Yesterday, Emma and I applied for our passports. It is harder than I expected to get two parents and one 13-year old into a government office at the same time, considering that government hours and school hours are pretty much the same! Then I was also surprised to find that there are very few appointments available to schedule a time slot to actually apply. Post offices and courthouses are the most common places to get a passport application done. The courthouse seemed to have more flexible appointments. So all this for future reference. :)
We tried save $25 by taking our own pictures at home and using free online software to meet the requirements for a passport photo and then printing them at Walgreens. This way, it cost $.68 total instead of $12.99 each to have them done there. However, the pictures were still not acceptable due to a shadow on the wall, so we still ended up rushing in to CVS to have an employee snap our pictures and print them out. You aren't supposed to smile in your passport photo. Emma had a fit of the giggles trying to get rid of her smile, but ... I laughed weakly and told the clerk that that shouldn't be a problem after all we'd been through in the past hour!
We rushed back to the courthouse and arrived at 4:59. The clerk was such a blessing to us, patiently allowing us to do all of this to save us another attempt at setting up an appointment. And our applications are on their way, so we should never have to go through this process again. :)
We received a personal gift in church on Sunday from a dear friend to be used towards the vaccines and other expenses we will have to cover outside our "trip costs". That was a huge blessing.
About funding.... we have learned that our church will be funding 50% of the expenses and then we will raise or supply the remaining 50% of the expenses. Total cost of the trip will be between $3000-3500 for each of us. I am also working on a list of items that have been suggested to take with us. I will post that here as well, in case anyone is interested in donating some items. Toothbrushes and toothpaste, for example... maybe you have a dentist that you know would be willing to donate some?
More info coming soon...!