Monday, May 22, 2017

Troubles with getting a passport

This is the last of the Waila Francis stories.  And the last of our mission stories.  I will be shifting to writhing about every day life again.

While we have received letters from others in our Mbale branch we have not yet heard from Francis since we left Uganda.  We miss him and others terribly.  Hopefully he will be able to get his mission papers in soon and get out serving a full time mission.  This story was written over the course of a few weeks as things progressed for Francis.  These stories that I have written give just a little glimpse of the challenges that beset the Ugandan people.  They do their best at moving forward and improving their lives.  The members of our branch live lives of faith.  They put their trust in God and hope for a better future.

                                                        Challenges With Getting a Passport
                                                                   From the life of Waila Francis

Francis has been working on getting his passport papers finished for his mission.  It has taken him quite some time to get things in order.  He needed one more signature for his passport papers.  He has to take a taxi to Pallisa town (which is in Palissa District) and is a four hour ride in a taxi.  It costs 20,000 UGX each way.  Francis has been to the district a few times but the man who says he will be there has NOT been there which means he loses 40,000 UGX each time he goes because it’s all for nothing. ( A regular Joe will make anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 shillings a day.  That is roughly about $1.50-$3.00 USD a day.  You can see it would take time and effort to save 40,000 shillings for just the transportation for a trip like that.)

 When he went last week the man was there but because he saw that Francis wanted to serve a mission for the LDS church he would not sign the paper unless Francis gave him 25,000 UGX.  There should be no charge for this service.  Francis only had his transport money, 20,000 UGX, so he offered that to the man figuring he would just walk home, which would take a long time.  The man would not take it so he tried to sell his watch to no avail.  The man told him many times that he was “stupid” for wanting to go on a mission.  Francis sat there for 20 minutes listening to the man “abuse him”.  The man kept calling him stupid and said that because he wasn’t defending himself or replying to what he was saying he was not a very smart person.

Francis told us that as he was sitting there he thought of a talk from Elder Oaks.  Elder Oaks taught us that we need to love others, especially those who are difficult to love.  He was thinking of this talk when the man was reviling him and he recognized the importance of staying silent.  If he argued he would get nowhere.  Francis left Pallisa and will now work to earn the extra 65,000 for transportation and the “payoff”.  When I heard that this happened I felt the “mama bear" come out in me and I wanted to go give that man a piece of my mind.  Seriously!  The man is a public servant and because he has a little authority he chooses to pick on others and demand money for something that should be free of charge.  I know this would not help Francis so I will do nothing but boy, this gets me!!  Anyway, once he gets his papers signed I still am of a mind to go talk to his  “superior” and let him know how I feel about it.  I don’t like to use race as a foot in the door but the color of our skin has a lot of clout with people here and I want that man to be humbled a bit.  Francis just says, “He will get his reward eventually.”  I need to be a bit more humble like Francis:)

Here is more of the story....

After leaving us in Kampala last week Francis went back to Pallisa with some extra money to "pay" the guy to sign his papers for his passport.  When he got there the man demanded not 25,000 shillings but 60,000 shillings!  (I had mentioned in Kampala to Francis that maybe, just maybe  the man might demand more when he goes back knowing how much Francis wanted his signature)  Francis was prepared and payed the amount the man was asking.  This trip cost a total of 100,000 UGX with the payoff and transportation.   When I heard this I said to Rick, "We need to go talk to that man's superior officer/manager and let him know what's going on.  I formed lots of things in my mind what I would say to this dishonest man if I ever met him...most of it NOT very nice!  I was thinking of the other prospective missionaries from Mbale who will need to go through him to have their passports signed.  We wondered if talking to this man's superior would help or hinder their process.  We decided to wait until we get back to Mbale and talk to Francis and the Branch President to see what they thought.  We thought we would get some direction from President Collings as well.

And then....

Francis called us last night and told us that the night before he had gotten a call from "the guy" telling him that he had to go back to Pallisa to sign a form and pick up a letter.  The man told him that he had submitted Francis' papers but then called immigration and told them NOT to let his papers go through.  He told Francis to be in Pallisa by 7:30 AM to get the letter that would allow his papers to go through.  Francis left by 4AM to get there on time....of course paying the 20,000 for the taxi ride.  He got to the office and sat and sat and sat.  The man made him sit there ALL DAY LONG!  When Francis called us at 5:00 to tell us the story he was just leaving Pallisa to ride the four hour trip home.  Francis had not eaten anything all day while the man had his own breakfast and lunch brought in.  After the day had passed the man came out and gave Francis the needed paper.  He then addressed Francis saying, "I have made you suffer long enough.  Why are you so  persistent?  Why don't you just give up?"  He asked, "Have you gone into the military because you have a lion heart?"  Francis answered, "no". Francis told him, "God will punish you for making me suffer."  The man replied,  "I don't believe in God.  I have everything that I need.  I have a good home and plenty of food.  I will be fine."  Francis replied,  You may not have to suffer God's punishment because of your actions but your children will suffer."   

And then....

We got a text from Francis tonight saying, "Hi Elder and Sis Phelps.  4 sure God lives.  They arrested the man!"  Now I'm curious to find the end of the story.  It is too late to call Francis.  I'll write later.

Here it is three weeks later and I have the last of the story to tell......

Francis told us that the man was arrested on embezzlement charges and then later let go.  Francis mentioned to one of his friends that works here in Mbale in a government position what had happened to him when he went to get the man's signature.  His friend said, "We should have this man arrested and put in jail."  Francis said, "No, I don't think that is necessary."  And left it at that.

His friend however, did not leave it at that.  He felt that Francis had been wronged and wanted him to have recompense for the money that he had lost.  A few days later Francis was invited to go to the police station to meet with the higher ups to tell his story.  The man was brought in and Francis was told to add all of the expenses incurred in getting that signature. The man was told to not only pay him the 250,000 shillings but to also kneel down and apologize for the way that he treated Francis.  The man said, "I will even pay him 500,000 shillings but I cannot kneel before that stupid man and apologize.   The police told the man that if he would not apologize then they would give him two months to think about apologizing and if he decides that he still cannot apologize then he will spend all of two years in jail.  (The time that Francis will be out on his mission)  That will be his punishment.

Francis has not received any recompense yet and probably will not unless the man will apologize.

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