Well, after arriving home, I am more than delighted to get my paperwork together and ready to be sent out to the United States Customs and Immigration Center in California. Why California, when I live in Michigan? I don’t know. Ask the United States Government. They come up with their rules, and I simply nod in agreement and obey… for now.
While gathering the paperwork I need, I realize I don’t have anything I need from Joan (my lovely Filipina fiancée). So, when we chat on the computer, which is every day, I tell her what I need. This of course, puts her into a panic mode so we can get everything and process the paperwork quickly. I tell her to priority mail it to me, so I can get it fast and get it turned in. Each day could be another week of processing. I am quite familiar with Red Tape here in the government at that time. She says it will be expensive, but after meeting her and knowing that she is the one I want to be with for the rest of my life, cost doesn’t matter. Joan makes her rounds at all the official buildings, which is required to obtain her OFFICIAL birth certificate, and other documents, and mails them to me via fed ex. Cost: $20. That’s not bad, and well worth the expedited delivery. I receive the papers two days later, complete the paperwork, check it, recheck it, triple check it. I seal the envelope, and then I panic. Crap! Is everything in there? I open the package, and check it again! Yep, it’s all there. I seal the new envelope, and drive to the post office. Priority mailed it with signature required. There isn’t any way someone is going to tell me they didn’t get it, and I’ll feel better knowing it is there.
I receive my notification from the post office, about the same time that I receive notification from the USCIS that they have received my packet, and my check. Most importantly… to them!
The wait, as they say, has begun. This is the time when everything starts to make you question. Not about whether you have chosen the right woman to marry, or that finding her 8,000 miles away from your home is right, but about whether or not everything really was in the envelope. Or, if I filled everything out correctly. For those of you that will be going through this process, I am NOT JOKING when I say DO NOT leave any space blank, because the paperwork might come back to you. It tells you in very clear English not to do this, but MANY people have done just that. And, they get their paperwork back two months later telling them to finish the paperwork. If it does not apply to you, put N/A, if the best answer is “NONE”, put that! I worked for the government at the time, and had some work paperwork returned to me for that same reason, so I was VERY careful in completing the paperwork that was more important than any other paperwork I had every completed. ESPECIALLY since it could mean a TWO MONTH DELAY in getting the person you love so much into your arms again!
The waiting continued, and the times got harder, but it was nice to know that each day at the same time, or about, we would chat online and see how each others day was. When she wasn’t there, it was because of a brown out or power outage in that area while they did upgrades, or whatever it is they do there. I don’t understand the amount of outages there, poor planning on someone’s part, I’m sure. Or the fact that they do what they can with the resources they have. Either way, it was one of the most frustrating things not knowing if she was ok that day or not. Of course, she was most of those times.
I think the most stressed out I got was in September 2009 when tropical storm Ketsana(I think Pepang in the Philippines). I knew it was there, and then left, and then came back again, and then hung out for a while in northern Luzon. I had no contact with her at first, and read what I would or watched what I could online. I was afraid for her. Then, she contacted me from the internet café. She said that they were releasing the water from the nearby dams and that the water was rising, but that they should be fine because they live on high ground. Well, that wasn’t the case. There was so much rainfall that they had to release the dams a second time, and even her house flooded, but only a foot or so. Much better than in other areas where it was 6 feet deep near her house. Of course, many of you know that a lot of people died in that flood. We know two separate people who lost a loved one to that storm. Once water receded from the area, which seemed very fast, the internet café was open again within a day. Wow. What a remarkable thing for a business to flood, and reopen so fast!!! I was glad because it meant that I could talk with Joan and knew that she and her entire family was ok.
There’s much more to the waiting game, and the stress of her coming to the U.S., but I’ll save that for next week.
Until next time, paalam, ingat, and God bless.