Friday, February 26, 2016

Officially Official

So, we are definitely citizens of Vanuatu. Not really sure when it *actually* happened, but quite sure it is now official. The options are… 
  • 26 June 2015 when the citizenship committee approved our applications with conditions
  • a few days later when we clarified the issue that needed clarification
  • a few days later when we paid the fee and presented the receipt to the Citizenship Office
  • July when we took our oaths before a Supreme Court official
  • August when we received (poor quality) photocopies of our Citizenship certificates
  • September when we received our Vanuatu passports
  • December when the 2015 Citizenship Certificate ceremony took place (we were absent … in the US)
  • February 2016 when we received our certificates

Besides giving us more “permanence” as we commit to another decade in Vanuatu, we will also  save $1400+ per year in permit fees.

**We have no intention of forfeiting our US citizenship**, and are grateful that the Vanuatu government voted to allow for dual-citizenship in late 2013. We traveled on both passports this past trip, and it was cool!

Friday, February 19, 2016

New for 2016

While we still plan to update our “Afta” blog when postable events occur, we are moving the bulk of our weekly reporting over to a new Facebook Page. You can “like” the page by visiting (or search “Mission Vanuatu: the V2 Brandells” in Facebook), and keep up with the action via text, pics and videos.

The Long Way Home

We love Vanuatu. We love America. We love ni-Vanuatu. We love Americans. And so, we have the best of both worlds…we live and work in Vanuatu, and have regular opportunities to “furlough” in America.

We were originally scheduled to spend a full two months in the States, but a change in schools meant a change in schedule. Though we were originally quoted a change fee of almost $500 online, we ended up being able to bump up our return flight by two weeks for just over $100 at a local travel agent (yesssssss!!!). To maximize our time in the US, we planned to fly back on a Friday (you “lose” a day flying east as you cross the international dateline, which put us into Vanuatu around noon Sunday). First of all, this wasn’t a great idea because the kids were to start school on the following Monday - a new school for Alexis, and Titus’ first ever go in a non-homeschool setting. On top of that, our timing meant we couldn’t do the usual Los Angeles to Nadi to Port Vila route. Instead we had to include a domestic flight within Fiji between Nadi and Suva. We didn’t think the extra 25 minute flight would be that big of deal, but didn’t clue in that it would mean an international-to-domestic terminal transfer (lugging 300lbs of luggage plus carryons) in Nadi followed by a domestic-to-international terminal transfer in Suva (again lugging our luggage) … all in the tropical sun and humidity we were NOT used to after being in Colorado and Montana for the previous month!

Nonetheless, it went as well as can be expected, and the kids did GREAT their first day of school. It took mom and dad at least a week to get adjusted, but it was worth it. But, we will definitely think twice before booking the long way home on our next furlough jaunt!

Finally! An airport playground in LAX ... WOOHOO!!!

Abbie and the youth group made us feel welcome right away :)

First day of school pic  #TiredButSmiling