The Long Awaited Visa Interview

Nairobi, Kenya

Yesterday Paul and I made our way to the Embassy of the United States of America in Nairobi, Kenya. It was very early in the morning when we left the guest house we have rooms at and boarded a matatu [public transportation] for the city. I think we both had some pretty massive butterflies in our stomach as we sat in the taxi and went over our file again and again. This file, or should I say book of every detail of our life together over the past 2 years, has basically consumed our thoughts and time for about 2 months now, and so much work and effort has gone into preparing it and making sure that it was perfect so that we can convince the Embassy workers that we are indeed in love. 

The longer we sat on the matatu the more we realized that we were not going to make it to the Embassy for our 7:15am appointment. Nairobi is a really large city and has about as much congestion as Los Angeles or New York city at rush hour. The confused traffic signals and disregard of any rules of the road doesn’t help at all either. So, we asked the conductor if he could just let us off early and we found a boda boda [motorbike used for public transportation] and asked if he could take us the rest of the way to the Embassy. 

Now, if we were in Uganda, we would have taken a boda boda probably from the beginning because they outnumber all other forms of transportation 8:1, but in Nairobi they are harder to find, and as we soon found out, not at all faster. In Uganda you can take a boda in rush hour and it will whiz around traffic and you will make it through hours before everyone else sitting in their car, but in Nairobi, the guy was actually sitting in the lines of traffic. Paul had to tell the guy that he needed to hurry and start weaving, I think the guy had never been so scared…he was not our kind of boda guy that’s for sure. 

We arrived at the Embassy at 7:22am and ran to the first security check where we split off and Paul was being inspected by the male guard and I proceeded to the female. I was busy spreading my arms and legs when I heard the male guard scolding Paul. I looked over to see that Paul was trying to wipe a moist towelette that we had in our bag on the guards hand to show him what the function of the wipe was. I couldn’t help but laugh. Who cares that the guard thought Paul was trying to attack him with a baby wipe. 

After barely making it through the security check, we made our way to the check-in gate Paul’s name was marked as present, and we were told that he had to leave me at this point. We said goodbye, I wished him good luck, and away he went. This was my cue to take out my sewing so that my mind wouldn’t be racing and I would bite off all my nails before our wedding. About an hour and a half after he went in he was able to come out and bring me some coffee and a donut. I was so happy to see him and he said that he had submitted his paperwork and was just waiting to be called for his interview. I could see the nerves on his face. He only stayed out with me for about 3 minutes then rushed back in so that he wouldn’t miss his number being called. 

While I waited I decided to become friends with the guard just in case anything weird happened with Paul’s interview and I needed to sweet talk my way in. He was a nice guy, very interested in my sewing. He told me I needed to sell them, I told him that was a good idea. If I had a Thistle & Thread business card I would have handed it over; so much for always being prepared. I think I could have sold about a dozen hoops while I was sitting there if I had them ready to go. Almost every person that passed me was deeply interested and asked me if I had my own business. I need to work on my Kenya business plan….

After another hour and a half, I looked up and sweet Paul was making his way out again. I knew this was it. I tried to read his face as he made it way to me, and it was the easiest face to read. There was no way that he was going to hide this emotion. He quickly got out his green piece of paper and gave me the biggest hug, it was over. He had his visa. These last 10 months of waiting, the year apart, the work put into our file, the praying, playing scenarios over in our heads again and again, it was all over. 

Paul with his visa Approval | Nairobi, Kenya | US Embassy

Look at that smile! This smile is the product of months and months of waiting and hard work. Praise God for that smile!

Before we went for the interview, Paul and I had been praying that God would give us peace no matter the circumstance because we know that he works everything out for his glory, which is ultimately for our good if we trust him and want his glory more than our own. Those prayers were hard. It was hard to pray that we would have contentment no matter the outcome when our hearts so badly wanted this to work and to travel to America on October 22nd and get married on October 31st. But God, in his kindness towards us, gave Paul favor before the Embassy officials, and allowed him to be granted this visa. 

So many times through this process, especially when it was taking long or back in the summer when Paul was denied the visa to expedite the process, we would become so frustrated that our relationship was being dictated by the government. But we now realize how naive we were to think that. At no point did the American government hold the future of our relationship in their hands. They were being used by the Lord, and everything was done in his timing. 

Thank you so much to everyone that has remembered us in your prayers and walked with us through this process. In some ways it feels that we have reached the end of a long long journey, but the reality is that our journey is only continuing. We are on the road to becoming one, becoming the Kavumas. This step is over, and we are more ready than ever to trust the Lord with the steps that he brings our way from here on out. I am always reminded of this quote from John Piper, “Be strong and know that God will be as faithful in the future as you know he has been in the past.” So, we will continue to be strong and trust the God who has shown so much kindness towards us as we make our way to the States in a few days and get ready for our wedding!

Petition Approved: Packing My Bags and Going East

Uganda Travel

 

“The above petition has been approved.”

I read these words with so many feelings and thoughts in my heart. Petition Approved. Paul and I have been waiting to hear these words for seven months and four days now. Those seven months were filled with tears and confusion. Frustration with a government that I was convinced that was out to get us. Plan A, plan B, plan C, plan D….so on, so forth. We had become pretty confident and happy with our latest plan. I was preparing to move back over to Uganda, and we were going to have our wedding from there. We were going to live in a little house together, stumble through the beginnings of a lovely marriage, embrace our unknown life with courage and love. We were ready. We had our budget, our list of to-do’s, our shopping list, temporary jobs, friends and family beside us, then just like that those six words threw themselves before my frantic eyes. 

It was 2am in Uganda and my sweet Paul was fast asleep. Usually I can call him whenever I need to and he will answer, even when he is deep in sleep. This time was different. He had just finished a particularly rough day and that guy was knocked out. So when he finally woke up, at 4am, he was very nervous to learn the reason behind the 14 missed calls. I can be a bit excessive sometimes. 

As soon as I clued him in to the latest development in our visa journey, we immediately started trying to put the pieces together to figure out what had to be done next. But not until after we sat and laughed at how things happen. Of course we would get this letter the day after flights had been arranged and Ugandan wedding plans had been made. It only makes sense. It was a perfect reminder that Paul and I are most definitely not in control. We are just meant to submit, wait, trust, and follow. And that is what we are doing. 

These new plans are exciting and an answer to prayer. It was a prayer that we quit praying a few months ago, but I am just learning more and more about God and his plans and our joy in those plans. I will be going back to Uganda the beginning of September. I will happily  buy a one-way ticket and meet my sweet Paul in Uganda to finish the end of this process. We have his medical examination [Read: shots, lots of shots. Poor guy.] and his final visa interview standing between us and our flight home. It’s an easy road from here on out. We just have to prove that Paul is really Paul, which he is, and prove that we are still in love with each other, which we very much are.

After he has the visa interview he will be good to go and we will hop on a a plane back to the States and make our way to the altar to [finally] become husband and wife. We are not exactly sure when this is going to be. We would love to think that we will be back in the States around the middle of October, but the one-way ticket is being bought because as we have learned these last 7 months of this visa process, things change. 

For those of you who would like to know how you can help us through this final leg of our process, there are some very helpful and practical ways:

— Please pray that we can be patient and wise during this time. Pray that we can love our family and friends in Uganda well as we spend time with them before we move back to the States. This has been a long journey and we have had support from many people so we want to show them the same love they have shown us. 

— Pray that we can quickly get a visa appointment with the embassy in Kenya and that our travels and stay in Kenya will be protected and we will only be met with safety and kindness. 

— I am working hard to stock my Etsy shop, Thistle & Thread Design, and all sales during this time will go towards covering our last visa fees and my living expenses while I stay in Uganda until we can come back to the States. I am happy to take custom orders until August 31st, after that all orders will have to be items that are already in stock in the shop. Your support during this time is huge and I am very thankful that although I will not be working for 2-3 months, I still have this way to provide for different needs through the end of this part of our journey. 

We are thrilled and I can’t wait to continue updating while I am in Uganda. Hurry up September! 




 

5 Things I Have Learned from Waiting


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Ssese Islands, Uganda
1. Waiting doesn’t mean sitting still. 

When you wait it usually means that you are in one of two situations. Either you are not sure what is next and you are just holding off to see what will happen, or you do know what is next and it is forcing you to remain in a certain place until it takes place. Regardless, you don’t have to be stagnant. Sure, it’s hard to plan things when the unknown future is looming and it seems so close and you are afraid to get into anything serious because you don’t know how long you can commit, but you aren’t chained to uncertainty. Sometimes the best thing to do when you are waiting on what is to come is to start something new or improve on something that you already know. These things remind you that life is not revolving around one thing and that you are a person that is made up of many different levels and experiences. 

While I have been waiting this year until Paul’s visa can be processed, I have started an Etsy shop and it has really given me a lot of sanity and a sense of accomplishment. I have a bit of control over my shop and what happens with it. It’s something that I can stay busy with and also work towards a future in. When I started the shop last November I didn’t know how long I was going to be in the States, but I still loved creating and using different talents that I have to start this small business. It has been a really great outlet while I wait. 

2. Waiting does mean finding joy. 

I know that many times during this period of waiting I have allowed myself to get into a funk and become really frustrated with my situation. It usually leads to not wanting to really spend time with anyone or just doing what is required when it comes to social interaction. I was annoyed with others who were moving on with their lives, I was frustrated with Paul for no reason, I didn’t really have any joy. Any time that is spent waiting is difficult, but it does not have to steal your joy. It can be hard to find joy, but it isn’t impossible. 

When I realized that I was allowing myself to get to this place I made a serious effort to take some time away from work, to take some time away from my Etsy shop, and to focus on things that were daily gift and blessings in my life. Paul and I started reading Scripture together, and we started praying together. I spent more time with friends even when it didn’t seem “productive”, I started some projects that were just for fun, Paul and I began planning for things for when we were together again, fun things, not visa things. It really lifted my spirits. There are still times when I feel a bit beat down, but then I go back to focusing on finding joy in the situation and remembering all the ways that I have grown during this time. 

3. Waiting doesn’t mean you have been forgotten. 

This one is hard. I will never forget the day that Paul went for an interview to have our visa expedited and was denied. We had really put a lot of hope in that interview because we saw that the visa we were waiting on wasn’t going to be finished in time for him to come before the wedding we were planning. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it was hard because it just tacked on another unknown period of waiting. When Paul called and told me the news I just remember telling him that I felt like we had been forgotten. Like God didn’t care about us and he was just letting go out on our own and suffer. 

After the words came out of my mouth I was really embarrassed. I felt ashamed for thinking that about my God. I felt like I had just jumped back 7 years in my Christian life and forgotten everything that I had learned over the years of Bible college, a counseling degree, discipleship groups….but it was real. I really felt that way and I think it was the first time in all the years of me being a Christian that I had ever really voiced any true feelings of hurt when it came to not understanding God. 

After Paul and I talked about it and processed and I was reminded of how God does love us, and that love doesn’t have to look like we think it should, I was able to process this feeling a little more. Waiting doesn’t mean that you are forgotten. We weren’t forgotten. I have not been forgotten. This hasn’t been my idea of a good time, but this is the first time in all my life that I have had absolutely no control in a situation, and let me tell you, it has been a season of growth. As much as I have tried to fight it, and warred with God for control, He has continued to remind me that I am not the one who is sovereign and I am not the one who is going to make anything happen. I am not forgotten, I am just being taught who is really in control. 

4. Waiting doesn’t necessarily make you stronger, but it doesn’t kill you either.  

I don’t know if I would say that this time has made me a stronger person. I think if anything it has helped me become a more sensitive person. I have been forced to identify with my emotions on a totally different level and I have learned that it is not a bad thing to feel. I have cried more than ever before, I have become angry more than ever before, I have experienced worry more than ever before, disappointment, comfort, companionship, dependency, I have really tapped into some sides of myself that I thought simply weren’t there. I don’t think that I would say I’m a stronger person, but I am not a defeated person. I like that I have been able to become more comfortable with emotions and embrace how complex and diverse people are. 

5. Waiting isn’t forever. 

It can’t be forever. There is an end to the waiting. We can’t be sure when that is, but there will be an end. Find hope in that. Find joy in that. Embrace the right now, and build excitement for what is to come. Don’t look back on this time of waiting regret your actions or your lack of actions. I think that we shouldn’t let any time go wasted. Carpe Diem, people! 

The Weight of a Visa

The weight of a visa
 
 
On May 13th Paul and I found out that he had an interview appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Uganda on June 16th to receive a visa for him to come to America and visit. After not seeing each other for 8 months you can imagine our excitement. We were thrilled that we were going to be able to see each other again. A few days later I checked the website again to see if there were any cancellations and there was one for May 28th so you better believe we jumped on that! The earlier the better, right?
 
Well, May 28th has come and gone and there is still no news on when Paul will be able to come to America and when we will be able to see each other again. There are so many things about the visa process that I don’t understand and there are so many things that don’t have any rhyme or reason to them, it’s all based on situational cases and politics. I’m not here to talk about that. I’m not here to rant about government. I’m thankful for government. I’m thankful for rules and guidelines and screenings and what not. Border control is not my soap box.
 
When I received the call from him at 6:10am Thursday morning telling me that he was denied the visa, emotions ran over my body that were so foreign and unwelcome. Paul and I could only quickly talk as he was boarding a public taxi and I wouldn’t be able to hear him, so the hour I was waiting for him to call me back, was filled with tears and hurt and “why”.
 
I have experienced relationship woes. Break-ups suck. But this, no, this is worse than any kind of break-up. When you are forced to be apart and you have no indication to when it will be over and you get your hopes up for things and they don’t happen, that ache is worse than any kind of ended relationship that I have ever experienced. This is an ache for someone that you very much love. Someone who you would love to be with, and just can’t at this time.
 
And I’m not going to sugar coat things and say that I am looking through the rain to see the rainbow or however that Dolly Parton quote goes (love her). There is a lot of rain, and I’m kind of just sitting in it, soaking in it. I wanted to flesh this all out for my mental sake. I wrote this out and didn’t know if I would post it, but I felt like I should because there are going to be a lot of questions. I have been pretty open about our process because I love sharing life with people and I love having others walk along in this journey with us, but it’s hard when the bad things happen. It’s hard to tell the same sad story over and over again. It’s hard to not have answers to questions that just make the tears come to your eyes again. 
 
I haven’t posted on this blog in a while because I have been pretty busy with some other things, some exciting things, and I have honestly not had much to say or write about. I realized that I wasn’t loving writing about recipes and Friday Favorites. I mean, maybe every once in a while. But really what I wanted this blog to be is a outlet for my experiences, an encouragement for others who might be going through something somewhat related, or just for entertainment purposes because you can’t find anything else on the web to read about. Thanks 😉 
 
So, at this point we are working on Plan B. We are working on trying to think through what is next. It’s confusing and as you can imagine there are a lot of details when you are living 8,000 miles apart, especially when your future is being decided by a little stamp in a passport from a government that doesn’t even really know your name or have any stock or concern in your situation.
 
Paul is a hard worker and he is loving and he is patient, and for that I am thankful. I know that I can trust him through this process to do what is right and level-headed, which is a dream considering where my mind goes in the wake of bad news (I tend to have a pretty heavy trigger finger) Now, does that mean that I’m smiling and I’m happy and I’m super excited about the added months apart? No. Does that mean that I am always the easiest and sweetest girlfriend ever? NO. I’m terrible sometimes. Really terrible. It’s moments like this that I see how much I need to grow and improve. But it does mean that we are growing in our trust and dedication to each other.
 
It’s hard sometimes for some people to relate and I get it. I understand that our relationship is a little unconventional and I have tried to make this as normal and un-dramatic (is that a word?) as possible. But sometimes you can’t normalize something, it just has to be what it is. I’m so super thankful for everyone that is walking with us in this and those who are just following along for support. We are not martyrs. We are not the only people in the world who have had to deal with uncertainty and frustration. I am tasting now what it means for so many people and couples and families who are dealing with the unknowns in life and I can only pray that I will find the strength and hope that they have displayed. But I’m not quite there yet. And I’m ok with being honest about that.
 
I haven’t really come to terms or felt a certain level of peace with the roadblocks that seem to keep popping up, or the plans that keep changing. I want to believe that this is only here to increase our faith or teach us some kind of lesson, but all that seems a little far off right now. I want to use these blog posts to give updates and share any hope that we are able to experience, and maybe encourage someone else who is struggling with different obstacles. Loneliness doesn’t have the theme of this song, and I am choosing to fight that feeling. 
 
This visa weighs heavy on our hearts, minds, and plans right now. Some days it feels like we are having to pull a MAC truck around everywhere, but thankfully we both know that our future and identity as a couple and as individuals isn’t wrapped up in this stamp placed on a passport. It isn’t wrapped up in this stack of papers that could rival a dissertation. It’s so much more than that and comes from a very different place. The perspective that is given when you can take a step back from a situation is clarifying and rejuvenating. So here we are, ready to finish this marathon. 
 
If you are new to our story you can find out how it all started in my post on our One Year Anniversary