"You want me to send this off for you? Fine. I'll send it off for you - to be rejected!" Yes indeed, those encouraging words basically sum up our interaction with a functionary at Iquique's branch of the Registro Civil office yesterday. They came as no surprise given the embattled nature of obtaining approval from Iquique's municipal office - the step prior to this one - for FLORECE, the non-profit foundation under which our future prenatal and family counseling center will be birthed. Nonetheless, after waiting nearly two hours and witnessing multiple altercations between other clients jockeying for her coveted attention all morning, one could wish for a warmer welcome!
To express in my limited understanding what our lawyer explained, there are two avenues for creating non-profit foundations in Chile. One requires hiring a notary's representative to attend a formal assembly of members who vote on the board of directors, followed by a legal writ produced and formally approved by said notary (for a fee, of course.) The other also involves a fee paid to an attorney who produces the formal, written constitution - including the board of directors - and then takes it to the notary in company of the president of the board of directors for approval. Both are completely legal, with the latter being far simpler because it involves less moving parts. That being the case, and because our lawyer had previously created foundations successfully through the second avenue, we followed those steps without incident until we sought municipal approval.
"That's not how we do it in Iquique." Never mind that it is a national law, successfully employed in the capital and other cities. In Iquique, the assembly route has always been used and arguing our case for the other seemed an exercise in futility. After several frustrating interactions with the municipal office, our lawyer informed us that we had to wait for their final decision and decide whether to push back through legal means or submit to the assembly route. So it was with huge amazement and thanks to God that on Tuesday of this week, Pedro and I stopped in for an update on the case and were handed the municipality's full approval! "Take this on to the Registro Civil office," we were told and with a hefty packet of signed, stamped and approved municipality papers we did just that the following day.
Once again we were told that we were missing the assembly step. Once again we tried to explain the different route we had taken. Within our signed, stamped and approved municipality papers was a memo directly issued by the mayor of Iquique which contained the investigation and subsequent approval of what we had done. "The municipality does not give orders here!" was the functionary's retort. And then the famous words: "You want me to send this off for you? Fine. I'll send it off for you - to be rejected!"
At this point we took a breather. Pedro had to leave to pick up our boys from school. I accepted a new list of requirements from her and went back to the waiting area to consider our options. Basically, if we did things her way then an assembly was required. If we sent off the papers and they were rejected, an assembly was required. This would undoubtedly mean months of delay and an added expense. However, there was still the option of sending the papers without her blessing while trusting them into the Lord's hands. I took a new number and waited my turn again. Praying for peace and a polite tone, I respectfully stated that we were going to try for approval after all. Interestingly, she didn't try to argue and simply input our information into the computer. She did make one handwritten notation which I prayed was not a negative one! Then I was given a receipt, told to check on our status in a month, and the now three-hour saga was over.
(Oh. She did say that if we were rejected the papers would be sent back to the municipality rather than the Registro Civil. And that the municipality never keeps track of their papers. Thus we would never know what happened to our request. There was that final comment!)
So we pray and wait. And wait and pray. FLORECE is in God's hands!
P.S. - Little did we know that all the excitement of that morning was just a foretaste of the drama to come that night! With an 8.3-magnitude earthquake in central Chile which resulted in a citywide tsunami alarm and evacuation of Iquique and all coastal areas, it was certainly a day to remember.