "We, the Mennonites, Quakers, and Brethren, are Christians who believe that peace, justice and helping the poor are a central part of the teaching of Jesus. If you read the New Testament, you will learn that Jesus taught a lot about these things."

"It talks here about loving your enemies. Do you really think that is possible?" Ziada asked. " I know it seems impossible," I replied, but my experience has been that if we will ask God to help us do that, we will be surprised as to what will happen. He can do a miracle even with us."

I then gave her a brochure, "Who are the Mennonites?" She read over half of it on the spot. Then I gave her the CPT Colombia Brochure; after reading a bit she remarked, "You guys really believe in this stuff about about loving your enemies, huh?" I then ended by giving her Peace Pilgrim's pamphlet on "The Way of Peace," showing her Peace Pilgrim's photo on the inside cover and saying, "For 28 years she walked across United States talking about the way of peace to whomever would listen. If people gave her food she ate, and if not, she fasted. If someone gave her a bed she would sleep in it, and if not she would sleep along the road. This is something I give to people as a way of promoting the way of peace, and it has been a help for me to understand the way of peace. Perhaps it might be a help to you."

A couple of days later I called to see if my visa had come through and the first thing Ziada said was, " That Way of Peace pamphlet is really good." A few days later my visa came through so I can stay in Colombia until the 21st of November.

Peace,

Jim

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