The last month

So July has arrived, one month before we leave for Panama. Much still to do. Connie has no job now, so more time to do things. Our cars are sold and we have a rental car now. We even got $50 off for being a Gold member with Hertz and a free tank of gas. On the 1st weekend we had an estate sale in our home and sold most everything we hadn’t sold previously or weren’t possibly taking with us. We still had to decide on some things as Mikkel finished building the crate and packing it. So now we were sleeping in our home on a borrowed air bed and use folding chairs & table.
To be honest, it was a somewhat stressful time. To Connie, it seemed that Mikkel was not packing or getting ready fast enough and she didn’t like last minute decisions. Also, Mikkel still had not received his FBI background check which still needed to be apostiled in Washington, DC. In addition, we had decided to take a trip to see our son & daughter and their families who live in Tucson,Arizona starting July 10th for a week. They weren’t coming to the family reunion, so we wanted to spend time with them before we moved. That trip was a relief from the stress building up. On our way we stopped at the Grand Canyon and were reminded of the awesome power of God. After our stay with our children & grandson, we drove over to Oceanside, CA and spent a lovely night walking down the pier.

We came home to the same rejection letter from the FBI that they still could not read Mikkel’s fingerprints. Now what were we to do? There was not enough time to send it again. Connie would not give up. God had not brought us this far to fail. She went online and googled about fingerprints and the FBI, discovering Mikkel was not alone. Also, she discovered that the FBI had approved a few “channelers” throughout the US who could expedite the criminal background checks, one being in San Jose,CA. This service was not offered before. Then, through googling, it was discovered that a company in Rancho Cordova, CA could take live scan fingerprints which produce a better quality of prints and transfer them to hard cards required by the FBI. After a few phone calls to confirm this info, Mikkel went off to get his fingerprints and send them to the channeler. In 2 days he had his clearance. Then he sent the clearance to a firm in Washington DC that would walk it in to the US State Dept. and had it Express mailed to our friends in LA who we would visit after the family reunion at Lake Tahoe. We receive our apostiled marriage certificate from Nevada soon after as well.

A good-bye party was scheduled for us by friends from our church the Saturday before we were to leave for the family reunion. It was a nice time seeing everyone and sharing our plans. The next day we went to our home church, Auburn Grace Community, and said our final good- byes to everyone. Each time, Connie fought back the bittersweet tears.

What was left was to get the crate packed & sealed for pickup. This was a real feat trying to get everything we wanted to take. Way too much stuff still! Took daily trips to Goodwill. But now we had to go to San Jose to see Mikkel’s daughter & family for a couple of days. We had a great time playing with the grandchildren, but now it was Mikkel’s turn to fight off the tears. We knew we had made the right decision to move to Panama, but it was still difficult to say our good-byes.
Back to Auburn to finish up the crate and pack the suitcases. We had scheduled for the shipping truck to pick up the crate the morning before we went to the family reunion. The plan was to be completely packed, then take off to Lake Tahoe for the next 5 days and drive down to LA, see some moe friends and fly out. So much for plans! The truck came, but the lift gate was too small to pick up the crate and load it. So what do we do now? By this time, knowing God was in charge, and knowing we also has a family reunion to attend, we just calmly decided that the trucking company could send a bigger truck on Monday after the reunion and we would change part of our plans and come back to Auburn. We had not completely cleaned out the condo yet anyway, and all of our suitcases were not completely packed or were overweight. By coming back, it would give us a little more time to finish packing anyway.

Off to Tahoe for the reunion. Another break from the stress, although family drama can be a little stressful as well. Spent 4 nights sharing a condo with Connie’s other 2 daughters, their husbands, and our grandsons. Three sisters, husbands, nephew , and nieces all joined us. For the most part, we had a great time together. It was good to see the cousins (our children) getting to know each other.

On Monday, it was back to Auburn to ship off the crate in the right truck and repackage the suitcases. Connie was flying 1st class, so she could take two 70lb. suitcases on Copa Airlines; Mikkel could take two 50lb. suitcase flying coach. So after finally weighing everything, taking another trip to Goodwill, and a final cleanup of the condo, we were on our way with 4 large suitcases, 2 carry-ons, and 2 backpacks to LA where we would see our friends for a couple of days, pick up the apostiled FBI background check, then fly out of LAX early Thursday morning, August 1st. As we drove down to LA, during the next 6 hours, we could not help but think back at the 2 years of planning was about to culminate into reality. All our possessions were sitting behind us in the rental car or on a crate somewhere between California and Miami, where it would then be shipped to Panama. It was really happening; a new life- a “third life” was about to begin.

Next blog: Our first week in Panama





12 thoughts on “The last month

  1. Emma Creese says:

    Hi Connie & Mikkel,
    I work for the website and recently included your blog in an article I wrote recommending expat blogs for our readers moving to or living in Panama (the article is online at—recommended-blogs/).

    In addition to letting you know about the above I also thought you might be interested in completing one of our short “expat experience” interviews (by email) for publication at the site (previous examples can be found at These are a great way of introducing yourself to our membership and in addition to promoting them via the usual social media channels of Twitter, Facebook etc. we also include them in our monthly email newsletter. If the above sounds of interest please let me know and I’ll be very happy to send the questions through.

    Kind regards,


    Emma Creese
    Expat Focus
    LinkedIn Group:

  2. Wallace says:

    Hi McMoller,I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. I’m about to retire and am thinking about living in Panama. I will be visiting Panama for three weeks in Sept and October. I would love to visit with you all face to face. Perhaps I could buy you and Mikkel dinner and we could chat for a little while.

  3. simone2013xy says:

    I just found your blog and wanted to invite you to provide a guest post on our retirement site Retirement And Good Living about moving to and retiring in Panama.

    Earlier this year we launched our retirement site at that provides information on a variety of topics including retirement locations, finances, health, travel, hobbies, volunteering, part time work and much more to boomers, recent retirees and others thinking about or planning for retirement.

    Currently the blog section of our site is comprised entirely of posts by guests on a variety of topics. To date over 100 guests from around the globe provided posts to our blog.


    Simone Harrison

  4. Diana says:

    We are thinking about moving to Panama to start our new life as retirees. This will be our first trip and have Pedasi on our list of contenders. We will be there the middle of February for 2 weeks. We would love to meet with you and have lunch or something. We are also from Northern CA.

  5. Guy Mendenhall says:

    Mikkel & Connie – Good for you. You are very unique . Very few people I know would step out and re-invent themselves as you have. Following your blog will be exciting!- Susie & I are taking a step along those lines too, in moving to ME. But, that’ not quite as big a step as Panama.
    Best wishes for a highly successful transition!

  6. cherieguy says:

    Congratulations for living out your dream and doing God’s work at the same time. I can wait to hear more about your journey. Take care.

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