Saturday, August 27, 2011

Comic Relief: Passports for Minors

Add this to your list of "rainy afternoon activities" (or "sunny afternoon activities" for that matter)
drum roll please...
Filling out and submitting passport applications for minors!

Now before you jump right in, take the advice of someone who's done this. Listed below are a few things you might want to try in order to fully enjoy this family friendly activity:

1. Make sure you have at least 3 minors under the age of 4 (Chuck Verrett, if you're reading, this one's for you!). Ages 3, 2, and 5 months are just about perfect.

2. Get appropriate passport photos of each - make sure you can fit the picture of their little faces in the appropriate space, don't let them smile, and you'll have to hold any infants upright to do this well. the more it looks like a mugshot, the better: see below

Ethan (3 years, 10 months) Nate (2 years, 5 months) Evelyn (5 months)

When you order the passport photos, use an online service like and make sure you don't actually order them correctly, so that when you go to pick them up, they don't actually have any record of your order...

3. fill out the passport applications online ahead of time, and print them to take with you - this allows the process to go a little faster, but if you're REALLY bored, be sure to leave several spaces NOT filled in, so that when you get to the passport office in the county courthouse, they can ask you questions like, "why didn't you fill this out completely?". For an added bonus, look directly at your spouse who should be giving you an "I told you so" look right about now.

4. Call ahead to be sure the prothonotary's office is open over the lunch hour and try pronouncing it COMPLETELY wrong - you and the receptionist will get a good laugh :)

5. load up your vehicle (minivans work nicely) and make sure to include the whole family- both parents need to be present. If you happen to be in the business of education and enjoy the summers off, make sure you wait until the very last day of summer vacation. Otherwise, if you work a normal job, you'll probably need to take a personal day to get this done.

6. DO NOT read the directions before you go that say you need a check and/or money order, and be sure to forget your checkbook - just assume you can use a credit card. This allows for one more bump in the road while you attempt to pay the very reasonable (cough) price of $80 per passport plus $25 processing fee (again, per passport).

7. Make sure you leave RIGHT before naptime - again, this can only add to the boredom-fighting power of the experience!

8. Allow any of the minors that can walk to stroll through the office saying hi and procuring sweets from each of the seven or eight women working in the office with seemingly nothing else to do but dote on the adorable children you've brought for their viewing and pinching pleasure.

9. Assuming you followed step 6 correctly, you'll need to drop off the 3 year old, 2 year old, and spouse at a local playground while you run (5-month old in tow) to the ever-famous "Beaver Super" to get three separate money orders. (This is MUCH cheaper than going to your bank across the street where they charge $5 a piece! Oh, and be sure to stop there first even though the prothonotary people told you Beaver Super was cheaper - remember, you're bored, so wasting this valuable time is no problem!)

10. You're almost ready! (plan on steps 4 through 9 to take about an hour and a half) Now you simply need to pay to the order of the U.S. Department of State all the while tickling the 5-month old's feet to keep her from screaming, as you wait patiently for the prothonotary to "process" each of the applications. Don't worry, once all the other steps are completed, it doesn't take longer than 10 minutes to process each application, which if you're a math teacher, you might be tempted to quickly calculate in your head that, at ten-minutes each for a $25 fee, these processing charges are only making the county a mere $150 per hour!

But that's okay - just keep in mind that you really had nothing else to do and needed something to occupy your time and you'll be happy you took our advice!

Monday, August 8, 2011

RVA, here we come!

Just a break from our regularly scheduled order of posting to tell you:

We just found out from AIM that Rift Valley Academy (RVA), where we've been appointed to go, is in need of a math teacher starting in the 2012 school year! They have Dan penciled in to fill that position next year.

Before this news, we were unsure whether they would need us for the 2012-2013 school year at all, but we said were willing to go as dorm parents, if a teaching position was not available to us. As we've shared before, we feel called to care for these kids and nurture these families, not just to teach them. But not only is a teaching position becoming available for Dan to fill, it's a math position! Praise God! It's all very exciting!

Some of you may be wondering what I (Courtney) will be doing if Dan holds a teaching position at the school. Of course, I'll be at home with our three kids like I am now, teaching and instructing and disciplining as always. But I also hope to play a vital role in ministering to the missionary kids as we live and eat and do life with them. This, to me, is a HUGE advantage to living on campus with the students. I hope to welcome a bunch of children into our "family" for three months at a time, as I pray with and for them, build relationships with them and mentor them. I don't have all the details yet of what that will look like, but I feel like the Lord is equipping me as a mother and Titus 2 woman to encourage and disciple the next generation of believers and I'm excited to take that on.

This is all just one more verification that we are headed in the right direction. Thank you, Lord, for guiding our steps!

As a sobering sidenote, it also makes a lot of this seem much more real. This is actually going to happen! And we have a lot of emotions to sort through...

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