So about that trip to Chicago.
A few weeks ago we had a meeting with the lawyer here in Quito that represents the Ecuador mission. Through the course of conversation in our meeting, it came up that due to some very recent changes in Ecuadorian Immigration law, we would not be able to renew our visas as easily as we have been able to do in the past.
The changes have made it impossible to renew a visa without a FBI background check. And to get an FBI background check you need to have official fingerprints taken. And we discovered after quite a wild, goose chase that getting fingerprinted in a way that the FBI will accept is impossible to do while here in Ecuador.
Hence the quick trip to the US a few weekends ago. We were able to get the fingerprints taken and the process started to get all of the documentation needed to then re-apply for our visa. Our current visas will expire in June and we will attempt to apply for our permeant residency visas at that time from Chicago because we will be back in the USA for the annual meeting of the Covenant where Chris will be ordained and I will be consecrated.
It felt so strange to wake up on Tuesday morning with little on our minds other then trying to remain focused during a meeting in our second language with a lot of legal lingo being thrown around and then by the end of the day be buying plane tickets for a trip in just 4 days. Our colleagues here were amazing to help out with our kids while we were away and keeping everything running smoothly on the home front.
And the sweet icing on the cake that was this completely unplanned detour was that the cheapest tickets that we could find to the US were to CHICAGO!! Alongside getting done what we needed to do to move forward with our paperwork, we got to share sweet time with dear friends, eat at some of our favorite Chicago spots and worship with our home church community on Sunday morning. What a gift. The blooming lilacs, the daffodils, the tulips, the lingering light in the evening promising the summer to come – it was balm for the soul.
We are far from the end of the visa saga, but we are on our way. Even in the midst of the frustrations and scrambling and unplanned money spent I was continually reminded of our privilege and the depth of support that we have. While an inconvenience, our visa issues are such a far cry from the reality that so many immigrants and refugees are facing in our country and around the world. So while we, the church, continue to support families like ours who are putting down roots in borders not our own, we must also make it a priority to support and stand in solidarity with those who find themselves within our own borders.
May all of us care for those forced from their homes because of famine, war, poverty, or persecution. It is stressful enough for us, who have chosen this path without pressure or fear; how much more so for those under the strain of forced migration arriving in places where people diminish, criticise and refuse to open their arms and lives. May we all strive for understanding of the refugees and migrants in our life remembering that we worship a Christ who fled to Egypt because of his countries’ governmental violence and that as God provides us a refuge we too can provide refuge for one another.