This is an update that was definitely not on my radar last week. Definitely.
Last Sunday I was leading worship for our little expat team, getting the guest flat ready for a family coming to visit for a few days at the end of the week, and making sure I had all the paperwork ready to submit my visa application in Hong Kong. (At the end of 2017 my work visa had expired and Kristen and I had applied for new visas in Hong Kong. While she got a 10 year visa, I only got a 3 month one because my passport was expiring in August. I applied for a new passport, which was now ready to pick up in Hong Kong.) So on Tuesday we took the fast train to the border and then the subway into Hong Kong. New passport, new visa and we would be back in Hengyang on Friday.
I picked up my passport at the US consulate Tuesday afternoon. All shiny and new.
I dropped off my visa application at the Chinese visa office on Wednesday morning. Except:
On Friday at about 1:30pm Kristen and I returned to the visa office, all packed and ready to race to the border for our train home. I received a number and we waited for the number to be called. Then we went to Window 6 where the lady there proceeded to tell me that my visa application had been rejected. You know that feeling when you are pretty sure you heard what you heard but there was no way that that was what you heard so you say, "What??" Because this was really, really not acceptable.
I asked the reason, with what I am sure was a look of utter disbelief mixed with despair. She was apologetic but of course there is "nothing we can do." Of course.
So that's the long part of this story. The short part is that after a day of seeking advice from some long time China expats, checking with three visa agents, one in Hong Kong and two in the US, to determine any options, lots and lots of prayer by people all over the world, and gradually getting my shell-shocked brain cells to work, Kristen and I are flying to Chicago so I can resubmit my application in the US. I will now and forever have to check yes to question 13.2: Have you ever been denied a visa to China? I feel like I have done something wrong, but I absolutely have not.
Do I feel bitter? angry? resentful? There is plenty of reason to feel all of those things, but I don't. I am sad that it will be weeks before I can get back to my co-workers and the young people I work with. I am disappointed that I am missing an important conference for people who work with children and youth with traumatic backgrounds. I am thankful for all the people who have been willing to help however they can here in Hong Kong and also in Hengyang. I appreciate so much the prayers and encouragement from my support network: knowing I have a place to go to share the hard is a big deal. I am confident that though I have NO IDEA why this has happened, or if there is a reason at all, that the hand that calms the storm is in control of this situation and keeps me calm in the middle of uncertainty.
About This Blog
Part documentary, part family chronicle and part personal reflection as I try to sort through the ups and downs, the joys, heartaches and surprises of our life and work as we follow the path that God has set for us here in China!
Kristen to continue to adjust to college life and find good friends.
Donna to have wisdom in planning and implementing new programs for the youth and for financial provision to cover our expenses.