Monday, April 29, 2013

One Step Forward, Three Steps Back...

Just when we think we're ready to submit our applications for long-term visas in the Czech Republic, we hit another speed bump.

First, we hit roadblock after roadblock in trying to obtain our background checks from Russia. When those finally arrived, we realized we had to get them translated. Additional delay of 7 days.

We needed four very important documents from the school in Prague, verifying our purpose of stay and our residency. When the envelope was delivered, we discovered we'd been sent another couple's papers. The other couple  had ours. We contacted each other & arranged a trade. Additional delay of 5 days.

Once we had the correct papers in our names, we were informed they had not been completed. The school had inadvertently omitted two key dates of some sort. The papers must be redone, and resent. Additional delays unknown.

Today we received an envelope from the Florida Secretary of State. We assumed it contained the much-awaited apostille on our marriage license. Nope. Even though we had called (TWICE) to verify the procedure, the office refused to apostille the papers because we were not married in the state of Florida. (Any WHY did it take them two full weeks to return our documents with this news???)
We must contact the Secretary of State of North Carolina. Additional delays of up to two weeks for the apostille, with a potential 7 additional days for translation.

We know we've been called to serve at CISP. We see God providing blessing after blessing, and we continue to receive confirmations that we are to arrive in Prague by August 15, the date the school requested us to be there. Please continue to pray with us as we press forward with our visa applications!

Friday, April 19, 2013

We Have Background Checks!

Our Russian background checks have finally arrived!! We received four pieces of paper - two in Russian, two in English - stating that the Russian Ministry of the Interior has no criminal record on either of us. (We weren't expecting they would, but it's nice to have it in writing.)

Now we have to send these documents to be translated into Czech. We would love it if it could be done overnight, but in all probability it could take a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, we're still waiting on several other documents which must be submitted along with our visa application. They are all in various stages (and locations) of completion.

We are so thankful to everyone who's been praying with us through this process. Please continue to stand with us as we track down the remaining paperwork!

Monday, April 15, 2013

On the Up Side

Today is April 15th. Everyone refers to it as "tax day", but for us, it was the target date to have all of our documents & visa applications on their way to the Czech embassy.

-We still haven't received our background checks from Russia.

-We don't have the apostilled copy of our marriage license.

-The letters from the bank don't have the words "ATM" or "wire transfer" anywhere in the documentation, so we must have them redone.

Obviously, we won't be putting our applications in the mail today. It's disappointing, but it doesn't deter us from pushing forward in our efforts to return to the field.

On the up side, our support is slowly but steadily increasing. We're blessed by every pledge, every donation. At last tally, we're now at 43%.

Only 57% still to go.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Deal with the Documents

Most of you probably know that we've spent a good portion of the last 6 weeks trying to chase down some background checks from Russia. Many of you have no idea why we need them, but you've been praying for this process anyway, and we really appreciate that.

The good news is that we're one step closer to getting the documents we need from Russia! The bad news is that we've got about 15 more steps to go before we can even APPLY for our Czech visas. Please don't stop praying for us as we work through this process.

While we're used to dealing with foreign visas, registrations, permits, etc., we've never encountered anything quite like this, and it's going to take a bit more time and a great deal more money than what we anticipated. Since we will be in Prague for longer than 6 months, we're required to complete a longer, more detailed visa application. When we submit these applications with our passports, we must also produce:

  • Background checks from every country in which we've lived for more than 6 months within the last three years (hence the Russian document dilemma) 
  • Apostilled copies of our marriage license 
  • A notarized letter from our bank, stating that we will be able to access our funds via ATM or wire transfer while living in Prague
  • A recent bank statement, showing a minimum balance of $3,500 (This requires some creative budgeting & banking...)
  • A copy of a major credit card accepted in the EU (numbers may be blacked out) proving that we have a line of credit
  • A letter from our employer (RCE, in this case) stating that we have a legitimate purpose to serve in the Czech Republic
  • Letters from the school in Prague, verifying that we have been asked to come and serve for the next term
  • A rental agreement from a landlord in Prague, proving that we have a place to live

The fun doesn't end there. :) Any document that is not originally in Czech must be sent to a translator. Each translation must then be notarized. (The low estimate for these steps is $45 per page.)

We had hoped to be able to submit all of our paperwork to the Czech Embassy by the 15th of April (because Czech visas can take up to 4 months to process, and we need to be in Prague by the 15th of August.) As of today, we have ZERO documents completed and ready to send. They are all in various stages of readiness.

If you're looking at all of this, shaking your head and asking yourself, "Why do they bother?", well, we feel called to serve at the Christian International School of Prague. We believe this is the direction in which God is leading us to go. No one every said it would be easy. This is just a part of "counting the cost" and preparing to go.