Sometimes the life of a missionary is all but dull. In the short time we’ve been married we’ve travelled from USA-NZ-Zambia-UK-USA-UK-NZ-UK-USA-UK-USA, travelling to NZ and USA for family reasons, we’ve done many long flights and time zone changes!
We don’t say this to brag. The travel has been tiring and we haven’t had much time in one place to feel settled. We often have a need for something and realise its in another country. Our possessions were spread across four continents, and generally not in the same one as us when we needed them!
Well, that number has now been reduced as recently we made another hard decision in our lives… to leave the UK and our place of study and relocate to Ohio, to be closer to Jonathan’s family as John (Jonathan’s Dad) battles cancer. We felt our support was needed to spend quality time with Jonathan’s family, and assist them where possible. So after spending four weeks in the USA over our holidays, we went back to England to pack up our stuff and return to the USA, where we are intending to stay for most of 2017. We were very blessed to sell our car, make arrangements for the remainder of our house lease, and have some goodbyes. This was good closure on this unanticipated move. We were sad to leave the UK, but feel this is the season to be in the USA.
So what does this mean for study and ministry?
Jonathan has completed most class work for his Masters in Theology, so he is able to skype into the remaining class each week, and complete the rest of his masters remotely online. He has access to a theological library here to help with resources. His studies have become part time, and the timeline extended so he can combine study with family support needs. Sonia is unable to continue her studies remotely, so it has been deferred, with the option to finish at a future date.
We are still supported missionaries with Flying Mission, and remain on a leave of absence. At this point we still intend to return to the mission in Zambia in early 2018.
But thats not all….
As Sonia is not a U.S citizen, she can enter the USA on a visa waiver for up to 3 months at a time, provided she is not deemed to be living in the USA. We thought Sonia could get another visa or extension to stay as long as needed. We looked into a green card but it was expensive, time consuming, and wasn’t right for our purposes as we aren’t planning to live in the USA long term at this stage. (The visa isn’t granted for short term circumstances and gets revoked if we leave for an extended period- eg back to Zambia). Also as she entered on a waiver, we learned she is not eligible to extend this visa.
After researching, we found a more appropriate visa. It enables Sonia to enter the USA for up to 6 months at a time, can be extended if necessary, and is valid for 10 years. However, there’s a catch… applicants must apply from their home country! So- we have used our own and others airpoints for Sonia to return to New Zealand to interview at the U.S consulate to apply for this visa. She leaves on May 28, has an appointment on June 16, and hopes to return to the USA in late June. Please be in prayer for the application and that she can return to the USA. We have already spent two months here this year, and applying for more time may be seen to look like she is trying to live in the USA, which can be grounds for denying entry. The consulate assume you are an intending immigrant until you prove otherwise. Obviously, we very much want to be together in the USA during this time. While not ideal to be apart for a month, Sonia is excited to spend time again with friends and family. Please also pray for travels. Its a long journey, and to be honest, we are both a bit over the long travels, unpredictability, and unsettledness!
Please pray for Jonathan as he remains in the USA and balances his masters studies with family time and support. We are hopeful we will be able to see many of you over the next few months, after Sonia returns. And we intend to keep you updated with the visa situation as it eventuates! Please also continue to be in prayer for John, Janet, Laura and family.
God’s Blessings on you all,
Jonathan and Sonia
– Good closure in the U.K, valuable learning at All Nations
– Quality time with John, Janet and family in the USA
– Air points!! 😀
– Sonia’s visa application and travels back to New Zealand
– Jonny balancing Masters studies with family support
– Full recovery for John, from lung cancer and for family as they support John