For all of you who are waiting for Christmas packages to arrive, imagine what it’s like to wait for an entire shipping container to show up on your front porch! Even if it’s not always accurate, we can generally type in a tracking number and get some vague idea of where our packages are. That’s not the case with Sowers4Pastors’ shipping containers!
In order to import to Honduras, Sowers4Pastors must apply for duty free shipping with the Honduran government. Well, technically, they don’t have to do that. They could pay out the wazoo for the privilege of importing. However, since they aren’t in the habit of throwing money away, they file the necessary paperwork, called a dispensa.
Lest this process be too easy, each dispensa has a limited life span. You don’t want to file the paperwork too early because the dispensa could expire before the container arrives. You don’t want to file it too late because the dispensa might not be approved in time. It’s sort of like a little paperwork dance. Timing matters!
Each dispensa is also specific to the items on the container, and must list everything on the container. That may not sound like such a big deal until you realize that the paperwork is filed before each container is loaded. Invariably some new donations arrive just before loading time. What does that mean? It means Allen and Russell discuss what donations they think they might receive! In the past, it has always been better to list something that wasn’t donated than to ship something that wasn’t declared.
This year, they listed “medicines” on the dispensa for the Florida container. Now, there were no donated medicines, but they thought there might be. Previously, it has never been a problem to list something that didn’t make it on board. This year, new regulations meant that any medicines listed (whether actually on the container or not!) required an additional fee. That means Sowers4Pastors had to pay a couple of hundred dollars for medicines they didn’t actually ship. They will face next year’s shipping process armed with that knowledge!
The Florida container has already been received and its contents are in the new building. Even though the containers were shipped on the same day, there is no word yet on the Maryland container. It is possible there was a shipping delay because of winter weather in the U.S. It is also possible that rumors are true and there is a logjam of shipments at the Honduran port. Shipping companies know they can’t unload containers if a port is full, so they may have delayed shipping.
At any rate, they are still waiting for the Maryland container to arrive. Things are moving, but at a slow pace. They have no idea when the container will arrive to be unloaded. The prayer is that the dispensa deadline doesn’t happen before the container arrives. They don’t want the delivery to be delayed, and they certainly don’t want to have to pay extra to receive the contents. Think about that, the next you complain your Amazon Prime packages didn’t arrive in two days!
- posted by Christi