Tuesday, June 21, 2011

the next step

I haven't blogged in awhile mostly because I haven't really had time but a lot because I didn't have anything newsworthy to share. There have been some developments in the France saga but I realized I hadn't shared any of them so a lot of people don't know what's going on and since it's kind of a complicated story it seems smart to type it out and then everyone can just read it yes?

In order to stay in France for longer than 90 days (legally) I must have a visa of some kind. I emailed the French consulate in Houston and explained my intentions and they pointed me to the "au pair visa". This visa requires me to bring papers including a contract signed by the family I would be staying with and also by the DDTEFP (please don't ask me what it stands for because I don't remember). My France family asked the DDTEFP what all was required in order to get this contract signed and was told by the lady who has to sign it that I must have had prior French education to come under the au pair visa. This was a surprise because we hadn't seen that listed anywhere and after further questioning she insisted I must have had 300 credit hours of French. We were a bit stunned. As far as I understand they checked around and while this is NOT a written requirement, since this lady has to sign the contract and she decided I needed to have had the 300 credit hours she can pretty much say what she likes and we have to follow it. Since it is physically impossible for me to get that much French in and apply for a visa before September we scratched the au pair visa off our list.

The only other real option this left us with was applying for a non-professional long stay visa. The tricky part to this is that they want to see proof that I can financially support myself for a year and not be a burden on the state as I'm not allowed to get a job while I'm there on it. We have notarized documents from my France family stating they wish to sponsor me, proof of their finances etc, but the Houston consulate also mentioned they wanted to see proof that I had financial means to support myself. They didn't give an exact number but considering I have nothing...I'm not expecting it to pass muster. We are proceeding with the application though and I have an appointment Friday morning (June 24) at the consulate. When I first said I would go I had no idea there would even be any problems with this part of the process, and now it seems the doors keep closing. To be honest it really messes with my emotions suddenly having everything seem so up in the air again. The last few months I've heard of a lot of problems from others trying to renew their carte de sejour, missionaries who have been in France for 20 years now, and the college students they work with having trouble being able to stay in France.

It doesn't look good but I know if I'm supposed to be there God will make it happen, and it will be dramatic evidence that France is where I'm supposed to be. If I'm rejected for my visa though I have to admit I'd feel a lot of relief as the idea of moving to another country seems rather daunting. I know though that if God calls you to it He will see you through it and just the other Sunday we had a sermon on God giving grace for His calling on your life. I have to confess as I sat there I was not feeling the grace to go and I told God that. I've always asked Him through the years that if He had something for me to do that my whole heart would be into it, that I'd want it. I haven't felt that way this time but I didn't have any real reasons to not go other than selfish ones that were all about me. It was like God was saying "can you not give up a year of your life for someone, for Me?" So I moved forward thinking this is what I was supposed to do. The instability of it all makes me unsure of everything since I wasn't totally confident beforehand. I'm determined though that if I manage to get this visa that I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

So Friday morning at 9:00 I'll be at the consulate and I would love your prayers that God directs through them what He wants to happen in September. If it's that I go to France, that I would also have the grace and peace to move forward. If it's that I don't that I would still be listening for what He has planned for me this coming year. I have some ideas of things I'd like to pursue but I do not know yet what He wants. Thank you for your prayers and support!