In our last update, we let you know that we were returning to Alaska to be with Joel’s mom, Carolyn, for her last days on this earth. It was discovered she had a brain tumor and was declining rapidly.
The first week of our being back was glorious. Mom was alert (confused, but alert and talking to us for short periods of time), and her face seemed radiant. She was so relieved to have us home.
Renee and Ian had some great time to spend with Grandma.
The second week Mom declined rapidly. She became bed-ridden and seemed to be looking past us, talking unintelligibly to people that we couldn’t see. A number of times we felt her moment had arrived, and prepared our hearts accordingly. Cherishing as much time as we were given with her, the family gathered around singing the hymns she loved. Day by day, with all her medical conditions colliding in one body and no meds to counteract the effects, her heart continued steady and strong. Her doctors were amazed. No major seizures, no coma, just the confusion that has reigned for some time. She was able to have single word appropriate responses at times. Precious gifts to help us let go.
LaReina was amazing with her Love and Caring nature.
Early Monday morning, Oct 4th
, Mom concluded her journey on this earth. She met with her Savior and departed with a slight smile on her face. As an amazing woman who had dedicated her life to serving Christ and His people, her work was finally done. Carolyn and Dwayne have spent almost 50 years in full time ministry in numerous parts of the world. She taught us all so much about how to love.
Our hearts are heavy, but we’re grateful for the past two weeks. God knew what each of us needed, and He provided.
Back-tracking in time to our travels from Kenya to Alaska, we encountered an immigration issue with LaReina’s American Green-card. We were informed that a technical requirement of the Green-card is that LaReina physically resides in the U.S. for 6 months of the year. If she chooses to leave for longer than that, special permission needs to be granted to be able to return.
Honestly, I (LaReina) probably was told that when I got my Green-card 19 years ago. It wasn’t an issue then, so that information got tucked away in long-term storage. Our mission didn’t catch it either. All my Kenya visas are with my Canadian passport, and no one thought the Green-card was an issue.
We originally were told that permissions could be granted for 2 year terms, and 2 consecutive permissions were available. Because LaReina was returning for compassionate reasons, they offered grace and allowed us all to continue to Anchorage. HOWEVER, the immigration agent wrote in her Canadian passport that we had been advised not to leave for Kenya without permission, or admission may be denied next time. Our hearts accepted that news, we just wanted to get to Carolyn.
During one of the days that Mom appeared stable, we went to Anchorage to speak to Immigration and Naturalization about options. The options we see are extremely limited. Naturalization (getting U.S. citizenship) is not an option with the amount of time LaReina has been absent from U.S. soil in the past 5 years. 913 days are mandatory before application. The 2 year options, while possible, are unlikely since she has been out of country for 3 years now. Our best option will be to apply for a 1 year permission. These re-entry permissions take about 2-3 months to process, and we were strongly advised by INS and Airport Immigration in Anchorage not to leave America without it. Attempts to return to the U.S. without proper re-entry paperwork would likely mean denied access to the U.S. for LaReina (the kids are both American citizens, so it does not affect them), LaReina losing her Green-card status, and getting a one-way ticket to Canada, even though husband and kids are in the U.S.
Friends, we don’t know what all of this means. Please be praying for us and the direction God will have us go. This may be a chance for Him to do mighty things with an immigration lawyer who has seen this before and knows a legal technicality that is LaReina sized. This may be Him re-positioning us to the States. We don’t know, and honestly don’t have the strength or brain power to figure it out right now. We will be working on this next week once the dust settles and emotions stabilize. God knows. We just need to seek Him for the answers.
Please keep us in your prayers as we navigate these detours and seek God's direction on our lives.
In His Service,
Joel, LaReina, Renee and Ian