In the week of May 27th this year, we announced we would be returning to Warsaw, IN upon my acceptance of a teaching job there. The weeks following that decision turned out to be the hardest for me personally as well as a couple weeks for our marriage. Toward the beginning of June, I informed my fifth graders (at that time) of our leaving the school. I was met by many students crying, faces of disbelief, and even later told of one student who didn’t eat the rest of that day. The days the students were told were Thursday and Friday. That following weekend for me, I cried several times as well. The weeks afterward, I had trouble sleeping. Something was not right. I didn’t feel peace in my heart for a move back to the US. Not yet. Not now.
As God has a way of working, my wife pointed out something. “Daniel, this could be an emotional response.” And she’s right. I’m an emotional person. In times like these, I can’t help but feel an assortment of them. With that said, Marta and I took the past few weeks to pray individually, pray together, and discuss the future along with its details. I would pray for my emotions to not be involved, and for the Holy Spirit to either give us peace to leave or conviction to stay. (Side note: I firmly believe in the practice of praying dangerously.) As we talked and prayed, Marta would repeatedly say America is where we should go while I would vote for China.
We both saw positives and red flags in both places. Certain things could happen in both places. How do we decide what to do if we don’t agree and neither one of us budge on our stance? It was then, on Friday, June 19th that I told the school of the ultimatum that Marta suggested and I agreed to. If we can obtain our visas before leaving, we will stay in China. If not, we’ll return to the US. Mind you, getting work visas in China usually takes twenty or more work days. We gave them three. It was in this circumstance that we had to wait on a miracle from God above if He wanted us to stay overseas.
After June 19th, I started to mentally prep myself for the move back. I also had to remind myself what was brutally true. My wife had been mentally ready for months since we made this call months ago. I couldn’t expect her emotions to change overnight. That would be ridiculous of me. I learned so much about myself during this time in regards to how my heart wasn’t right on several issues and how it was hardened (definitely more on this in another post). But now it seemed I was okay with going back, and Marta was softening to the possibility of staying. Personally, I found it hard to pray during this week. I thought that if God really wanted us in China, why did He have an extremely tough ultimatum set up? Even faith the size of a mustard seed felt like too much to give at this point.
But it was on Wednesday, June 24th that I received a call at work saying our visas had been approved and would be given to us the next day! It was truly a miracle!! When I told Marta, she smiled really big and said, “God really wants us here.” We chuckled and embraced. I was still in shock because my mental preparations weren’t necessary anymore. God had made it abundantly clear that He wants us to stay in China. What was more convincing is that our school didn’t use any 关系 (guanxi, or relationships) or bribes to make this happen. It wasn’t a matter of knowing or paying people, it was a matter of faith and believing in Him who can make all things happen.
My wife told me later that she was praying the visas would work out. It warmed my heart to hear this. I, on the other hand, found it quite hard to pray because I was upset, doubtful, and questioning (all in a bad sense). Time and time again in my life, God has proven Himself faithful and present. Not only had my emotions been stirred these past few weeks, but the Holy Spirit was also trying to tell us something.
My dad once told me, “Daniel, if God tells you to do something, you run with it. If you think He is checking you, turn around and run the other way.” It’s been nothing but peace knowing that we’re now running the right direction, His direction.