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There are just moments when you have to shake your head and admit, “well, we botched that one”. We had one of those moments last week.

Our paperwork all arrived from Ecuador a week ago Friday. Woo Hoo! It seems we might not need the one last document to apply for visas, and we had hoped to go down to Washington to get our visas last week. All we needed on our end was Matt’s resume and our police checks.

Perhaps a downfall to having lived so many places is that although we are so aware that regulations are different everywhere, we sometimes forget where we are living and try to apply regulations from somewhere else to our current situation. Evidence #1 Police Checks. Other places we’ve lived, you just go down to the local police station, submit an application, and in a matter of minutes, you’ve got your police check in hand. La di da di da di da!

We live around the corner from a local police station, so police check always made it onto the to-do list, but would be low priority because we knew we could just run over and grab them one morning.

Or not.

In Pennsylvania, you don’t just “run down to the police station”, you submit paperwork to Harrisburg and wait a few weeks for them to process it through the system, one painful day at a time. Insert the above statement “well, we botched that one” here.

So, Monday morning we got the paperwork all completed and hurried it on it’s way to Harrisburg. And now, we pray. We pray that it landed on the desk of someone that would process it through quickly, and that it gets sent back our way speedily! Once the police check is in hand, THEN we’ll head down to Washington for our visas, and then we can get this leaving train back on track!

We’re still waiting for our official departure clearance from WorldVenture before we can officially book the container and tickets, but we are hoping that is coming very soon as we’ve finished up all our pieces and are only needing 2 more partners at $50/month to be FULLY supported!

In the meantime, we are packing and packing and packing, and giving thanks for the meals and help with the kids that the Lord is providing so that we can get all our things ready!

Isaiah 26:3-4 has been frequently in my heart these last weeks:
You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock

We continue to trust!

17 in one week!!!!

Two weeks ago we had a busy week! Between the 7 of us, it took 5 hours over 3 days, and we got 17! PHEW.

17 WHAT??

As I thought about the week, rubbing my arm, I kept thinking of a Mickey Mouse movie I’d seen when I was little. He was a poor tailor who unsuspectingly made the claim he’d killed 7 GIANTS in one swipe when he was actually referring to 7 flies!

giant

It would have been really exciting to have announced that God provided 17 new partners in one week! But, we don’t need 17 partners anymore! In order to be fully supported 100% (like the fully supported we need to be to get final departure clearance), we need 2 more partners at $50 dollars a month!! We praise God for that!!!

Nope, much like Mickey’s claim, it wasn’t anything spectacularly fierce or exciting…but an accomplishment for us. The Messick Crew got 17 shots in one week! OUCH!

Part of getting ready to go is getting caught up on some of the vaccinations we needed, so it was a big week at the doctor’s office getting everyone checked out! The folks at Dr. DeFranco’s certainly got their Messick fix! And, our kids paid a huge compliment to Miss. Kim, the nurse, asking if she could please please come down to Ecuador next time they needed shots so that she could give them! Taylah blew my mind as she skipped down the hallway of the office singing “I love getting shots” the SECOND time she was there!

We’re thankful for the way God made even getting physicals and shots into an opportunity to see His grace, His provision and His love. But, I hope we NEVER have a 17 weeker again!

The staff at Bushkill Family Practice were so GREAT with our family!

The staff at Bushkill Family Practice were so GREAT with our family!

So, I keep moving our apostilled/authenticated/legalized documents carefully around as I work through piles. Those things are like GOLD right now!

We were hoping to apply for our visas in early August and were checking in with Leo and Lulu, the WorldVenture field leaders in Loja. We had a great skype with them the other day talking about things to bring and finding a house and just getting there! We got off the phone super excited, and then we got an email from the lawyer in Ecuador…

Hic-cup.

As is bound to happen, it seems we’ve hit a bit of a possible snaffoo in the visa process.

It appears that some of the requirements have been changed (just in the last week or so), and there are some additional pieces of paperwork required. One of them has to come from WorldVenture which won’t be that big a deal but might take a few days. The second though has to come from the Ecuadorian government. At first glance at the email from the lawyer, we thought, ‘that won’t be that big a deal either’…but then we really read the email through carefully. This document can take about 2 months to be issued.

Booger.

But again, it isn’t a surprise, it is just part of the process…

(and it definitely isn’t a surprise to God who knew that would happen, knows the exact moment of our departure, and all the things that will happen in-between)

But, until we have our visas in hand, we won’t be able to book the container to ship our things. So that pushes everything back a bit.

We still have one report to finish and the rest of our support to raise before we can be given official clearance from WorldVenture to begin our departure preparations. We are probably 3 people away from being fully supported monthly, and we are at 89% of our outgoing expenses!

We had hoped to get final clearance in the next week or so, get our visas, book the container and be ready to leave the end of August.

But, the container is tied to the visa, so we need to make sure we’ve got that in hand first. Once we book the container, it is probably at least 3 if not 4 weeks before we can go.

Thus, this hiccup will probably slow us down a few weeks. Which in some respects might turn out to be a blessing because the to-do list is ginormous and daily life with 5 kids seems to keep us from getting everything done that we plan in a day! (anyone else happy to cross shower off on the list between all the other things mommy is needed for?)

Hold on to your hats! Hopefully we'll have more news soon!

Hold on to your hats! Hopefully we’ll have more news soon!

This is where we ask again for your prayers! Anyone who has tried to get a visa for another country knows that it never goes as hoped and here is our first glitch! Please pray that the paperwork comes through quickly from Ecuador and that we are able to get all our visas without trouble from Washington, please pray that we can use Taylah’s American “birth certificate” in lieu of her official one from Costa Rica, pray that we continue to trust God’s timing: His plan is more than just sending us to Ecuador, and we want to be open to what He is calling us to do in the interim, and please pray that we are able to get everything done that we need to do and find a few moments of REST in the process!

And in other news….Taylah turned 4 this week! What a joy she is!

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(This is from mid-June)

With all our birth certificates in hand, we would like to have checked off a BIG check on the list of things to get for our Ecuadorian visas, but unfortunately that task only warrented a small check off…it was really only the first step of a much bigger task…THE APOSTILLE.

Some years ago at the Hague Convention, many countries signed on to the process of authenticating documents through an Apostille. It is essentially an internationally recognized form of authentication. All documents that are apostilled have a piece of paper attached to the front that authenticates whatever signature or seal is on the official document…the government of the country issuing the document is certifying that it is a real document.

Remember how I said having 7 of us can be a logistical nightmare sometimes??

Case in point: the Apostille process.

Because, all those wonderful birth certificates we had just gotten from all over the place, all had to be sent BACK to where they came from to get this stamp of approval!!

More research, more forms to fill and more mental gymnastics of how to get this done in the best possible way (remembering that we need multiples of everything!).

YIKES!

In this little game, Canada won for the most documents (my birth certificate, Jonah and Micah’s birth certificates, and our marriage certificate). BUT, Canada is not a participant in the Hague Convention so they don’t Apostille documents. Hmmmm?

Instead, there is a three-step process which involves getting all the documents notarized in Canada, then taking them all to the Department of Foreign Affairs to have them Authenticated (different from Apostilled), and THEN they all had to go to the Ecuadorian Embassy in Ottawa to be Legalized (the embassy puts another piece of paper on top to say that the piece of paper from the Canadian government authenticating the original is good)…

Is anyone else dizzy yet? (p.s. this is only one piece of the whole visa process!)

Enter Super Husband Matt!

Not sure of how long things would take, and not wanting to risk losing things by mail, we decided that he would make a run for the border up to Ottawa, Canada one day and try to get them all done in person. This was going to be a much quicker, easier and less expensive option, and of course he was totally game.

He left at 3:30 in the morning for the 6 hour drive to Ottawa.

Went to the notary at 8:30 and got all the documents notarized.

Took them to the Canadian government when it opened at 10 and had them authenticate them all (even a few past the maximum they said they would do!)

Took them to the Ecuadorian consulate to have them all legalized.

Grabbed a hotdog and chatted to some protesters in downtown Ottawa.

Made a wrong turn and drove into Montreal just for kicks.

Grabbed his wife a medium hot chocolate, a honey crueler and a box of timbits for the kids from Tim Hortons and headed home. (did I tell you I love that man??)

He was back at 8.

My husband rocks! And now, we have all (except Taylah’s) documents Apostilled and ready for the next step of the process which will be applying for the visas in Washington.

These fancy shmancy documents are over top of the originals...

These fancy shmancy documents are over top of the originals…

In the meantime, there are lots of other pieces we still need to get…police checks, photos, and a whole wack of paperwork that still needs to come from Ecuador.

Bit by bit we are pulling those pieces together and hope to be applying for our visa’s early in August! Thanks for praying!

(This is from waaaaay back in May/June but got buried under my things to do pile!!)

So…there are 7 of us. And, we love it! But, in daily life, anything times 7 is lots!

And when it comes to official documents for a family our size…birth certificates and passports times 7 is a handful! A big handful. Especially when those birth certificates come from Pennsylvania, Colorado, Ontario, Alberta and Costa Rica!

Then you take international visas and a large family, and you know that you are walking into logistical nightmares!

(This is where we need folks to start praying for the visa process as it unfolds over the next weeks!)

We need a visa to enter Ecuador. Because it is a visa for 1-2 years (to start), there is a fair bit of paperwork that needs to be submitted. And, as we’ve learned in the past, every country has it’s own oddities in the visa process!

So in order to get ready in the spring, I started getting multiples of everyone’s birth certificates!

Why multiples? Well, one of the oddities we’ve encountered in Latin America, is when you present a birth certificate to the government, you probably aren’t getting it back. So, that lovely $100 (plus) birth certificate that says I am really Canadian, is probably not going to be mine for very long. And, because there are visa renewals to happen we need to have multiples with us (even though some places won’t issue multiples!!)

Every application process is different, so after many hours of researching requirements and filling out requisition forms, we got all our birth certificates ordered from all over the place. PHEW!

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Thankfully by the end of June, we had received everyone’s birth certificates and had even gotten the last two passports we needed, and were ready for the next step…this crazy thing called the APOSTILLE: the document that verifies that the official document you are submitting to another country is in fact official.

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And the story of the Apostille will be another story….

Well, 90% support came and went many weeks ago! (we can hardly believe we’re at 97% now!!!) And, I am finally sitting down to write about it…We’ve had some busy and productive weeks around here! After getting our bible credits done and finishing some schooling paperwork for the kids, and sending in one report (we only have one left now!!), I cleaned off my desk and sat down to try and write for a while.

Traditions.

Most families have them for holidays, birthdays, vacations…They are important, letting us weave threads of ‘constants’through the years. Sometimes they are planned, sometimes they just happen, but more often than not, they are things we look forward to.

So, what happens when you move houses, if not countries, every few years? In Elijah’s six years of life, he’s lived in 7 different houses! The constant transition makes tradition a little bit tougher to maintain…at least until we started trying to find more portable traditions! Friday Fiesta is our favourite…Friday nights Matt makes pizza and we all watch a movie together. Simple. Inexpensive. Portable. But, definitely a treat! We’ve also got TukTuk the portable Christmas tree, decorating the birthday chair traditions, and mint chocolate chip pancakes (an ‘oops’ that’s stuck!)

We’ve developed two mini-traditions during our time here in Pennsylvania. One has been celebrating each 10% increase in our monthly support numbers. We’ve had picnics, gone to the cheap movie theater, went bowling and for our 90% party in June, we went to Knoebels’ Grove an amusement park not far from here!

It was our third annual visit to the park! And, have definitely loved that tradition! There is no admission to get in, you can take your food into the park for a picnic, and when we go on days that other kids are still in school, we can ride on all the rides as often as we want without waiting! Definitely one of our favourite things we’ve found in PA!! This year, we tried roller coasters! We weren’t sure who would like them or not, but all 3 boys LOVED the head rattling, brain shaking bumps and twists of the wooden roller coasters! Micah (the initially reluctant one) even asked if there would be roller coasters in Ecuador…probably not!

This pre-field time has not been without challenges for the kids as our attention is very often focused on the tasks of getting ready to go. They’ve been wonderful about it, but it has also been nice to step away from the constant preparations and do some special things as a family! Our prayer request is that we remember just HOW important that is these next few weeks and make it a priority to step away from the to-do list from time to time (I’m not very good at that!)

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Thank you so much for your support and your prayers during this time! We are hoping that very very VERY soon we’ll be able to announce a 100% party!

Be still and know

Be still and know

Ok, he’s finally asleep, and my nerves are fried.

It’s been a monumental week for our little guy, and challenging for us! Today he is 9 months old and on Tuesday of this week, he got his first tooth AND figured out how to stand by himself all in one day! Exciting, exhilarating, and exhausting for mama and dad!

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For some reason in all these firsts, he’s forgotten how to sleep or even how to let himself try to sleep.

I’ve just finished wrestling him for the last hour, combination: exhausted and next tooth pushing. He won’t lay down, but won’t be held either…he wouldn’t stay still in my arms, so finally I tried tying him on my back. Even that took four tries before he’d stay still enough. Walking up and down the driveway, he started to calm down. Oh, he was tired, no doubt about it, I think he even knew it, but he just wouldn’t let go and relax. Then as soon as he started to calm down, I think he realized that he was giving in, and picked back up again. Squirming, twisting, pushing, fussing, so I took him back off and held him in my arms.

More squirming, a little less squirming, less squirming, a head finally laying on my shoulder. I covered him in a blanket and soon my sweet, active and very strong little guy was peacefully asleep.
PHEW.

As I walked past a mirror looking at him squirm in my arms, I got to thinking about shepherds and how at times they have to carry their sheep. Do the sheep squirm and wiggle and try to break free? Probably.

Do the Shepherds patiently hold them and whisper calming words trying to help them see that the shepherd only wants to help, knows what the sheep needs and is fully capable of taking care of the sheep if it will only relax into his arms and let him?

Or let Him?

In his arms

Too often I think (I KNOW) I am the sheep squirming and thrashing and refusing to be held, cared for, or tended to by the one who is most capable.

And, there’s my sheepish thought for the morning.

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