The "beautiful scenery" around Lancaster
We flew down to Los Angeles on Thursday, the 26th, without incident. I used to love to fly, but now it's just a means to an end: it gets me where I want to be faster. I do still love to look out the window and try to figure out where we are and spot landmarks (on the way home, Wes got to look down into Mt. St. Helens, but I was on the other side of the plane!). All was well till we got to our hotel in Lancaster, where we discovered that Wes had indeed booked us for a week at the Holiday Inn, but it wasn't the one in Lancaster; it was the one in Palmdale, the next town over. It wasn't that much farther from the church and school campus where our boys are, and the reservation couldn't be changed because it was prepaid, so we packed all our stuff back in and drove over to the Palmdale hotel. And it was even better than the other one! So that turned out great.
Me and my boys
We didn't get much time with the boys at first, because they live down there and are already involved in full-time work and ministry activities, even without school in session. We did get to eat lunch and dinner with one or both of them most days, and each boy spent some time with us individually. We took them shopping for whatever they needed - laundry soap, socks, food - and we all went out to eat as a family on Sunday night.
Wes and me at the Wild Animal Park
On Saturday, Wes, Beth, and I went to the Wild Animal Park in Escondido. We had to drive literally right past my uncle's house to get there, so we stopped to see him and his family. He called up my cousins and they came over too. We cousins rarely see each other, and it was nice to catch up. There was lots of laughter around the table that evening! I'm glad we're a happy family! :) My uncle and aunt had some free guest passes to the animal park that they let us use, so that was a blessing. We were worn out by the end of the day - Wes said we had all the wild animal excitement we could handle for one day - but I'm so glad we went.
Wes took this great picture of a cheetah - I love it!
We really enjoyed church at Lancaster! I love love love their music, and the preaching was great too. We heard Pastor Stephen Chappell, Pastor Paul Chappell (pastor at Lancaster), and Pastor R.B. Ouelette. We had services Monday-Wednesday nights to kick off the start of college, and even though the sermons were geared to the college students, we old folks were refreshed and challenged too! ;)
How Wes sizes up against a gorilla. My man is bigger than a gorilla! And what is that other man looking at? He's probably jealous that he's not bigger than a gorilla! LOL
I shed a few tears when we left Lancaster on Wednesday night (we got a room near the airport so we could sleep a little later before our 6 AM flight on Thursday). It's always so hard for me to leave anyone I love after I've been visiting with them. Do you cry when you leave your loved ones, or do you wait till they're gone? Or maybe you don't cry at all. I'd like to know how you do that! Anyway, I cried and we left. Our flight home was great. Home was in sight when we landed at 11:15 Thursday morning. But we had quite the ordeal before we could go home.
Beth's hand in a gorilla's hand. She wants a guy bigger than she is . . .
Our visitor visas expired on August 8th, but we sent in our requests for new ones last May. We hadn't heard anything from immigration before we left, and as we'd never had any problems the last time we got our visas renewed, we assumed (never assume!) that they would be waiting for us when we got home. We were wrong. As we went through customs at the airport, we explained that our visas were on the way, but we still had to go to in and be questioned. We had a very nice, respectful (which is a miracle!) customs agent who was very helpful, but he regretfully informed us that our visas had actually been denied due to a small technicality and a lack of my husband's credentials as a pastor. We had never been asked for credentials in all the six years we've lived here, so that was a bit of a surprise. The catch was that his credentials were here at home, but they wouldn't let us come home. Our wonderful customs agent asked if there wasn't someone here at home who could get them and bring them to us . . . but our whole family was sitting there at the airport! After 3 1/2 hours of mostly waiting and the customs agent occasionally asking questions, we finally had our passports seized, temporary copies issued, and were ordered to return on Friday at noon with my husband's credentials, our paperwork for permanent residence (in progress), and our records proving that we were indeed homeschooling our daughter. We weren't quite sure what to expect, so we were relieved when they issued us a one-year visa with instructions to apply for permanent residence during this one year.
I like this picture of Beth and me at the animal park
So that was our eventful return! We are planning a furlough to begin in March, so we'll have to see how that will play out against our one-year visas and applying for our permanent residence. I feel like our lives are upside down because I don't know what our next step will be. I have to admit my faith-o-meter is a little on the low side at the moment. I know, deep in my heart, that all will turn out well for God's glory, but I'm just having a little trouble seeing around that corner right now. So we'd appreciate your prayers!
This is actually how I feel right now!
And yes, it's good to be home! :)