Monday, September 15, 2014

Updates. . and Making Some Progress

Back again, by the Grace of God that we have through Jesus Christ, or Lord.  Still at it, making some headway, which is heartening news for us these days. 

The Criminal Background Check from the State of California Department of Justice - CA DOJ for short - has been completed for me, but not my wife.  I submitted Live Scan fingerprints to CA DOJ through our friendly local licensed fingerprint roller on August 29th, and the results declared "mailed" - was known to me via my calling the CA DOJ's automated message line for self submitted criminal background checks on September 1, Labor Day holiday.  The actual mailing took until September 4th for CA DOJ to mail, and I got it that Monday September 8th.  Not too bad. . .

That Wednesday, September 10th I emailed my request to CA DOJ *after* I had already received my clear or negative criminal background check record.  (They require you to wait first, for obvious reasons. . . they are authenticating a document they already sent you and have on file, right?)  Once the official at the other end, Anthony, and I ironed out which address they would mail the CA DOJ's Apostille letter to (I kept it simple and told them to use the address they already had on file, and not to complicate matters by using our new temporary mailing address) , the CA DOJ Apostille letter mailing was done (September 10th).  Received the Apostille letter on Friday, September 12th!  How's that for swift state government service, eh?  (smile)  Sweet!  Thank God for good government service, eh?

A couple of things to keep in mind with CA DOJ: they don't apparently have a live telephone number for citizens or other individuals to contact them.  A recorded automated system with multiple telephone numbers, yes. . . but not a live one from what I encountered so far.  The email that you send to CA DOJ has to state your request for the Apostille letter (authentication letter for non Hague Convention countries) with the same address they have on file.  So when you make that request at the Live Scan licensed  fingerprint roller vendor of your choice, you need to ensure the address is one where you will get your mail, or in the event of a move, like in our case due to escrow closing, where you have a forwarding address order on file with the United States Postal Service (USPS).  You don't want to miss getting this letter.  Without it and the negative/clear criminal background check report, it would be very difficult to obtain an indefinite residency in a foreign country like Ecuador. 

On the other hand, my lovely wife, who submitted her fingerprints on the Live Scan system with the same licensed fingerprint roller I used at the same time, has repeatedly been listed by the CA DOJ automated phone system as "in process."  That has continued to the present time, although since last Wednesday September 10th their automated system has not been working well. . . been getting busy signals or the line doesn't answer like previously.  So on that Wednesday I sent out an email to CA DOJ requesting an update on her submission.  Speedily answered once again Friday the 12th by the CA DOJ's Anthony, who stated he would be sending out - through USPS by inference - a form to resubmit the fingerprints for the criminal background check.  No extra cost for us, and we will be getting a code from him stating such.  So we're waiting on that to come for her. 

Another angle to this part of the process is what to do if or when the fingerprints just don't read via the Live Scan system, which is technologically quite excellent in obtaining fingerprints (it did mine, and I have historically been hard to get prints from).  My wife, who has spent her working years in nursing, has essentially no easily identifiable prints to obtain anymore.  Our Real Estate Broker/Agent happened to hear of our situation, and thought we should have our California State Senator's personal cellular telephone number to call should the situation present itself at an impasse.  Good move.  I already heard from Sen. Steve Knight in a return call Friday, but since I received the email from CA DOJ saying they will do a free redo of the prints, will hold off on that for now.  Good to know there's help out there for us, or at least that's how we perceive it. 

In other news. . .

On the birth certificate front, we have sent off for new birth certificates for ourselves due to the Ecuadorian Consulate in Beverly Hills not accepting our years old original documents.  These were done Friday, September 5th.  Mine will be done here within Los Angeles County by the LA County Registrar Recorder County Clerk's office in Norwalk within 20 working days, and hers will be done by Wayne County Clerk, Michigan.  We had to know whether or not she was born in the City of Detroit or in Wayne County outside of the City of Detroit.  Since we had a previous birth certificate for my wife on hand, we ascertained it was for a birth within the City of Detroit.  This is important to the Wayne County Clerk as their records are apparently divided up into these two groupings.  I discussed processing times with the Wayne County Clerk's office in a phone call, and the woman who responded said that if the documents came via UPS, the processing time in their office would be within 2 to 3 days.  !!!  I find that hard to believe, but given the state of affairs in Detroit these days, might as well go with this tidbit of potentially good news.  God only knows what would happen to such a request sent via USPS regular mail.  So we sent our request via UPS Ground for a reasonable $10 cost.  After not getting a delivery signature this past Thursday the 11th, and finding the office closed the 12th - !?! - today the 15th our UPS Ground parcel was delivered midday.  Great!  Now let's see if the Wayne County Clerk's office really delivers like they said.  I'm not holding my breath, though. . . (sigh)

UPDATE 9/22/2014:  Just got off the telephone with the Wayne County Clerk's office, and they checked their log of birth certificate requests received, and they state my wife's request was mailed back via USPS on Thursday the 18th.  We are eagerly expecting that document in the mail now.  If this proves true, really great service from them.

The Apostille letter to be obtained from the Secretary of State's office presumably in Lansing, MI will follow upon receiving the newly printed birth certificate.  We have to send off for it, of course. 

As you can see, with my Criminal Background Check and Apostille letter already in my hands safely here, and with my birth certificate request in process locally in county - the check for payment hasn't yet cleared, which likely means they haven't processed it yet - debiting my account via check would give an indication it is being processed - I am anticipating my documents on these matters to come out completed before my wife's, sad to say.  We sent our requests for them the same day, but what happens after that is many times out of our hands.  We have to remain patient despite the hurdles and obstacles that come our way, and remain steadfast in God's care and wisdom and beneficience.  He will provide. . . at the right time for us. 

We rightly decided that we will travel together to Ecuador, despite one of us having all their documents together before the other.  Wise move!  I would not have it any other way.  Never leave your partner!  We need to work together as we make the big move. 

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Yesterday, we shared a wonderful time with our longtime good friend Pastor Rob Brooks, his wife Becky and their four sons as we were with them in the worship of God together at the church he pastors in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles near UCLA, University Bible Church.  He has been doing a good bit of traveling to Myanmar in Southeast Asia on a missions trip and to his parents place in Virginia where he was raised - and was present to celebrate his brother's wedding there!  Having been to UBC several times before, we knew to come early, stay afterwards, and catch up on each other as time permitted. 

Rob was extremely gracious in recognizing us to the congregation as retirees ready to go and serve the Lord in whatever manner is best in our new home in Ecuador.  Becky told Carolyn Anne that we are missionaries. . . well, that's true, but we're not formally supported financially by any local church.  Rob led the congregation in prayer for us as he concluded the morning's worship service, giving a travel/missions update on his travels as it pertained to the Scripture passage found in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9.  Yes, the Corinthians were materially and financially well off, and could afford to assist fellow believers in other churches that were not as well off.  The church in the USA is analogous to the Corinthian church that way, as is the church in Myanmar - Burma - analogous to the church in Jerusalem.  It was gratifying to hear how so little money could make such a substantial difference in several different ways by willing donors to freely give what was so valuable to recipients in the work and the spread of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

We also were able to spend time at lunch together one last time, despite Rob being somewhat tired after all his travels and not seeing Becky too much of late.  We told Becky we wouldn't keep him too long. . . (smile) and we didn't.  Rob, like our other close and good friends in the larger ekklesia which is the universal church around the world, was thrilled that we are getting so close to starting our journey to Ecuador, a foreign - to us - country, and being willing to let the Lord use us in whatever way seems good.  He sees so many opportunities for believers to make a real difference by being overseas in missions that he basically came out and said these indigenous peoples many times were more hungry for the truth of the Gospel than North Americans are.  Ouch. . . and quite true, methinks.  So it's well worth our while to be where we are going to with the attitude we have towards Christ's Kingdom and Eternal things that matter.  

Rob officiated at our wedding, by the way.  He and I used to be rather informal years ago when he was locally pastoring here and we would meet together several times a week discussing and planning local evangelism outreaches, and got to be rather close.  I still miss those times, but this is a new season of life.  Retirement.  Some extra steps, hurdles,  setbacks, surprises, twists and turns, and in the end, reaching the finish line for all who "run the race" with all diligence who follow after Jesus Christ without reservation and without apology.  By his power, not our own, of course.  Rob - and Becky too, I found out this visit - enjoy my lengthly emails in detailed story form, and are thrilled to hear how God is at work in our lives.  Some very nice words spoken, too.  I'll leave it for the Lord to affirm them, though. . . (grin)  I will miss these folks quite a bit, but the Calling of Ecuador awaits us still.  And we shall go. 

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