Friday February 18, 2011

This morning I went to the immigration office with Mircea and Norbi. Let me back track a bit – On Tuesday evening I sent Cornel my director an e-mail about my interest in looking into getting another Romanian visa. I had three years worth of visas when I lived in Târgu Mures but when I came to Oradea and asked Karen (she is Cornel’s wife) about getting another Romanian visa, she just told me to cross the border every three months but the last couple of months I have been concerned about this.

I have prayed about this and asked God what I should do. I just didn’t feel right about not having a Romanian visa especially considering I had one before. I also spoke to my parents about this and told them about this concern so they advised me to look into getting another Romanian visa. I took up their advice and sent Cornel an e-mail on Tuesday evening. On Wednesday I received an e-mail from him. He told me that he would help me and told me to ask Norbi and Mircea to take me to the immigration office to see what I should do.

Yesterday I spoke to the guys I work with about going to the immigration office so they told me that we could go this morning. Around 10:00am I went with them and boy did I get the shock of a lifetime! I couldn’t believe that the officer remembered me when I went there in September when I got that phone call from the officer from the immigration office in Târgu Mures. Not only did he remember me but he told me that I am on their file. I really felt quite embarrassed when I was there because I should have got my visa taken care back in the summer of last year.

The officer asked me when was the last time I had crossed the border so I told him it was in January. He then went to explain to Mircea and Norbi that the tourist visa is only for 90 days in the country and then you have to leave the country for 3 months. To be honest no one told me that so I had no idea that crossing the border and then coming back into the country the same day is illegal. When I joined Pathway to Joy Ministries I even asked my directors about this, they told me to just pass the border to get a new stamp in my passport and I’d be fine. I am shocked that they did not know this law! I must have looked quite stupid to the officer because actually I already had a visa before and I honestly didn’t know doing the border cross is illegal.

Mircea and Norbi spoke to the officer for a while and then we left the immigration office without any papers or anything so I wondered to myself what was going on. After we left I spoke to them about what the officer told them which wasn’t good news at all. It turns out I have to leave the country for three months and apply for a new visa. They told me if I don’t leave for three months I could even be kicked out of the country for a year. They basically told me that I should have known better because I had a visa before and I should have got my next visa as soon as my last one expired. They were right but then I told them that Cornel and Karen told me if I just crossed the border I’d be fine too. Then they told me that they might have a different status in Romania because Cornel is Romanian. They told me that I should start my papers for the visa and then leave for three months. I told them okay but it was a lot to process at one time.

After we went to the immigration office we drove straight to Sabolciu. We were there from 11:45am – 2:45pm. We decided to split the children into two groups today since we were there a bit earlier then we usually are. The first group we had the younger children and the second group we had the school age children. It was nice to have smaller groups today because we were able to control the kids a bit better. We prayed, sang songs and coloured. I always love to hear the children’s prayers because they are just so precious when they pray.

On any other day I would have been more than happy to spend three hours with the kids there because I have really been praying for God to increase my time there but today I felt so upset and overwhelmed by the news that I just heard from the officer. The whole time while we were at Sabolciu I had a huge lump in my throat and I honestly had to keep my emotions together the whole time to prevent myself from crying. At one point when I was outside with the kids I looked at the started base of the educational centre I thought to myself “what if God wanted me to go home to help fund raise for the educational centre?” I mean there’s got to be some reason why this is happening now?

When we got back into Oradea and I said good-bye to Mircea and Norbi, then it was like the tears that I kept inside of me all afternoon just came streaming out. I tried to control myself as I walked home from the foundation’s office but it was like a flood of tears just came pouring out especially as I walked through my apartment door. I felt so broken, so lost, so confused, and so scared because I was just going through this shock of being in this situation. I kept saying to myself these thoughts of “how stupid can I be, I should have known better, I feel so naive”. It was like all these negative self-destructive thoughts kept flooding my mind.

I decided to turn on my computer and try to contact my parents about this situation. At that time I thought maybe I could get at least my Mom at home before she would leave for work but when I called home she had already left so I just left a message on their answering machine. I’m sure once they heard my message they would try and contact me as soon as they could because I sounded quite distraught.

Just after I left a message on my parent’s answering machine I saw Kim on Skype and sent her a message that I needed to speak to someone urgently.  Kim works at Pathway to Joy Ministries’ American office in Florida and we became close over the last few months.

Kim answered my message right away and we had a video chat for almost a half an hour before my Dad called me on Skype. When she called me on Skype at that time I was crying so much that she didn’t know what was going on so she told me to try to calm down and then she prayed for me. After she prayed for me, I told her everything that happened to me today at the immigration office. She tried to encourage me as much as she could but I felt so overwhelmed. She did suggest one thing that stuck in my mind which was the possibility of going to Florida to help with the fundraising for the educational centre in Sabolciu. I would like to help with that because this is obviously something that I want to see happen but I would need to pray about this.

While I spoke to Kim, my Dad called me on Skype. I was still feeling a bit overwhelmed about everything when I spoke to him and told him everything that happened today. Thankfully my Dad was home today because he wasn’t feeling well so we were able to talk right away. My Dad tried to encourage me as much as possible and told me that something good will come out of this negative situation. I am so grateful that my Dad has always been so positive and encouraging. It is a real blessing to have people like that in your life and I definitely know that he has learned this from my Nana that passed away a year ago.

The rest of the evening I spoke to Kim again, then with both my parents on Skype. I called my travel agent and explained the situation that I need to look for a flight home. I called my friend Lori about the situation and she told me that she’ll try and help me with my visa process. I just recently started to get to know Lori and I am very thankful for her in my life. I met her through one of my former co-workers who I worked with at the Sabolciu gypsy village. Lori and her husband have been in Romania for 16 years and are very familiar with the laws and the visa process so I’m very glad they are able to help me.

Another person I called this evening was Cornel who is my director. I told him what happened at the immigration office. He told me that he would be going to Moldavia for a week but he told me that he can still help me. He told me to just stay in touch with him by e-mail. He advised me to go home and start my Romanian visa. I thanked him for his help and told him that I’d be in touch while he is on his trip.

The whole evening it was like my head was spinning with anxiety, fear and just feeling lost of what to do. I kept crying on and off throughout the evening because I was just feeling overwhelmed. I tried to pray but it was hard to focus on my prayers. I kept telling God that I’m sorry and kept asking Him for His help of what I should do in this situation. Before I went to bed I sent out an e-mail to my family, friends and supporters where I explained about what happened and asked them to pray for me. I went to bed with this heavy burden on my mind of what my future may hold.

About Andrea

I am from Whitby, Ontario. I have lived in Romania for 9 years as a missionary but I am currently in Canada on a sabbatical break at this time. I have also lived in South Korea for a year and I have also been to Russia, Uganda, Albania and the Czech Republic on short-term mission trips. In 2012, God also gave me an amazing opportunity to go to Mozambique for the Harvest Mission School with Iris Ministries as well. I love children, reaching out to people who are in need and vulnerable, I have a passion to fight against the injustice issue of human trafficking and to simply share the love of Jesus wherever I go. I also love cats too and I have a cat of my own named Minnie!
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