Well, we find ourselves in a rather unique situation. For the first time ever we are not allowed back into Indonesia. Hopefully this is only a temporary setback! Our old permission (ie. visa) has expired and we’re waiting for the new visa to come through. In Indonesia we have a home, friends, a cat, a job, etc. . . but today we are not allowed back in. Sort of a strange feeling. Usually it’s no problem to cross borders. Just wave our passport at the immigration official on our way to baggage claim. Then life can continue on as normal. But that all comes to a screeching halt once your visa is expired.
Visas are usually the bane of a foreigner’s existence. I know a lot of people who have great difficulties just obtaining a 1 year visa for the country. What happens if you’re only given a couple months at a time? Several years ago I lived in Thailand. I had a tourist visa and every 30 days or so I had to exit the country, go to Burma, and come back in. I did this for about six months. I can’t imagine how it would be for the long term worker. What a pain!
Fortunately for me and Kim we haven’t experienced too many visa troubles. We’ve always had a pretty solid 1 year visa to let us in and out. This will be the fourth time we’ve had to go through this process. The first time- a student visa on Java, the second- a student visa on Sumatra, the third- a teaching visa, and now- a business development visa. Sometimes too there are heavy requirements from the visa sponsor. Your sponsor might require you to work a whole lot of hours just for the PRIVILEGE of working or living in the country. Ha! Imagine that. If you are sponsored through a university (for example) you might have to teach a whole bunch of hours. Or if it’s a community development visa you might get sucked into a bunch of projects you didn’t really come there to do. For us, though, last year I only had to teach about 8-12 hours a week. Not bad really.
But the fact that we don’t have the visa in our passports right now makes us feel kind of stranded. We’re not stressing about it- God’s got it all under His control- but we have taken our liberty for granted. It feels different when all of a sudden we’re not eligible to come back in. It really makes me value our time there a little more. You always value things more after you lose it, right? Our time in Indonesia is not free. The “payment” comes in the form of a little sticker that immigration officials look at when I walk across their border. That says we’re “valid”. We have 1 year and the clock is ticking. Better make the most of our access while it’s ours to have!