While I’m waiting for clothes to wash and dry, I thought it would a good time to communicate some things that have been on my heart to share with you all.
Many of us are familiar with the verse from Proverbs 16...
“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.“
Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are calling according to His purpose.“
I, Lauren, have thought of so many examples in Scripture where things do not meet our earthly standards of what is good, yet the Lord in His sovereignty shows how He is capable of turning all things for His good and glory. I’ve been thinking of Daniel and the lions’ den, the fiery furnace for Daniel’s friends, Esther being taken away from Mordecai, Joseph being betrayed by his brothers, and the Scriptures go on and on! And of course the ultimate one being of Christ’s death. His followers could not see the good, until He arose and conquered death and the grave! Such goodness. The ultimate good! Geofrey and I are grateful to remember these examples as our story continues to unfold… we pray our story can be the same.
We wanted to share a little more in detail about why we need to return to America for the next stage of our life…. Just to clarify for some who may be wondering! I will try to write in statement form as to be easier to read through.
- We were advised to apply for an immigrant visa because he is married to an American. Many spouses of U.S. citizens have been denied visitor visas and told to apply for immigrant visas. We planned to work on Geofrey’s citizenship eventually, but not immediately-because we knew it was a long and expensive process. However, we had no choice but to apply for an immigrant visa if Geofrey were to visit America and meet family and friends.
- It took more than 18 months, along with many delays, but we finally traveled together to America last winter.
- Geofrey soon received his green card and we applied for his citizenship and continued jumping through different hoops required. Many of you know that he was granted a citizenship test and he passed!!! The only remaining step was to be approved for a swearing in date for his citizenship, apply for his passport, and we would be done!
Then we received another reminder that “the mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.“
- Geofrey was not approved for citizenship. We have been waiting since July 2017 to hear back about his status and all we have been told is that it is “still pending”. Each month in America grew more and more difficult… we kept expecting to soon hear that it was all done and we could leave, but it never happened.
- We prayed, sought counsel, and had complete confidence to return to Uganda this past December.
- We prayed more, sought more and different counsel, and then were told that on a green card, Geofrey needs to be residing in America more than in Uganda.
- We have heard many stories where green cards are being revoked by immigration officers at the American borders because people are living too long abroad, instead of residing in America.
- So many have sacrificed so much for Geofrey’s green card and current immigration status. We believe it is unwise to put his status in jeopardy by residing outside of America too long.
- So instead of returning to Uganda to get settled in again, it appears the Lord gave us peace to return in order to organize the ministry and things for our absence. It ends up we returned in order to sell our possessions, pack up, and leave again…. Not to settle in.
- Now we plan to live in America until Geofrey is an American citizen and has an American passport. He will then be a dual citizen of both Uganda and America. Then, for the rest of our lives, we will NEVER have to worry about visas and immigration issues EVER again. A few years of sacrifice will be beneficial for the rest of our lives. We will be able to freely come and go.
- We are not sure how long it will take. It is possible that Geofrey is approved within the next year, or it could be three years. We cannot see the future, but we need to step in obedience and we need to settle down in Arkansas for now.
When we returned from being in the States a full year, many people told us that Frontline had continued on serving the boys as if we had never left. Our pastoral care couple from CTEN recently visited and made a remark that Frontline has the greatest potential for chaos, yet is so orderly. They were shocked at how well behaved the boys were and very grateful for what the Lord has established. We praise God for His miraculous ways!
“BUT THE LORD DIRECTS HIS STEPS…” ...again...
There are some very exciting opportunities that have been presented to us that would allow us to continue to pour into the children of Uganda, not only through street outreach but education as well. It is very exciting to pray over, but we need to ensure that it is the Lord’s will. We are praying for the Lord’s complete guidance and direction. Please pray with us as we seek His will for us in Arkansas. May we tune into His voice, and continue to walk in His ways, as we know He is faithful to sustain and guide us.
The words of a song from this past Sunday at church very easily brought tears to my eyes as I feel the pain and joy of the Lord solidifying all these truths into my heart…
“Faithful, You are.
Faithful, forever You will be.
Faithful, You are.
All your promise are yes and amen.
All Your promises are yes and amen."
We LOVE you all deeply. We are so grateful for you all. Words can never adequately express the impact you have made and continue to make through your prayers and support.
See you soon, friends.