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Little Lonely Louis…

Meet Louis…he’s lonely.  He was part of a big group, in fact a huge group of little guys.

They had been hanging out since last April.

But one by one, each of the other guys have been changing…they’ve found their place and have become part of a different group.

The last of Louis’ friends joined the other group 2 weeks ago.

And then there was Louis.

Little Lonely Louis.

You see, Louis is the last little guy on our grid of monthly support.  He represents the last $100/month we need in order to be FULLY SUPPORTED!

Let s refresh the hearts of the saints Louis-page-001 (1)

That’s it!

Once one or two people take on Louis, he can change to the other group too and be back with all his buddies and…our support team will be complete!

We are praying for the person/people who are going to complete our team and help Louis change groups!

We’d love to have all our support in place the end of this week!

Here’s a link to our support page just in case you realized that YOU are the one who Little Lonely Louis has been waiting for!

Thank you!!!

Container Conundrums: Part I

And now, welcome to the newest multi-part series as we move to Ecuador!  

As we were getting our visas from the Vice-Consul, we were chatting with him about going and taking a container and Ecuadorian customs, and he looked at us and said “I don’t think you can take a container duty-free with that visa, you’ll have to pay duty on all your stuff and it is really really expensive”…

The kids are still laughing at me.  They said all the colour drained out of my face as my mouth dropped open, and they tell me that my mouth stayed hanging open as my face turned totally red.  

Uh….duty??? 

You see, we’d been working on the whole idea of taking a container because  we’d thought (probably assumed), that we’d be able to take it in duty free.  Ecuador grants one duty free import to people who are taking up residency there.  Otherwise the duty rate is only about oh….Forty-Three Percent!  Yes…43% not only on the item, but on the item plus the cost of transport plus the insurance.  That. is. a. lot. of. money.

I think while my mouth was hanging open, I was running through every possible scenario…down to the thought that we might actually have to sell everything we’ve been gathering for the last year and take only what we could pack into 14-20 boxes. Not the scenario we’d hoped for.

By the way, this is what we keep talking about when we say container:

what it looks like

 

It will get dropped off at our house on the back of a truck, we pack it up, it gets taken by truck to the port, put on a ship down to Ecuador, loaded off the ship into customs, passes through customs, and finally goes back onto a truck that will ship it to wherever we are waiting for it.  

Oh, how I pray it will all go just as quick and easily as that sounds.  But, we’ve read the horror stories.

And yet, what a wonderful gift to be able to send all our things and not have to put all the effort into buying an entire household of furniture and goods when we get there!  Not only that, but we’d been collecting craft supplies for ministry, homeschool materials, books in English for our readers, carseats for another ministry, bicycles for the kids…things to make settling in easier on everyone! We’ve moved to several different countries with just our baggage allowance, and it’s been fine. But, while the memories of trying to set up a house from scratch in Guatemala were fun, it was also an exhausting time and we were looking forward to just “moving in” once we got to Ecuador. (here’s an old blog from Guatemala about some of the challenges of finding furniture,,, http://alittleelbowgrease.wordpress.com/2011/06/15/can-you-spot-whats-missing/)

Ok, so back to my mouth hanging open as we hear that our visa doesn’t allow a duty-free import.  What to do about that??

We set it aside while we were in Washington…there really wasn’t much we could do from there, but once we got home we spent Thursday and Friday of last week doing some serious thinking, talking, praying and researching.

Ecuadorian customs is notoriously TOUGH.  It wasn’t a good sign as we called different shipping companies to see if they had information, and the only information they unanimously offered was that it is an exceptionally tough country to import things into.  Great. 

But, finally after googling  random missionary blogs until I found someone who had brought in a container, we called the people up in Quito, and began to find some answers that seemed a little more promising. Then we got in touch with other people we’ve sort of met in Loja and picked their brains as well…

Seems that YES, we can import a menaje de casa (household goods) with our visa, but YES it was probably going to be absolutely as big a headache as we feared it might be.

More praying and talking and thinking.  Do we even go ahead with this?

Thought for the moment (and hopefully final thought).  We’re going to send a container.  And, we’re going to ask for people to bathe the whole process in prayer.

We’ve been working on the manifesto (list of contents) for a few weeks already.  One thing we’ve read is that the biggest problems come from paperwork errors.  We’ll be spending lots of time trying to make sure our paperwork is in order before we go, but in the meantime we’ve been inventorying EVERYTHING that goes into each box.  Like, everything! 6 pairs boys socks, 4 mugs, 17 cd’s…to the point we’ve entered books in by title.  And, for each item, there is a price attached to it as well. Lots and lots of work, and we have been so thankful for several friends who have spent hours at our house inventorying and listing out all the clothing that we’ve packed!!  Some moments it feels like overkill, but there’s been a thread of consistency in the few stories we’ve come across of “easy” customs experiences…people who have said they’ve had very detailed lists have seemed to have an easier time passing their container through customs.  We’d like to join their team! 

We’ve found a customs agent who helped another missionary family (with the same visa) get their things into the country a few weeks ago and are going to pray that he is able to do the same with ours.

We’d hoped to call for a container right away after getting our visas, but we are so thankful we have taken a few days to really look into the process a bit better. Our goal is to get a few shipping quotes this week, and have a container secured by the end of the week. 

Please pray!  This is a big piece, and has the potential to be unbelievably stressful if we forget to hang on to His peace (which happens a lot quicker the more tired we get!).  We know that God is bigger than customs, and we are excited to see how He will work through the whole process, but we’re also steeling ourselves up for some nailbiters.  Thanks for joining us! 

 

 

Matt laboured all “labour day” to get the car sorted out and ready for our visa trip to Washington, and after a late night of preparations, we made it off (relatively) early Tuesday morning.

I guess I could just jump to the punchline…We got the visas! And, it was no problem at all.

We spent a little time at the embassy in the morning submitting all (read ALL) our paperwork.  The Vice-Consul took it into the office with him and came back in a little bit to tell us we were approved for a 1 year visa.  I tried to push for a 2 year (pretty please??), but no go, apparently they are hardly, if ever, issued.  And, he told us if we came back at 3pm, all our visas would be ready that day.

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Seriously that easy!

So we went off to adventure while we waited.  The embassy was about 4 blocks or so from where I used to live, and another few blocks from the back entrance to the National Zoo.  We wandered around the neighbourhood a bit, and found a place with some incredible tacos before we walked down to the zoo.  It was a quick run around to see some animals, with a special stop to see the Pandas.  JJ was very excitedly certain they were dogs!

We went back to the embassy, and although our visas weren’t ready yet (7 is definitely a bunch when it comes to bureaucratic paperwork!), we had no complaints hanging out in the air conditioning for an hour while he finished them off.  Everything was stamped and signed and stamped again, and we were done!  

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The night before, some friends who lived just outside the city had invited us to stay with them (what a blessing!), but we wanted to run around and see a few more things before we left the city.  We drove further into the city and walked over to see the White House.  Elijah was definitely disappointed that there was a fence that kept us from going right in, and the boys had expected it to be much larger, but they thought it was pretty cool to see.

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We walked down to the Washington Monument and goofed off a bit.

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Then we made the hike all the way down to the Lincoln Memorial (my favourite spot when I lived there).  As we wandered around and looked, there were some rumbling sounds.  I thought it was just airplanes landing at the airport, but as we looked back outside and saw the skies getting darker and darker, we realized it wasn’t planes!

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We finished off at the monument and set off for the car.  As soon as we started walking, it started to sprinkle a bit.  Really pretty refreshing after the heat of the day.  A few more rumbles, and the rain started coming down a bit harder.  And HARDER.  And finally it was a downpour to beat all downpours.  The rain was coming down in sheets, and we could hardly see in front of us, and because it was 7 in the evening, everything was closed. So, as we got totally soaked in the warm rain, what else was there to do but splash, and laugh and carry on??  Some seriously needed stress relief!  Thankfully we’d brought the backpack and Taylah was up on Matt’s back while I pushed JJ.  She wasn’t so excited about the rain, but the rest of us had a blast!  

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The moment we got back to the car, the rain stopped.  Period.  Go figure!  But, every drop was worth it for the fun we had playing in the rain!  (Though thankfully the visas and paperwork were all in the car and not in the bottom of the stroller!!!).  Needless to say we all slept well! 

Wednesday we visited the Museum of Natural History and the Air and Space Museum before heading home.  The car drove like a champ both ways!

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Thankful to finally have our visas!  The rest of the week was a bit of a roller coaster trying to figure out the container…but that’s for another post.  Thank you for your prayers and all your emails and texts of encouragement!  God opened the doors we needed to get our visas quickly and easily, and we are thankful to everyone who prayed us through!

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Matt is at the car graveyard again today picking parts.

It wasn’t just the battery that stranded us yesterday. Armed with a brand new battery last night we drove down to say goodbye to our sweet friends who are moving to Pittsburg. And, the battery light started flashing again a half mile down the road. HUH?

Matt’s diagnosis: probably the alternator. UGH.

Interesting isn’t it….took a long time to get the police checks, they had gotten “lost” in the shuffle. But, they finally arrived and we re-planned our visa trip. Now, we’re planning to go tomorrow morning to DC to get our visas and we’ve got car trouble that “suddenly” cropped up. We can’t make the trip until the car is fixed.

If we don’t get our visas, we can’t leave to go. So, why not make getting our visas really really tough? Seems like a pretty good battle tactic…

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
~Ephesians 6:12 NLT

Thankfully, we both have total peace…Matt has gone down to the car parts place to look for an alternator, and he’ll work on getting that fixed today (again, so so so thankful for him!), and I am going to try to attack a disaster of a kitchen and pray with each dish I wash for God’s glory to be seen so clearly in the midst of this battle!

Please pray for these visas! And for continued peace! And for Matt to have an easy time fixing the car! And against any discouragement that threatens to creep in!!

But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.
~2 Thessalonians 3:3 NLT

You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
4Trust in the LORD always,
for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock.
~Isaiah 26:3-4 NIV

Cutting a watermelon is definitely a little tougher when the only things not packed are a pizza cutter and butter knife...

Cutting a watermelon is definitely a little tougher when the only things not packed are a pizza cutter and butter knife…

John just used brute force and the chicken conceded...

John just used brute force and the chicken conceded…

I am going to miss this woman very very much! Such a sweet and thoughtful friend!

I am going to miss this woman very very much! Such a sweet and thoughtful friend!

We've enjoyed so many fun nights with these guys...never sitting on the kitchen floor though!

We’ve enjoyed so many fun nights with these guys…never sitting on the kitchen floor though!

We’ve got certificates flying all over the place right now!

It’s OFFICIAL! We got our DEPARTURE CLEARANCE from WorldVenture last week!

What does that mean? It means that each of the departments at WorldVenture have signed off on the requirements they have of our family in order to leave. It means we’ve finished all our bible credits, gotten our shots, raised all our support (all but that last $100/month), filled out all the paperwork, read all the books, finished all the reports, completed all the trainings, jumped all the hurdles and passed through all the hoops!

It means once we’ve got our visas, we can go ahead and book the container, purchase our tickets, and GO!!!!

PHEW!!

Last Sunday was a special day at our church here. Ebenezer Bible Fellowship Church, held a COMMISSIONING service for us. Basically, it was a time for the church body to affirm God’s call on our family, and commit to support us as missionaries while we are on the field. It was pretty powerful to look out and see so many faces we’ve come to love affirming us, loving us and shedding a tear or two with us (well…me at least).

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Afterwards, we enjoyed a wonderful fellowship lunch with so many from the church and lots of our camp kids who also came to support us!

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It was a time to say goodbye even though officially we still don’t have a date…

We’re CLEAN though! Those pesky police checks finally arrived Friday in the mail! The kids were checking and checking each day for us (we were checking too!). It sounds like they are excited to go explore Washington, DC a bit once we’ve got our visas (Elijah declared the other day that he thought it would be cool to go ride ATV’s around the White House), and they are more than ready to get to Ecuador too! Oh, and in case anyone wondered…no records!

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So, the plan . Next week we’ll go and try and get our visas. We’ll be checking and rechecking our paperwork this weekend to make sure everything is in order!! There is a chance of a small glitch with some of the papers, something outside of our control, but we are hopeful that God will smooth the road before us!

The plan is to drive down to Washington on Tuesday and get the visas. If all goes well, we’ll be able to book our container Tuesday or Wednesday and once we have a date for the container, we’ll be able to book tickets! GULP!

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Yes, there are tons of boxes around here and we’ve been starting to say goodbye, but tickets in hand will be a GAME CHANGER! We’re almost ready to move to Ecuador!

We called the police department this morning. Our Police Checks are completed. Hooray! But, they haven’t gone to be notarized yet. In fact, the officer Matt talked to was very surprised that they were still sitting up in a pile and hadn’t gone to the next step for “some reason”…

They were taking them to be notarized today and then hopefully they’ll get put in the mail (they won’t permit us to go pick them up), and will be on their way to us soon.

Thanks for praying with us that they are notarized quickly and arrive here in the next two days so we can go get our visas this week!!

We are still waiting for our police checks to come.

This Tuesday will be 2 weeks. We were told they should take 2-3 weeks. They should be coming soon. We’ll be checking on them Monday.

Here’s a small wrinkle though:
We got a note from Leo and Lulu our teammates in Loja. Some of the Ecuador paperwork expires at the end of August. If it expires before we get our police checks, we might run into trouble getting our visas.

We are confident in God’s perfect timing, and want to ask you to pray for the police checks to arrive this week so we can go down to Washington to get our visas and move to the next stage of getting ready to go!

Thanks for praying! And, thanks for walking this path with us!

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