Jennifer and a group of other teens from a church in Canada had managed to save the necessary funds to go on a mission trip to Brazil and help build a school during March break. Everyone had the necessary passports, visas, and medical certificates to enter the country.
Members from the sponsoring church in Brazil greeted them at the airport in Rio de Janeiro and drove them to a small village several kilometers away. On the third day, Jennifer noticed her camera was not where she had left it. Thinking that one of her friends had packed it away, she proceeded to look through her suitcase.
“Oh no!” she cried out. “My traveler’s cheques aren’t here!” The special pocket for her travel documents was empty, and no wallet was found, nor was her camera.
Shortly after, Kerri, one of the other girls, came running in and shouted, “I can’t find my passport, and my keys are missing too! What would anyone here need with my house keys?”
Wayne, one of the boys, reported his passport, best suit and guitar were missing.
The local police were called to report the apparent thefts. Explaining to the police was difficult because of the language barrier. The local missionary, who was from Canada, was fluent in Spanish and became the interpreter.
The teens were returning to Canada in two more days, but without passports and exit visas, some of them would not be leaving. Fortunately, the police found the culprits–a young boy who wanted his own guitar, a spider monkey who loved shiny things, and a “person of interest” who thought he could sell his ‘treasures’.
Long story short, everyone left Brazil on time and a young Brazilian boy got his dream of owning a guitar answered.
My question for some time in this type of scenario has been, “If all of your identification has been lost, stolen, misplaced, etc., what do you have left to verify you are who you say you are? Does the Ministry issuing passports and visas have your picture and fingerprints on file?”
November 5, 2011