The American has landed (and he learned a tough lesson in the waiting process).

by Todd Foley

Yesterday was a big day: I finally landed in Canada as a permanent resident.

After filling out countless forms, conducting in-depth research and gathering a big stack of documents (dropping a significant amount of cash on these documents), I sealed the deal yesterday – even though I’ve been living in Canada for nearly seven years.

These past few months, though, have been some of the most trying moments in my life and the biggest tests of my faith. Now I can finally be vulnerable about just how difficult this time as been (which will also explain why I haven’t been posting content as regularly as I would have liked). 

Timeline:

  • First came to Canada to attend university in September, 2005.
  • Graduated with my communications degree in April, 2009.
  • Was granted a three-year work permit on June 4, 2009.
  • Applied for permanent residence (the equivalent of a green card in the U.S.) in December, 2011.
All seems good, right? There was a catch: The average processing times for PR is 11-14 months, and my work permit expired on June 4, 2012 (aka last week).Thankfully, my employer was able to apply for a labour market opinion (aka “This foreign worker is most qualified to do this job”), thus granting an extension on my work permit to buy me some extra time. There was another catch: You could only apply for this market opinion four months before the permit expires, and you can’t get an extension without a positive opinion. As fate would have it, I wasn’t approved for a market opinion, which meant I didn’t have any extra time to buy.

My very secure world was suddenly flipped upside down, and my mind was flooded with panic. Would I get my status in time? Would I lose my job? Would I be sent back to the U.S. and be taken away from my wife, my home, my friends – my entire life in Canada?

Being the problem-fixer that I am try so hard to be, I switched into survival mode. What can do to fix this? How can intervene and expedite the process? Who can get answers from?By some miracle, my permanent residence application got transferred to another office which sped up the process. Still, there was no guarantee that I would be approved and landed by June 4.

I spent hours upon hours doing research and asking around; immigration totally dominated my thoughts and distracted me from the beautiful things right in front of me. Every day that passed brought June 4 closer and closer, and my fleeting efforts didn’t bring me any closer to any answers.

I finally had a breakdown two weeks ago when I realized how truly scared I was of the unknown (and how much tension my stress had brought into my home). I had been focusing solely on my own strength and my own resources, and it left me exhausted, broken and beaten. What was Todd – the problem-fixer – going to do? What could I even do?

I had to wait.

I had to rely on something – Someone – greater than myself. The words of Psalm 46 (one of my favorite passages in Scripture) took an entirely new meaning:

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
Though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
He utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
How he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
He burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our fortress.

Fast forward to the day after my breakdown. By some miracle, we discovered a way to buy me an additional 60 days on my work permit. I finally saw that God’s hand had never been removed from my circumstances, even when I cowered in the fear of uncertainty.

What lesson did I learn through this experience? Don’t let waiting stop you from living. Walk forward with fear and trembling, but in awe and wonder of the life right in front of you. All things – even government bureaucracies – can work together for our good.

To cut to the chase, I received my final documents in the mail yesterday, went to the border, entered the U.S. and walked right back into Canada where I landed as a permanent resident. I even got a nifty little flag as proof.

What lessons have you learned in times of waiting?

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