Friday, February 15, 2008

I'm here .... but I'm not.


This isn't something I have shared about much because it is frustrating, personal, and well, to be honest - I have authority issues! As in, I don't want to ever get in trouble with the authorities. Specifically, H*meland S*curity.

I am law abiding. I have been since grade two when my school principle came into our classroom and laid down the law because some of the boys were giving our sweet teacher a very hard time. I had never even been out of line once with my teacher, but I was so convicted I almost wet my pants and I cried all the way home to Mum. Thankfully, Mum was a stay at home Mum who was there for us at lunch time with listening ears and a well balanced lunch. She soothed my aching heart before sending me back into the fray - so, all was well. Except that I have never forgotten. So the thing is, I really really want to obey the law. Always. I hate to disobey. I am terrified extremely respectful of authority figures - even though I haven't done anything wrong. Nope. Not even a parking violation. Ever.

So, when I first moved to the U.S. to join my husband after our joyous wedding 16 1/2 years ago, we did everything lawfully. We filled out all the forms, we paid all the money, we waited all the days. At our final interview with I*N*S, they shamelessly tried to trick us and confuse us, but we answered all their questions correctly I guess, because they gave me permission to stay, and a 'temp*orary resi*dent card' with a lovely picture of my right ear to prove it. After a while we jumped through more hoops applied for per*manent resi*dence status and that was granted. It was expensive, time consuming, and nerve wracking, but pretty painless in hindsight.

Very painless compared with our current mess.

Almost 8 years ago, during the final months of a difficult pregnancy, we felt God calling us to be closer to my family, and we started to pray about the direction He would lead us in. We actually drew a small circle on the map of Ontario including my parents home and the home of my sister and family in Canada. We prayed. God lead. He opened up a small church in central Ontario and we were delighted. The move was bittersweet, for we loved the area of Michigan where we were living, and more importantly, we loved our church family. Our children were both born in Michigan - one came to us through the blessing of adoption, and one after a long awaited birth. Were were indeed blessed.

It was a physically difficult move because we had a toddler and a wee baby boy. The fact that we required 2 U-Hawl-Junk trucks and a trailer to cart our belongings also made the move tough. Two of the U-Hawl-Junk's had flat tires during the two day journey, and that was no picnic either, but the worst part of the move involved waiting for hours at the Bridge to Canada because there had been a terrible accident and the Bridge was closed and everyone was re-routed. I was alone with the trailer and the Baby Boy - who frantically needed to be held, nursed and changed, but there was no place to pull over. I still have nightmares.

We survived, settled in, and had 4 wonderful years of ministry with a loving church family in central Ontario. It was such a blessing to be closer to my family and we tried to take advantage of our proximity as often as possible. In hindsight, I wish we had spent even more time together, but you know how day to day life just somehow gets in the way at times, don't you? At the end of that time some really hard things happened in our lives.

My dear Historian lost both his mother to cancer and his sister to complications resulting from diabetes very shortly after. It was a very hard time in our lives personally, and though our church family was caring and gracious, continuing in ministry was completely draining. We continually sought the Lord, for healing, peace, and of course, direction. My Historian requested a sabbatical, and that was graciously granted. During that time, we got a call from a former employer offering the Historian a full time job in his former field - archivist. We saw this as an answer to prayer and began the process of moving back to the U.S.

This time, we were no longer dealing with Imm*gration a*d Natur*lization Services (I*N*S), but with H*meland S*curity. Different name - entirely different process. We did everything they asked us to do and despaired at the wait times they quoted. We followed the rules and packed up the house - only to find out that I had to stay in Canada until our paperwork was completed. Our home was sold and empty! My parents graciously offered to take the children and I in.

We re-packed our belongings to accommodate this change of plans and said goodbye. It was the worst of times for us, not knowing when we would see one another again. The Historian moved without us and we lived in limbo with my folks. I finally brought the children to the U.S. to visit their Daddy and just stayed. I hated that I was not completely honest in staying for such a long visit, but our information was conflicting and some authorities said it was fine, and others told us to head back to Canada. More than one legal mind told us that if we had made the move *illegally* without the proper paper work, it would have been a quicker process. Even the forms we had filled out made provision for that! I stayed, and eventually the paperwork caught up. Many people prayed for us and we felt God's peace and leading. My Historian settled into to a job he loves, and the children and I began to feel at home. We launched into renovations and painting - a whole lot of painting! The simple happy life of a home school family living for their Lord quietly perked along. Lots of prayer and waiting.

Two years ago, we finally had our all important interview in Montreal and I was granted a temporary U.S. V*sa. We waited and waited for further information. We watched our 'account' on line faithfully following our case and were always rewarded with the same message 'c*se pending'. As the date of expiration drew closer, we began to be very concerned. There were no changes in our status and our time was short! We sought help, and eventually found some through our St*te Reprsent*tive's office.

They discovered that somehow, someone closed our c*se file!!!! Without resolving anything!!! I have a strong suspicion that they have lost misplaced our file, but I don't know that for sure. I pray not! We do know it has been shuffled through three offices. In dealing with our Sta*te Represent*tive, they have realized our difficulty, and are now expediting our case. Their advice? Stay here, but please don't leave the country - we can't be sure you'll get back in! H*meland S*curity will contact you within three months. On Wednesday, we got a letter from H*meland S*curity - the first communication we have had in two years!!! We have an interview - March 31st!!!!! Whew! Back on track - right?

WRONG!!!!!

The first problem we see is that the long list of documents that they are requiring us to bring to our interview are the self same documents that they HAVE!!!!! Remember that file I suspect is misplaced? It included all of our original documents. Getting certified copies expedited is going to cost a small fortune!

And there is another problem. My driver's license is linked to my V*SA, and since one has expired, so has the other. I'm grounded. More hoops to jump through! I have a list of 6 documents that might help me get my license back, but there are no guarantees. Getting the documents they are asking for will be hard, and I won't drive without a license - so I'm grounded! This feels a little familiar - hmmmm - September/October - ish! Right! I was grounded because of a broken foot! Grrrrr!

So, I'm here, but I'm not.

Ask most folks who know me and they will tell you that I am a pretty patient woman. When you are standing in a long line and see the woman who is smiling placidly and waiting patiently when everyone else is chomping at the bit, think of me! I am not always patient with my children, but I try hard to be. Most of the time, I succeed, only because God is good and He's working on me!

With this newest development, I am NOT feeling patient AT ALL!!! Can you understand????? I'm frustrated and annoyed, and I don't want to embarrass or belittle those in authority in this fine country, but if they can make this kind of terrible error with little old me, what other mistakes are being made every day? I was born in a great country - eh? I live in a great country! I am blessed to be here with my family, enjoying freedoms and luxuries everyday that people all over the world only dream about. My troubles really are very small, but just for today, to me, they are very very BIG!

We continue to pray for those in authority over us, for governments and rulers placed in positions of power in this great land. We choose to respect them, and to obey. We will do as God has directed, and keep on praying. My main prayer lately is that those who are handling these types of cases will do their jobs diligently, passionately, remembering that each case that crosses their desk represents a person, a family, and a dream.

I just needed to share this - I hope you don't mind! If you've gotten this far, bless you!

I'm sorry for all of the annoying *'s but I didn't want to get a lot of interest in my blog from those who are seeking to be disrespectful of the agencies we are working with. That is not my intent at all. If that happens I will take down this post.

In the old days, folks used to gather around the cracker barrel in the general stores drinking strong black coffee and talking about the issues of the day! I appreciate you taking the time to listen to my 'issues', and offer your kind comments!

UPDATE: I've settled down now - and I am very happy to report that this morning I located my Ontario Driver's License and it is good until 2011!!!! Yeah! From what I understand it is unlawful to hold licenses in two States, but not in two countries - I hope that is correct! I am praising the Lord! I wouldn't want to get rusty and forget how to drive or some crazy thing! I couldn't figure out how we were going to get to piano lessons!!! Now, I know. Yeah!

11 comments:

  1. Oh dear! I certainly understand your pain. I had to deal with Homeland S and the great country of China to complete our adoption. The paperwork was fun! ha,ha The worst part was that the wait on the China end was so long that our approval to bring a foreign born child into the US would expire while we were in China. We waited, worried, prayed and prayed some more that our new approval would arrive so we could bring our baby girl home. Homeland S didn't care that their piece of paper could keep a baby and her parents apart. We were just a piece of paper in a stack and had to wait our turn. The good news is that our prayers were answered and we had our new approval two weeks before we traveled.

    Sorry for the long reply. Hope and pray that things go as smooth as possible for you!

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  2. Heather,
    My thoughts and prayers are with you. Keep your eyes to the sky, a song in your heart, and believe that God will prevail and make great things happen for you.

    Blessings to you and your family.
    Michelle

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  3. Oh my goodness! Praying for a quick and painless resolution!

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  4. Yes, I read all the way to the end - very interesting story! You know, whenever I've prayed for "those in authority" nothing like this situation ever came to mind. I just lumped "authorities" into a big generic prayer. Now I can understand it a little better. Thank you for sharing. I will pray for everything to resolve quickly and accurately.

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  5. Wow! What a story! I'm glad to fill in a bit more of the pieces of your lives, but I'm so sorry for all the trouble! I would be frustrated too! And we think minor aggravations with insurance is annoying -- I guess we have no idea!!!

    I'll be praying for you that God will grant you patience and allow things to sort out.

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  6. I guess my thinking was pretty much like Deb's in that I sorta lumped "those in authority" under one big umbrella. I will definitely be praying for your situation. I think what's behind all the aggravation isn't so much the red tape but the feeling of insecurity and the not knowing if "home" is home still and what other hurdles may be facing you. I know I don't deal well with uncertainty. There was a saying I heard for the first time in Oregon about having one's "ducks in a row" and it really hits true for me. I *like* having "all my ducks in a row!". All this is just a long way of saying I can empathize with your situation and that I will most definitely be praying for you and your family!!!

    Under His grace and mercy (and knowing you are as well),
    Nancy

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  7. This is just a thought that occurred to me ~ do you still have an Ontario driver's license? If so would it be possible to get an International Driver's License while you wait for your paperwork to catch up? Just a thought ....

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  8. Oh Heather!!!
    I am sure many of us read to the end! You are such a dear, and big ((Hugs)) for you!!!!! I will pray right along with you, it is the best resolution.

    Blessings~
    kelly

    PS..... PLEASE keep us posted!

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  9. Hey girlie! :)

    So glad to hear about the driver's license deal...and will, of course, continue to pray for the rest!! :)

    Love,
    Deborah :)

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  10. Oh, I definitely understand, Heather! I had to go through years of the same thing and my file/papers got lost several times. My parents moved to the states in 89 and my parents just got their green cards! I will keep your situation in my prayers, it can be so stressful. Sending (((hugs)))
    Kelli
    P.s. I'm so glad you found your license!

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