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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Return of the DeLongs

Well, they said it wouldn't happen,
They said it'd never be,
They locked the door behind us
And threw away the key.

But little did they know
Our connections in high places
So what we want to say to them is,
"HA! We're coming back! In your faces!"

(Okay, so it's not exactly a psalm, but it is from the heart.)

WE WON THE APPEAL AND WE'RE GOING BACK TO THE UK! We just received our passports back from the British High Commission in Ottawa and in them are lovely little Visa stickers that say we're allowed back into England to carry on for another two years! Now, they aren't exactly the visas we had originally applied for (we'd gone for five year visas but they axed that category last November), but you know what they say, 'don't look the immigration authorities in the mouth'. Or is it 'missionaries can't be choosers'? We are now full speed ahead as we are preparing to leave this weekend. What the...THIS WEEKEND?!?!? I need to pack! I need to say goodbye to everyone! I need to eat as much Kraft Dinner as possible!

Yes, it is a roller coaster of emotions as we prepare to move back to England (a roller coaster we've been standing in line to ride for the past 10 months - but I'm not bitter). It's hard not to feel torn between two homes, here in Canada and there in England, but we know that only God could open the doors for us again to go back to the UK. We're excited to see what He has in store for us!

On that note I think I'll have to call it a night. This week is packed full of breakfasts, lunches, coffees and dinners with friends and family as we try and say our final goodbyes before we leave. Hmmm, that's a lot of food to be consuming right before hopping that emotional roller coaster. That may get messy...

Please pray for us as we prepare to go back! Not only us, but our friends and family that we're leaving for this time. Taylor has a lot of fans here in the new country!

So until next time, when we're settled back in England, thank you for all your prayers and encouragement during this time, and if you're ever in England, look us up!

God bless and take care,

~ Alycia DeLong (& Co.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Guess Who's Coming to Tea then he says, "Because I'm a police officer, that's why..."

Oh, hi! Nice of you to stop by! I haven't been here in a while and the blog is a mess! Just look at that huge gap - the last update was in October! I've had lots of emails from many of you asking what is going on now, are we still in Canada and, of course, how is Taylor. Well, stick around and hopefully I'll get some of this mess cleaned up!

We are still in Canada - Regina to be exact. We've been staying with Danny's parents since our return (insert comments about living in parents' basement here) and I have to say, honestly, it's been pretty good. Danny's parents are wonderful people and they've really enjoyed having their new granddaughter around 24-7. Who can blame them though, she's pretty much the cutest and smartest baby ever! Even when she's going through all her teething troubles she's adorable! See for yourself!

Yes, she's pretty cute. I can't believe Taylor will be a year old next month! It has gone so fast...sigh...She's learning new things everyday, like how to play peek-a-boo:

And she's even eating her peas all by herself...

Okay, maybe she has to work some more on that one. In any case, Taylor is a joy to us all and certainly makes life a lot more exciting and enjoyable!

On that note, let's move on to what's happening currently with our passport visas for England. This area of discussion can be quite a source of frustration and anger, unlike the topic of Taylor which produces mainly warm, fuzzy feelings (and sometimes warm, slimey feelings, but I won't get into that). Thankfully, in a brilliant stroke of genius by yours truly (a.k.a. Humble Alycia, the Ridiculously Good-Looking One) I have come up with a way to keep the evil beaurocratic villians from crushing our happy Taylor feelings! (Insert cheers here) I have merged the two together, thus creating a roller coaster of emotion and information that will leave you up to date without feeling down in the dumps. Feel free to cheer some more...(Insert sound of cricket here). Uh, maybe I'll just get on with it.

As you may or may not recall, back in August 2008 we had applied for new visas to go back to the UK and continue our work with LifeFORCE UK, Project Gambia, and manyother local churches and schools. We had applied for a five year religious worker visa, but were denied! We were told, in a nutshell, we weren't "religious" enough by their standards because we didn't run our own church. What we were doing could be described as children's work, youth work, social work, and community work. With England having a very high unemployment rate and their economic system overwhelmed by immigrants, they felt that what we were doing was not pertinent to their society and that our positions should be made available to British people first.

And now here's a cute video of Taylor laughing!

Isn't she great? She was laughing at my aunt's cat.

Now were we? Right, the initial rejection. As you can imagine, we were pretty shocked. After making many calls and getting many answering machines but no real people to talk to, we realized all we could do was fill out the appeal form and try to change their minds. In the meantime, we had to figure out how to get some of our things from England. More calls were made and we were eventuaaly informed that under no circumstances would we be allowed back into the UK for any amount of time until we had proper entry clearance!

Cue the clip!

Whew! I needed that! About a month later we received a letter from the British immigration people. It said that they had our appeal and that they would give us a hearing date on February 19, 2009. Now, just to clarify, the hearing for our appeal was NOT on February 19, 2009, but the date we would be given a date for the appeal hearing was February 19, 2009. (Who's on first? What's on second? I don't know's on third.)

Hang in their folks!

And now we're up to what's new! Well, surprize of all surprizes, in January we received word from UK Immigration that they had a hearing date for us! March 9, 2009, is the day we are to meet with the Immigration and Assylum Seekers Tribunal. Unfortunatlely, the hearing is in England, so we can't go ourselves. Nice how they worked that one out. But phooey back on them because we have (trumpets: da da da daaaaaa) REPRESENTATIVES! Yes, the pastor of our church in England and one of the elders are going on our behalf to state our case. There is, however, a new small glitch in our impending victory. In November 2008, British Immigration eliminated the five year religious worker visa category.

(Taylor isn't laughing at the cat anymore at this point, but at the cat's toy. Apparantly, I can save myself the trouble of shopping at Toys R' Us and just go to Petland for Christmas and Birthday gifts.)

There is a two year religious and missionary worker category that we're hoping they will default our application to. All we can really do now is wait and pray that God's will would be done and we'd be ready for whatever path he has for us next.

In the meantime, Danny's been working as an electrician for a company here in Regina. It's good work and he has many Christian co-workers. It's been a big change of pace for us and not an easy one either. It's like our lives have come to a halt and we've really missed all that we were doing in England and all our friends there. On the other hand, there has been many a bright silver lining to this cloud and we've enjoyed being with our family and friends here in Canada. We've had the opportunity to get involved with a few youth camps and retreats and are even leading a cell group in our church. So, although our lives have been put on hold, we are still getting by pretty good and have little to complain about...

Oh yeah, did I mention the part about our landlord in England giving us until the end of February to move out? He wants his house back so we're trying to find a storage place to pack all our stuff in until we are allowed back to sort it out.

Well, now you are up to date! Ahhhhh, it looks better in here, doesn't it? I think I'm ready for another cup of tea. Hopefully I can sneak one more in before Taylor wakes up from her nap!

Thanks for all the encouragment and feedback from all of you! We really appreciate it!

Until next time, take care and God bless!

~ H.A.R.G.L.O. (a.k.a. Humble Alycia, the Ridiculously Good Looking One)

P.S. - If you want to see more Taylor videos, check out these links:

And here's one from the second Project Gambia Trip we did in February 2008.