Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16, ESV)
Thank you for how you responded to our email from yesterday. This will be brief, but we wanted to give a quick update to let you know where things stand. More importantly, we want to tell you a story from our trip to the immigration office that we think will encourage you in your praying. First, the update...
We really weren't clear on the process until after we arrived at the immigration office yesterday. Our friend Yu-san went with us to help with translation, and his presence made things go much more smoothly. We had to write a brief explanation of what had happened, fill out some application forms for Gina and the boys, and turn in the documentation that we’d gathered.
Now, we wait. In the words of the immigration official we worked with: “I think probably this will be approved, but there is a chance you will still have to return to America.” When I asked how long the approval process would take, she said: “I think probably you will know something before your 90 day permission expires. There is also a possibility that the process can go very quickly. Maybe it will only take a month, and sometimes people receive approval in two weeks!” Then, she recommended that if we hadn’t heard anything in three weeks, we should probably return and inquire about where things stand. As you can see, we walked away pretty unclear about the expected timetable! So, please do continue to pray as the Spirit brings this situation to your mind. And now, for the story.
After waiting for almost an hour, we heard our number called and approached the counter where the official was waiting to speak with us. She spoke very good English, which was a special gift from God. As she looked at our information, she smiled and said, you are from North Carolina! My husband is from South Carolina! We chatted about “home” briefly and then she clarified a few things with Yu-san. After she turned her back, Yu-san whispered, “She told me that since you are from North Carolina, she wants to work very hard to make sure this is approved!”
During a break in the action, Josiah pointed out that the official had a small cross tattooed on her wrist. The rest of us hadn’t noticed that, so Yu-san asked her about it. Her voice went down to a whisper. She explained that tattoos are against the rules, and she has to hide it. Yu-san asked her if she was a Christian, and she said yes. In fact, she and her husband have not been able to find a church where they feel comfortable worshipping. She and Yu-san exchanged contact information and directions to our church. So, it sounds like our immigration officer and her husband will visit ANF sometime soon!
How about that? Of all the officials in Japan, that's the one God lined up for us! Thank you for praying. We walked away encouraged that God hears our prayers and has this situation firmly in hand and also rejoicing that God saw fit to use us in the life of that immigration officer! That's exactly how we asked you to pray.
Of course, our memories are short when it comes to God's mercy. Pray that we'd be able to remember and trust him during the days ahead...as we WAIT! But...we also felt like you should be reminded: Your praying matters. Your partnership with us in this work matters. Thank you, friends - we'll keep you posted!
Jeremy and Gina A few other updates:
The boys have had a very good first week of school!
We have expressed interest in an apartment that we like, and are waiting to hear whether the landlord will receive an application from us. We will see two more potential apartments tomorrow.
Last night, we received news that a big tree has fallen on our home in Asheboro, so we're navigating that situation this week.
As you can see, we have a lot of balls in the air right now. We'd certainly appreciate your prayers for these situations, for our hearts and interactions as a family, and for wisdom in each area.