Well, we're in our final month in Trinidad before we leave for the Latin Link conference in Santa Cruz. It is unbelievable how fast time has flown by and it is also a bit scary to think of all that's going to have to come together before we leave. The good thing is that we are accomplishing things bit by bit and I (Amanda) have full confidence that before we leave Trinidad our heads should still be attached to our shoulders and not lost somewhere. Hopefully, as we drive away from our house on the 29th of December, we will have remember to bring all the important things, like Sam.
Sam's visa for the UK is still pending, so we continue to appreciate prayers for it. This coming Tuesday will be 14 days on from the initial interview, and they said the wait time is 15 days. I actually got a scary call from the embassy in Bogota this week. I answered the call and, after taking a couple of minutes to confirm that we could hear each other and that we could have this conversation in English, the woman asked me to confirm that Craig was a UK citizen, which I did. And then she asked me to confirm that Sam was Craig's son, which I did. And then she said, "Well then, we are unable to issue a visa!" To which my heart tried to jump out of my chest and the inner, angry Amanda tried to break forth. I explained that we had looked into all of this when we were last in the UK and we were assured that Sam does indeed need a visa and she said, "That information is incorrect." She said our two options were to apply for a UK passport or to apply for a certificate of something. I don't know what certificate, because I cut her off (inner, angry Amanda was starting to win, sadly) and started to explain how that can't possibly be correct, because the adoption is a national adoption, not international, and therefore not recognised by the UK. Sam only qualifies for citizenship if we decide to return to the UK to live.
The lady was quiet for a while and then said, "He's adopted?" Inner, angry Amanda was really pushing hard now and commented, "Of course he is adopted, which is why you have all the adoption documents in front of you, in both Spanish and English, having been legally translated (which was not cheap) as requested." Well, inner, angry Amanda calmed downed when she went looking for those documents and said that she couldn't see them, and it seems that the visa agency in La Paz had not sent them on. She apologised, said she would go chase those documents down and that we are indeed correct in Sam needing a visa as an adopted child. Inner, angry Amanda didn't bother getting frustrated at the agency in La Paz; 1) it's Bolivia, so no one is really surprised, and 2) the nice lady there gave Sam a lollipop, so how can you get mad at someone nice like that? We totally threw the lollipop out as we left as Sam is way too young for sweets like that, but it's the thought that counts.
So, crisis averted and we're just waiting for them to hopefully go through the whole package once it's scanned in properly and sent to Bogotá. Craig commented that he was very glad that they randomly picked my phone number instead of his as he probably wouldn't have argued with the lady, accepted what she said, hung up the phone and then had a complete meltdown. I totally learnt how to be forceful but still polite as I watched my Mom insist that all her coupons were still valid when used all at once because the terms didn't specifically state that it was one per customer. I'm pretty sure all coupons say that now because of my Mom and Aunts.
The Foundation has finally found Mariana 2.0. Well, actually it's not Mariana 2.0, but Mariana 2.0 version 1 and version 2. Yes, we have had to hire two people to do what Mariana, our Director of Finances, has done for the last six years. This is going to cause a financial burden on the Foundation that we were not necessarily expecting, but the Board essentially decided that there was no way that FT could function with only one person to replace Mariana, especially with Craig and I about to go on furlough. Both people seem very capable and the Board was quite impressed with them during their interviews, especially their desire to work with an organisation based in service. The man we're hiring as Administrator was actually the only person who looked the Foundation up before his interview and was able to tell us everything that we were involved in, which was impressive. And the accountant we hired wrote a very convincing covering letter, one of two covering letters we received across all the applicants. As I mentioned before, I found the process of accepting and rejecting applicants very stressful, and I took the coward's way out and asked our Secretary to call everyone who was not successful and inform them as such. Although I knew I was doing it from a distaste of that particular job, I also justified it by stating that our Secretary is just so good at jobs like that; it was probably better for everyone. Both new employees are going to be trained through the month of December and be put on payroll in January. Please pray that they adjust to the Foundation and that all employees adjust to them as well.
Monday is the start of this year's Major Ear Surgical Campaign. I try to stay as far away from this campaign administratively as possible. I find too many fingers in the pie is quite destructive in an endeavour like the surgical campaign, but I obviously stay as informed as possible. We have fewer patients than we would like for the campaign, but I kind of think that's because we've operated on everyone in Trinidad with major ear conditions. We need to go further afield for more patients for next year, but for this year I think we'll end up with 15 overall. Dr. Wagner from the States arrives tomorrow and leaves on Friday and the Foundation will be absorbed by this for the next week. It's always fun to have so many surgeons arrive at the Foundation. My sister is going to be is studying to become a surgeon, so I know what I'm talking about..we never fought ever, she's the most placid person I know (major eye roll). In all seriousness, we're very grateful for the services that these surgeons bring and we pray that the campaign will be a physical and spiritual blessing to many people.
We're at the end of the school year here and all the major services and ministries are having their year-end closing ceremonies. Sports had their clausura last weekend, the community class's was this past Wednesday and Juguemos Juntos (the Mom and Tots group) had theirs yesterday. Sam and I attend this group, so the Moms played competitive games like dodge ball and steal the bacon, where I might have accidentally slapped a fellow Mom in my enthusiasm. I totally won the egg-and-spoon-race-while-balancing-a-child-on-your-hip; Sam ate most of my prize. And today is OANSA's (children's programme) end of the year fair. Although, we're not specifically involved in OANSA, we're going to go along and watch all the kids play at the fairground stations; it's something that Sam will love. Every time he gets excited about being around other kids I look around to see if children really do grow in the garden, because this child desperately needs a sibling. Sadly, it's not as easy as that.
- For the new employees, Hernán and Vladimir (my first thought still strays to vampires when I read his name on paper), as they start in FT this month.
- For all the end-of-year closing ceremonies.
- For the surgical campaign this coming week.
- For Sam's visa.
- For preparations before we leave Trinidad.
- Craig's is speaking both at the youth group tonight and at the OANSA prize-giving tomorrow morning.
- For God's protection over FT .
- For a sense of progress and productivity as time moves along.
- For Craig's English classes finishing well this past week.
- For our visit from Brigitte from Latin Link this past week. She's the short-term coordinator, based in Cochabamba, and came out to see the volunteer opportunities that FT and El Jireh church have to offer possible short-termers who come out with the Stride programme that Latin Link offer. We had a really good time with her.
Craig, Amanda & Sam