We have made major additions to our picture gallery (see the menu link on the left). We have added a new album for the 8th trip (the pictures without people in them), called Philippines8. We have also added several sub-albums in the “Dave, Malen, & Family” main album. These include pictures of people taken during Dave’s 8th trip in an album called “The Eighth Meeting!,” pictures from our wedding, A few pictures taken at Thanksgiving, and finally some pictures of us at a progressive political rally in Sequim.
It’s been a LONG time since we have posted anything new here. That is because so many things have been happening! It is already December!! Well, since August SO much has happened! I scheduled another trip to go and see Malen and the kids in the Philippines. I left on September 5th and was scheduled to return on September 26th.
Before I left, we received word from the USCIS that our petition had been approved! Then, within a day or two of my departure, we learned that the National Visa Center (NVC) had forwarded it on to the US embassy in Manila, and we got a case number (what we needed to schedule the interview at the embassy). At this point, we knew there was a possibility that we could complete everything while I was with the family in the Philippines. But on a sad note, a week or so before I left I lost my dog of 15 years, Candi-Louise, who passed away.
So, once I arrived, we got busy with all the steps and processing that was needed to finish the visa process. Malen and the kids had to have a ton of paperwork, including passports, birth certificates, police clearances, and a lot more. Malen and the kids had to have medical examinations, which was a two-day process. Malen scheduled her interview with the embassy, but when we arrived we found out that the embassy did not have her her documentation from the NVC yet. So we waited until we could confirm they had the documentation package, and scheduled the interview again.
The interview was long and grueling, taking the entire day. At the end, instead of getting the visas approved as we expected, our case was put in administrative review for two weeks. Finally we heard that our case had been submitted for “visa issuance.” but days later, still no visas. I had to extend my 21–day stay by getting an extension. I was running out of my medications and we had to vacate Malen’s condo because it had been sold. After sending an angry email to the embassy about the delay, our case was put BACK into administrative review (and we were told it could take up to two months)! We were forced to move to another location on a temporary basis.
Finally, towards the end of October, we were told the visas had been approved and were submitted for printing! Once we verified that the delivery service had picked them up from the embassy, we went to their warehouse and finally had our visas in hand! So finally, we had to book our flights to the US, the kids had to attend mandatory counseling (CFO), and Malen had to go and pick up her CFO certificate. Then, after 2 1/2 years of waiting, anxiety, frustration, and hardship, on October 31st, all 5 of us boarded a plane to come to the US!
During this extended stay in the Philippines, and even with so much going on, Malen and I were able to squeeze in a short visit with our great friends Mike and Cathy. In addition, they came and spend a week with us while we were in the new and temporary living space. We also had Malen’s mom and pop come and visit us for a couple of days.
The last little hitch that happened before we left the Philippines was that the flight we booked was delayed for 9 hours. We went to the Delta office at the airport and they put us on different flights so that we did not have to wait another day. We ended up flying from Manila to Nagoya, Japan, then to Detroit, and finally to Seattle. A VERY long day of flying. As a result, Malen and the kids had to go through immigration in Detroit instead of Seattle, and we arrived in Seattle in the afternoon instead of in the morning. So, we stayed at a hotel near Seatac airport on October 31st, and drove up to Sequim the next day (November 1st).
Once the long flights were over and we landed on the 31st, everything has been great and wonderful. Malen and the kids have experienced American coffee shops and restaurants, Jedd has started his last year of high school, Yeng & April will start attending Peninsula College in January, we have been to Costco several times, as well as WalMart, Home Depot, and Ross, and Malen and I were married on November 18th!!
There is still a lot to do, including getting Social Security Numbers, processing Adjustment of Status for Malen and the kids, looking into getting jobs, and adding Malen to all my accounts. But we are together as a family, and that makes everything else easy!!
So, what is so special about my loving Malen and her loving me? What is special about our relationship? Well, of course there are the basic things like physical attraction, having fun together, and sharing affection. There is also the next level – we are of like mind about the important things like family, honesty, and general relationship behavior. We make each other laugh, agree on almost everything, and are very similar people. I always heard that opposites attract, but I always suspected that opposites make bad relationships. No to sound narcissistic, but the closer to yourself your partner (in morals, ideals, behavior, and personality), the better the relationship will be. That may sound boring, but “attraction” only get people together. Similarities are what keep them together.
But with Malen and I, there is an even higher level – complete trust and absolutely no doubts. It is wonderful to be 100% secure in the person you love and in your relationship. Doubts about a relationship you are in do not have to come from your partner – they can also come from yourself. I have never been in a relationship where I NEVER even consider that it might not work out, and believe me, my logical mind thinks about EVERYTHING in the known universe. When you know exactly where you came from, and exactly where you both agree you are going, there is no energy wasted on wondering or doubting.
When we joke with each other about other people, it is just funny – there are no nagging thoughts or doubts in the back of our minds. If I get a little testy from time to time, it does no damage whatsoever to our relationship because Malen knows it has nothing to do with her or how I feel about her. We have an amazing level of trust, compatibility, and being secure with each other. It is as if we have indeed become a single unit. And, THAT is what is so special about our love.
The first step in the process of Malen and I coming together as a couple and a family, and have her and the kids come to the US, was for her to get annuled from her marriage. We expected six months to a year at the most. Well, finally, two years after we started the annulemnt process, Malen has her final documents in her hands. I have finally been able to submit the visa petition to allow Malen and the kids to come to the US. This was not possible until she had her annulment papers. Yesterday I sent the visa packet to out agent who will reveew it and submit it to the USCIS. The visa process is expected to take another 4-8 months. We are hoping for the lower end of that range!
Delay after delay in the annulment process has been very frustrating for us. Having the end finally come is a great relief!
Malen has finally received word that the decision on her annulment has finally been made – and it has been granted!! As soon as she has the final paperwork in hand, we will be submitting the K1 fiancee visa petition to have her and the kids come to the US. That process is reported to take 4-6 months, so there is still some waiting to go through.
Our trip to Taipei has been cancelled, but my late November, early December visit to see Malen and the kids is still on.
Meanwhile, we have verification from the lawyers that the final documents for her annulment were submitted on September 20th. As we understand it, the standard time for a decision from the judge is 30 days, with a max of 45 days. This means that by late October we should have the decision (mid November at the latest) and be able to begin the visa process! However, if we have learned anything while going through this process, when it comes to time, nothing is absolute!
Well, it seems like we have been waiting forever, but we are approaching the end of Malen’s Annulment process. Reportedly, the final court date is the 25th of May. After that we are hoping the final decision happens quickly. Then we can finally jump into the next process – the K1 fiancee visa for Malen and the kids. That will take another several months! Malen and I are dedicated to each other, and to having the entire family here in the US, no matter how long it takes!
In other news, I will be spending another three weeks with the family in the Philippines at the end of this month. We will visit Camaya Coast again and see how the construction is progressing. Malen and I will also spend a few days either in Baguio (in the Philippines), or possibly Singapore. If the annulment progresses rapidly, I may be able to bring the final documents back with me so I can include them in the K1 visa packet that I send in.
On the Sequim front, I feel like my mowing duties here have turned into one of those tasks that have to be started again as soon as you finish! Like painting the Golden Gate bridge! Everything grows so fast this time of year that it is difficult to keep up! This is especially true when the weather is great for growing, but not so good for mowing. We have had rain, clouds, and a whole lot of very strong wind.
On the health front, I am feeling pretty good. I do have a problem with an encapsulated (frozen) shoulder, and I am doing some physical therapy. However, this condition is one that just happens, and then goes away on it’s own. But it can take up to three years. I have not been doing much running lately because the yard work has been extensive and very physical. My weight is up a couple of pounds from where I want it, and up about 8 pounds from a low I reached last year. The good news is that it is still down almost 20 pounds from a high I reached a few years ago!
Malen and I found out recently that the final court date in her annulment will be near the end of May instead of April. Yet another month we have to wait before we can start the US visa process. It seems like we have been waiting forever. Of course, it will be worth it. A future together with myself, Malen, and the kids is a future worth waiting for, and something we will not give up on – ever. But the waiting is hard. Thank goodness for the Internet and programs like Skype!
On another front, I have finally uploaded all of my pictures from the most recent trip to the Philippines (January/February, 2010) and the three weeks Malen and I spent together. The first week was spent in Hong Kong and Macau, China. Yeng was with Malen and I, and we also visited Malen’s cousin. Then we spent two weeks at Malen’s place in Quezon City, near Manila. We also went on another day trip to Camaya Coast, this time with the entire family.
Use the “Our Pictures” link on the main menu at the left. All the pictures that do not contain people (Malen, myself, and the kids) are in a new main album called “Philippines3“. As usual, the pictures of family are in a sub-album under the “Dave, Malen & Family” main album, and the new sub-album is on the left, called “The Third Meeting!”
I am really disappointed when my US visa was denied. It so frustrating since everything Dave and I planned were not materialized. We were so excited to see and be with each other again. I know how he prepared to show his place but most importantly, I want to be with him for his eye surgery. I feel guilty because that should be the time he needs me most and that I will be there for him. At first I don’t know how to tell him that my Visa was refused. But I’m so grateful Dave understands me and make another option to visit me here. As a matter of fact, he booked a trip for us to Thailand and we will have a week vacation with kids in Boracay too. My kids were so excited for this trip. Right now they make plans for themselves. Right now I’m concentrating on my annulment case and I hope everything will be done soon. I know we still have a lot of trials to face and time plays a big part of it. With our love for each other we are willing to wait which I’m sure its all worth the wait. “Never let go of hope. One day you will see that it all has finally come together. What you have always wished for has finally come to be” Malen
So, here it is September already! Malen and I are hanging in there as the slow excruciating Philippine annulment process grinds along. Life is going on as we wait. She and I talk at least once a day using Skype video and audio, she continues with her full-time job, and I keep myself busy with yard work. Yeng, April, and Jedd (the three kids) continue with their education.
Our future will be together, no matter how long it takes. Beyond the expensive, protracted annulment process, the US immigration process is complex, lengthy, expensive, and seemingly designed to discourage immigration as much as possible. Patience and resiliency are necessary attributes.
I have only been retired now for 5 months, but is sure seems like a lot longer (a good thing). Somehow, I seem to be as busy as I was before I retired. Of course, spring and summer in the Sequim area means yard work on a daily basis, and lots of it! But I also have lots of online activities, because as a former IT professional and a life-long Internet enthusiast, I am always experimenting with web sites and software. As you can see from the menus on the left, I maintain a blog site (Baby Boomers welcome!), a personal photo gallery here (pictures of family, home, etc.) and a semi-commercial photo site as well. I also have a poetry site in progress (stay tuned for exciting publication news!) and a political site (The Reverse SPIN) that I am currently converting from a BB format to a blogging format.
So, life is busy!