Almost Illegal

This past week has held one of the most unnerving experiences I’ve ever experienced. As I was nearing the end of my first 90 days in Romania (where I didn’t need a visa) and was needing to apply for a visa, I was told to exit the country and then come back to reset my 90 days. Hopefully this makes sense in how I’m explaining it. Anyway, I decided to take advantage of the needed exit and spent a day in my favorite city Budapest!

In one day, I walked about 7 miles back and forth and all around the city. Exploring historical sights, holocaust memorials, Christmas markets, changing of the guard, the Danube, and of course took in some great panoramic views of the city! Also, our President and wife of International Messengers were in Budapest the same time I was, so we were able to meet up for a while to talk. That was a great blessing!

A few years ago, I read a book about the history of Budapest and learned about the Nazi & Soviet occupations of the city, and the executions of many Hungarians and Jews. So this visit to Budapest I looked for a few of the memorials to these people who lost their lives in the war of hatred. There was one particular memorial I wanted to see, called “Shoes on the Danube” where at one point in the war people were lined up here and shot, leaving them to fall into the river below. It was a very quiet place, thinking about what happened on this ground.

The next day I was so rested and refreshed. I was looking forward to getting back home and showing the kids a few of the things I bought for them…one of which is the coolest Advent Calendar that I’ve seen. There is a pop-up tree, presents and Santa, and each day you open there is a new paper ornament to hang on the tree. It’s pretty cool.

Anyway, as we were crossing the border, they waived us over to sit for a while. Not too bad. But then the guards had me and the driver get out of the car while the others waited, and he told me that I had 24 hours to either have a new visa or leave the country for three months….if I didn’t, I would be fined and put on a list to not be allowed back in the country! You can imagine my horror and shock at this news. What did he mean? What was I supposed to do? Needless to say, the rest of the drive home I was praying, asking others to pray and honestly feeling very nervous about the whole thing.

That night, a number of people were praying for me, and we made a plan with the staff here to help me fix the problem. They joked that in Romania it’s not a big deal to be illegal……I wasn’t laughing. It was scary to think of not having the right to be in a country that I currently was in, and what would happen. So the next day we got a few of the papers and exams done (about eight different locations, fees at one, doctors’ visit, etc.) to get a long-term visa, we talked to immigration and they told us if we could submit all the paperwork by the next day it would be ok. The daily verse that was sent to me that day was Psalm 35:22-23

“Lord, You have seen this; do not be silent. Do not be far from me, Lord. Awake, and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord.”

So the following day we stood in line for about 2.5 hours to talk to one guy at the immigration office…..which mind you is about the size of your bathroom and very dark. Just before it was our turn, I bowed my head and prayed for God’s provision. This man had the power to tell me I couldn’t have a visa or he could grant me favor. He looked through our folder of documents, seemed pleased. He didn’t even notice that I was one day past my 90 day visitation period. He told us we had to pay a fee for the visa, so we walked about three blocks to a local bank, paid a fee, got a receipt, walked back, showed the receipt and then he looked through all the documents again. He told me to follow him into the back room. I had to do this without the other staff, so that was a little nerve wracking, but I was praying the whole time. He took my photo, my fingerprints and then ripped off a square piece of paper, wrote a phone # on the back and told me to come back in one month to call that # and see if my visa was finished. I was approved!!

Oh my goodness. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was so happy that God once again provided and made a way for me to stay here. This was something we’d been working on for months and in two days it was done. Praise the Lord in Heaven!!! The verse that came to me this day was Psalm 18:17

“He rescued me from my powerful enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me.”

Thank you for pleading on my behalf, for praying along side me, and for rejoicing in the victory of our Lord! He has fought the battle and won it for me today. He has won it for all of us! We have many reasons to rejoice, and today this is just one reminder of His faithfulness towards us!

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