Monday, July 20, 2015

Running the Race with Endurance. . . and, Announcing "Plan B!"

Once again, an update on our permanent pensionado Visa process: I went to our abogado/law firm here in Cuenca, Coloaustro, Tuesday the 14th to inquire of Jonathan, our bilingual assistant attorney, as to the status of our long awaited permanent Visas.  They see how we have been patiently waiting, and not becoming emotional and visibly upset about the delay. . . it pays to keep a cool head here in the calm (at least on the surface) Ecuadorian culture.  Our bilingual receptionist, Merci, flatly stated the process, especially being performed at Ministario de Relaciones Exteriores y Movilidad Humana's Quito office, should have only taken a month.  She had a dismayed look on her face. . . even she knows we have been patient and that Ministario is dragging their feet. 

I asked for a consultation with Jonathan, and she obliged.  Jonathan too was dismayed at the situation.  He has been in contact - as I have - with our Visa Facilitator, Joseph Guznay in Quito, and Jonathan has been made aware among other things that the Ministario woman official who has our file has been out of the office quite a bit lately.  That doesn't help us, but even so, both of us knew there is no valid reason for the delay.  "I'll put some more pressure on her from here," Jonathan told me.  "Not any kind that would create further problems!" I shot back.  The *last* thing I want to do is to create ill will or even more problems in getting our Visas granted to us and in our hands. 

Needless to say, please pray.  I heard from one of our church friends at Iglesia Verbo Cristiana here in Cuenca that one such Visa case took *ten* months!  Ouch!  Lessee. . . We began our consultations with our abogados/law firm in February.  That might indicate a granting of the Visas in. . . December.  That leads me to our next topic.

I discussed with Jonathan what we realistically can plan to do given that we plan to be visiting friends and family in the United States beginning mid August.  Our 180 day Resident Visa Extensions expire on September 1, during the time we will be Stateside.  How do we get back into Ecuador, nuestro hogar?  To our condo in Cuenca and our little dog, too?  The answer: a T-3 Tourist Visa, which is a stamp received in one's US Passport.  We've done that before, twice already.  The catch here this time is that we will be required - due to Ecuadorian Immigration laws - to stay out of Ecuador for 90 days.  OK, a furlough of sorts.  We can return. . . but we will need to be patient in doing so.  Maybe in the intervening time we could hear from Jonathan and Coloaustro that the Visas are ready to be received. . . come on home to Ecuador!  One step at a time, though.  

So, with this confirmation, which I have seen discussed elsewhere on Facebook Ecuador expat group pages, btw (one fellow who does the Visa paperwork for a living on behalf of fellow expats confirmed the 90 day out of Ecuador rule in a reply to another person in our same situation. . . now I don't feel so bad about it) we now know what to expect.  We may now reasonably expect to act on alternate plans during our trip Stateside.  Call it Plan B.  

Plan B is an enhancement and extension of what we had planned previously.  It also incorporates some added activities and travel we had anticipated would occur during the following flight back to the USA.  We will need to be economical in doing it, though. . . we sold our house and cars, and will need to rely on some more available economical alternatives to keep costs - over and above our normal living expenses - in line with what is appropriate for us. 

Carolyn Anne and I have discussed at some length a set of lists we have saved to our desktop computer here.  Lists include What to Bring, What to do/Who to see, and What to Bring Back(!).  On who to see, after we attend my 40th High School Reunion in Oceanside, California, we will prep ourselves for a trip to Carolyn Anne's many friends and surviving family in Michigan, before colder temperatures settle in there in snow country.  Instead of flying to Michigan and renting a car, we will drive there - we have the available time - and buy a (hopefully) well maintained quality used car that gets great gas mileage, especially given the extremely high California gas prices this Summer.  A Toyota Prius fits the bill nicely, to name one example, and we can purchase a good used one for ~$6,000 to $10,000 easily in SoCal.  Ditch the rental car and off we go!  45 mpg sounds fantastic!

It's likely we take several days to get to Michigan. . . taking each day as it comes and being flexible where we stay, etc.  That way, we won't be unrealistic or overtired (more of a Carolyn Anne concern than one of mine - I travel well, especially once I am in a driving mode).  Several days back. . . leaving around three weeks free in Michigan to do visiting.  We'll start in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan first, and work our way southward to Detroit.  I haven't seen this part of the United States in decades and Michigan not at all, so it will look new to me.  Another exploration and time for adventure!

Once back in California, we anticipate more visiting, and time to visit Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Orange County (El Toro area) where the headquarters of Celebrate Recovery is at, as Saddleback started it some years ago.  It's now an international ministry in many parts of the world, including our Ecuador, and we want to spend time with the leaders and get appropriate materials, etc. especially if any are available in Spanish to use here in Cuenca.  It would be useful to be of assistance and support to our local Celebrando la Recuperacion group at Iglesia Verbo Cristiana in Cuenca, and the pastors and leaders in Verbo know our heart in this matter. 

There's also time to actually take time for a Men's Retreat at Hume Lake with our Grace Chapel folks in Lancaster, too, as the calendar - and a timely email from a pastor - points out.  Neat bonus, as I hope to visit Howard Scholl, who served as a missionary to a Christian retreat center in the Quito area and does a lot of the same outdoor ministry activities at Hume.  Howard is a good sounding board, and as I related here before months ago, gave us wise advice on how to approach living in Ecuador in terms of the use of Spanish language and its acquisition.  In short, you *will* need to speak Spanish while living there, on at least a conversational level.  So true!  Tanto verdad en las palabras de mi hermano en Cristo. 

Visiting more friends and relatives, Grace Chapel in Lancaster, California friends, and. . . shopping for supplies to bring back to Cuenca (avoiding import taxes when you bring them yourself vs. having them shipped to you). . . and that just about completes the list of things we want to do.  Sell the used car before we fly out, hopefully for around the same amount that we paid for it, and we're off again to Ecuador!  God willing in all of this, of course.

By then, hopefully we'll have those permanent Visas in hand or will have them shortly after our arrival to Cuenca.  So. . . we'll execute Plan B.  Time well spent for Eternal things while waiting on this present Earth for a temporal one.  A good trade, eh?  (smile)

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