"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."
Have you ever had to wait for something much longer than you ever expected? The Bible shows us that waiting for the Lord to answer our prayers, provide for our needs, and fulfill His promises not only is a part of life, but also teaches us to trust in Him, allow Him to mold our character, and rejoice in His perfect answers and timing.
The past few years, I have been waiting on a big item on my prayer request list: visiting the U.S. with Fernando. I initially thought it would be a fast and easy process, since he went to college in the States, has traveled to many places, and is (allow me to be biased) an upstanding individual any country would want to receive (could this not be more obvious?). :)
However, we found out the hard way (a visa denial) that people from this corner of the world who marry U.S. citizens are not usually granted visas to visit. Instead, the government assumes they must want to relocate to the U.S. and, as a result, must apply for a residency. In our case, we feel called to serve in Honduras, but we recognize the importance of Fernando being able to travel to the U.S. in order to do so.
Not only do we want to visit my family and friends, but we need to share with churches and individuals who God might call to join us in prayer and financial partnership. We still haven't attended our mission organization's orientation (and are thankful for their understanding and patience!). In addition, Fernando has been invited to participate in training events directly related to the projects we have been working on here, either in the U.S. or in locations most easily reached via the U.S. Clearly, we needed a long-term solution.
Over a year ago, we began the application process for U.S. residency (with the goal of obtaining naturalization in order to be in either country, as needed). It has been a long, tedious process that has entailed submitting countless documents, resubmitting problematic documents, Fernando taking numerous trips to Tegucigalpa, praying, waiting, and watching God answer each baby step on our prayer list... which led us to the decisive moment: Fernando's interview.
Armed with back-up documents (see below), we left for Tegucigalpa on Sunday and took our place in the line at the embassy at 6:00 A.M. yesterday. After the initial procedures, we sat waiting for Fernando to be called. We were confident we had prepared our part as well as possible, and we knew that God would provide the right answer, regardless of the final outcome. But the suspense was unbearable! I thought about how long we had waited and how much had been invested just to get to that moment, and it was nerve-wracking!
When Fernando's name was called, we were interviewed by a very kind woman. It all seemed natural, easy, and surreal, especially when she said she would approve the visa. What an incredibly short interview compared to all of the preparation! We were elated and relieved it was over.
These are some duplicate documents we have as a souvenir (!):
We are thankful for those who have helped us and prayed for us during this process, and we look forward to seeing many of you soon (more details to come)!
When we are waiting for God's direction, provision, and help, it can become difficult to keep trusting and believing in His power and perfect timing, especially when obstacles come up. I'm pretty sure I do not have it figured out yet, so I anticipate I will get to experience more "waiting" opportunities in the future. But, for now, we are celebrating a very satisfying answer to prayer!
"The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks Him."
One final thought I've had during the past few years: I love the fact that Jesus paid my "application fee" and overcame the decisive "interview" for me to be accepted into His kingdom, and that this eternal destination with God's family is free for anyone who believes in Christ as Lord and Savior -- regardless of their nationality, background, or credentials. This is the good news we want everyone to hear and the visa we want everyone to receive!