Today I was supposed to be returning to the United Kingdom. My 90 day ETSA would have been up and had I not left today I would be staying here as an illegal immigrant as opposed to a legal visitor. However last week I was able to finalise the paperwork with my lawyer and we applied for a green card for me as a widower, a work permit, and advanced parole - so I can come and go as I please. It also means that I realistically have to stay until I get the advanced parole because otherwise I can’t get back in. The work permit and advanced parole should take about 60 to 90 days to come through, while the green card itself takes about 6 months. It was a lot of stress getting together all the requirements, which included photographs, sworn affidavits from friends and family saying they knew we were married when she passed, my eulogy for Fran, plus I went through a medical that required me to have multiple vaccinations, bloodwork, and a chest x-ray. I also had to pay for administration fees and lawyer fees which amounted to just over $3000 (about £2000).
I thank God that it all went through smoothly and quickly. I was nervous about it anxious as to how I would do it, and how much it would cost. God provided for me, and I am now able to stay here legally while the application is pending. I will almost certainly have an interview in the next few months to progress to a green card, but in the mean time I can stay where I’m at. Once I have a work permit I can apply for a social security number, and then apply for a driving license. I’m pretty sure I’ll have to take a driving test. I hope I’ll remember to stay on the correct side of the road while under examination. I am praying for a job. I am praying for a way to fund being able to feed myself and a way that I can get to and from church and maintain fellowship with the member there in the mean time. I am praying to God about whether or not I am doing the right thing here. I don’t understand why He wants me here, but I’m still pretty sure He does. I know my heart is for here. I realise the irony of foolishly wasting all my savings on what are effectively immigration taxes so I can get to live in a country that prides itself on being independent from tyrannical unrepresented taxation. I know God will provide again.
I had a very rough week last week. I spent most of last week after the papers were filed trying to come to terms with the doubt of the reality of my application, losing faith, backsliding and falling into sin during bouts of emotional instability. Then on Friday, while doing preparation for the Bible Study “Essential virtues” by Jim Berg, I became so overwhelmed by repentance and conviction that it became hard to see the words of the book through the tears. Chapter 6 talks specifically about how a wife goes through the dilemma of dying from cancer, so I knew exactly what it was talking about, it felt like it was written directly to me. I realised that the separation of sin is so abhorrent because it is to God exactly the same as the separation I now face with my wife.
After that followed nearly 5 days of constant fellowship during my waking hours. I’ve made good friends with my wife’s cousin and sister-in-Christ Heather, her husband and brother-in-Christ Matt, their daughter Kayla, and their dog Penny. I have spent almost all that time with them and with my brother-in-Christ and mentor Tyrone who lives near them and attends my church. When not spending time with them I was in constant fellowship with Paradise Valley Baptist Church and I even made a visit to the non-denominational Life Church nearby. I’ve had fellowship at a baseball game, a church yard sale, a few picnics, I even ended up watching Pride and Prejudice in their trailer late on one of the nights. I finally began to feel useful again in some way when I was able to use the van that God has provided me to drive them around.
I find myself in a position that I never really expected to be in. All my life plans haven’t really changed since I was about 13 years old. I knew my goals, they were all pretty straight forward, and for the most part I achieved them. But now I’m in a position of trying to rebuild my life from the ashes of what they once where. I am constantly seeing myself in the internet meme of a dog sitting in front of a computer with it’s paws on the keyboard proclaiming, “I have no idea what I’m doing”. I remember the words of my pastor when he told me that he could sympathise, but not empathise. Even with all the advice that people have given me, they really can’t empathise with what I’m going through, in fact I only really know of one or two people that can come close, and their circumstances are very different. I really don’t have a clue what my life has for me now. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know God has a plan, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out.