Tuesday, October 23, 2012

No Big Deal? (Next Day added)

Biometrics, noun
the application of statistical analysis to biological data

In case you didn't catch the operative word in that definition, it's 'biological'. That's an adjective that means, of or relating to biology or living organisms. And 'biology' means, the study of living organisms . . . morphology, physiology, anatomy, behavior, . . . In other words, biometrics means analyzing the physical aspects of living beings, such as myself as it relates to my BODY

That's the understanding I bring to the appointment we have bright and early tomorrow morning at the Czech Ministry of the Interior, previously known as the Foreign Police. =8-0

I keep wondering what possible biological (my BODY) information they're going to want to gather for analysis. I mean I'm thankful that our visa application has been granted and all, but at what intimate personal cost? 

Maybe this type of thing doesn't upset you, so you can't quite grasp my concern. Let me share a little bit about myself to see if that helps. 

I'm not afraid of the medical world though getting injections and being stitched are not my favorite activities. I'm not overly comfortable with folks poking and prodding me, but I've found a way to accept the full body scans at the airport, not to mention the pat-downs that are required when I pass through the metal detectors in a wheelchair - no joy but doable. 

In this I think I've been a trooper with the whole international travel bit. However, I find it offensive, even abhorrent, every time I notice one of the retina scanners that provide speedy passage through passport control. I mean who would want to give up an electronic record of their retinae to be delivered at will to who knows where or whom? Not me. Ugh!

My 'unease' about sharing biological (my BODY) information hit a peak last January shortly after we landed in Nairobi. We filled out a form and waited in the visa line as we expected. It wasn't until we got near the check point that I realized the officials were fingerprinting every single person. My insides froze. The $50 fee seemed like enough of a price to pay for the privilege of entering Kenya. I suddenly felt like a rat in a trap. What was I going to do? 

My first option didn't seem too viable; throw my form up in the air, turn around and run back to the plane. I tried to steady myself. I whispered my observations and conclusions to my Honey as calmly as I could, "It looks like they're going to take MY FINGERPRINTS." His response was casual and confident, but the tone had no affect on me. My mind began raced to figure out a way to avoid the collecting of biological (my BODY) information - to no avail. 

The two+ hours wound down and we stepped up to the counter. There was a small problem with our paperwork and I found a moment to breathe. When the official told me to put my hand on the glass surface I hesitated, but I did it. I don't know how, but I did. He took the money and stuck the visa into my passport. I walked through the opening as if I were a normal human being who'd given up their biological (my BODY) information every day of the week and twice on Saturday. Aaaaagh!

That's the way I react to these invasions of my personal, physiological, anatomical, . . . aka biological (my BODY) information . . . by others. It's more than uncomfortable. It feels like a total assault on my personhood. After all, God made me unique. Nobody else has my fingerprints or retinal surfaces. They can't be changed and, if nothing else, they identify me beyond a shadow of a doubt. I suppose I could avoid detection if I had to by having plastic surgery or dying my hair, but once somebody has my biological (my BODY) information, my goose is cooked. They can track me and find me anywhere!

If at this point you think I'm totally irrational, so be it. I have no idea why I might need to go into deep hiding. I mean I don't intend to undertake criminal activities or anything. Then again, in the world today who's to say what might be considered criminal and/or what might necessitate the need to avoid detection by government officials. There are way too many realistic possibilities. Seriously!

Uh, I just looked at the clock and realized that in approximately 19 hours and 20 minutes I will be presenting myself at the Czech Ministry of the Interior to go through the biometrics process to receive my extended visa. I have no idea what to expect and the prospect is unnerving. Are you with me now?

You might want to ask me what I've been asking myself, "Why put yourself through all this?" Hah, if you only knew how many times I've posed that very same question. The answer has refined itself over time and I think I've got it straight enough to offer it to you at this point.

"From one man he [God] made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being." Acts 17:26,27   emphases mine

Almighty God, my loving Father, redeeming Savior, and comforting Spirit, called my Honey and me to move to the Czech Republic. We responded as best we could along side Abraham and Moses, Jacob and Samuel, and so many others, with "Here I am." The LORD has confirmed His hand on us by using us in His service in countless and unexpected ways. He has even been so gracious as to meet our daily needs and beyond.

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them case to be." Psalm 139:13-16

God's the One who formed my fingerprints and retinae. They are His to take where He pleases. He made them and He can certainly protect them as He sees fit. Just as my days were numbered before I was born, so my going out and coming in was ordered. My Creator knows me from the inside out. He is with me as much today as He was before I was born and He is trustworthy in every aspect.

In light of these truths, what is a little bit of biometric analysis? When stacked up against God's unchanging character and fail-proof promises, what's the big deal about sharing my biological information? I don't know what will happen tomorrow morning, but I know Who's in charge and He's goin' with me. Hallelujah!

Next Day:
I sure am happy that I wrote the above portion of this blog the day BEFORE we went to the Ministry of the Interior. The LORD used that review of His Truth to keep me walking from the metro to the bus and the bus to the building. The courage the Spirit gave kept me calm as we waited on the sidewalk for the doors to open. Jesus held me tight as we squirmed our way through the crowd of people so we could make it to our appointment. The Father planned the time sitting in a chair to be really short AND for the lady in the little booth to be really friendly. Color me thankFUL!

I sat on a small metal stool in front of a communication window with a low sill, staring into a camera. When I realized the camera was mounted upside down and was staring right back at me my palms started to sweat. The lady slid paperwork over for me to sign, pointing at the spaces I was to fill in - date and signature. My panicky self asked, "Wa ..., wa ..., wait, I can't read what I'm signing!" My fortified-in-the-Truth self reached out, took the pen and did the job.

First came the photo. That was a breeze. Well, except that I never thought of that possibility and my hair was kinda wild. I guess I was laughing about that on the inside because the lady signalled me not to smile. The preview image showed just my face; wild hair and dull expression only. NO RETINAE!  =8-D  I immediately look go of a huge sign of relief. Then it happened . . .

The lady signalled me to put my finger on the little box on the sill, my "forefinger". Up popped a little diagram that showed all my fingers and thumbs. It intrigued me because the words were all in English though it took a bit to realize it. I was thankful I still knew what a forefinger was and that I had put the proper one on the glass screen that formed the top of the box - for each hands.

The smiling lady gave me a few more instructions in Czech which I did not understand. She slid a sheet of paper over to me which was, oh hallelujah, in English and said, "Na shledanou." Hah, that means good-bye. I was released. I smiled and waved and returned her, "Na shledanou." AFTER that I lived through pushing our way back out through the crowd and off to have coffee with a friend. And best of all, we now have an appointment to pick up our two year visas. God is gracious!

Moral of the story:
All the stuff above "Next Day" is not only True intellectually. It is also all True experientially. 

1 comment:

  1. I would be the same way in those circumstances. I've never traveled outside the States (except once to Canada as a teen). The thought of traveling a foreign country scares me spitless. I guess that's why God has not called me anywhere else. Love reading about your adventures, though.