Changing Times: The End of a Visa and the Rise of Another
I remember sitting in Starbucks that April day. As the noise of the coffee shop surrounded me, I was sitting there—stressed, annoyed, frustrated, and hurt. Thankfully, my friend was there listening to me, consoling me through a difficult school year with difficult friends. And thankfully, someone else was listening to that conversation. Someone else who spoke up and invited me to church.
That was the beginning of how I came to attend a certain church my latter years of high school. A church that not only helped grow and strengthen my faith, but a church that led me to Peru on a mission trip.
It was through that church that I met the man who would later become my husband. It was through that church that I met Peru.
Fast-forward a few years, and I am back in Peru with a visa lasting for 183 days, half a year. I am here to study, yes, but I am also here for something more—to begin a life with my new husband. And as our marriage is young, we decide to apply for an immigrant visa for him to live with me in the United States once I finish my semester here. We are nervous, but we are hopeful.
We walk into the United States Embassy in Lima to hand in our application. Somewhere between buildings, we decided to pray over our application process. Throughout our relationship, God was the one who had brought us together and the one who had kept us together. It was he whom we would honor going forward, no matter the outcome.
A few weeks pass. He goes to Haiti on a mission trip, and I go to Cusco with my study abroad program. While we are traveling, a packet from the Embassy arrives.
We have been approved for the next step in the process. We fill out a few more forms and gather all of our papers together.
The day for our interview arrives. My visa is running out; I only have a few weeks left in Peru. If the visa is granted, we travel. If the visa is rejected, I have to leave the country and figure out how to come back.
As we enter the Embassy, we are a bundle of nerves. Yet we still have hope. Before heading into the buildings, we stop to pray one more time. Yes, we are hopeful.
Everything runs as smoothly as possible. All of the workers, from those interviewing us to those collecting our money, are extremely kind. We leave, this time without my husband’s passport.
We cross the street from the Embassy to go to Starbucks—the meeting point for us and my parents. We find them and tell them the great news—Abraham’s visa has been accepted! We will receive his passport and his new immigrant visa in the mail in a few days.
In the midst of all the joy and excitement, I feel peace as I look across the street towards the Peruvian Starbucks. To think that everything began there on a lonely April day three years ago is simply astounding. To think that everything continued there on a grey July day a few weeks ago is even more so.
As soon as we received Abraham’s passport in the mail, we purchased our plane tickets. We returned to the States on Friday, July 30th.
So now that we’ve been here nearly a month, I can fully comment on our experience here. It’s been something strange, really. Prior to meeting, neither of us wanted to live in the States. For me, the thought of returning after being abroad was almost unbearable. For him, the thought of returning was painful and almost unimaginable.
Yet here we are, filled the most overwhelming peace. We are both ecstatic to be here and to begin our lives together.
Since we’ve been in Illinois, we have done so much. We have eaten our fill of American food. We have begun to volunteer together at church. We have shared several experiences such as potlucks, thrift shopping, coffee dates, the county fair, and country drives. Abraham joined a rugby team, and he found a job right away. I am preparing to return to school.
And while we miss Peru immensely, we know that for now, America is our home. It is bittersweet, leaving the country you love for another one. Yet we know that although we are far away, Peru is not foreign to us. In fact, Peru is something that we carry in our hearts every day, no matter where we may go.