My Journey in the Far North

thoughts, inspiration, devotions and recipes from my journey in the far north

My Journey back to the West…a look back at how returning began December 30, 2010

Filed under: Locking In,Scenic Routes — tlobner @ 10:57 am

Now that I’m waiting for the boxes to arrive, I thought it would be interesting to look back and see how all this returning talk began.

I’ve been in Aberdeen, Scotland for over 3 years now…first arrived September 12, 2007 (yes, I flew on September 11th) to attend the University of Aberdeen.  The goal: MLitt Irish and Scottish Studies (a Master’s Degree), emphasis on History.  This is a one year taught program.  Expected finish date September 1, 2008.  September 2008 rolled around and I decided to stay until my graduation on Thanksgiving (believe it or not) 2008.  I got a job at Starbucks and decided to stay on until my student visa expired.  In October I found I was successful in getting my degree and I was able to participate in the very different but special graduation ceremony.  Now, Thanksgiving will always carry a special meaning for me.

In the meantime, I decided to apply for the Post-Study Work Visa which would allow me to extend my stay for two more years.  I thought that I’d at least try for it (even though it was costly) and just see if this is where God wanted me.  I knew that if the door closed, the door closed and it was time to go home.  So, I sent off the application in mid December and 4 weeks later received my passport back with the visa attached.  In the meantime, I applied for 2 jobs.  Both were maternity cover PA positions with a possibility of 1 year employment.  I interviewed for both and was offered the second position and started the job on my birthday March 9th.  After a year, my position became permanent, with the former PA becoming the regional fundraiser. 

This summer I took a week off to focus on the application for the work visa, which would allow me to stay a couple more years.  The application didn’t look too bad, but there were several things that needed to be in place before I applied…one, my employer needed to be accepted to be a sponsoring organization, and two, they needed to apply for a certificate of sponsorship.  The certificate of sponsorship was what I needed for my application and, without it, there would be no reason to apply.

So, my employer decided to apply to be a sponsor and the application was completed and sent.  At the same time the sponsor application was sent, the application for the certificate of sponsorship was sent.  Seriously no word for weeks.  Was very concerned, people asked me all the time about it and I began to worry about my trip to Israel (would I be able to go with only a few weeks left on my visa, etc).  Finally, my employer was approved for being a sponsor but the certificate of sponsorship application was still outstanding.

In speaking with my employer, I told her that I really felt that once all the visa stuff was finished and if I got the visa, I really needed to plan a trip back to the States. She agreed as I hadn’t been home since March 2008.  I began to think about when I would go home for a visit…looking at the meeting schedules and thinking about the weather and the best time to go.  I don’t know why I felt this way at all.

End of October rolled around and I was listening to a sermon by Matt Chandler, from The Village Church in Texas, about the sovereignty of God and I suddenly felt so convicted.  I realized I was holding onto the Israel trip and visa too tightly and I, at that moment, unclenched my hands.  I totally felt so relieved at this point because I realized I hadn’t really been trusting God.  I had been fighting to keep everything afloat on my own and spent a lot of my time worrying about the visa.  And, knowing that God had a plan and if Israel or whatever was not part of the plan, I needed to be ok with that.

Then the first week of November, I became ill.  I hardly ever get this sick.  I went to work for the first few days fighting off fevers…then I couldn’t fight it off any more and stayed home for the next 7 working days.  I wrote about this time in November (you can get the story here).  I passed out at the pharmacy…yes, that’s right.  I was that sick.  During my time in bed resting I had a mini spiritual revival.  And, I honestly can say I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again.  I’m pretty sure I cannot find the words to describe it either.

On Thanksgiving, I received two texts on my phone.  One from Lastminute.com and the other from an old flatmate.  The text from Lastminute.com said to check my email because my itinerary changed (for my flight to Israel), and the text from my old flatmate was to tell me that she put some mail in the mail slot at my flat. 

When I got home, I checked the mail and found 3 letters from the revenue and customs telling me that they owed me money for overpaid taxes.  Unbelievable.  The email from Lastminute.com told me my flight was canceled and I could choose a different flight or get my money back in full.  Knowing that at that time, I didn’t think going to Israel was in the plan because I thought I’d be sending my passport off for the visa shortly, I choose to get my money back in full.

I was in awe the next day and during the weekend away.  I really felt that God had something in mind and He was providing me with funds for a reason…and deep down inside I had a feeling I was going home to stay.  Just like that.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget what happened on this Thanksgiving.

In the beginning of December, I was hit with what I think started out as a cold but progressed into a sinus infection and bad cough.  Then, on December 9th, my boss called me into her office to tell me that the certificate of sponsorship was not approved.  This meant that I was going home. 

I did cry a bit out of disappointment but I knew what I had to do.  I took some time that morning to talk with my friend Becky and Lisette.  That night I went to see the Narnia 3 movie with my friends Heather and Claire…and it was surprisingly the perfect movie for me to see.  Very much a story about new chapters, growing up and moving on (at least that’s what I got from it).  And from that day forward, I didn’t cry so much.  The next day, Friday, I had to let my employer know what I planned to do.  I told her my last day would be the January 14th.  I had to inform the landlord of my flat that I was not going to continue (I needed to inform them 1 month prior to moving out…I did this 3 days before I needed to).  So now I have to handover the keys on January 13th.  I purchased the ticket for my flight home to return on January 21st. 

And the rest you know…sorting, packing, saying goodbye.

Most immediate in my thoughts are getting my things packed and shipped before I move out of the flat on the 12th.  Getting the flat cleaned so I can hand the keys over with relief.  Staying with friends for the last 9 days…and then off to the airport to fly back to California.  Last I checked I have  just 23 days before I fly.  It’s going to go by so fast.

A couple of Sundays ago, I found the following verse which will be my 2011 year verse because it really communicates where I am right now. 

Psalm 63:7-8

I think how much you have helped me; I sing for joy in the shadow of your protecting wings.  I follow close behind you; your strong right hand holds me securely. (NLT)

God has helped me…He has protected me…and He is leading me and holding onto me securely.  I’ve just got to let go of my own control because, really, He’s got this (and everything else).

Am I slightly concerned about everything that needs to be done?  Yes

Am I concerned about what my plans will be when I return to California? Yes, but I know God has a plan for me and I need to continue to trust Him.  I’m actually kind of excited to see where I will go and what I will do. 

A whole new chapter in the journey. 

Stay tuned there’s more to come…

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2 Responses to “My Journey back to the West…a look back at how returning began”

  1. Terry Olaes Says:

    Thanks for sharing, Tiffany. The Village church (Flower Mound campus, where Matt Chandler is an elder) is about 30 minutes away from where we live in DFW. We have several friends that attend there and love it.

    • tlobner Says:

      Thanks for commenting Terry. So glad your friends are enjoying the Village Church. I’ve enjoyed the podcasts so much.


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