After my last post’s cliffhanger, I have some news: We are moving back to the United States.
Here’s the whole story.
Last spring God asked Jake if He could send him. Since that time we have been praying hard for God to show us what He meant by that. While we felt that God would show us the next step by the end of the academic year, it seems He expedited our move.
While I was repeatedly assured that my children and I could renew our visas without leaving the country, the visa agency ruled that I would have to go abroad to renew.
We scrambled to find childcare and a cheap flight to a country with a consulate. But a few days before my flight, the government visa agency denied my work visa application. This was odd since they accepted the identical application three months ago and no laws have changed.
This time they insisted I should have a certificate proving my ability to teach English. Also odd, since I have more than five years’ experience teaching English in two local universities. The government official wanted a certificate from either the United States or Kazakhstan.
We obtained a teaching English certificate in Kazakhstan from a local language school we are affiliated with.
Then the visa agency said the certificate must be issued in the United States.
We decided to give up on trying to get a work visa for me and instead get a non-work visa through my husband’s university.
This visa should be a no-brainer. My husband has a work visa, and by law that visa enables him to bring his spouse and children into the country while he works. We have done it before multiple times.
But the visa agency then said me AND my children must leave the country to renew (which gets logistically and financially more difficult) AND that we must renew in Washington DC.
We couldn’t afford to do that.
The university decided to offer a compromise. We would leave the country but try to renew in a country closer to Kazakhstan — like in Turkey or Kyrgyzstan.
Today the visa agency denied that application as well.
During this time, our visas expired and we all had to leave to Kyrgyzstan so we could come back into Kazakhstan without visas (American citizens can stay for 15 days visa-free). And then we had to leave again after our 15 days were up.
In the middle of those two trips, the Lord said it was time for us to go home. So although the visa negotiations continued, inside I already knew what the answer was going to be.
So now our plan is for Jake to finish out the semester while our whole family crosses the border every 15 days. Not ideal, of course, but still possible.
I have to say I’m reeling some from the suddenness of change.
Yesterday, we told a few close friends. Today I began selling our possessions.
Seven years ago, Jake and I first visited the city where we live. Just a couple months after that, we moved to Kazakhstan with six suitcases. The taxi cab driver couldn’t believe we brought so much stuff! I couldn’t believe I had only brought that much!!
Ironically, we will leave with the same number of suitcases.
But it is impossible to measure everything we’ve learned during the last six and a half years, and if I think of it that way, I feel very, very full.
I’ve often told people that I grew up in Kazakhstan.
I learned to lean on the Lord in a way I never had to before. I learned that God’s grace really is sufficient. Brothers and sisters in Christ really do become family. God answers prayer. Again. And again. And again. The more specific the better.
I’ve seen people grow in their knowledge of Christ, be given new lives and a fresh start, and some hear about Jesus for the very first time.
And while it’s hard to believe this season in our life is ending, God has told us that our next season is going to be better.
Which must be great, since I’ve grown to love it so much here.
As far as next steps, we are going to be in Atlanta working and getting settled until the Lord gives us further marching orders.
On a practical note, our close friend Debbie Powlison will be throwing us a housewarming party sometime in January. If this is something you would like to participate in, she asked that you email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We plan on continuing with our blog, so we can keep you updated as we head into this next season.