Our big move from Waldheim, Saskatchewan to Escondido, CA, started out fairly normal. Kids whining after hours of driving, etc. We stopped in Calgary, AB, first to finish our two youngest children’s “Report of Birth Abroad” at the US consulate there. We then continued on to the nearest border crossing at Piegan, MT. Nathan had been feeling nervous but I anticipated no problems; all of us were dual citizens except Nathan, and he was in the process of immigrating. The immigration paperwork we had received at Nathan’s interview said that he could accompany me to the States, where I needed to establish residency so that his landed immigrant visa could be finally approved. However, the border agent didn’t seem to know what to do with us; after 45 minutes and consulations with coworkers, she finally came back to say “No.” Nathan could not enter the US.
We drove back to the last town and found, providentially, a B&B we could stay at for two nights. We were in total shock. After the first burst of tears at the border, I was still tearing up almost every time I looked at Nathan, and he wasn’t doing much better. We felt homeless and lost and confused – we were trying to serve God and why weren’t things working? My friend advised reading Psalm 107. That night while sleepless, I tried to read my Bible while not waking others by turning on the lights. The only verse I could actually read was:
Psa 107:16 For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.
I prayed this fervently as I went to bed and over the next day. At dinner, my Chinese fortune said “Your plans will succeed if you follow them through” (paraphrased). I hoped that this was a providential encouragement from God. We emailed the Montreal consulate, where Nathan’s application was being processed, but they said that it was all up to the border agents. After crawling through our tightly packed moving van to the back to get Nathan’s immigration papers, we also booked him a plane ticket from LA back to Canada, to prove that he wasn’t trying to immigrate illegally. And then we tried to sleep, after deciding to try another border crossing (bigger, at Sweet Grass) where the agents might be more familiar with our situation.
I almost smiled when we drove up with much trepidation to the crossing – there, right in front of us, were yellow poles and grey barriers. Truly, bronze and iron! And what is more ironclad in our day than the US border??
I was first, so the agent asked me the usual questions and took the passports. After finding out that we were moving, he told me that I had to import my van and to pull over. Import the van! Talk about the last thing I expected! I was shaking as I desperately tried to find the van’s certificate of ownership…and groaned as I realized it must be in the box. The black box waaaay back of the moving truck, which had taken us over an hour to reach the day before. So trembling, I gathered together all our other paperwork, the three kids with me, and walked to the door. Apparently, the woman agent was pretty upset with me for taking so long to get everyone out of the van and was shouting at me (I couldn’t hear) and wouldn’t let Nathan come to the van to help me. I found this out later. Once entering, the kids and I were allowed to wait in the seating area to the left. Nathan was put into a locked, barred, room to the right. He ended up sitting next to another person originally from Waldheim! What are the chances?? We suspect the barred room was for Canadians, but there were no obvious signs like “Loser Maple Lovers Here.”
Over an hour later and Nathan was finishing up with the agent, who had let him out of the room. Apparently, we had been chosen for a random vehicle check, which was why everything was taking so long (long weekend == lots of cars to check). Lady, our Sheltie, charmed the agent who commented several times on what a nice dog she was (she was waiting in the van). Nathan’s immigration was seemingly of no concern – only the vehicle check mattered! And there was no more talk of importing our van (which I haven’t read the rules about but I think that the first agent was just plain wrong). So there we were, escorted out with smiles. What a huge huge difference. Praise the Lord!!!