Sunday, as Leo was going through immigration, he got a very stern talking-to by the immigration officer about the amount of times he’s gone in and out of the US on his resident visa. We knew this would happen eventually, but we didn’t realize the gravity of it until the immigration officer explained that Leo only has a “conditional” resident visa, not a permanent one; and that when he has to get it renewed in December, Immigration will take a look at his activities to see whether he should be granted a permanent resident visa. The officer was blunt in saying “I don’t think they’ll renew it if you don’t actually LIVE here.”
Needless to say, Leo was pretty shaken up, and called me right away. He also wrote to a friend of ours who is an immigration lawyer in Florida to ask for some advice. Our friend confirmed what the immigration officer said. We need to live in the States, asap.
It’s not even been 36 hours since we’ve been praying and getting counsel from dear friends and family, and we feel at peace that the Lord has directed this sudden move. A year ago, our plan was to come to the States this summer so that Leo could go to grad school. Things kept changing, and it got harder for us to decide when we were going to head to the States. We’re in deep in many different ministries and wanted 1 more year to transition out well. But, it seems like whether or not Leo is in grad school this Fall, the Lord wants us in the States.
We have a little bit of an idea of what we’re going to do, and how we’re going to “transition”. The plan is that Leo is going to come back down to Colombia on July 13th to help finish packing and saying goodbye to our church, friends and family. Right now, we’re looking at him going back on July 20th to follow-up on job applications we’ll be turning in this week. I am going to stay a little longer to help with orientation and setting up things for whomever is going to replace me at ECA, and say goodbye to the students and teachers. I hope to be back in the States on August 8th.
For the time-being, we’re going to live with my parents. We have a HUGE basement apartment, and they have a car we can borrow. The idea is that we’ll hopefully either rent or buy something in the Columbus area by September to prove that we’re sticking around a little bit. We are both going to be looking for jobs as well. Leo is looking for teaching Spanish or Music lessons in nearby community colleges or Universities. I’m probably going to get a part-time job at the local Christian bookstore. We’ll see. I’m still not completely healthy, so I shouldn’t do more than part-time so I can continue to rest and hopefully get better.
Leo will apply for his visa renewal, and they could deny it. If they deny it, we’ll be back down in Colombia and have to start the resident process all over again. We’re hoping that by taking these drastic measures in moving to the US, they won’t deny it. If they renew it, we will need to be in the States for a solid year, without leaving.
As you can probably imagine, this is not going to be easy. We have 3 weeks to pack-up and move, and a lot of decisions need to be made.
You can join us in praying for the following:
1) That we make the most of the remaining 9 days until Leo comes back down. That I can be focused and do everything possible to pack and organize.
2) That God gives peace to all the people we are leaving behind: our dear friends, the worship team and our church, the indians Leo has been heavily investing in, ECA, Leo’s family, and the ministries that I have been involved in (especially my ECA students).
3) That if God wants the ministries we’ve been running to continue, that He will provide the people to step in.
4) Wisdom with what to pack and what to leave behind
5) Provision when we get to the States. We know for sure that we will need a car, and that Leo will need a job that provides insurance. Also, pray for our housing situation.
Right now, our plan is to live in the states until Leo can get his citizenship… anywhere from 1 1/2-3 years. After that goal is met, we’ll re-evaluate where the Lord would have us. Obviously, we’re hoping that He will bring us back to Colombia; but, especially after something like this, we realize that we have no idea what the Lord has for us, and our only prayer is that He would continue to be the lamp to our feet and light to our path… revealing just the very next step we should take.
There are so many things we have been looking forward to about our “eventual” time in the States… our church, the community of friends we have through our church, possibly going to seminary, learning how to minister together in the States, being close to my family for a while, living out the 4 seasons… the list goes on and on. We’re so grateful that we have these things to be excited about!
So, please join us in praying for this next adventure.
Colombia to the US! Ha!