Wednesday, March 18, 2009

2 Things

Thing 1: Jeff is currently taking our paperwork to Juan Edgar's office (our lawyer) to be translated and hopefully turned in and accepted by our "friends" at the migration office. Pray that they will accept it and not say we didn't get it in on time or something!!! I have no idea how long it will take (assuming they DO accept everything) to get our cedulas (the ID card, equivalent of SS card), but I'm hoping for soon--maybe next week??? Might be too much to ask. But when we get those, we'll be residents, with full legal privileges, etc. Aka, we'll be able to get a phone in our own name and other exciting things like that!! :)

Thing 2: We have a new address! It's a Costa Rican PO Box to which you can send letters, care packages, etc. (hint hint) Actually, it's not cheap to send packages, and anything sent is subject to import taxes if the officials feel like tagging those on--it's a gamble, so please don't include anything of much monetary value if you send something. With that said, it is a fairly secure way to send us stuff, and we have APPRECIATED all the packages we have received and have not been charged anything as of yet! I will maybe try to post more specific guidelines later. Here's the address:

Jeff, Tracey, Olivia or Sawyer Dixon
Apartado 946-2400
Desamparados, Costa Rica
América Central

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Residency Update Part 2

Well as far as we know the Tulare County system is still down. Thankfully we were able to find a way around it thanks to Hector and Dave's help. So now we have through step #4 (see previous post) complete. The plan is for it to be authenticated by the consulate and sent to us Monday morning. Please pray that everything goes smoothly and quickly from here. The clock is ticking!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Residency Update...Please Pray

We were awakened early last Friday morning by a phone call from our lawyer. Immigration had requested a letter verifying that our income will be "stable and permanent." We had 10 business days to deliver the letter. After exchanging emails with our lawyer on Friday we had the letter drafted and it looked like the process would be fairly smooth. Here is what we need to accomplish.
1. The letter is signed by Dave, the SI president.
2. The letter is notarized as he signs it.
3. The notary is authenticated by Tulare County in CA.
4. Tulare County's authentication is authenticated by the CA Secretary of State.
5. The CA Secretary of State's authenticaion is authenticated by the Costa Rican Consulate in Los Angeles
6. The letter is overnighted to us here in Costa Rica.
7. The letter is translated into Spanish
8. The letter is turned into the immigration office.

Steps 1 and 2 were done late Monday afternoon (our internet went out at home, so we were a bit delayed in sending it). However the "system" has been down in Tulare County the last couple of days, so we have been stuck. Our good friend and co-worker, Hector, has graciously offered to run the letter around to the carious offices in CA that it needs to visit.

Please pray the the "system" would be up in Tulare County and that the rest of the authentications would be quick and smooth. Pray that the letter then arrives safely and quickly and we are able to turn it in on-time. Finally pray that immigration approves the letter and grants us residency.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Guatemala Women's Outreach

I'm a little behind, but here goes! Last week, I had the privilege of participating in the first-ever-SI-women's-outreach in Guatemala. All of our female SI Costa Rica staff went as well. It was a fun time of fellowship and serving together. It was great to see some familiar Visalia faces, too!! Though refreshing in many ways, I admit I was exhausted by the end!! Mentally, emotionally, physically, etc.!

On this outreach, I was privileged to work with the medical team in the town of El Gorrión. It's a small community that was built by government sponsorship after some hurricanes about a decade ago. Basically the government relocated these families and gave them bricks and a plot to build a small house on. There is no running water, or sewer, though there is electricity. SI has been working on some cistern and water-filtering projects up there for a few years, as well as other things like pouring cement floors and making fuel-efficient stoves. There is also a small public school in El Gorrión where one staff member works.

Anyway, aside from hosting a medical clinic one day (which was held in the home of an El Gorrión family, and was a huge success!), the medical team's task for this outreach was to help SI with a community survey. The questions ranged from demographic info, family health issues, and opinions on a new community center for which SI has purchased land. The whole experience was so interesting! I, having no medical background except for a mother who is a nurse, served as a translator. In many ways, it reminded me of my home visits with FIRST 5, minus the educational part. We were invited into homes and got to know a hint of people's lives. One of the new Guatemala staff, Maurine, was in our group, and my prayer for her is that she (and her husband, Nick) would be able to build relationships with people in El Gorrión because of the time we spent in their homes. And also that the information gathered from these 50+ surveys would be useful to SI and the community leaders who are working together to improve the situation there. Aside from the need for water, etc., people shared many wonderful ideas for a community center like literacy programs for adults (to assist in jobs/applications), vocational training programs for youth, and a clinic. Pray that God's purposes would be met and that lives would be transformed because of Christ!

In the big picture it looks so exciting--and I know it IS. Where I get bogged down is in the dirty details of reality. For example: we visited a family that has 3 children. Mother is super sweet, but Dad is an (abusive) alcoholic. She is the victim of her gender, culture, and socio-economic situation--my heart aches for her. Of the 3 children, 2 (boys) have muscular dystrophy. The youngest child, a girl, goes to school, but the boys do not. They recently had surgery on their legs and were in casts, sitting on beds when we visited. (Apparently Dad was abstaining from alcohol during the recovery so that he could be helpful to Mom--to his detriment; his liver was severely swollen.) Anyway, the boys are basically prisoners to the 4 cinder-block walls day in and out. SI has worked with this family in the past (they helped put in a cement floor so the boys weren't crawling around in the dirt, and arranged for the surgeries), and will now be working to get the boys to school, maybe some therapy, etc. It's wonderful and discouraging to me all at the same time. I can see the potential for change and victory, and it gives me hope. But I've also seen enough to know that change happens s-l-o-w-l-y and only when people want it. You can lead a horse to water. . .and Jesus does not force his way in to our lives. It was this way with FIRST 5 for me, too. In the big picture, I could see the effects of all the work we were doing; but in the individual families, victories seemed infrequent and sometimes insignificant. Why does God choose to work through the process of our lives (myself included)? Why does he let us fail soooo many times? Why is God patient enough for all of this and I am not????! Why do I demand to see results when the results are not my responsibility? And where is my faith--believing in what I cannot see--that God will restore all the wrongs? That God is the God of hopeless situations?

I think of these things in light of starting SI Costa Rica, too. We have seen God's hand move in so many ways that we cannot deny that this whole thing belongs to Him. The big picture is very exciting, and we know, we believe, that God will do great things. . .but he will do them as he sees fit, not necessarily how I do. And it's not about me, either. It's about Christ being glorified. He will transform lives so that He receives glory--so that the world can see his amazing redemption and awesome love. So easy to remember in this moment. . .

Anyway, Guatemala was a good time. There's lots more I could say, but I think I'll leave it there! Oh, and I'll post a link to some pictures later, too.