I’m sure this will come as a surprise, but right now, at 11:40 am, Friday, February 13th, 2015, in Dumfries, Scotland, Mari and I are now officially pronounced man and wife. We are married. For those of you waiting, we’re still going to have the wedding ceremony in Norway this June.
What’s the Deal?
Now we’ll have to backtrack quite a bit so you can understand some of the many issues in this story.
My Visa Sponsorship
You may remember my post last semester about our engagement. During that semester, while teaching 2 Corinthians at CCBCY, the church in York had their sponsorship suspended. To be granted a visa, I, being outside the EU/EEA system, must be ‘sponsored’ by the organization that I am coming to the UK to work for. For the last six years, things have been fine and dandy with Calvary York (CCY). They’ve sponsored the majority of Calvary Chapel missionaries that have come to the UK.
The UK Government’s Visa & Immigration (UKVI) are now interpreting the status of missionaries differently than before. Instead of ‘supernumerary’ (a term used to describe someone coming to the UK to work a job that wouldn’t exist if they weren’t there), missionaries are now described as ‘non- supernumerary’. So in most cases, missionaries are now regarded
“as coming to the UK to take a ‘job’ that could potentially be filled by a UK worker. Despite CCY acting in good faith and making every attempt to resolve the situation to the satisfaction of UKVI, the decision was made to revoke CCY’s sponsorship license”
(Steve Vickery, pastor of CC Cardiff, see post here).
Yet before January 8th everything was pretty much up in the air. Was the suspension final? Would CCY get the sponsorship back? On January 8th we received the official news that CCY’s sponsorship had been revoked. Once I received the information, I had 60 days until I would have to leave the UK, that final date being March 9th.
Thankfully I was in Norway with Mari when this news came so there was no need to stress over that. Now the next question come: if I can’t be in England, and I can’t stay in Norway for over 90 days, and I need to be back in Norway in time for our June wedding, and we don’t want to be apart, where will we go? Can I still get into the UK?
- This was no option, but I had to leave the Schengen area. Under the Schengen agreement, moving from one country to another within the Schengen area is done without border controls, making it easier to migrate, travel, and trade. Norway is a part of that agreement, so I would have to live outside the Schengen for 90 days before I could return. My options (within the EU area) were now Bulgaria, Romania, and Ireland.
- We don’t know anyone in Bulgaria. I’m not going to Bulgaria.
- We have two Bible college families in Romania who Mari and I could stay with.
- There is a Calvary School of Ministry in Ireland. I applied to Jon Langley, the director there in Ireland, and was able to land (i.e., was graciously given) a position teaching 2 Corinthians over there. Now I had a place to go, but I didn’t want to go without Mari. But we would have to be married to live together there.
So The Bigger Question…
For the whole experience we had to face this question: How are we going to get legally married?
Most have the luxury of signing their legal papers during the wedding ceremony.
If only it would have been that easy.
Our ceremony would be in Norway, but the law wouldn’t see us as legally married until I had a visa. Only then could I sign the legal documents. While I’m working on getting a student visa, that could come as late as August, and it isn’t guaranteed.
Originally, before the visa ordeal, our plan was to go to Scotland at the end of the spring semester, fill out the papers, go to Norway and set everything up for the wedding, and then on June 6th “be” married. Upon receiving the news of the revoked sponsorship, this could no longer be the case. We had to get married as quickly as we could, and it had to be within the 60 day timeframe.
We talked to people in Gretna Green, Scotland (famous for its overnight elopements of Britain’s 17-and-up year olds who weren’t required parental consent when in Scotland), found out what documents were needed, and filled everything out. Certain US documents I had (i.e., my birth certificate) were stamp with an Apostille Certification, and that would last for only four months. So what we needed to do needed to be done quickly.
In the End, What Happened?
A few CCY interns were allowed back into the UK, and that gave us some hope. We traveled to the UK and I was allowed through the border with no problems. The next day we drove up to Dumfries, Scotland, with some friends and handed in our documents at the Municipal Office.
Smooth as butter.
The date was set. On Feb 13th, 2015, Mari and I would be officially married. It was the earliest day we could get married and the only day her parents could come.
As It Turns Out
The 60 days haven’t started yet. They start when the letters are sent out. Classes at York will resume as normal, we will still have our wedding celebration in June as planned, and Mari and I will start the first few months of our new life in Ireland. It was a wild few weeks, but I’m not disappointed in getting married early (and neither is she…yet). We praise God for each other every day, and we are thankful that He has worked everything out for us so far. Times will still be tough, but we will continue to put our trust in Him.
Starting Sunday afternoon, we will be in York for a few more days before we leave on this coming Wednesday.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
(1 Peter 1.3-9)
P.S. FYI BTW, If anyone is wondering, we are NOT pregnant. Not for quite a while 😉