VISA update!!!

But you, O Lord, laugh at them;
    you hold all the nations.

O my Strength, I will watch for you,
    for you, O God, are my fortress. 

            My God in his steadfast love will meet me;
    God will let me look in triumph on my enemies. 

Psalms 59:8-10

It’s time to celebrate! The Rousehouse received our visas for South Africa this past Friday in Los Angeles! After our fourth visit to a South African Consulate office we couldn’t believe it when they handed them to us. I [Spanky] stood there and read them over and over just to be sure it really was the correct visas we had been fighting for, for more than 3 months now. It has taken months, many trips out-of-town,  lots of unexpected expenses but more than anything, it has taken a toll emotionally and we have struggled to keep the course. God has once again proven His faithfulness, His presence, and His care for us through this battle.

Before sharing the joys of getting our visas in LA, let me catch you up on all that has happened over the past month quickly...

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  • June 13th the Rousehouse heads to NYC South African Consulate to apply for our visas.
  • June 21st we get an email from the Consulate asking us to fill out an extra wavier form. No explanation as to why we need this, we were just told to fill it out even though we had all documentation they require for our volunteer visa.
  • July 30th, 2 days before our departure flights for South Africa, Spanky returns to NYC to hopefully get our visas and passports. He spoke with the consulate who made it very clear that he was not on our side and was intentionally delaying our process.
  • August 1st, we cancelled our flights and were not able to leave for South Africa like we had planned.
  • August 14th, Spanky returns to NYC for the third time this summer to get our visas but ended up leaving with nothing more than our passports. We were back at square one with the visa process.
  • We began pursuing every avenue through friends in South Africa, talking with other people who have been through the process, and our ministry leaders who were talking with am international consulting firm in South Africa.
  • We started the visa process from the beginning (paper work, background info, applications, etc) while working with this South African visa consulting company.
  • Planned our trip for all five of us for Los Angeles because we were advised that the LA office was much more willing to work with us to get visas and in a timely fashion.
  • Headed to the west coast on August 28th and were the first person in line at the Consulate’s office on Tuesday the 29th.

This has been a trying season in our life. Nothing like it to be honest. It seemed like the door to our dreams had been shut. We weren’t sure what to do and the worst part was not having a back up plan or a time line. We were sure that we had heard from the Lord and that He said He had good plans for us in South Africa. There were days that we struggled hard and had nothing else to do but hold tight to the Lord and His promises for us. Thankfully He never let’s go and is always completely in control. The Lord has used this experience to awaken us to His presence and power like never before!

We walked into the Los Angeles Consulate office, handed them our files and moments later were sitting in an interview room. The lady on the other side of the glass was extremely nice and made our kids feel very comfortable. She seemed ready to help us get approved for visas to South Africa as soon as possible and even better with no extra hoops to jump through. Once she found out that we were going to hang around LA for a few days this government official said she would do her best to get us visas in hand before we left town. We didn’t really believe her, after all that we had experienced from the NY office this summer this seemed crazy. Never in our wildest dream did we think we would leave there with visas last week.

On Friday morning we woke up and called three-times to the Consulate’s office. No answer! It rings three times and then hangs up on you, every single time. We decided that in faith, we were going to drive back to the office and ask where we were in the process before we left LA. Lara and the kids went to a coffee shop next door while I went up to check on everything. The lady at the front desk went to ask someone else behind the scene and came back to let me know that everything would be ready in 30 minutes! Nerves, excitement, and disbelief were all going through our minds as we waited those 30 minutes with sweaty palms and a shaky knees. “Was this really about to happen?!?!” Five minutes before the office closed for the day, the lady who did our interview a few days earlier came out with a handful of passports. Talk about my heart pounding out of my chest! The piece of paper that gives us the right to head to South Africa, the key to all of these plans of us moving, and the prize we had been working and praying so hard for these past few months was right in front of me!!! As the passport was opened and I read the phrase “3 year volunteer visa for multiple entries in effect September 1, 2017 to serve with East Mountain Leadership Development” and was speechless. I couldn’t wait to run out of there and show everyone.

I left the South African Cimg_4625.jpgonsulate’s office praising the Lord and partially wondering if this was really true. I had all five passports and visas in my back pocket! As I saw my family standing across the street waiting on me by the car I could barely hold in my excitement. I decided to walk up to them with a somber look and an empty envelope as if things had not gone well. They looked at me waiting on some kind of emotion as I huffed and said, “I don’t know what we are going to do now.” I started to feel bad as I saw the kids faces turn towards disappointment. I then pulled the stack of passports out of my back pocket and yelled, “WE GOT THEM!!!! WE ARE GOING TO SOUTH AFRICA!” In the middle of the parking lot we jumped around and yelled with joy. We have been hoping and praying for this moment!IMG_4605

We walked through this trial, questioned lots of things, experienced an array of emotions, and felt bombarded daily with thoughts of fear and uncertainty. It is by the grace of our Father and His Spirit that we were strengthen to continue to stay the course. I saw my wife [Lara] battle through this well! We saw and felt the support of our family, friends, and ministry partners through this time more than we could have asked for and it kept us going day after day. And we believe that we saw the hand of God and felt His love wash over us over and over.

We may never know why we had to walk this path but we can trust that it is all part of the Fathers best plans for us! And now we are rejoicing in the fact that He has chosen to now give us visas to go love, serve, and care for those in need while leading people in a growing relationship with Jesus. He is also allowing us to go to be impacted and developed personally and as a family in ways we can only hope for. IMG_8486

When are we leaving for South Africa??? We just re-booked our flights (2 hours ago!) and will be heading out to South Africa on September 18th!

Please continue to follow our journey so you can keep us in your prayers and know how to partner with us further in this journey! To be continued…

Also, following along on Instagram and Facebook, we will regularly be posting pictures and stories.

https://www.instagram.com/spankyrouse/

https://www.instagram.com/lararouse/

https://www.facebook.com/spanky.rouse

https://www.facebook.com/lara.rouse.7

https://www.instagram.com/causing_wonder/ – Mac’s Instagram

 

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