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Baby G’s passport has arrived! Now what?

March 16, 2015

One thing being cemented in my mind during the paperwork required to get overseas is that a U.S. passport is extremely valuable.

One application of this during our paperwork is that not much other paperwork can be completed until Baby G has a passport and the included passport number. The photo shoot for his passport picture was pretty fun:

getting the white background ready

getting the background ready

It’s easy to make a qualifying headshot into a passport picture. I did it for free online and then just paid 10 cents for a standard 4×6 print. Many stores would have been happy to sell me a passport picture for about $15, but that would have required me getting the kids to the store.

several headshots

it took several tries

The hard part is getting a qualifying headshot. Even with a good camera and solid white background, it took a lot of shots.

D's passport had to be renewed

D’s passport had to be renewed too.

Kids’ passports are only good for five years, so we applied for a new one for D at the same time as Baby G’s.

I told D not to smile too big. The advice rubbed off on M.

I told D not to smile so big. M took me seriously.

I was going to make D put on regular clothes, but then I thought: It’s not obvious in the headshot that he has on PJs, and he’ll probably be wearing them in airports anyway!

My kids can't help laughing

My kids can’t help laughing

Passport numbers are required in order to purchase international plane tickets. As in, when we click to buy tickets to the Solomon Islands, the airlines (or travel agent) require passport numbers right along with full names, birthdays, and credit card information.

Baby G’s first passport and D’s second passport arrived a few weeks ago! Those represent many completed steps in the process.

So now can we go ahead and buy tickets?  One might imagine that the process looks like this:

How the process seems from the outside...

How the process seems from the outside…

It’s not quite that simple. Each member of our family needs to be included on a “permit to reside.” D and M are included on my permit. John has his own. Now Baby G needs to be added to my permit. Visitors to the Solomon Islands don’t need this document, but people who plan to stay awhile (I think over 90 days) do.

Several different things are required in order to apply for this permit, which you can think of as similar to a visa. A copy of Baby G’s passport, another passport photo, and documents from the Solomon Islands government must be submitted to the Ministry of Immigration (the Commonwealth way to say Immigration Department) in Honiara. The permit process has changed in the past year. Our director has done a great deal of work over the past few months figuring out what documents will be needed for Baby G’s permit, along with all of the other permits and renewals that allow our Wycliffe co-workers to stay in the Solomon Islands.

Here’s what the process looks like:

How the process seemed to me last month...

How the process seemed to me last month…

Once we add some complicating factors involving unclear paperwork expectations and even weather, it becomes this:

How the process is going now...

How the process is going now…

Did you catch that part about Tropical Cyclone Pam? Google it for the latest news, as devastation continues to be reported. People of Vanuatu welcome your prayers and assistance. Our director is safe but waiting for the airport to re-open.

wind speeds during Cyclone Pam

wind speeds during Cyclone Pam

Oh yes, and the passports arrived in Iowa the day after we left to go to Michigan for a few weeks. It took some doing to get that taken care of.

Now that we have everyone’s passports, we can buy plane tickets. However, we’ve been hoping to wait until the paperwork for Baby G’s Permit to Reside is at least submitted. Then our director can ask the Ministry of Immigration whether it’s safe for us to buy tickets for our hoped-for time frame of mid-April. We hope to be back in the Solomon Islands in time for our organization’s spiritual retreat weekend at the end of April.


6 Comments leave one →
  1. Becky Peppers permalink
    March 16, 2015 4:35 pm

    Loved all the diagrams!

  2. Erin permalink
    March 16, 2015 8:46 pm

    I almost can’t believe you drew/wrote all that out. I’m sorry it has taken so much of your mental space to get this figured out! Thank you for doing ridiculous things in the name of Jesus!

    • March 16, 2015 10:03 pm

      It kind of helped my brain to write it all out. And this is a country that is receptive to missionaries, and we only need one gov’t document. Can’t imagine what it’d be like some places.

  3. Laura permalink
    March 17, 2015 1:33 pm

    This made me giggle for a good long time. Also several friends and office mates.

  4. John Stanford permalink
    March 18, 2015 6:34 pm

    Thanks for the update, Lori. God has given you a delightful sense of humor, that I’m sure he enjoys too. 🙂 At the same time what a horrendously complicated process of moving 5 people across the world! Of course, 100 yrs ago you would all be on a SLOW boat to get there!!

    Love and prayers, Win


  5. Willis & June Van Haaften permalink
    March 23, 2015 9:23 am

    Wow, what a process to get all “ducks in a row” for your return to the mission God is calling you. We checked out Cyclone Pam and read there were watches & warnings for Solomon Islands & New Zealand. It sounds like it is best to live in a cement house. Have been praying for you and your family. I had it down that you were in Peoria, IL. yesterday and next Sunday. Enjoy photos of the boys. June & Willis

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