Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Week in the Life . . .

Ron and Jeanie Burgin
Campus Crusade for Christ
Latin America and the Caribbean

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A week in the life…

Dear Friends,

We had a great two weeks in the USA over Christmas and New Year's with all of our children and grandchildren. The greatness was tempered by the serial discomfort of the norovirus moving through nearly all of us in the few days before and after Christmas. Nonetheless, what a blessing to be together!

Back home again
This first week back has been full of the kind of mundane legal activities that any missionary lives through, and that I rarely write about. In fact, I remember thinking no one back home would want to read about that stuff - not very spiritual. But the work was so all-encompassing this week and God was so faithful, that I just have to share about it.
Social Security
One of the requirements we have for residency here in Costa Rica is to join the Social Security system here. The SS System is partly for retirement, but mainly it is the single-payer health system. Once in the system you have access to the doctors and hospitals (not quite as nice as the private system, and longer lines, but a good service for the average Tico). When we registered the woman made us register as individuals, and would not accept that we are a married couple. As a result, we have paid double premiums for a year.
The solution was to request a new, official marriage license from Oregon. Send it to the Secretary of State in Salem for Apostille (authentication). Get it to Costa Rica. Pay $65 to have it officially translated and then present it at Social Security. A little nervous, we went to the right office, presented our documents, answered a lot more questions, and were finally approved as a married couple. The next step was to take our approval document to the local clinic in our neighborhood and get Jeanie a new registration card that shows her as my dependent. All of the new documents had to be scanned and sent on to our attorney to be presented in the national Social Security office where they should make the adjustment to our account that should save us $70 per month for as long as we are in Costa Rica.
New Corporate Bank account.
Over the past six months I have been working with our attorney to incorporate our Campus Crusade continental office here in Costa Rica. We presented our papers and the government approved our “Asociacion” in October. Our next step is to open a bank account to receive our regular funds from the US and pay local bills here in San Jose.
I went to the Banco de Costa Rica with our Corporate paperwork to open the account. Not so quick, bub. I needed a Personeria Juridica, another legal document that listed our tax number (they didn’t tell me I could get that right there at the bank for $6). In addition, I would need a certification from a CPA ($100) certifying our expected income and expenses. I tried to explain that I didn’t know what to project until we had a few months’ experience, but to no avail. Many phone calls and details later, I got the certification and the personeria, and now I’m ready to go open the account. This may not sound like a victory, but having all of the paperwork ready is a great relief!
US Passport
I have the fattest passport that most immigration officials have ever seen, and it invites lots of comments when I enter the US - and extra questions. The funniest incident was when I told the agent that I worked with Campus Crusade and he made me quote the Four Spiritual Laws. (I passed the test :)  Anyhow… My passport expires in September and for most purposes you can’t travel with less than six months before it expires. In the past, to get a new passport, I have had to send in the old one, an application form and the $110 fee. I went to the U.S. Embassy on Thursday morning with only two weeks before my next trip. To my surprise, they let me keep my passport in case of emergency travel, and told me that I would have to present it to pick up the new one. That was a great relief. No one living overseas likes to be without their passport.
Car license plates

My Costa Rica license plates for our Corolla were old and faded, and I was afraid that the transit police would stop me because of it. Friday afternoon I went to the TICO equivalent of the DMV. I now know how to get new license plates and only had to wait an hour or so in a couple of lines. I was thrilled, but on the way home my “check engine” light came home – Oh well, that could wait until the next week!
As a missionary, I don’t like to spend time on this kind of stuff, and I bet in your life, you don’t either! What encouraged me was that even in the sometimes-intimidating trivia of life, God is there. For us to minister effectively here, we can’t ignore or postpone the requirements of life. Procrastination in Costa Rica is as bad as procrastination in the USA.
What a great privilege to serve our fellow staff in Latin America! We are so excited for what God has in store for us in the next 12 months!!
We pray that our Heavenly Father will bless you abundantly in 2014!
Your missionaries,
Ron and Jeanie