At the time of our arrival back here to Southern California in May, this house held all our earthly possessions. Overstuffed to the point we did not know all the time where certain items were. . . not a good sign.
We have majorly reformed in this regard. We are agreeing with Jesus in a very tangible and practical way with what he taught about covetousness: ". . . life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Luke 12:15, ESV) This is more growth on my lovely wife's part than on mine. . . she had to over and over say, "do I need it or do I want it?" (And. . . "Can it be repurchased in Cuenca after we get there?") She learned through this hard path of winnowing out what you really need to keep for the Journey ahead - and regarding the excess as dross - some very practical spiritual truth. Since we can't take it with us when we die, we might as well get rid of it now while we can decide who gets it! That part of the disposing of possessions has been the better part of it for her I think. Me? I've been getting rid of things too. Many things I would have liked to share with those of the younger generation in terms of my books, papers and such. No one has asked to see them, much less read them. . . out they went. Of course the furniture being donated has been the dagger in the whole thing. Now this house is virtually bare, and ready for the new owner. It still takes my breath away. But we're doing it to be free to serve our Lord in Ecuador and be able to travel there.
Organized, knowing where things are. . . excellent position to be in. I found our wedding photos and DVD for example, not knowing for years - for years - where exactly they were. I had faith they were squirreled away somewhere here. . . and they were! No more of that. From now on, we know where things are wherever we live at. . . and we will never again overstuff our residence like this place had been.
I am so very proud of my bride in getting to this point where our possessions are barely covering the floor of our temporary storage unit. . . with lots of room to spare. We will decide in the coming days what things to donate that my very understanding, supportive cousin Pam will not take as long term storage at her and her husband's residence - she has limited space and can't possibly store everything - and what isn't donated, or left in long term storage with my cousin gets to make the cut and get into baggage to fly with us.
Besides figuring out what gets to be taken with us on our journey - and what gets to be kept in storage - the next big chapter is finalizing our documents for travel to Ecuador, where they will be used to obtain our Cedulas, or indefinite stay Visas. We're getting closer in getting all of this done. Still waiting for Carolyn Anne's apostille of her birth certificate from Michigan, and getting my birth certificate apostilled at the California Secretary of State's regional office in Downtown LA. These should be straightforward. Will check on her apostille request Friday.
While at the CA Secretary of State's office, I believe it would be prudent to see about apostilling the Criminal Background Check documents from CA Department of Justice. It doesn't make total sense to have the same department that issued the letter stating you have no criminal record to also provide a signed and (raised) seal letter affirming that fact. Like the fox guarding the henhouse. Instead, get the CA Secretary of State's office to apostille them. . . a hopefully impartial third party that does this for other state documents. I'll bring them and ask them if they will do this as well. I don't know if they do the apostilling of these documents the same day you walk in to the office - they do offer walk in service - or if you have to get them mailed to you and waiting for them to process your requests. I'll find out either later on this week or sometime next week.
Also waiting on the US State Department to apostille our Social Security pension letters (proof of income). I see via UPS Tracking this afternoon that the documents are in transit again with UPS, and should be arriving in two days via UPS air.
The grand finale, of course, is bringing the birth certificate documents and the Social Security pension letters - all with apostilles, of course - to the General Consul of Ecuador's office in Beverly Hills. Do I also present them with the Criminal Background Check documents as well? Dunno. Wisdom from you, Lord on how to proceed. So many details. Hopefully this next visit will produce the legalization documents we need to present to the Ministry of Immigration in Cuenca. Praying.
The next big step is . . . flying. Sounds simple, but there's a lot to do even at this step. Get our dog his papers for his "Pet Visa" for flying to Ecuador, which will require a visit to the local vet here, papers to the USDA in El Segundo near LAX to be finalized and filled out, and the presentation of the USDA form 7001 to the Ecuadorian Consulate, which hopefully (without complications or denials) will produce the document some call a "Pet Visa" for our "Beverly Hills" Chihuahua to fly with us to Ecuador. This document will start a time clock of 21 days to enter Ecuador. . . if you don't arrive in Ecuador in those 21 days, the "Pet Visa" will become invalid.
Then. . . notify our landlady we are coming. To do that we need our travel dates from the airline.
Order tickets (of course), but get reservations in Quito for a place that will accept a pet, and help in transporting from the airport to the lodging, and from the lodging to either the airport to fly to Cuenca, or get a van and driver to drive us to Cuenca (maximum of $250 this way, according to one source on the 'Net).
This means we will need to do our last visits, say our last goodbyes to friends and family members during this time, if not before. Get mail forwarding set up for our international move, have doctor's office records given out (my cardiologist provides them on the Internet for free, available anywhere in the world with available Internet service. . . a moneysaving bonus!), and get our annuity set up. Sell our cars, get a rental car, get monies for travel. . . and we're off!
Three great chapters, one epic novel. . . and one God who is over all. We are continuing to depend on him for what we need. It's interesting to have conversations with people here on what we are doing. In this North American culture, so many are about the accumulating of stuff. Us? We're so beyond that. It's very countercultural, and gives a great witness to what the Lord is doing in our lives as we continue down this road of getting out of here and moving to Cuenca.
"See" you next time via laptop.