THE SOUL is shaped by words, images, & experiences.

THIS BLOG is about those things that have left their impression on me. I'd love for you to comment on what affects you.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Stranger in Paradise

My throat hurts and my clothes stink. I just spent another two hours trying to renew my residence permit at the town hall where, as in most places in Greece, employees still smoke with careless abandon. I think I could tolerate a little bronchitis, if I weren't forced to cough up the $350.00 fine the Greek government is tricking us foreigners into paying. If you've read my Smile and Don't Say Cheese post you'll know what I'm talking about.

Greece may be in the European Union, but it often functions like a third world country. The government does not have a system of checks and balances. Thus, laws seem to be created at the whim of law-makers. As in ancient times when mountains isolated the nation's citizens into seperate city states, Greeks tend to be more individualistic than nationalistic. With regards to laws, my Greek husband often says, "You can't tell a Greek what to do. He'll just do the opposite." Pair this with the lack of a work ethic, and you get chaos and the never-ending strikes. Yesterday, strikers attacked shoppers in protest against stores being opened another Sunday in addition to the pre-Christmas one!

Nepotism and greasing palms are other third world practices that prevail here. In fact, Peter pulled out the influence card today, in hopes of saving us from paying the hefty fine. Peter taught English to our councilman's kids. The councilman was really nice, but in the end, he couldn't help us. The adeia law came from a much higher office.

Back to the clerk with the evil smile. She basically told me, "Okay, so we stuck your last permit onto a page of your nearly-expired passport and told you to carry it around with your new passport. But you should have known when we changed our minds. You should have known to come back in with the new passport so we could make everything one."

"How was I supposed to know this?" What did the government do to inform foreigners about the change of rules?

She pointed to a wall in the office, plastered with a hundred notices. Keep in mind this wall is in a building I would never enter, unless . . . Exactly . . . I needed to renew my permit.

Many aggravating hours later, I'm aware of one thing: I'm thankful God, who can't lie, has made the way to heaven wonderfully free and simple.

Consider how easily a repentant thief gains everlasting residence in heaven:

(Luke 23:39-43)
And one of the malefactors (thieves) which were hanged railed on him (Jesus), saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.

But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

photo by L. Trecroce

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