Mission trip update

Well, my passport is now winging its way to the Kenyan embassy in Washington D.C., where it will be stamped with a visa for the trip this summer.

You can, technically, wait and get a visa approved once you arrive in Kenya. But that’s a slow process, and it comes at the end of a 24 to 30 hour air journey. So it’s simpler to get the visa in advance of the trip, and that’s what we’ve told the team members to do. (You still have to go through an immigration line at the Nairobi airport, so that they can put a little date stamp on top of your pre-approved visa stamp. But it’s a much faster line than the one for people who don’t have their visas yet.)

I had to send my passport, two passport-sized photos, a $50 money order (no personal checks) and a return postage envelope along with the application form.

The visa pages of my passport are starting to fill up — it already contains various visa, entry and exit stamps from six trips over the past six years. And (unless they’ve changed it since 2006) the Kenyan visa stamp is oversized, so it really takes up a whole page as opposed to the quarter-page stamps for which the passports are designed.

So far, we have 10 confirmed team members, including Gail and myself as team leaders, and we have eight more people on the fence who are receiving information about the trip but haven’t yet given us a firm commitment. Given the economy, I’m thrilled. You can accomplish more with more people. After being part of a two-person trip to Bolivia in 2007 and a three-person trip to Costa Rica in 2008, I’m ready to try a team trip again.

We’ll have a training weekend in June; the actual trip starts July 22. Keep us in prayer.

‘We need a dialogue’

Newscoma was responding to a meme, and I thought her remarks on one issue were particularly well-stated and in line with my own concerns:

3 — How would you describe your views on immigration policies in the U.S.?

I think that we need to treat everyone the same first of all and quit making the word “immigrant” a dirty word, which irritates the crap out of me. There are legal immigrants in this country and there are illegal immigrants here but the national argument is mind-blowing to me. There are laws on the books already to deal with the issue but we have forgotten human decency in this national/statewide argument. I find the whole immigration debate to be very important on one level though, and that is the Sneetches argument that certain folks want to make it an us-and-them thing. We need a dialogue, not a bunch of finger pointing.

Absolutely. Sure, there many are legitimate issues about border security, eligibility for social services, and what have you, that need to be discussed, frankly and openly. But there’s an edge, an undercurrent, to the whole immigration debate as it now exists that sends a shiver down my spine.