Monday, August 31, 2009

Worn out...

Well, our stateside visitors have come and gone. Their trip was short and sweet, but so appreciated and welcomed and we're so glad they made the sacrifice to come and see us and the work here in Cochabamba. I'm working on a few new posts of their visit and of this past Sunday (which marked the two month date of the bus accident), but thought I'd sign off for the night with new pictures of the boys :) One thing about visitors is that they give such wonderful attention to our kids. And this group was no exception :) so much so that I think the boys had their fill and then some... especially since this is what I found in various spots of the apartment over the past couple days...

(We're trying to decide since Grant's in the 95% percentile for height and over 100% percentile for weight, and with the gigantor hands that you see above whether he'll end up being our tight end or quarterback :) maybe he'll be our basketball player that can palm a ball at the age of two :)

From the mommy who gets to go to bed early tonight with both boys sacked out... THANK YOU VISITORS for all your hard work in wearing these two out :) it's not an easy job!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Too much mommy...

A friend was reminding me today of what an adventure it is having extra inches added to your physical body's dimensions while you're pregnant... it can lead to many interesting situations :) I don't remember having that many run-ins with Nathan while pregnant with Grant. He was pretty good about not following mommy too closely. Grant on the other hand is constantly invading my personal hoola hoop space and has had quite a few collisions with me and the baby lately. If he's not getting kicked by the baby while sitting in my lap, he's head butting my belly as he runs by me in route to chase after his big brother... but the one that makes me laugh the most has been the backside-to-head collisions that we have now on a daily basis.

I tend to go around the house picking up throughout the day and Grant has yet to learn that if you follow too closely behind mommy it might cause a problem :) Apparently I need one of those signs like trucks have that recommend you to follow within a certain distance, leave space for wide turns, or warn you of frequent stops that this vehicle will be making :) So many times I stop in my tracks and bend over to pick up a toy, food, blankie, you name it and all of a sudden there is a head bump from behind... I turn to find my sweet baby looking at me as if to say, Mom, seriously, I did not need to get that up close and personal with you today :) Let's just hope the poor child can learn his lesson or the next two months could prove dangerous for him :) At least he takes after his mommy and has a hard head... it may be his only saving grace!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The painstaking visa process...

A friend in the states recently asked me about the visa process here in Bolivia... I write often about it on facebook or in our newsletters so.... I wrote up a little :) sense the sarcasm please explanation for you, my faithful few, on what it means to obtain a Bolivian visas as missionaries here in Cochabamba... hold on tight cause here we go :)

Sometimes I forget in the daily living as an overseas missionary that there are so many aspects of our lives' here that you may not know about. I take for granted that you know we have to used bottled water for everything... that I have to disinfect all our produce... that most everything we buy here to eat is fresh b/c there is simply not a frozen section in the grocery store... that utilities can be your best friend (providing you internet to keep in touch with people) or your worst enemy (leaving you without water for days at a time).

It is a challenge living abroad, I'll be the first to admit :) but in the long run, it's so worth all the headache of living in a third world country! The work we get to do here and get to be a part of, the lives we see change and the hearts that come to know Christ, and the difference it makes in our family life is so worth all the inconveniences we may have to put up with along the way.

One part of living abroad is living legally in another country. Gary, Nathan and I are required by the Bolivian government to have current visas in order to live here legally in Cochabamba. Grant is covered since he was born here (thank goodness... one less visa to obtain :).

As a foreigner here in Bolivia there is a process that you go through to obtain a visa. There is much much paperwork... background checks (to make sure you're not Butch Cassidy or the Sundance kid hiding out as fugitives :), proof of economic stability (letters from supporting churches to prove that you have stable income), proof of relationship with the church in Bolivia (letters from the church here saying that you have their support to work here under the name Church of Christ), marriage licenses, birth certificates, blood work, vaccinations, proof of residency here (copies of rental contracts and past electric bills with your name and id on them), and probably so much more that I'm just not remembering right now.

Many of these documents are obtained at offices from one end of town to the other... require many hours of standing in line (yes, with children in tow)... more pictures than you ever care to have taken of yourself (b/c every office seems to require a picture with a different colored background)... translating of your personal documents (marriage license and birth certificates... and be sure to use official copies or transcripts b/c what they don't tell you is that if you use your original in the process you'll never see it again)... and fees everywhere you look.

When you come into the country you have 90 days with a tourist visa to start your one year visa process if you should choose to do so. Once you've obtained your one year visa you move on to a two year visa and from there a permanent visa. We as a family have completed our one- year visas, our two-year visas and were ready to start the visa process again upon returning from furlough. We were under the impression that we could continue with two-year visas to remain legally here in Bolivia until we made the decision to return to the states.

Boy were we wrong. Apparently the visa system is a stairstep process. Once you've obtained your two-year visa, you are forced to move on to the permanent visa. We usually pay for our visas out of our personal salary. For the three of us to get new two year visas we had approximately $500 budgeted. Not a huge hit, but still, $500 is $500. Then to our surprise in returning and starting the process with a recommended lawyer (a must have in this entire circus act :) we found out that no, we could not continue with two-year visas, but had to move on to a permanent visa.

This was "bad" news for two reasons... for financial reasons and because we know permanent visas have the potential to be a huge headache to obtain. Permanent visas for the three of us to remain here working in Cochabamba (which is definitely what we want to do) will end up costing our family approximately $2100 when all is said and done. A little different than $500 huh? That is why in our last family newsletter we asked family and friends to help out financially this time around. We've already been so blessed by supporters coming along side us to help us, but we still lack alot and could use any help anyone would like to give (sorry for the shameless plug).

The second reason that permanent visas can be a pain is that there is the potential for the government officials to request an inspection. This inspection is an even more thorough delving into your life... visits to your home... resubmitted paperwork from your one-year visa process and so much more. When we went to complete our paperwork in immigration yesterday there was definitely the potential for this to happen... we even had a man behind us in line coming to set up an appointment for his home visit because they had required an inspection of him... it is literally up to the mercy of the government officials as to whether your paperwork is passed on through, or whether you're going to have to jump through hoops you didn't know existed. Whether it was Nathan's amazing behavior, the fact that I'm big pregnant, or that the officials were just feeling generous, it looks as though all our paperwork was passed on through to La Paz, without the inspection process.

We're holding our breath, praying hard, and waiting to hear good news in a month or so. From there we will then start the process of getting our new Bolivian ids made. Makes you thankful you live in your home country right? :) I think that's the visa process in a nutshell... if you're still with me as a reader... God bless you for your time and patience, and desire to have just a peek into what we go through to stay on the mission field as overseas missionaries. Like I said, it's a pain at times, always an adventure, but so worth it! God bless!

The Bull Blues Brothers...

So how do you cast your vote? Will baby bull #3 actually survive these two? After last night's karate exhibition between Nathan and Grant (in which there were no injuries thank goodness :) I wasn't so sure. Let's hope he has the strength of his Biblical namesake Joshua to help him along the way :)

Monday, August 3, 2009

A time to grieve and a time to rejoice...

What wisdom came from the author of Ecclesiastes as he penned the fact that there are so many seasons to this life we live!

We have definitely been walking through a time of grieving, mourning, and loss... but God is good and faithful and He has brought us much to rejoice about as well.

Two Sunday's ago we rejoiced as a new sister Elsa put the Lord on in baptism...
This past Sunday a precious member of our youth group and our small group, a single mom named Carmen, put her Savior on in baptism as well...
Agustina's house is in its finishing stages (thanks to such hard work from Miguel - Belen's father who remains in a clinic here with traumatic brain injury - and Gaston)...

I started a new girls prayer time for youth group members and it went really well last week... this past Sunday as well a family that has been worshipping with us placed their membership with us and committed to us and us to them - Welcome Johnny and Lijia, we're so excited to have you and your kids as a part of the body here in Cochabamba...
Saturday night we had a small one night course on evangelism/obeying the gospel/being a member of the church and over 20 were in attendance which was a great encouragement to the guys!... we've gotten good news that a move to the 5th floor of our building could be VERY possible (which would give the boys some outdoor space to play, which we're finding is VERY important for little Grant man)... pregnancy continues to go well, trying to pick a name for this third little man is coming, slowly but surely :) ... and while I'm sure there are many more things as well, that's a great start huh?

In transitioning back to life here it's good for me to actively remember God's movement here among us. We've passed through difficult times this past month and it could have been something Satan used against us... but on the contrary, the church continues to grow strong, members have pulled together, visitors continue to come and we're seeing growth among our members. Their faith grows deeper in the Lord and all He has planned for them and for us and that is something to step back, remember, take note of, and PRAISE GOD FOR! So thanks for giving me a public place to acknowledge that God is good, God is faithful, and that He never changes... no matter what happens, He was, He is, and He is to come!