I needed to make a copy of the house contract, but I didn’t have a printer. The cheap hotel I was staying in didn’t have a printer either. “There is an internet café down the street beside the college,” said the hotel clerk, “I think they have a printer.”
Trying to find a parking space in downtown Iloilo City can be like trying to find an empty seat in a crowded bus during rush hour. In this case, I couldn’t find one. The only parking space I could see near the college was inside the gate of Hotel Del Rio, one of the most high-class hotels in the city. But only guests could park there. Still, I desperately needed to get the house contract copied. So, I pulled in and found a parking spot.
The hotel guard was looking at me. To justify my presence, I made my way inside the hotel, walked up to the front desk, and asked for a rate sheet. With that in hand, I walked back outside, the guard now confident I had business with the hotel. With the guard no longer looking at me, I continued walking outside the gate and to the internet café. “Yes, sir, we can print from your USB flash drive,” the internet attendant informed me.
“Oh, but I don’t have a USB. Can I just hook up my laptop to your printer?”
“No, I’m sorry. We can only accept a USB.”
So, I tried another nearby internet café, but no luck.
Then I remembered that here in the Philippines, most nice hotels have a printer in their Sales Office. I returned to Hotel Del Rio and found their Sales Office. With confidence I walked inside and asked the first assistant I saw if she could make a copy of my contract.
“Yes, sir, we can do that.”
“I don’t have a USB.”
Another assistant said, “No problem, sir, you can borrow this one.”
“Oh, thank you so much,” I responded as I copied the contract onto the USB and gave it to the first assistant.
“We are very glad to help, sir," she said. "Just have a seat, sir, while we make your copy.”
As she made the copy, I engaged in a little chat, asking her what she was doing with all those cards and markers at her desk.
“We are preparing for our Halloween festival. I was responsible for the band music last night during the preliminary party. Didn’t you hear it?
Oh, my. Now what do I say? She thinks I’m a hotel guest. Who else would walk into their high-class Sales Office for free copies? How embarrassing. What will I say? A missionary can’t lie.
After a brief pause, I responded, “No, ma'am, I didn’t hear the music. I’m a sound sleeper.”
Now, all of that was true. And fortunately, the assistant accepted my answer. I got my copy.
Several times during the past few weeks, as I’ve settled into a new house, I’ve had to remind myself that things take longer to get done here in the Philippines. But I’m making progress, and my new house is beginning to feel more like a new home.
I have an internet connection now, so I’ve been able to Skype the kids. All seems well on the western front. And here on the eastern front, I’m slowly renewing my friendships and starting to visit our churches. What will happen in the next five years? In what ways will God work? How will I be changed? The adventure continues…