A year ago we were finally heading back to T-stan, after a seven week wait in Germany (thanks again, Luci & Uli!). We finally had the visa we needed to return, Rees to get a work permit and to extend for a year – phew! As most of you know, that didn’t happen and we’ve spent the last year having to leave the country every 30-45 days. I wish I had something new to report a year later, but it seems that our visa situation is the same. We are hoping for a three-month extension that we’ll apply for next week, but there’s again no guarantee that will happen. All we can do is pray, try, and wait and see. I usually pack away all our suitcases in the basement, but this year they’ve stayed stashed in my closet – ready for action.
Our visa-situation hasn’t changed this last year but our attitudes about it are pretty different now, a year later. The first few times we got jerked around – being told that it will be no problem to get our visas or “just wait a couple of weeks til after …” we got really discouraged when it didn’t work out. You know – the moping around kind of discouraged where you alternate between feeling absolutely powerless and clawing at any opportunity to “control” the situation. It really felt like a roller-coaster. After four or five months, however, we came to accept that this is our “normal” for the time being (thanks to the example and encouragement of some friends). We stopped spending tons of time discussing and re-discussing what we perceived our options to be. We also stopped entertaining possibilities that connected-but-kind-of-shady people were offering. We reached out for help and support and received it (thank you!!!) and said, “Lord, you have done bigger things than this. We’re going to persevere through the spring and then re-evaluate. Lead us, guide us and give us the strength to hang in there and not give up joy in the process. We trust you can open doors if they need opening.”
Life has returned to a Central Asian rhythm. Homeschooling continues. Housework continues. Rees is teaching and continues with his livestock small-business hobby. There are weddings, funerals, festivals and visits but we just happen to go somewhere every 6 weeks for 4-5 days. We usually take our travel day off school but just bring our stuff with us wherever we go and do school there (thank God there are benefits to homeschooling). We also find ourselves entertaining more possibilities than we have since we moved here. We talk about where else we would live, what would we do and all that kind of stuff. Then we rein it in and say, “Let’s just try to be here, now.” We aren’t a very pretty picture of perfect peacefulness (especially when we’re at the airport going through passport control – we get ugly every time – it’s embarrassing), but we have experienced repeatedly the grace to get back to focusing on what’s in front of us, laying aside our need to know, for sure what’s next (since who can really know for sure?) and to try to act like we are on a fun adventure with our kids (ok, maybe that only happens a maximum of half the time). I’ve also experienced a lot of grace to stay focused in on the home-front. I would have normally been more inclined to “make it count”- the time we have here, not knowing if it is coming to a close or just a little bump in the road of a long tenure here. We go out and about, but I’m not trying to force my kids to visit lots of people and see lots of things and then be frustrated with their squirreling around and eventually saying, “can’t we just go home?” I feel grace to continue to return to being a safe person and having a safe home. Maybe I’m just worn down enough and I’m raising the white flag of surrender – given up on some of my control techniques. But it seems like surrender and grace are pretty closely connected.
Have you ever ended up with an outdated map or directions? You end up at a dead end but the map shows a road or the navigation voice tells you to continue going straight? Sometimes I get mad at the actual road – what right does it have to defy the map? I insist that the road can’t end there. It’s ridiculous because it doesn’t change the fact that the road doesn’t continue straight. Our status here is no different from a year ago but we are living in more peace about it for the time being, not trying to predict (or prevent) every turn in the road. Just driving and seeing where this road goes.