It has been one month of Minnesota livin’!
As I am typing, I literally just swatted at a mosquito and am smelling freshly cut grass which has been a staple since arriving.
Along with the mosquitos, cut grass, long, beautiful days, cool, frog-chirping nights, we’ve also been having our share of cold, air-conditioned government centers, loooong lines, lots of waiting, the beeping of security check points, ink on paper, signature, signature, “I swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth”, and more waiting.
Life is so dichotomous.
After arriving to Minnesota we had Richard’s interview (Civic’s Test for Naturalization) and thought that we were going to be able to be back in Ecuador by the end of May. Well, during the test, the interviewer thought that we had spent too much time outside of the United States and, although Richard passed his civic’s test, we were told that he could not be approved for citizenship based on more info being needed.
Well, we were definitely not expecting that! We were not given any more info and told to wait until we received more information in the mail.
Let’s just say that was the most nerve-racking week we had had in a long time. If Richard wasn’t going to be able to get his citizenship, we were pretty much stuck in the USA until we could reapply for citizenship which could take up to another 6 months.
Thankfully that was not the case and a week later we received a letter saying that Richard was approved for citizenship and was suppose to attend the naturalization ceremony which was two days ago.
Richard is now an official citizen of the United States of America!!!
It was such a powerful ceremony. There were 829 new citizens that day who represented 92 countries.
I really enjoyed sitting next to these sweet ladies as we talked about the journey to this day, the need for change in the immigration systems, and how today, all of us, from different religions, cultures, backgrounds, and beliefs, were all here for one purpose and we were all here to celebrate together, differences aside. And that is what we did. After the oath was taken, and the 829 become official citizens, you could see Guatemalans hugging Canadians, Syrians congratulating Cubanos, People from India shaking hands with people from Somalia, and so on and so forth. It was so beautiful!
I am so proud of him!!!!
So now in the meantime while we wait to receive Richard’s passport we are working part-time, getting documents translated and apostilled for Ecuador, planning end-of-summer adventures, and finishing up details for Merge trips this summer.
We are not exactly sure when we will be back in Ecuador but we are hoping it will be within the first week of June! (which is any day now!)
Thanks again, for all of your support, your words of encouragement, and your journeying with us!
We are so thankful for each and everyone of you!
Richard and Liz
Hello from beautiful, springy Minnesota!
If you didn’t get our last newsletter, then I’m sure some of you are wondering, “What’s going on? Why are they back in Minnesota?”
Well, wonder no more!
We are back in Minnesota because….Richard has a date for his interview to become a citizen!
We are so excited! This was something we were definitely not expecting to come so soon, we were thinking more like September, but a week after we landed in Ecuador we received the news!
Since Richard not only has his interview, but also a swearing-in ceremony, AND a USA passport to get, we are not exactly sure how long we will be in Minnesota for, but we are hoping to be back in Ecuador the last week of May.
We also want to say a HUGE “thank you!” Thank you for praying for us, asking questions, and encouraging us! I said in our newsletter that I feel like this is as much of your journey as it is ours, and we are so thankful to be walking this together!
So in the meantime, while Richard catches up on US history, politics, and economy, we will be soaking up and in this absolutely beautiful Minnesota spring, hanging out with as many family and friends as we can, going on as many bike rides as we can, and taking advantage of these extended rays of sun (sunset: 8:30pm…hallelujah!)
We will keep you updated!
Richard + Elizabeth
I can’t quite let go of Christmas yet.
I mean, every year when December and the Christmas season are coming to a close, we begrudgingly get back into the routines of daily life, but this year, knowing that this is probably our last white, Minnesotan Christmas for a while, I am even more reluctant to dismantle the tree, the greens, the hanging cinnamon stars, and the cozy, stringed lights.
I am even more reluctant to end the daily gatherings at my parent’s or siblings’ homes, sitting by the wood-burning stove, playing games, reading together, going on morning, winter walks or evening moonlit strolls.
I am reluctant to let this season end, literally and figuratively speaking.
I know it is a process, of letting go, of holding on, of saying goodbye, of saying hello, er…hola. But still….it’s hard. It is a PROCESS. Just like much of life; growing up, getting older, experiencing sorrows and joys and mountains and valleys and days of triumph and days that feel like a failure.
This process of life, of seasons…..it’s hard stuff. It really is, but to resist it, I think, would only make it worse, as hard as it is, I am learning to be fully aware and to be consciously and intentionally apart of it. To be awake to the changes and the feelings and emotions of it all, to not let it drown me, but be okay with feeling sad or feeling excited. To be okay with it being messy and not exactly what I thought.
But the hope of process for me is, we do not have to do it alone. We are all in process, in different seasons, in motion, in change, but we are not alone. I am so thankful for the community of support around us, for our friends and family who have known or know that seasons and different processes we are going through and offer us their space and time to process with them. We are so thankful!
I am so thankful for Christ and how he intentionally and purposefully chooses to travel with us through every season and process, daily.
Just today, as I was spending sometime alone, thinking on the past year and how some parts of it were so hard and ugly and thinking to myself, “what a waste that time was, I wish I could re-do or re-live those moments and do things differently” or, “I wish I never had to go through that season, that I could have erased that moment in my life”. Instantly after I thought that, I felt in my heart, God saying:
“It was not for nothing, it was not in vain, it was not lost. The things that you think are dead are breathing in life again. In silence, I was and am there. I am in the grief. I am in the seemingly wasted years, in the mistakes, in the ashes, in the pain, in the unnoticed, in the broken…look closer, look closer, I was there and am there. I am there. There is no “wasted” or “lost” in me. I am NOT a passive Father”
And it is so true. He isn’t passive, in the waiting, in the silence, in the proceses, in the different seasons, he is not passive, he is right with us, walking with us. Oh, that my eyes would be open to Him. OH, that even when I don’t see or feel, that I would choose to believe. Oh that I would choose to believe!
So, in this process of “lasts” and in this season of change and bittersweetness, I am going to try to have my eyes wide open to each moment, to intentionally be apart of the process and the season, whatever one it may be, I want to be apart of it, not wishing it were over, or trying to blur the days away, but through the mountain highs or valley lows, singing out to remind my soul, that I am not alone and I am not alone.
So maybe we’ll keep the tree up just a little bit longer and we will linger just a little while longer in the moments we are together, and be thankful for this season and the next.
I’m watching the tops of the already 9-foot tall corn bend and sway, all in uniform, as the gentle summer breeze passes by. I’m sitting in our car as my husband drives along on a backcountry road, somewhere in Minnesota. The sky is a perfect blue with white, puffy clouds and I…am perfectly content.
This is my first, sweet Minnesotan summer since six years ago and it will probably be my last for a while, not forever, but for a while.
Like you probably already know from the video we posted, my husband and I are in the process of fundraising to partner in Ecuador as short-term missionaries with Merge Ministries for two to three years.
I’m not quite sure how to explain what we’ll be doing or what we’ve experienced so far in our journey of becoming short-term missionaries in a way that isn’t an overload of information or that does not do justice to the faithfulness of our Father. Maybe bit-by-bit is better.
So for now, I will say that we have been so grateful and humbled by the love and support we have been shown thus far. Truly, we have learned a greater depth of grace and love as we have experienced overwhelming support from families, friends, and individuals as we walk this journey together. We are so grateful, so, so grateful.
So, until the next blog post, I will continue to watch the summer corn grow, enjoy evenings eating dinner outside with my family, bonfires with friends, fireflies blinking in the night, camping with my brothers and sisters, humid summer nights sitting outside talking with my husband, slapping at mosquitos, canoeing down rivers, swimming in one of the 10,000 lakes, spitting out watermelon seeds, walking around barefoot, reading under the shade of familiar trees, walking in fields, stopping to pick wildflowers on the side of the road, and truly trying to be present in each moment, lifting my heart in thanks to the One who’s timing is always right and who offers us peace and rest as he leads us through the quiet and rushing waters of life.
love, the santanas