The Crate

Our crate has arrived. Hallelujah! If you have been following our journey, we encounter a new adventure almost every day. In a previous post I mentioned that all our worldly goods, or may I say what’s left of our few worldly goods, other than what we brought in 2 suitcases, 2 carry-ons, and 2 backpacks on the plane, were packed up solid in a 4X4X6 ft. crate that Mikkel had built. So now’s the time to tell the whole story.
Mikkel and I decided on the size of the crate several months ago. He had done his research and we both agreed that what we couldn’t fit in it or our suitcases, we would sell or eventually give away. We did store some boxes at our children’s homes. But since we were moving into a fully furnished rental, we sold or gave away our furniture, cars, and lots of things. Anyway, to save money Mikkel built this crate in our garage out of wood according to specifications for shipping to Panama. He also treated it with a solution that kept the termites out. It was well-built to have a forklift slide the forks underneath to lift into a truck. He contacted an business acquaintance of his who owned a freight forwarding trucking company to move it to Miami, Florida. Then he arranged with another shipping company to place it in a container that would have room with other things and ship it to Panama by ship where we would pick it up in Panama City. Again, this plan was costing us a lot less than the quotes we received from many international shipping companies.

So, a week before we were to leave to go to a family reunion first in Lake Tahoe and then on to Los Angeles from there to fly out to Panama, we packed the crate. We also unpacked it about 2-3 times because we still had too much stuff. Finally, after deciding what needed to go and what could be left behind, the crate was full. Mikkel and I put on the top and Mikkel screwed it in. The crate was finally picked up and on its way, although, as you may recall, not until after the family reunion because they had sent too small of a truck and forklift the first time. And we fly off to Panama August 1st.

Well, to our surprise, 3 days later we receive word the crate has arrived in Miami. This is where it starts getting even more interesting and a lot of requests for prayers begin. We are now given a list of many required items, some which are easy, some not so without prayer. They wanted a detailed list of the contents and the worth of each item- no problem; the bill of laden- no problem; Mikkel’s passport- sent them a copy; and a certificate that the wood of the crated was “heat” treated-problem. No one had told Mikkel that the wood had to be certificated and stamped on the outside as “heat” treated (remember, he built the crate with the “heat” treated wood. Then later, we received an email to list what every item in the crate was made of, that they wanted his actual passport, not a copy, for customs, a letter from our attorney in Panama attesting to our Panamanian residence, and some other papers in Spanish to be filled out by the attorney and signed by Mikkel. So the crate sat in a warehouse in Miami and we had 30 days to resolve the issues. So all we could do was pray and hope somehow everything would work out.

Mikkel sent them the list of what every item was made of in spite how ridiculous it might seem- it’s a Kitchenaid mixer, what do you think it’s made of? After a little protesting, he listed what they wanted- metal, plastic, steel, ceramic, glass, etc. Our attorney filled out the forms and sent a letter of residence. Very reluctantly, upon encouraging advisement of our attorney who said they do this all the time, Mikkel handed over his actual passport to our attorney who had a courier deliver it.

But there was still the issue of the crate wood. The person wrote that they may have to unload the crate and put it in another. Well, that wasn’t going to happen as far as we were concerned. Mikkel said he would fly to Miami and unload it himself if he had to. He thought of contacting another freight company that has been known to help those who are having problems with getting their stuff. The attorney tried to convince them that Mikkel could open the crate when it arrived and take the contents out, leaving the wood behind for them to do whatever they wanted. Then the end of last week out of the blue, we receive an email that the crate is on its way and will arrive sometime this week. Also, that Mikkel’s passport can be picked up. All I can say is those prayers worked.

Yesterday we received word that the crate is in Panama City and several emails back and forth later, the crate can be picked up today. Mikkel had previously arranged with our driver in Panama City, Luis, who had a friend with a large truck to meet him when the crate arrived and bring it to Pedasi. So he called Luis who was just happened to be available today along with his friend. This morning at 5am, we drove to Las Tablas and Mikkel caught a bus to Panama City. Four hours later, Luis picked him up at the bus station. But the person at the shipping company still had not contacted Mikkel as to where to pick up the crate. When he called her, he was told it would not be ready until tomorrow. Thank God for Luis who speaks fluent Spanish, got on the phone and convinced her to release the crate. They just had to wait until after lunch, and would load the whole crate onto the truck without Mikkel having to unpack it.

Now it’s on it way to Pedasi. When they get here, Mikkel has to unscrew the crate and then we must immediately unpack it so the driver and Luis can get back to Panama City. Yes, we are temporarily staying in a 1 bedroom apartment right now. But the bedroom is large and there is a huge storage closet off the bedroom. So we will be a little crowded for a few weeks. I am just glad it’s here. The cost? – about what we expected and less than the other quotes we received. Would we do it this way again? – maybe if we knew what they needed in the first place, maybe not. I was reminded to just let it go and give it over to the Lord. We have heard many different stories from others who have shipped overseas, some worse, some not so bad. This story had its complications, but eventually turned out alright. Again, it’s all in God’s hands.

Update: When the truck arrived with the crate, our neighbors, a construction crew staying in 2 apartments across the way, came out and offered to help unpack. If it wasn’t for them, I am not sure how Mikkel and I would have done it ourselves. Although we didn’t have furniture, we did bring 2 short but very heavy and packed file cabinets. The crate had to be tilted on it’s side to slide the file cabinets out and carried over to our patio. There were about a half a dozen helping us, so it went pretty fast. God is good!

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