How does God mean for us to stay?

With last year’s changes in visa rules, we have been struggling, along with all missionaries and most expatriates in general, with the question of how to get a new visa once our current one is up in July. To get the background and context, read my earlier post here. In sum, we can’t return on the kind of visa we came here on, a one-year business visa. Now, such a visa would require us to leave the country every 90 days and be gone for 90 days, obviously impossible. Getting three-month visas in succession was a second option, but door appears to have closed too, as I have heard of some being denied entry for 90 days after applying for a second such visa. The last option, a work permit, seems the only other option, and I thought I had that base covered. In fact, I was most of the way through the process with a company who was to hire me as a coach trainer and consultant – a very good fit I thought.

That prospect suddenly fell through a couple of weeks ago when the director felt like God was not giving her peace to move forward. Without going into details, the circumstances were not clear to me how this came about, but what is clear is that God has other plans. Now I get to watch him work out a new direction. This turn of events came at the end of the school year as life winds down here in St. Petersburg. Russians all leave the city for the summer, and it’s hard to get anything done as a result. So I was already beginning to ask questions about where God was leading us for this fall and beyond. Now I started to feel that He may be about to initiate more substantial changes than I had envisioned. I don’t think we are leaving the city or changing fundamental direction, but I have a hunch that something is brewing. Stay tuned.

What did happen is almost immediately an offer came from the International [Christian] Academy here for Diana and I to come work there [very] part time in exchange for a visa. To be honest, Diana was the real object of their affection. Her gifts at teaching English have been discovered, and they suddenly are desperate to fill a hole. Giving a work permit to a woman with husband in tow is a questionable practice here, so they need an excuse for me. At first it was change light bulbs once in a while, but the more we talked, the more it became clear that there were some cool avenues for me to use some latent gifts to be a blessing there. Gifts, in fact, that were remarkably close to the ones that got summoned recently with my work at the Russian Christian school with their middle schoolers. We are talking about themes like youth ministry, counseling, and team building. I’ll leave it at that for now.

Pray with us that we would be obedient to God’s direction and not jump too fast. I am most nervous for any new obligations for Diana at this point. The problem is we are too late to get a new work visa in time for our mandatory departure in July. So now we have to get a 3-month visa and have to leave again in October. Pray we get a work visa by then.

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