Monday, July 22, 2013

Tender Mercies

We have long wanted to serve a mission for our church, but circumstances wouldn't allow us until sometime last fall, when everything seemed to smooth out  for us to "put in our papers" and fill out an application. Of course as soon as our papers were turned in, everything fell apart, especially concerning our farming operation. We wondered if we would even be able to go, or whether we would need to postpone the date we would leave.

Fortunately, we had planned enough time to dedicate to what we thought would be less daunting problems, but it proved to be enough time to take care of all the added concerns. We knew there was a lot to do, and we have been running as fast as we can since early in the year.

Hauling the Ugly Trailer  and its contents off to the recycling center

Included in our preparations:
  • Selling the cows, 
  • selling equipment, 
  • trying to sell worthless property we own in Nevada to offset the capital gains taxes on the cows, 
  • leasing the hay ground to a neighbor, 
  • giving our oldest daughter Power of Attorney,
  • retiring from the Oregon Dairy Farmer's Association Board of Directors,
  • training the neighbor's hired men in our irrigation system (we are on a hillside so it is gravity flow,) 
  • making sure all the remaining equipment is in good repair, 
  • fixing up Grandpa's house so we can rent it out, 
  • convincing Grandpa he needs to live with his caretaker in her efficient, comfortable home rather than in his old dusty and dilapidated home, 
  • finishing up the summer term and then retiring from my job teaching at the community college, (retiring to the state pension system is a process in itself,) 
  • figuring out what to do about health care when we get back and I'm not on Medicare and Clint is, 
  • visiting all our children before we go, 
  • going through everything in the house for the fourth time and giving away, burning, or throwing everything away I don't want to see when we come back, 
  • emptying out the basement, covering the floor with pallets and storing all our belongings there, 
  • interviewing possible renters (who will want to tend my half acre garden?) and 
  • finding out the property management companies in town don't want to take care of homes in the country (something to do with the problem of renters growing pot), 
  • attending the Spanish Branch to brush up on our Spanish and 
  • reading 7 pages of the scriptures every night in Spanish, 
  • trying to figure which credit/debit cards to take with us to minimize transaction and ATM withdrawal fees, (Capital One for no foreign transaction fees and the UBS brokerage account credit card for no ATM cash advance fees),
  • contacting the people in Chile to see what kind of clothing to bring, 
  • buying the clothing, (they don't have central heating so you wear many layers of warm clothing,) 
  • arranging for our cars, (give one to a deserving relative and keep the other?),
  •  figuring out which smart phone to bring (GSM, unlocked Samsung S3 international version, uses local SIM cards, a micro SD card for extra storage) with a contract-less Ultra Mobile monthly account until we switch accounts in Chile, 
  • collecting all the books and documents we'll need on the Kindle, 
  • bringing portable electronic gadgets,
  • meeting with the CPA so he can figure out how much in taxes we may owe so we can pay quarterly taxes,
  • hiring a bookkeeper to take all our mail and pay bills,
  • arranging for my sister and her husband in Salt Lake City to pick us up at the airport and drop us off at the Provo Missionary Training Center, 
  • and other things.
Included in the Tender Mercies are all the people that showed up the very day we needed them, often without us even having to ask. The livestock broker, the equipment broker, our custom hay neighbor whose wife is the bookkeeper, random neighbors wanting to buy random and obscure equipment, our neighbor who offered to manage our rental property, the young couples who want to rent our home. Everyone has been so kind and supportive. People we have not seen for years come up to us and congratulate us on our South American adventure. Apparently the word has gotten around in our small town, and they all wish us well.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Getting Ready for a Foreign Mission

When we started this project we knew we would be going overseas, and we knew we would be having to wrap up a 39-year-old business. Both of those options meant we'd be spending a lot more time getting ready! Simple retirement and going stateside would have been much easier and less problematic.

First, and most pressing, was selling 300 head of livestock and some expensive equipment. We were lucky to find a broker for the cows and calves and a broker for the equipment. People we hadn't heard from for years called wanting this or that or the other. Our neighbor down the road wanted to lease all the hay ground. Another neighbor wanted to lease all the pastures. We owned 14 acres of worthless property in Nevada that we could sell in order to offset capital gains taxes. Clint contacted a real estate agent in Pahrump and she agreed to start the process of selling the desert acres. That was just for starters.

The Confined Animal inspector came and signed us off on the manure ponds. One of our hired men stayed for a few weeks and helped clean up. I retired from teaching college and jumped through the hoops for the State of Oregon retirement system. We renewed our passports with older and grayer photos!

Sunset over the wheel lines

Sister Isabela Ibalo, a PEF employee in Buenos Aires, answered our questions on whether we should have an International Driver's License and a smart phone. She said both would be good to have starting out--we would be issued local cell phones as PEF missionaries, but not smart phones, and Chilean drivers licenses, which might take months to obtain.

We found out our Oregon driver's licenses couldn't be renewed until after we left, which meant we couldn't get the international driver's licenses we wanted. Clint spent four days calling the DMV, and finally our state Senator Ted Ferrioli, to get the Oregon DMV to accommodate two citizens. The head of the DMV finally called back (after the bureaucrats in the system never did) and graciously told us what we needed to do. We figure it was good practice for when Clint deals with government officials in other parts of the world.

I bought an unlocked GSM Galaxy Samsung S3 and an Ultra Mobile SIM card with a month by month plan so we could practice on an international smart phone. We will buy a new SIM card when we are in Chile, and find a plan there on Movistar or Entel or one of the other South American carrier plans. I checked out several senior missionary blogs to see what they recommended--down jackets for the cold winters, and American electronics; and I found several Concepcion Chile South mission Facebook sites. (Clint is electronically challenged, so this part of it is left to me.) So many kind and encouraging missionaries and great photos of an obviously beautiful country.

Do you want to house sit our country cottage and my 1/2 acre garden?

The sunny fall border

Black-eyed Susans and butterfly bush blooming near the garden shed

Columbines blooming under the fruit trees

We have been to the CPA a number of times figuring out the tax consequences of selling off part of a business. We gave our daughter Vanessa who lives 20 minutes away Power of Attorney and put her on a new checking account we will use overseas. We are hiring a bookkeeper and will have her take care of any stray bills and business. You can request the Post Office online a to redirect you mail every six months. We are having to figure out insurance (the Church provides inexpensive health insurance if you are going overseas), Social Security, and Medicare since Clint will be turning 66 while we are away.

Then there are the medical and dental checkups and immunizations. We found out I needed a secondary cataract operation on my right eye, Clint needed a root canal and new glasses, my cholesterol was sky-high and came down with Lipitor, and otherwise we are in excellent health. We finally ended up going to our son-in-law Mark, an internist, to fill out our application, since the Physician's Assistant we were going to wasn't familiar enough with the application requirements. Some immunizations are required, some we got because we could. Fortunately my insurance paid for most of the costs. Hepatitis A and B, Shingles, Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis, Pneumonia, Typhoid immunizations. Some more painful than others. You can get Typhoid in a four-pill over seven days option, although it made me nauseous and gave me headaches.

Our worst problem is what to do with our house. Grandpa's empty house on the farm will be rented to one of the new hired men, but our house is on a separate acre from the farm, with a large garden, full of furniture and belongings. We expected we could leave it locked for two years, but without anyone here year round to look after it, we will have to rent it out. The property management companies in town won't touch it because it's out in the country (people will grow pot, don't you know) and because it has too many bedrooms (required by law to allow 2-3 people per bedroom). So we have faith that just the right house sitters will show up at just the right time. Meantime, I am decluttering closets and basement and office and and bedrooms, bath and kitchen in an ongoing choice of what I want to find when I come back. It is rather liberating to get rid of what has built up over nearly 40 years. My children are the unexpected and not always cooperative beneficiaries of this exercise, although they don't seem to mind me giving away the James Christensen fantasy prints I have purchased over the years and that have increased in value!

"Benediction" by James Christensen