A New Visa!!
You guys!! Can we talk about how awesome God is?! I mean, seriously?! He's so cool! As my former pastor Bro David used to say: "C'mon!!"
Some of you may be saying, "It's just a visa renewal. You've had a few of these already. What's the big deal?" Well, let me tell you. It's never just a visa renewal when you're dealing with two different countries and their various, every changing rules. But also, this visa was very different than the last two, for many reason. Let's see if I can put this into perspective for you.
Rewind the clock a few months with me, if you don't mind. Around January of last year, 2019, I started wondering if I was meant to stay in South Africa, move back to America, or move somewhere completely different. I knew my visa had a ticking time clock on it. But what I didn't know, was what God wanted for me. And, for me, that's the most important factor. He brought me to South Africa when I didn't know anything about it. He brought me to Jeffreys Bay, when I didn't know what I was doing in SA. And He brought me to the people that I work with in so many different ways. So, He's the boss. It's as simple as that.
It took MONTHS to finally get the confirmation I needed. But I got it while working at a large church event called The Sending (the irony of that name was not lost on me, fyi). But then it became a matter of timing. My visa didn't expire until the end of May 2020. But I needed to do some fundraising in America and talk to my family before I decided to apply. Plus, when I apply I generally give over my passport to my visa agent (a wonderful Christian woman who's been helping me for years now here in South Africa). And I still needed my passport to make my annual trip to America to see my family, friends, & sponsors, and do to my annual in-person fundraising efforts. So I pushed it back until after I returned to SA in January. But when I returned, I didn't feel an urgency to get it done. So I waited.
And then, out of nowhere, I started having dreams about urgency. And if you know much about my walk with God, when I start having dreams I start paying attention and praying 10 times more than normal! So on March 3, I made plans to sneak away from all my responsibilities in town, and make the drive to George to meet up with my visa agent and apply, in person, for my visa renewal.
(As a side note, that same day Nashville was hit with a terrible storm that caused me all kinds of doubt about what I was doing, because I can't ever stop loving my hometown and the people who live there. But I knew He had told me to go and He had made the appointment so quickly and without much of my help. So I had to follow through. Thankfully, the news about Nashville didn't come to me until after the application process was complete because my phone had to be turned off during the interview.)
I was only in George for the day. I snuck in a meal by myself at a restaurant that I love and then I headed back to Jbay, leaving it all in His hands. Three weeks later, to the DAY, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a Nation-wide Lockdown would be starting in just three days time. The lockdown is still currently going on. But we're in Stage 3 now, which means that government offices have reopened, including Home Affairs where my passport and visa application have been sitting for months now. Over the months, I've gotten nothing but negative news from the process: "You may be asked to leave the country.." "It will most likely be denied, as all visas are being denied..." "There's no way to know when they'll get caught up on the stack of papers waiting to be process..." and on and on it goes. It was discouraging, to say the least. But, honestly, I just kept feeling like either way, it was what He wanted. I did what He asked. The rest was up to Him. So, with each discouraging message, I just brushed it off and said to myself, "Whatever happens, happens. It's okay."
And then!! Out of absolute nowhere!! I got an email from my visa agent. "Your application has finally been approved and therefore the permit has been endorsed in your passport until 2023 05 01"
You guys! I was stunned! I think I'm still stunned! I just kept staring at the email like it must have been a mistake. But she messaged me and called me as well because she also just KNEW it was God. And she wanted me to know how rare it was to get this confirmation right now. Still, I honestly didn't believe it. I wanted to see it with my own eyes. But with the lockdown restrictions, it wasn't possible for me to just drive over to George and pick up my passport. I had to wait and have it couriered to me. It arrived today, while I'm sitting at home in self-quarantine (thank You Lord that I'm home and not at school when this arrives).
But today, my sweet landlord came down all excited and waving her hands saying, "You're legal! You're legal!" and waving a package for me to open. "Open it!" she said. "I want to see it too!" I opened it and started happy crying. I can't believe it! It's real, you guys! It's here and it's ALL because of God. If I had not gone to George when I did, at exactly three weeks prior to the shutdown announcement, it would not have been processed. That has been confirmed for me by the officials themselves. The timing was nothing short of Godly!
And so now, as I am sitting here recovering from a Covid-19 scare and all the stress and drama this year has brought me, I hold in my hand a straight gift from God.... a reminder that He still sees me, He knows EVERYTHING that I'm going through and every struggle I've faced. And He is still proud of me!
Who knew a little sticker in a book would say all of that? But that's exactly what it says. And my only response is to say THANK YOU GOD!!!!
I mean... "C'mon!"