But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
Here is my compilation of posts from start to finish that will serve to document what happened in August and September of 2017. God did some wild stuff in my life (I am still sort of reeling from what happened, so this is also a way for me to process). So, to share my joy, proclaim God’s grace, and for me to remember and hold to His faithfulness, here is: THE VISA
My first two weeks are done and I am now starting my third (its a home office week so we work from home). Next week is when it all officially starts–the teaching anyway. I have a few prayer requests, but the most pressing at the moment it for my visa.
My FBI background check took forever to go through, so because of that, we are just now able to start my visa application process. All of the paperwork has been collected and I’ll be going to the foreign police tomorrow (usually an all day thing to my understanding) however once I am approved and my visa is processing I will only have about 3 weeks to stay before I’ll be here illegally (the 22nd of September is the day I am officially done). There are several ways this goes down:
A) I get my visa back before the three weeks are up and I can legally stay! Possible, however unlikely.
B) I stay illegally until I get my visa. If I keep
My head down and don’t travel, I might be able to swing it. But if I’m caught, I’m banned for 5 years–no questions asked.
C) the third option is to go to one of the countries that aren’t a part of the 90 day visa that I am on–so the UK, Croatia, and Romania are options. I’d leave a few days before my visa expires to have a buffer so as to come back and get my visa.
if you have any questions I am happy to answer them, please be praying for our team, and that’s we make the wisest decision. Right now Mike is looking into me staying with someone in the U.K.
6:00am–Mike and I are at the foreign police as we speak! Please pray that they accept our paperwork!!
7:30am— Update: we have been here for a few hours already and they are just now letting people in, however, we discovered that there was a list that they created last night, so when we got to the front of the line they turned us away because we weren’t on it. However, we are standing next to the door, hoping to get in as soon as the list is finished. Hopefully, it will be today!
9:00am— Okay, good news: I don’t have to wait all day at the police station
Bad news: that is because they ran out of numbers. The next day the station is open is on Monday–when school starts. We are trying to look into a few options, but the visa will have to be shelved for the next few days.
This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! His lovingkindness is everlasting, and He is good. Holding onto Psalm 118 this morning, and praise God I don’t feel too terribly discouraged.
Not totally sure what the next steps are, but Zuzka from the school is amazing and is helping me. It is looking pretty likely that I’ll be taking a month off a few weeks into the school year to wait out my visa outside of the eurozone. I’ll continue to keep you guys updated! Thanks for the encouraging messages.
Tomorrow is round two at the foreign police! I’d appreciate your prayers for endurance, patience, a good attitude, and a friendly person behind the counter!
6:00am–So we checked for a list around 11pm last night, and there was no list. But got here at 5, talked to some people and it turns out there is now a list. Please, please pray that I get in today. It is looking a little bleak as there are a lot of people ahead of me.
8:00am–They have run out of tickets, but Zuzka and I are waiting to see if we might be able to sneak in, otherwise, I’ll have to come back
9:00am–There is a group of about thirty of us waiting by the ticket machine for a number. The way it works is they will issue a certain number of these tickets (about as many as they think they can get through in the hours they are open) and then the machine will not print anymore. If the people get through enough of us it will print some more. Zuzka asked me to stay for another hour, however, if I don’t get in, I’ll go next week with the Rotary students.
At this point I am feeling pretty frustrated, it sounds like in order to get in you literally have to stay the night here, because at some point (at an undisclosed time) a police officer will come and take down names, but after that you have to stay to avoid losing your place in line. There are also no bathrooms for people. I feel angry for the people who don’t have the opportunity to leave for the U.K. for an almost-vacation and come back, there are a lot of people whose stakes are a lot higher than mine. These people by the machine are frantically pushing the button to get a ticket. This is tough, team.
11:00am–No dice today, I was feeling pretty bummed, however, I am feeling better after a good cry in the park. A toddler on a bike stopped short about 10 feet from me, he pointed (which as first I thought he was pointing because I was indiscreetly crying through sunglasses, but then he just held up his hand and waved his fingers and said “Ahoj!!” He stayed there (demanding that I wave back) while his mom called after him.
So the things I can be grateful for today:
I made a Russian friend in line today, and she only spoke Slovak but we could communicate
The salad in my stomach
That Ecclesiastes demands that I don’t find satisfaction in my job or my accomplishments, and sometimes crap just happens that you can’t control.
All the people here (and at home) that are helping me
It’ll be okay, and once I snag some sleep I think I’ll have a newer, clearer perspective.
Hi guys! Looks like tomorrow is round 3 at the foreign police–please pray I get in. I will be leaving for the UK (or maybe Albania or Ukraine) this Friday or Saturday. Still a lot of uncertainty right now, I could use some encouragement
Thanks for praying!
–And once again they are out of tickets, I’ll again wait for another few hours to see if the machine turns back on, but it looks like I will try again tomorrow
8:00am–So, tomorrow night is a thunderstorm, but it is one of my last chances to submit my paperwork so I might be camping in the ☔️
Good thing I love you Slovakia
9:00am— Fantastic news! I have made a friend! Her name is Kate, and she is a Belarusian student, and we will stay the night together at the police office! I am thankful to not have to go alone! I am feeling encouraged!
9:50pm–Got here at 9:50–already tons of people here. I am 49th on the list, I have to stay here all night in order to hold my place, but I think is unlikely I will get in. Feeling very frustrated!!
7:00am–S/o to Mike and Janka who brought cocoa and tea, sweets and sandwiches throughout the night. You’re the real MVPs!
Also–I have neglected showing photographic evidence of “the sitch” so here you are–it looks worse than I think is, it is two lines, and I am at the middle point
8:00am–Nope, not today. I have one more shot on Friday, or else I’m out 90 days. Bit of a mess, today is a day of heartbreak
9:00pm–Thank you guys for all your encouraging words–I may have cried more tears and dropped a few more swear words (sorry) than I would like to admit in the last 24 hours, but if anything, I am stunned at the ways people have shown me kindness. I am more than ever resolved to press on, because when I think over that critical question: is it worth it to stay here even though this part bites? I am continually coming up with the same answer: yes, yes it is.Thanks for loving me through my tears (especially Zuzka and her husband–oh my gosh, that was when I both at my most tired and most emotional), I have not been the picture of gracious suffering, but God doesn’t need me to be, and I am glad for that. We shall press on!
Dusan (the principal) is calling all sorts of people, they are attempting to extend my visa for a few days so I can hopefully file my papers. If the process doesn’t get started, that is when we will be in hot water.
Apparently tomorrow at the school there is going to be some sort of rally to garner a physical presence of students at the foreign office. Dusan painted a mental picture of having 30 or so students perhaps staying the night with me in front. I must admit, being this much the center of attention is a bit mortifying. My pride just wishes I could solve this myself and not draw a bunch of attention because of it, but as these things go, that is not the case. I hope if anything, maybe some of the other people might feel encouraged.
Okay, that is all for now Resting in Philippians 4, crying when I need to, and setting my heart and mind on the bigger picture and seeing the joy therein.
One last thing: my friend who I met at the foreign office–the one who stayed last night as well, is AMAZING. Like, I actually see us being really, really good friends. She, even after staying there all night, has offered to come back and wait for part of the time with me tomorrow. Who knows what God is up to? But since relationships are my most precious possessions, I feel really blessed!
5:00pm–So today is a crazy day! I am again at the police station–number 14 on the list!! There will be students visiting me all through the night–some staying with me until dawn, I just got interviewed for Slovakia’s largest tv network–haha, what is happening?
6:45pm–Possibly on a list!!! Like the OFFICIAL list!! Don’t know for sure–the police say it is not the list, but they video taped all of us (our faces) and checked our passports–they say the will come back every once and a while to check and see if we are still here, so we will see!!
8:30pm–This is insane!! There is a TV crew here–also like 15 students, well, this is an adventure! Who knows what God is doing!!
11:30pm–Because of the media attention, it sounds like there is a small chance they might approve my visa tomorrow–crazy!
11:30am–I apologize for the delays, my phone died about 4 in the morning, some details are still unknown but I can tell you things are looking very positive for my visa. If anything, the paperwork is submitted and my fingerprinting is done.The past 24 hours were some of the most bizarre and wonderful of my entire life, I will now recap to the best of my ability:
10:50- Dusan (the principal) calls an assembly and asks students to join me for the night, as well as come to the foreign police in the morning to show solidarity. I am embarrassed at first and then encouraged and shocked at the student’s response…
12:00- I teach a lesson I call “literary terminology yoga” (it didn’t go great)
1:00- I write a letter to the American ambassador while eating a mustard sandwich.
2:30-I get together with Steph, Caro, and Gabika and we pray for my visa, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Isaiah 43, when God is talking about moving nations and giving others as a random for me sticks out.
3:30- I and a crew get to the police station and get my name on a list–number 14.Most of the students are sophomores who don’t even know me but just wanted to show support.
5:00- I get a call from Dusan saying a guy from one of the news networks wants to come interview me–I nervously say yes.
6:00- There are about 30 people waiting now, and several police officers burst through the door and demand we line up with our passports. They write our names down, what we are doing there, and then they film our faces with a camcorder. One officer tells the girls I am with that if they see anyone cutting in line and they tell him, he will move us to the front.
The officer also dramatically destroys the list in front of us, shouting: NO LIST!
7:00- Students begin the flood in to join me. At one point there are about 15. Helenka also comes and somewhat of a party begins. A guitar is brought out, pizza is ordered, and laughter and dancing ensue. Helenka makes a note that this environment is oddly reminiscent of a Serbian refugee camp.
9:00- Dusan alerts me that another news crew is on its way. They arrive with at least 3 massive cameras and bright lights. They film and interview as many people as they can. The anchor Darius, is very kind and says he’ll be back later to film more.
10:00- Matej Hadvab brings a table, Niki and Viktor bring some soup (and teach me some Hungarian), Samo brings a double bass (still not totally sure while), and Maria and Sara bring a boom box. We have now properly set up camp.
10:30- I see a man lurking in the corner of my eye, he keeps on wandering out of the little shelter and back in again. Eventually, he comes over and tells me he is a reporter for a newspaper. He asks for an interview, and then he asks if I am aware that the Minister of the Interior offered to let me in there and then if the media went away. No way in heck!
11:00- I make a bathroom/coffee run and Zuzka runs over a curb.
12:00- A formidable force of teachers join me on the front lines and Darius the newsman returns with maybe more cameras. Janinka and David give a great interview and my colleagues prove evermore more wonderful. Caro dances in the background of an interview Sierra delivers in perfect Slovak.
2:00- Discussing the American legacy of reality television with Sierra and students and Malaysia with Caro.
3:30- Pass out on a mat in front to the building.
4:15- Wake to bright camera lights in my face for a moment, and then they are taken away. I see my friend Martin waving to me, and then I fell back asleep.
4:30-People start panicking about getting in (because most of the people have been waiting all night, but the list was destroyed, so those who came after six are furious because they felt they should be closer. A tired and angry Ukrainian man makes a few punches at a Brazilian man.
5:00- The people in the line noticed the camera attention I was getting through the night and for some reason look to me to explain things rationally to angry people in English.
5:15- I befriend the angry Ukrainian man, and we give solemn nods to each other for the rest of the day.
6:00- Students and teachers begin to show up, I am offered cake after cake after cake, and a cup of tea after cup of tea after cup of tea.
6:30- People in the line begin to get restless. I befriend 4 Filipino men who work as truck drivers. They seemed to be above the panic. I also am surrounded by Caro, Marian, Katka, and Miska. They keep me company while I am crowded in line. And Miska talks with stars in her eyes about our revolution.
7:00- More students show up, more cameras show up. The people in line are both intrigued and also nervous as to whether or not they will get in. I am sort of just stunned at this point. As far as I can see, there are about 70-80 students and teachers (probably more than the people in line) waiting there for me. Winking, nodding, waving, and telling me that we are going to do it.
7:30- The police are having trouble handling the rowdy crowd, there are huge cameras looking at them and then switching back to the line–it doesn’t good great for them.
8:00-I make it inside the building. Finally, after 15 long hours of waiting, and I hear literal cheers from outside. I take number 313 and await my fate.
8:30- I befriend another Ukrainian and he spends several minutes trying to convince me that Bill Clinton was the best president ever and Monica Lewinski was a scam. Afterwards he makes eye contact with me across the room and mouths “I love you”
9:00- Zuzka and I make it to the office. The lady looks carefully at every piece of paper Zuzka hand her. Asking a different colleague for everyone. It is agonizing, but then she accepts it.
10:00- I get fingerprinted and have my picture taken. THE PAPERWORK IS DONE!!!
10:15- I get simultaneously interviewed by 3 different newscasters, there were actually like 3 of those foam mics in front of me. I cry when talking about what the school did and Darius makes them turn the cameras off.
10:30- Mike and Steph pull me aside and tell me that it sounds like the head of the police has just called Dusan to tell him that not only has my visa been accepted, but I am free to stay.
I should tell you guys–this doesn’t happen here… I cannot thank you enough for the ways you have encouraged me and pushed me to trust God even when it didn’t make sense.
I am stunned, I am tired, and I am thankful. What a wonderful way for God to show His power in my life, and His love for me through the love of you all.
11:30- Home, and it is time to sleep.
Links to newscasts:
6:00pm–Thank you guys for keeping up with me and praying for me! Final update for now–my visa is technically taking longer to process, but I CAN STAY!!
They have granted me extra time in the Schengen, which just doesn’t happen. I emailed the US consul on Thursday about my situation and they said that there was no way that I could stay and that I would for sure have to leave.
This is for real a miracle. Praise Jesus!
9:00am–We might have celebrated a little early, we are still waiting for either my special exception to stay or my fully processed visa. I will find out in the next 2-3 hours if I can stay or not–they need to give me a paper by this afternoon. If they don’t, it is likely that I’ll have to leave for just a week or two. So, the drama continues. But I am optimistic!
11:00am–Okay–more drama is ensuing. The police had accepted my papers on Friday, but they had told us today that there is a problem (we don’t know what the problem is), if they accept the papers they are not supposed to change it. But it isn’t likely a mistake on their end, they might have accepted papers should not have, or something got lost, I have no idea, haha.
And in other news, the website I used to calculate my 90 days didn’t count the first day, so I am officially illegal today (we just discovered this like 10 minutes ago). This is really bad, please pray that the system will have mercy on me, because as of now, I am in the wrong because, while I had verbal assurance from the higher-ups that I could stay, I don’t have any legal documentation so I might be in trouble.
Now, according to Dušan, since this story ran on all 3 major networks and was literally all over Facebook, they believe about 1 million people have seen it (that information makes me want to go hide). The media will be here in about an hour, and they will be announcing my fate. Please pray for strength and for God’s will to be done.
12:15–Also they had a brief assembly, and some students brought out this sign, and I was given flowers
1:00pm–I have just received a call from the foreign police, I am to come at 2 to the back door and ask for someone called Tomčo.This is basically a political thriller. Our principal, Dušan, is literally amazing.
We don’t know if I am getting my visa or not at two, however, we are prepped to buy a ticket to London for tonight.
4:00pm–Finally, the case is put to rest! I can officially stay! They broke out some legislation from back when it was Czechoslovakia to do it, but I am here!
I am officially a tourist so I will not be able to work until I have my visa, but I will hopefully have it within the next two weeks!
Also, they got me 🌸 🌺🌹
And, another fun fact, in the news, they have been calling this case: Kramerova vs. Slovakia
Weird life, man. I am glad it is over, I am pretty tired, and I am thankful for everyone who kept encouraging me and for God and His word which was my daily hope to cling to! We made It! So, now the real work begins (well, soon anyway)
Fin (for now)