Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Another Year on the Books

The 2014-2015 school year has come to a close. It has been a good year - because God ordained us to be here, to be engaged, to be faithful - but that does not mean it has been easy.
CISP Student Body - 2014-2015
These are the students we have served as teachers & chaplains, as mentors & monitors. They represent 17 different nationalities, and at least 5 different spiritual backgrounds. More than 15 of them will not return next fall.

Please continue to pray for these students over the summer. Though they may not be in our classes or small groups next year, they will forever be in our hearts & prayers. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

We have a VISA!!!

Wonder of wonders, Miracle of Miracles!!! Our little girl has her VISA!

Christiana went with our agent today to apply for a temporary permit which would allow us to travel to the United States over Christmas. Instead, when they approached the desk, the agent told them Susanna Jane's application had finally been APPROVED!
Phil thinks it's because Susanna Jane was there in person - who can refuse a visa to this cute face?

Christiana was able to finalize all of the details & complete the formalities for Susanna Jane's residency card. We can't pick it up until January, but PRAISE GOD for granting us this very important document.

Thank you for all of your prayers for us over these many months!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Susanna Jane turns ONE!

Hard to believe that this "Baby B" is a year old today! We love you, Susanna Jane - it's a joy to have you in our lives. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

No News is...Aggravating.

We're still waiting for news on Susanna Jane's long-term visa. The same one we started applying for last January.

About a month ago, Christiana met with our visa agent to give him the latest round of documents, including new letters from our insurance company and a lease with Susanna Jane's name on it. However, when Christiana handed that particular document over to our agent, she was told it was merely an amendment to our original lease. She would have to return home with Susanna, locate the original lease, and bring it back to our agent the same day if we were to meet the deadline we'd been given.  Why? Because all of the previous copies of our original lease had "expired".

True story - documents have expiration dates. If we were to go a certain number of days past the date stamped by the notary, we have to start again. It's the same lease, the exact same information, with the same original date of occupancy. The only difference is it has a fresh new stamp on it. 

More documents = more trips to the notary = more MONEY to be paid! 

People have insinuated that our visa agent is to blame - he isn't. He's merely the messenger, so don't shoot him. (As a matter of fact, he doesn't get paid until our daughter gets the visa so he's every bit as anxious to see this completed! The extra fees go to the document center & the notary.) Unfortunately, we've gotten caught in a corrupt loop somewhere in the office of the foreign police. Someone is sitting on our daughter's case file, probably expecting a bribe. 

Our baby girl turns ONE next week - we'd love to give her a VISA for her birthday! Will you continue to pray with us to see that this matter is finally resolved?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

That Lump in My Throat is Gratitude

We didn't go "home" this summer, since our daughter lacks a valid VISA allowing her to come & go. I've missed the opportunities to see family & friends, but I've also been thankful for the opportunity to remain in Prague because it's meant we could stay in one place and not have to travel so much.

A major drawback to staying overseas for a summer means that we don't get to connect with our supporting churches & sponsors. It means that there are no large one-time donations, no "love offerings" taken after we speak. It means that our support can start to dwindle.

Sometimes I wonder if some of our sponsors have forgotten about us. I know it's not intentional - I really think it's more of an "out of sight, out of mind" type of thing. Goodness knows we all have tremendous demands on our attention. Some of it is perhaps our fault too, because we've had a terrible time keeping up with this blog, and with our newsletters. (Speaking of demands on attention, have you ever tried to blog with an 8-month-old on your lap?)

When I logged in to our mission account register last month, my heart sank, because we were $1000 short of our monthly goal. I found myself thinking that if we'd been stateside, if we'd made the appearances, if I'd been more faithful with newsletters, we wouldn't have fallen short. I told myself I'd get a newsletter out the very next week, but then we started Czech class...and had friends come to visit...and I had four applications to process...

Another few weeks went by, and I'd failed to let anyone hear from us. I hadn't communicated our financial needs. I logged in mid-month, and I was crushed. We were now over $2500 behind. Again, I vowed to get a newsletter out immediately. And then we needed to say farewell to some very dear colleagues...and we had a meeting with the school director...and we had three doctors' appointments...and we had another meeting with our VISA agent...

I really didn't want to check in at the end of the month, knowing that my lack of communication was going to be reflected in our account balance. However, when I opened our ledger this month, I was astounded to see that we were only $483 short of our month's goal. There were some large, one-time gifts that had been sent in.

Once again, God has shown me that His care for us is not dependent on my striving, my shortcoming, or even my best intentions. I'm so very, very thankful. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Denied AGAIN

Phil met our agent yesterday afternoon, for another trip to the foreign police in the ongoing quest for Susanna Jane's VISA. It was a short trip - her paperwork was denied, AGAIN.

We've been giving several possible explanations as to why her application didn't go through this time, the biggest one being that her name isn't on our lease. Yes, you did read that correctly.

I hardly have the words to describe how I'm feeling at this point. We've spent nearly 7 months in this process, we've produced countless documents (at significant cost!) for new applications, and we're back at square one.

Prayers are appreciated.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Nerozumím česky

We're in the middle of an intensive Czech class - a *very* intensive Czech class. We've had four classes so far, and I'm told we've covered at least half a semester's worth of material. I don't doubt it. I feel as though we're moving at the speed of light.

This has been a frustrating week for me, I think primarily because I'm the only person in the class who hasn't studied some Czech prior to enrolling. (Phil attended classes at CISP last fall; two of the other girls in the class have already done most of the workbook pages we've been assigned.) I'm also discouraged because I don't have the time to give it my undivided attention like I did when I studied Russian. I'd love to spend three solid hours on my homework, but I have a very busy 8-month-old (who's still nursing,) and a job with RCE.

Some have assumed I'd have an easier time with Czech because I already spoke Russian. I've been told that Czech & Russian have a 60% crossover, but I'm seriously starting to doubt this. For every word that I recognize that actually means the same thing in Czech as it did in Russian, there have to be at least 5 more that sound the same, but mean exactly the opposite. While the grammar structure is fairly similar, the verb endings are throwing me for a loop.

I'm not wanting to sound disgruntled - I'm thankful to finally have the opportunity to study! I do want to give everyone fair warning that I'm not going to come home speaking in full paragraphs. Grace is appreciated.