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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Corn Huskers Lotion plus Tabasco Sauce equals SUCCESS

I know it sounds ridiculous but Corn Huskers Lotion and Tabasco Sauce saved the day!!!

The first effort above to use a hot sauce, Ghost sauce I think. But then we realized it contained oil so it would not work.

Then we went to Tabasco Sauce.

The procedure according to the fingerprint technician at the FBI was to massage my fingers with Corn Huskers Lotion which was supposed to soften my skin and open the pores. Then I dipped my fingers in the Tabasco Sauce and massaged my fingers for a few moments which was supposed to irritate my skin and raise the loops and ridges on my fingers. Then I wiped my fingers with a paper towel.

Next was to create my fingerprints on new fingerprint cards. We filled another 4 cards in hopes that one of them would be good enough to actually pass muster.

On Thursday all fours cards were sent out to Accurate Biometrics in Illinois by UPS Overnight delivery guaranteed by 10:30 AM Illinois time on Friday - for a fee of course.

After we mailed them, I called and talked to the very nice lady who was working with us who said she would be looking for our envelop. We told her we had booked flights to their processing center in Sacramento for June 1 but wanted to try one more time using the Corn Huskers Lotion and Tabasco Sauce.

What a delight it was to check my messages after we left the Temple on Friday and find her voice mail telling me the fingerprints had passed and the background check was complete so we could cancel our flight to Sacramento!!!

Big thanks to our agent friend who spent so much time and took a total of 16 sheets of fingerprints between the two of us with my many needed duplicates!!!

My background check was the remaining item for our visa application which we will now mail and hope it does not take too long to process and delay our target departure date.

We will  cancel our JetBlue standby flights to and from Sacramento on June 1 & 2. I am sure Sacramento is a nice place to visit but I really did not want to fly down there to spend an afternoon being fingerprinted just to fly home again the next day.

The irony is that we learned the other day that it is only missionaries who will stay beyond 18 months that the Australian Government requires to have the fingerprint background check.

Now we can get on with the remaining  preparations for our mission - like packing up our house and studying the many training aids we have been sent.

This program of Self Reliance is VERY EXCITING!!! There are so many amazing systems in place to help people improve their temporal circumstances while increasing their spiritual reliance on and relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ.

We have many articles and manuals to read and study as well as many videos to watch. We will be Skypeing with other missionaries, the Country Self Reliance Manager and the Education Specialist Coordinators for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Pacific Area Office, Auckland, New Zealand. There is much to learn and I suspect the learning curve will be steep. We are grateful that we will have the blessing of being set apart before our service begins as we know we cannot do what is required without the Lord's help. 

With only one week at the Mission Training Center studying Preach My Gospel and then 3 days of intensive training at the Church Office Buildings in Salt Lake City learning about the Self Reliance Program before we leave I think we will hit the deck running.

So, on to our studies :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Fingerprints rejected AGAIN!!!!!

Well, another email this morning telling me , again, that my fingerprints were not acceptable!!! Not a happy way to start my day.

First we called the FBI and they said it would take 11-15 weeks to go through them and suggested we talk to the agency that rejected my fingerprints. We really do not want to wait 11-15 weeks before we can send off for our visas!!!

The nice lady who rejected my fingerprints told me they had selected the one copy[we sent 4] they thought was best. After some discussion she agreed to send the rest of the fingerprint sheets, one per day - for a fee each day, of course - with the hope that one of them might pass. So for the next 3 days she will try one at time. Tomorrow morning we should know what happened with today's effort.

Hopefully their scans will work. But if not we can go to one of their offices to have my fingerprints done and sent directly to the file. Sound like a good deal except that the closest office is in Sacramento, CA. It is helpful that our daughter, Jessica, works for JetBlue and we get parent benefits.

So, either my fingerprints will be accepted this week or we will make a quick trip to Sacramento next week.  Fun times!!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Rejected Fingerprints, driving records and living conditions

Yesterday I received an email telling me

"Your fingerprints have been successfully received by the FBI, but are unable to be processed. There are a small percentage of individuals in which the fingerprint image quality is very low.   An individual, by the nature of their work or age, may have very thin or worn ridges in the pattern area. If you wish to submit another set of fingerprints for processing, please follow the process below and include a money order or credit card form for the $10.00 fee."

Now Steve's fingerprints apparently were OK but I guess mine are 'special'.  So, I guess I will try again. It is just that we cannot apply for our visa until the FBI background checks have been completed and the fingerprints are part of the investigation.  Just hope the second go round will be more successful since timing is critical.

Our Mission President, President Checketts, also wrote us and asked us to send scanned copies of our driver's licenses and our driving records. We have obtained our driving records and thankfully we both have clear driving records. Apparently the speeding tickets I got a few years back has disappeared! Without a good driving record we would  not be allowed to drive in Australia.

And we know from correspondence with the Elder we will be replacing that we will be doing "a lot" of driving. 

"There is a distribution center here that you will walk by every day. 
The facilities here in Carlingford are wonderful. The Temple, the service center, our office, the apartments, all within one block. However, you will be driving and driving a lot.  the nearest chaple is 15 to 20 minutes away and it is in the South mission.  There are three chaples about 30 to 40 minutes away in the North Mission that you will most likely be attending. However, we seldom go to the same chaple two weeks in a row."

"Fuel is substantially more expensive but the car is efficient."

I guess we had better get our minds set to driving on the left side of the road. Those couple of weeks of driving during our time in Wales gave us a good preview. But maybe the roads in Australia are a little bit wider than those we drove on in Wales - we hope.

He also told us that we will live in an apartment right across the hall from our counterparts who are assigned to the Australia Sydney South Mission as PEFSelf-reliance missionaries. 

The Sister from that couple has also written a little about clothing. She said to be SURE that my shoes were comfortable and broken in before entering the MTC so I would not have sore feet. Also the clothing is more formal than casual so I won't likely have to worry about wearing suits. Of course Steve will wear suits but also slacks and white shirts.

Still working on our reading!!! Wow! the information is great. There is so much to study and learn. I am looking forward to working with people to help them improve their  lives. What a great privilege it will be.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Applying for our VISA...

So applying for a Visa to stay in Australia from December 8, 2016 until October 28, 2018 is more complicated than one would expect. At least more complicated than I expected.

They want to check us out and make sure we have been law abiding citizens. We even had to sign a paper that attested to the fact that we had never been involved in human trafficking. We need a
Washington State Patrol Background check and an FBI Background check. Each of those background checks require our fingerprints.

I remember the time when we could just go down to the Police station and get our fingerprints when we needed them. Well no longer is that a possibility! Our local Blaine police station farms it out to a guy who charges a huge fee to do the honors. Our neighboring town would do it but required an appointment several days out. Our county Sheriff also farms it out. Fortunately, we have a friend in law enforcement who told us that if we did not get it done before he returned from a trip out of town he would come to our house with his portable finger printing kit and take care of us.

So early Monday morning May 9th we had  a fingerprinting house call.  We each needed 3 sets of prints.

Happily they were easily completed so we were able to send off the documents, and the fees, for the background checks. They should be back in a couple of weeks and then we can put those reports in with the actual Visa Application and send it off.

Apparently it is a lengthy process to get an Australian Visa. We hope that by sending off our application on May 10, 2016 we will get our visas back before it is time to leave.

Our next task is to read, and read and study the materials we have been sent. This PEF Self Reliance Program is amazing. We are so excited to be a part of the process.

And now I have caught up all the details. From now on I will update as we learn and do more.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

DETAILS of what's to come...

                                                            So, this is the official call.

Both of us got our own letter but the information is the same. We will be Perpetual Education Fund Self Reliance Missionaries. So we are busy learning what that means. But as I understand it we will be helping teach people the necessary skills to stand on their own both temporally and spiritually. The more we learn the more excited we get! What an amazing program that we get to participate in.

And here is where we will serve. It is just a small part of Australia as you can tell from the insert. But Sydney itself is a large city of about 4,500,000 people. As expected English is the spoken language but we will be learning a lot of new phrases. And they drive on the left side of the road down there. Not sure if we will be driving or using public transportation in our responsibilities.

We will enter the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah on November 28, 2016 for a week of training in the Preach My Gospel manual. The next week we will spend 3 days of PEFSelf Reliance training and the Church Office Building after which we will be on our way.

We sent out our acceptance letter immediately and in a few days received further instructions and visa application forms.

There was also a phone call describing future events and then a packet of training materials for us to read  and learn. Lots to read - lots to learn and we love it!!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


April 25, 2016 - Today the mail brought the long awaited big white envelop!!! Our mission call. Wow!!! We emailed our family to tell them we would be opening it that evening at 6:00 PM if anyone wanted to participate with us online.

Andrea, Randy, Jarrin and Sofia came to support us. Our friends David and Rebecca McInnis and their sons Aaron and Miles were here and our Bishop, Daniel Meaker.  David had offered to video the event. Bethany set up our video chat which allowed several of our children to be online with us and our grand daughter Tyla was on FaceTime.

And so our life as we knew it has changed with the contents of that white envelop.

Australia Sydney North PEF Self Reliance Center! Who would have guessed?! And not leaving until November 28!

On another day I will try to figure out how to link the video in case anyone wants to see it.

And so the process begins...

We had always planned to serve a mission for the Lord after our children were raised and grown - our target date was 2010. We had often read through the list of opportunities for senior missionaries considering the various kinds of missions we could serve. But as life goes a variety of events delayed our plans.

Finally in February of 2016 we were able to begin the application process. The online site had  a rather lengthy application form requiring our medical history, our experiences and many other details. We visited our doctors and dentist to get medical and dental clearance. We began a regime of booster shots and various immunization shots. We had pictures taken and posted to the online application, giving our availability date as August 15, 2016.

Then on March 19, 2016 after about 6 weeks of hard work we submitted the application to our Bishop. He sent it on to the Stake President who interviewed us on March 23, 2016. He sent it on to the Missionary Department in Salt Lake City on March 26, 2016. And then we waited!!!

We chose not to request a specific type of mission nor a specific place to serve our mission because we wanted to be sure that we would go where the Lord wanted us to go.

And then we waited, and waited!!

If you know me well you will know that I like to have my "ducks lined up". It was hard for me to wait because we had some major decisions to make that would be affected by when and where we would be assigned. Our car has almost 330,000 miles and we had been nursing it along. If we went State side we knew we would have to buy a more dependable car. If we went out of country we would not need to buy a car. Our phones were eligible for replacement which would mean another 2-year plan which we did not want if we would be out of country. And we kept waiting!

And we needed to figure out what to do with our house. It did not feel right to sell it so we are renting. That requires a massive effort to organize, discard and pack up our remaining belongings. With so may things to think about it began to seem like our call would never come!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Learning Curves

We knew there would be learning curves as we began this season of our lives. The first one is learning how to create this blog! But we want to share our journey with you so will persist and hope we figure it out.