Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Chronicle of An Elderly Traveler- A True Story

NEVER EVER MISPLACE OR LOSE YOUR PASSPORT!!!

This is a story that describes an elderly person’s international travel experiences (and more). It is going to be a post like nothing I have written before, really quite an undertaking to recall the details of an unbelievable story of my BIL (brother-in-law) who at 83 years old is probably now dreaming of his next travel experience.

He was to be our summer house guest for a 3 week vacation in Hawaii, but instead stayed for 9 and a half weeks, or over two months! I became his appointed caretaker 24/7 in what was to become a totally unplanned adventure, as well as an ordeal in getting him back to Shanghai, China. BIL is a U.S. citizen who had chosen China to be his home for the past 16 years. He was last here in Hawaii in 2001 when he came home for his mother’s funeral. At that time he was living and working in Sacramento, California. He then went to China with new Chinese friends he had met in Sacramento in 2003 and subsequently married a Shanghai Chinese citizen.

On May 20, 2018, his wife passed away from cancer. She was a brave cancer survivor and cooked their meals up to the week before she died, as BIL related to me. Her lawyer, her husband (BIL), and her 3 brothers were at her side along with two witnesses when her Will was drawn up by her lawyer. Her death bed Will stipulated that upon the sale of their Condo, her brothers would receive her share or 50 percent of the sale proceeds. Within a few months after his wife’s death BIL’s Condo was put on the market by his wife’s lawyer who is also a realtor. She happened to have BIL’s Passport in her possession while doing legal work for the buyers of BIL’s Condo. Meanwhile BIL had been looking for his Passport for an October 2018 ocean cruise with a younger brother to Japan, Korea, and back to China. His lawyer found BIL’s Passport and returned it to him, but by then BIL, had reported it lost and had to get another Temporary Passport to go on his Asian trip. Before leaving for his cruise he went to the American Consulate in Shanghai to say that he found his old Passport that he had reported lost. He fully expected that he could still use his old Passport, but used the new Emergency Passport that was issued to him to go to Japan to meet his younger brother.

On May 20, 2019 coincidentally exactly a year of his wife’s death, the sale of BIL’s Condo was finalized and his 3 brother’s-in-law collected their half of the total $900,000 sale proceeds of the 2 bedroom condo that BIL and his wife had lived in Shanghai. His niece, the daughter of his middle brother-in-law placed BIL’s half (minus legal fees and real estate commission), into two bank accounts of which the larger account named her as co-trustee, to manage BIL’s funds. Her father helped Bill with his travel arrangements to Hawaii.

After staying 3 days in a hotel, on May 23, 2019, BIL’s oldest brother-in-law picked him up and drove him to China Eastern Airlines at the Pudong Airport in Shanghai for his long trip to Hawaii. At the time of his departure no one, including BIL, knew where he would be living when he was scheduled to return 3 weeks later to Shanghai on June 13, 2019. Even his lawyer friend and 3 brothers-in-law did not have any specific place in mind upon his return to China. BIL said the lawyer told him that she knew of available apartments nearby where she lived; his middle brother-in-law said there were apartments in his area. Would he stay in a hotel again when he returned to Shanghai? Or would he live with one of them temporarily while they went apartment hunting for him?

But BIL had an apartment to live in… well, that was before it was sold and he moved out on May 20th when the final payment for his condo was made. It was sold with all of his furnishings.

May 23, 2019 three days later BIL arrived at the Honolulu International Airport. It seemed like hundreds of arrivals passed through customs and immigration from incoming flights, but where was he? I looked for him from the waiting area for nearly two hours while my husband sat in the car outside of the arrivals area. BIL in the meantime was detained and questioned by Homeland Security and a ‘seizing officer’ confiscated his Passport, telling him that he had an invalid Passport and he needed to get a new one with a China travel Visa to return to back to China.

IF YOU LOSE YOUR PASSPORT, YOUR LIFE WILL BE LIKE A BAD DREAM!

IF you report your Passport as lost, you can kiss it goodbye; it cannot be restored or reactivated; it becomes INVALID and the Feds will take it away because it is U.S. government property. It says this very clearly about all lost and stolen Passports on p. 5 of every U.S. Passport and that ‘It should be carefully safeguarded’.

There are online services that could possibly help retrieve a lost passport, but it is a lengthy process to go through and costly, and I question how reliable or successful they are. Somehow when BIL showed up with his ‘found’ passport at the American Citizen Services Unit of the Shanghai U.S. Consulate before his Asian trip last October 2018, he thought that his old passport would be good to go. Then when BIL left for Japan and Korea, he presented two passports, the temporary one and his old passport. He didn’t quite understand when told that for any later travel, ‘the U.S. government would be concerned with the original passport in your possession’. It was not confiscated then by the Chinese officials, but seized when he arrived in Hawaii.

In BIL’s case the loss of his old/original Passport was and still is a major issue even at this writing, and a terrible nightmare for a number of reasons. BIL’s Visa was stamped on his old Passport that he renewed every 3 years during the 16 years he lived in Shanghai as a foreigner. The lost Passport held BIL’s 3 year renewable China travel Visa.

BIL never registered for a permit to be a permanent foreign resident which would have provided him with a long term Visa. He assumed that since he was married to a Chinese citizen he could live in Shanghai indefinitely with his 3 year renewal Visa. The Chinese government is more amenable to giving permanent residence status to a homeowner which BIL then was, but no longer is. In fact, they like it a lot better when you are able to contribute to their economy and are entrepreneurs and business developers. If such, then a number of Visa possibilities become readily available.

Since 2014-2015 there have been changes in the way China issues Visas, which are now mainly 10 and 5 year multiple entry visas for 60 or 90 day entries. This applies to non-residents and foreigners, and non-green card holders. These are the Visas carried by students, workers and business people, and all visitors to China.

NOW WHAT DO WE DO?!

The first thing we had to do was to cancel his return flight home on June 13, 2019.

On June 4th, BIL sent an email to the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai describing what happened to him when he got to Honolulu; his concerns are as excerpted:

. . .’I am concerned about how I will be able to return to Shanghai for my return trip that I booked for June 13, 2019, which is less than two weeks from now. I think your office did not follow up to reinstate the status of my original passport. I would greatly appreciate if you could expedite and resolve the predicament that I am in so that I can return back to Shanghai. I look forward to a reply as soon as possible. Thank you very much…’

The reply came right away:

. . .’If you are traveling on your lost Passport #. . ., that is the reason you were questioned by Homeland Security. Shanghai ACS (American Citizen Services) office is not able to reinstate the status of your lost passport. Please follow up with Passport office in Hawaii for more passport service information. Thank you.’

(To be continued)

LOVING THE UNLOVELY

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LOVING THE UNLOVELY

This post addresses attitudes toward homosexuals and homophobia, specifically about callous and hostile attitudes and unkindness in words and actions to those whom we regard as ‘different’, non-traditional, non-conventional, and non-conforming, from our perspective.

The ‘unlovely’ are those whose lives are not compatible with our life philosophy, religion, value system, or sense of morality of ‘correct and proper’ behavior.  Unless you have seen a friend or family member struggling to deal with being misunderstood, being met with disapproval and rejection, alienation, ostracism, or unless you personally know of someone who has been disfellowshipped, disowned, deserted and abandoned by family and relatives, friends, and even their church members, it is hardly likely that you will find yourself sympathetic and ‘loving the unlovely’.

It is a total waste of time and energy to be discussing and debating issues that cannot be resolved with a single solution or answer that will satisfy everyone.  Marriage does not mean the same thing to everyone, and who the espoused parties are in a given marriage can include a gamut of possibilities.

A young woman wanted her same sex marriage (SSM) partner referred to as her ‘wife’, not ‘companion or partner’- ‘WIFE’.   ‘But’, somebody asked, ‘Are you her husband then?’  Come on now, what kind of answer would you expect?!

The Bible Perspective.  In Genesis 1:27, God created male and female.  In 2:24, the woman was called Adam’s wife; he (Adam) was next to her when she ate the forbidden fruit and he was referred to as ‘her husband’:  ‘she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat’ (3:6).  A woman’s spouse according to the Bible is supposed to be a male, a male man; he is regarded as ‘husband’.

Zoophilia  But, a male man isn’t always the spouse of a female, I mean, about a woman being wife and a man being husband.  An example can be in Denmark, the first country to legalize human-animal marriage, a woman married her 4 year old white stallion named Thorgen.  She refers to him as her ‘husband’.  Her horse.  As you can imagine, the legal precedent has caused a great deal of controversy.  (Go to Search to read the story- ‘Danish Woman Marries Horse!’ Oct. 23, 2014)

Getting back to same sex unions between humans-  There are various reasons for SSM which are similar for those in civil and other unions, even heterosexual marriages.  These may include companionship, financial reasons, tax and beneficiary benefits, benefits which heterosexual unions enjoy that are not granted in homosexual unions.  Many couples in SSM are good friends who are compatible, enjoy one another’s company, and find it practical and economical to live and share expenses together.  It would seem that this describes what everyone would desire and consider necessary for their happiness in life- love, friends and family, and companionship.

Not all who choose to be in a same sex union are in an ‘immoral sexual relationship’.  That may come as a surprise to those who generalize that SSM couples are in a sexual relationship that is ‘immoral, perverted, and unnatural’.  From recent news about scandals of pedophilia in the Roman Catholic Church, one wonders if every supposedly celibate priest is also likely to be a pedophile and cannot be trusted to interact with children, youth, in particular.

Many who disapprove of SSM and mistreat and discriminate against ‘homosexuals’ deny them services or benefits that non-SSM couples have no difficulty receiving, for example, ordering a wedding cake or flowers, hiring musicians for a wedding, or reserving a B & B honeymoon cottage.  Why should ‘righteous living’ Christians and non-Christians try to decide for others what choices they can or cannot have?  The new norm developing today is to accept individual and equal rights with diversity in a society that is changing.  Respect for others ought to be the order of the day.  Taking responsibility for one’s own life should be the focus; allowing others to make their own choices and decisions, and accepting consequences of their behavior should be the new norm.  This to me is what real freedom is about- to make your own choices and let others do so also, in a way that does not harm or interfere with the lives of people around them.

Lack of love and respect for others is at the crux of all of humanity’s problems.  Each one of us is uniquely different from one another in our personalities, our likes and dislikes, interests and aspirations, how we think and deal with decision-making, and overall choices in life styles.   Even if we have more differences than commonalities, there is    one thing everyone desires, which is to satisfy our human need to be loved and respected.  That is why we are in the wrong when we try to force others to adopt our values and morals.  We should not pass judgement on those who are ‘different’ from us because they chose SSM as their way of life.

As Christians we must show ourselves ‘loving the unlovely’ in our hearts and minds,  rather than being unloving, self righteous and poor examples of what Jesus would want us to be.  We need to know and put the Bible scriptures into practice, live out our faith than read about it in books, listen to religious DVD’s, hear sermons week after week about loving your neighbor.  Hypocrisy and compromise characterize evangelical/Christian churches today who don’t know how to ‘walk the talk’.  Many churches don’t preach about sin anymore because they think sinners are outside of the church.  That is one of the biggest lies of the devil!  Another lie is that warming a pew gives many the assurance of favor with God.  What about the once a year volunteer at the city’s Thanksgiving luncheon for all the homeless and elderly, and those who don’t know how to roast a turkey?  Good works will count with God, won’t it?!   Sorry, NO.

The only thing that will count when we face the Lord at the Judgement is if we shared His Love with others, if we were ‘loving the unlovely’.  Paraphrased from 1 Corinthians 13, John 3:16:

One can have spiritual gifts, all knowledge, great faith, feed the poor, even offer one’s body to be burned, etc., all to no avail, without knowing and sharing REAL LOVE which is God’s kind of love for all of mankind.  God so loved THE WORLD, that includes EVERYONE, the good, the bad and the ugly, the lovely and the unlovely.  God’s love is INCLUSIVE.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  (John 3:16-17)

If anyone does not believe that God’s love is inclusive, he is not in right standing with God.  A Christian who is self righteous, a lover or self, who has made himself his own god, who thinks he can choose who he will be kind and loving to will most definitely be destined for a rude awakening.  Such attitudes reflect unrighteous character and are therefore sinful, making whoever that practices them unrepentant sinners.

1John 5:17  All unrighteousness is sin. . .; Romans 3:10  There is none righteous, no, not one. . .

1John 1:8-10  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Christendom is filled will non-believers of God’s Word; they are the counterfeit and ‘make believers’ who twist and misinterpret God’s Word to their liking.  God is looking for those who hunger after righteousness, seek out the Truth in His Word, who live out their faith and are led by His Spirit, who are truly the light of the world and salt of the earth.

The Bible clearly shows that there is no place for homophobic individuals (who show a prejudice and discriminate against homosexuals) in God’s kingdom.  This is what the Bible tells us:

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love (1John 4:7-8).

. . .If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. (1John 4:12b)

. . .God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. (1John 4:16b)