Friday December 28, 2018

Ecclesiastes 9:7 Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has long ago approved what you do.

While I was washing breakfast dishes with the girls, Jeff informed me that we will be joining the older boys on an adventure to Bhimtal and another mountain town in northern India about 3 hours away from here. We all layered up our clothes and piled into a taxi. Our group consisted of 6 motorbikes (each with 2 people) and then 2 taxis full (some would say overfull!) We started off on the drive out of Banbasa, through Khatima and onwards towards the mountains.

Driving in India is absolutely crazy, though I have to be honest, I am starting to get used to it!

After a couple of stops for tea and snacks, we were back on our way, but this time starting up the winding roads through the mountains. These narrow mountain roads are quite different from the local city roads, but even with the tight squeezes I only had that unnerving feeling a few times. This was such a beautiful and peaceful day. The kids were all in good moods and we just enjoyed ourselves, eating wonderful food from street vendors and drinking tea at little shops along the road.

The 1st tea break
Tea break #2

Lucia made a new best friend, Jackie. Lucia would not let him out of her sight!

We arrived in Bhimtal about 3 hours after leaving Banbasa, and boy was the drive worth it. This little resort town is nestled between the mountains with a beautiful blue lake in the middle. Some boys even rented a boat to fully enjoy the lake!

I noticed that this resort town didn’t have nearly the amount of rubbish on the ground as the other parts of India that I have seen. We walked around this quaint little town, noshing on dumplings and other little snacks we found. The air was much cleaner up here and my lungs were very grateful for the bit of fresh air we found in the mountains. We really just spent the day walking around and enjoying the beautiful towns. We ended up visiting another town, but I don’t know the name, that was also situated amongst the mountains with a beautiful lake in the middle. This time was were able to walk on a nice little path along the riverside. The day was so peaceful and serene, even amidst boys being boys!

Here are some pictures of Bhimtal.

The boy’s and their shenanigans

On the drive home we stopped at this great restaurant overlooking the little towns below on mountainside; it was a gorgeous sight at night with all of the lights. And to top it all off, the food was fantastic. The kids had pizza and some pasta, which was a nice treat for them.

This day really was amazing and today’s scripture could not be any more perfect…we definitely took a break today to enjoy a different part of India and it was wonderful. God truly blessed us today. We all returned home around 10:30 with some very tired children.

After getting the kids to bed, I had to get on the phone with the insurance company again to deal with our claims issues. I will make a really long and ridiculously frustrating story short. After being on hold for about an hour, I got an answer that made no sense. I was to submit an appeal and they would respond via written correspondence to our old address in Madison. However, neither I nor the insurance company was able to update our address and when I brought this fact to the reps attention, his response was “sorry”. No solutions, just sorry. I asked to speak with his supervisor and once I explained the situation, and after her quick review of the claims, she put me on hold again to speak with the medical review team. When she came back she told me that none of it made any sense and that all the claims would be covered at 100%. The claims should be processed and payments made to UW within the next 2 weeks. This may have taken a total of 4 hours of our time here in India, but I am hopeful that it is resolved the way it should be. God has a hand in everything and after this relaxing day and dealing with this situation until 1:30 in the morning, He resolved this situation for us. I am so relieved and incredibly thankful for His hand in my life and for this peaceful day that prepared me for dealing with this insurance situation with a calm and relaxed attitude.

On a totally different note, we have been trying to finalize our plans for after Sri Lanka in March 2019, but we have been struggling. We planned to head to Kenya and work with a girls school in Kibera, but we learned that the girls were on vacation from school the last 3 weeks of April. Our struggle was trying to discern whether to find another organization to work with during that 3 weeks or to cut our time in Kenya short and head to Romania early.

As we were driving back I received an email from the organization in Romania wanting to know if we would be able to switch our time with them in May and June to March and April. We are definitely going to have pray on this to really discern where God is wanting us to be. It seems to point to Romania, but that is going to require more traveling than originally planned. We would be going from Sri Lanka to Romania to Kenya and then back to Europe for our final holiday. Logistically, it would make more sense to do Kenya first and then head to Romania and finish with our vacation in Europe, but that is not what the organization in Romania needs. This will require prayer and discernment, as well as keeping the purpose of our mission in focus. Again, God demonstrated His control in our lives, now it was up to us to decide to follow or not.

Thursday December 27, 2018

Proverbs 29:11 A fool gives full vent to anger, but the wise quietly holds it back.

After breakfast this morning I found my way to the kitchen to help clean the dishes. I really enjoyed my time with the girls. They have an incredible system and it is amazing to see how they are able to do the dishes for 80 people in a matter of 30 minutes–they truly have this down to a science.

I had a very interesting morning and it could not be any more fitting that this scripture verse came up today. A little history for you…

Before we left on this journey we had to get several immunizations given all the various places we were headed. I spoke with our insurance company multiple times during that year leading up to our departure regarding what immunizations were covered and finding an in-network provider (this proved more difficult than I expected). At first we thought that we were going to have to fly back to Phoenix, AZ (we lived in Madison, WI) to get our immunizations done because our insurance was based there, but the doctors in Phoenix did not have access to the Yellow Fever vaccine. It all worked out and we found a physician in Madison that was able to administer all our vaccines and was an in-network provider. Though we had several other problems and road blocks, by the time we had our last round of shots in June, all seemed to be worked out with the insurance.

Fast forward to about a week ago, and I got a message from our friend checking our mail that I had a bill for each of the kids from the University of Wisconsin for almost $2000 each. Come to find out, the insurance company denied both rounds of the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine for all three children (even though they approved them for Jeff and I). It is important to note that the cost for each injection is $2000, and my three kids all had the 2 doses necessary. Some quick math, and a bit of panic set in; that is a lot of money that we are being charged unnecessarily. After a few emails back and forth with our Care Manager, I was advised to call customer service, but that it was likely that I would have to send in an appeal. So this was my day today, preparing an appeal packet for the three children so I could respectfully request that they cover these charges. Since the time difference between India and Phoenix is 12.5 hours, I won’t be able to call them until later this evening, so I decided to get a head start on the paperwork.

This was such a frustrating task and it was really difficult to not get angry. As I read through our plan, this service is covered at 100% as long we are seen by an in-network provider which they were; so why are we getting the bill? And just to make matters even worse, UW (the clinic were we had the shots done) has been fighting with our insurance over this for about 6 months now to no avail, which means that our bills are already in pre-collections. They didn’t even give us a chance to remedy this. It was like they sent us the bill and then they were wanting to turn us over to collections. Now I am sure that is not how it actually happened, but that is what it seems like here. I can’t take care of these issues as quickly as I could back home and that is beyond frustrating.

I finished all of the paperwork by 4 pm tea time and closed everything down until I had to call the insurance company tonight after dinner. I have to say trying to make this kind of call on an internet based line is not easy when the internet goes in an out. I drop the call several times and had to wait on hold while I got reconnected to the person with whom I was previously speaking. All in all, I was on the phone for an hour to learn that the representative wanted me to call him back tomorrow so he could research the situation further. I really just wanted this to be over and done, but I had to wait another day to get any answers. He didn’t even know if I should send an appeal. I got nowhere. Tomorrow is another day and hopefully I can get some answers.

After a day like today, I can fully appreciate the scripture because anger only makes matters worse and puts the other person on the defensive. Up to this point I have been able to keep my frustrations to myself (and Jeff), I have not yet lashed out at the insurance representative, though that is not an easy task. I am so frustrated and the lack of response or answer does make me very angry that I am having to spend my time working on this, when there are other things that I could be doing to help. But this is what I need to be doing and I know that God will help me through this, just as He always has.