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Monday, October 20, 2008

"DeLong" and Winding Road

Greetings from Canada...still!

Yes, we are here in our homeland...still. If you are in a good mood right now, I'd recommend you stop reading this and skip to Section B. However, if you are looking to become confused and frustrated with a mind-boggling beaucratic labyrinth in which there seems no escape, then tie up your shoe laces and take a walk with me.
We were denied visas back into the UK. No, I'm not joking. We had applied for a five year religious worker's visa and they denied us because, and quote...

"I am not satisfired that you will be carrying out the duties oas defined for the purposes of the Immigration Rules as a religious functionary whose main regular duties comprise the leading of a congregation in performning the rites and rituals of the faith and in preaching the essentials of the creed."
...and furthermore...

"I am not satisfied that there will be sufficient funds to maintain you and your
Okay, they may have us on that last point, but I think the term 'sufficient funds' is relative (especially in the ministry). As for their first point, apparantly being a youth and childrens pastor, an ordained minister, a teacher of religious education in public schools, and a director of a Christian missions organization isn't 'religious' enough for them.

Now before we get worked up about that, here where things get even more insane. They've said they've rejected us because Danny doesn't preach (which he does in many different places around England) or doesn't preach enough. You know, there's a two-year religious workers visa in which you're NOT ALLOWED to preach? How is that supposed to work?

We decided to appeal the decision. A few more forms later, we faxed off our appeal to them and waited to hear back. Nothing. So Danny called them to see if they received the appeal. They hadn't. So he faxed them again. And then called them again. They still had no record of it. Then we emailed them. There is a 28 day limit in which you can appeal so we were a bit anxious to know that they'd received our forms. They emailed us back and told us that they were backed up from August with appeals and that we should contact them in a month to see if they had our appeal or, better yet, don't call us we'll call you.

The next thing we did was try and find out if we could get back into the UK to get some of our things. After many frustrating and pointless ph0ne calls, we called the immigration officers at the airport in London to see if we flew over with return tickets if they'd let us back in for a couple of weeks to sort things out with our place and our belongings. They said, and quote,

"There's absolutely no way we'll let you back into the UK without entry clearance."
...And furthermore...

"We've recorded this phone call of you enquiry for security purposes."
And a jolly good day to you!

After many more phone calls trying to find out if we could get even a one month visa, we hit more dead ends in the maze of immigration madness. We were forwarded to many recorded messages informing us to check out websites (that didn't even work or were currently under construction). There was one thing we could be sure of: There was no one to talk to and nothing we could do.

Last week we received a letter from the Visa Immigration people informing us that they have our appeal application and will let us know of a hearing date in February 2009. No, our hearing date is not in February 2009, that's just when they'll tell us what the date of our hearing is.

And that's just the Reader's Digest version! So here we are in Canada, the majority of our stuff (including winter clothes) is in England, in our house - which we still have to pay rent on. Most of our programs we were running in schools have come to a screeching halt. Only two schools will be going to The Gambia this year. Thankfully, a couple of youth leaders are going to be leading those groups for us. Otherwise, we've had to cancel with the new schools and cancel the classes we were supposed to be leading. Also there are many great people who are running the youth group and kids club at our church. It's frustrating for all of us who are scrambling a bit trying to compensate for this little 'hiccup.' At the same time, we've all really been seeking God for his direction. For now, however, all we can do is wait and see what happens.

Section B - The 'B' is for 'Brightside'

The group that we brought with us from England to do Street Invaders had a great time and it has been a never ending source of encouragement and entertainment to hear about their experiences! There were many 'firsts' for the group, like taking part in a white water rafting tour in Banff, seeing the Rocky Mountains, and having a weiner roast and even making smores! All of them had an amazing time on Street Invaders, making many lasting friendships and stories they will tell for the rest of their lives!

As for our little DeLong family, we are camped out at Danny's parents' place in Regina. It's been a bit of a shock to the system dealing with the sudden hault of our usual routine, but I have to say, if you're going to get stuck - this is the way to do it! It's been wonderful for us, Taylor and her new grandparents (not to mention all the other family and friends) to have so much time together. She's changed so much since we left England. She's sitting up, has a whole new vocabulary of goo-goos and gaa-gaas, and she's cut two bottom teeth! Danny's working at an electric motor business that is owned by a man in our church, so there's another thing we are thankful for. It's not quite as fulfilling as what we were doing before, but our bank account disagrees and it is something to do while we wait (and wait and wait). We have enjoyed being back in Canada, having the wide open spaces, the beautiful sunsets, and the Tim Hortons! We were even able to get away, just the three of us, on our first family holiday! We stayed in a cabin for a couple of days out at Last Mountain Lake and it was gorgeous! There have been lots of first experiences for Taylor during our time in Canada and I have well documented our time here. And what better way to show you than with...

A VIDEO!!!! (That was a pretty smooth segway, eh?)

There now, are we all smiling? I told you she was the cutest little girl ever! I thought it would be good to put a happy video on since the first part of this blog was such a bummer and since I've already rambled on quite a bit (as I have been known to do on occassion).

With that then, I'm going to go to bed! All this blogging has worn me out!

God bless and take care,

~ Alycia DeLong (& Co.)


Debbie Galea said...

You really leave me hooked Mrs.De Long! Loved the video - she has your name all over her!

Erin said...

Hey sweetie! Loved the video - you have mad skills in the "making people smile" department! Your daughter is beautiful and a chip of the old block:-) Thinking, praying and hoping everything comes together for your family! Lots of love and hugs is being sent to you! Erin

tracy trotter said...

Hey guys!! I love reading your blogs! I am so sorry to hear about the cold shoulder from England. Can you guys send someone else to get your stuff out and move out of the house? That is so frustrating, and yet, as you well know, there must be a greater plan in this. We'll be praying.

Taylor is adorable!! Your music was so catchy that 3 of my boys stopped launching toy dirt bikes off the couch to come watch. They watched the whole video, asking, "Who is that again?" Their memories are a little vague about people from Malta.

Love you guys! Thanks for taking time to write.

Leah Muscat said...

WOW! This kid must have nutty folks?? LOL! Awesome blog I must say. You'll be in my prayers.. "be still" and know He is God. His timing is the perfect timing.. so be patient and wait. Flying hugs all the way from Scandinavia! :)

michael lewis said...

Big feet. Big head. And that tongue!!! Have you had that thing measured??

If Taylor can still stick her foot in her mouth in 10 years, she should be auditioning for a Cirque du Soleil show.

Pam Jessen said...

Oh my goodness, I laughed until I cried!! Alycia, your little Taylor is a precious and Danny have been richly blessed.

Thanks to God that in all this turmoil, there are still moments of pure joy and laughter. I know we don't know the plan He has at the moment, but stay strong...all will be revealed in time.

Thanks for sharing your life with us in this blog. Your family is loved and appreciated!!