Isaiah 43:1-3, 7, 10-13

But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior... Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.... “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?”
Isaiah 43:1-3, 7, 10-13

Monday, December 04, 2006

Our beautiful daughters

Here are some of the newest pictures we have! Enjoy!

An Angel named Nelson and Reverse Culture Shock

Probably the times I have felt most out of my element and the most intercultural stress are the times we have been trying to accomplish paperwork type tasks here in Bolivia. We got all our visa work, Bolivian identity cards, and drivers licenses done in time for Eliana's birth - at which time we had to start all over again - with her papers.

After 2 trips to get her Bolivian birth certificate, we made it down to the Identification Office to get her Bolivian ID card. We stood in line for half an hour (thinking we were lucky) and got to the front at which time they informed us they didn't have the new identity card numbers from La Paz. We'd have to come back later. A week later, we made it back. The line was 4x as long - we probably would've waited the whole day if Josh hadn't gone to the front, explained we had a month old baby, had already waited in line before, and they couldn't help us. A very nice policement let us through to the front of the line (there are times when it helps to be a foreigner, I think!).

We got inside the building and it was a zoo. No signs to tell you where to go, packed with people standing in lines going every which direction. At which point our angel called Nelson showed up. He appeared at our elbows, asked us what we were there to do and then took us step by step through the process. He is what they call here a "tramitador". Basically, his job is to wait in lines and get other people's paperwork done for them. We had plenty of time to chit chat as we waited in several different lines, filling out paperwork. As we were waiting, I took Eliana out of her sling to nurse her. I don't know how many people told me that she was going to catch a cold because she wasn't wearing a hat (now, let me say that in a room packed with 200 people, it was sweltering). At one point, I was sitting next to a lady who kept taking a corner of the sling to cover her head up! (I think I'm going to go crazy if someone else tells me how to dress my baby!) Anyway, at the end of the whole process, we asked Nelson what he was going to charge (thinking that he would probably over charge us, but ready to pay whatever price he asked because we were so grateful!) He wouldn't take a penny (or should I say Boliviano).

The next step was to start her American paperwork. We went to the Amercian consultate - and what a difference. No lines, immediate attention. The consular agent gave us the forms we needed and even signed them so we wouldn't have to bring Eliana back the next day. We went home and filled out the forms and took them back the next day - at which point we ran into the first problem. The passport photos were the wrong size. And we didn't have enough copies of our passports, Eliana's birth certificate, or our marriage license. And he didn't have change for our dollars (we brought $150 dollars - the cost was $147 for passport, birth abroad certificate, and social security card). So down we went to find change and to make copies (Josh went 5 different places before he could find change), and make new passport photos. The next day, I went back, thinking I would only have to drop off the new pictures and the photo copies. Wrong again! This time, the consular's secretary handled our forms. She began to look through them and point out all the mistakes I had made (half of which there were no directions for on the forms), and oh, by the way, I had to fill out a change of name affidavit, because here in Bolivia, they use the mother's maiden name as the last name, and since Eliana was born here, her birth certificate read Eliana Joy Marcum Stephens. If we wanted just Marcum on her American paperwork, we had to request a change of name. She told me I had to take the forms, go buy white out, and bring them back corrected before 12 o'clock, because, by the way, the consular was leaving on vacation and wouldn't be back until Jan., so if we didn't bring them back today, we'd have to wait till then! I was about ready to loose it! I thought this was the US, civilization - this was supposed to be easy! Talk about reverse culture shock (well, a form of it at least)! So down I went to buy white out. I tried to get on the elevator twice and both times I missed it because I had my hands full of papers, a baby bag, and a baby. Then Josh called my on my cell phone. Boy, did he get an earfull. I think he thought I was having a nervous breakdown. I successfully bought my white out and sat down to fill out the forms, at which time I realized our passports (which I needed) were at home. Josh, my wonderful husband, ran home to get them, while I completed the forms. Up we went again, where we waited for the secretary to double check everything and get everything signed.

But - thanks be to Him who gives us strength through all these frustrations - we finally accomplished our tasks. Our daughter is now a legal Bolivian and American citizen.