“God never ends anything on a negative; God always ends on a positive. Because what is negative about going home?” – Shannon L. Alder
Hello Everyone, did you miss me? I know you have been waiting, wondering what to do with your lives while I have been away and I am sorry to have left such a void in your lives. But you can all rest easy as I have returned from Scotland, back on American soil, eventually (but I will get to that later) and ready to resume my ramblings about my life and keep you updated on what happened during my trip home.
The main reason for the trip, and particularly for it taking in April, was so we could attend the wedding of 2 of my best friends. We got to help in the build up to the day and prepare last minute things that needed to be arranged as well as decorating the church the night prior to the wedding for them. And I got the amazing honor of being Best Man at the wedding too and not only celebrating with them but standing up with them at the alter as they committed their lives to each other. The wedding itself was so beautiful and it was just such a perfect day for them. I have had the honor and privilege of knowing both of them for many years and getting to see their personal, emotional and spiritual growth and see their relationship in its infancy and growing into the wonderful and exemplary relationship it is today. They have been mentors and encourages to so many over their lives and with their relationship and I know that this is only the beginning and there is so many more things that God has planned for them ahead. Both wonderful, godly people that had been a blessing in my life and I am so privileged to call them my friends.
While there I was also invited with Hannah to come along and help out at my old youth group for 1 night, where I was a former youth leader. It definitely had a feeling that I had never left but at the same time that Friday, as great a night as it was, wasn’t my youth group anymore. So many things have changed and most of the youth attending weren’t there when I was a leader. But I am proud to see the growth in a number of those youth I taught as they are becoming Mentorees, helpers and volunteers within the youth group and either are, or are preparing to train the next generation of youth. The leaders (who also were former youth I taught) always have and still do have all the potential in the world to be amazing world changers in the lives of these young people. And although it isn’t my youth group anymore, that is a good thing. From Day 1 we used to say the purpose of us being youth leaders is to work ourselves out of a job so the next generation will take over and will continue and growth the youth group in their own way and I believe that God is doing that with them and will continue to do so. I am so proud of each and everyone of the young people I have had the honor of teaching, mentoring and disciplining and know they are and will always be amazing world changers.
One of the most important parts of the trip and the other main reason for going to Scotland, aside from the wedding was to see my Parents. My parents are an amazing couple and I love them dearly, and I know that my moving to America was rougher on them than anyone. We try to Skype as frequently as we can with them but it definitely isn’t the same as being in person. Thankfully things transpired in such a way that the second half of our vacation both my parents weren’t working and we were able to spend a majority of it with them. We were able to visit some of our favorite places in Scotland such as Callander and Stirling, including a trip to Stirling Castle and up Wallace’s Monument. A lot of the rest of the time was spent just in the house, going to Glasgow and in Malls or restaurants. And that may not seem all that exciting but it wasn’t about seeing the sights, we’ve done that, it was about spending time with my Parents in person before heading back to the USA. Also finding out my mum had never seen Ghostbusters 2 (I know I don’t know how either) prompted a trip to buy Ghostbusters 1&2 for them as well as Serenity after she couldn’t get into Firefly and the movie fills in most the gaps and might be an easier jumping on point and Guardians of the Galaxy for no other reason than she hasn’t seen it and it’s awesome. It was good spending time with them getting that face to face time with them while we were able to.
I know that they are happy and excited for my life in America but it does also get to them that my life isn’t closer to where they are. The thing that keeps me going is I know that God has a plan for me in America but also that my being here isn’t the end of everything for them but rather it is the beginning of a new chapter in their lives and I know God has some amazing things planned for them while they are in Scotland. They are a Godly and well respected and loved couple that so many people look up to and I know God is going to use that influence to mentor, teach and bless those around them.
Also I got to do Meet ups and Dinners with more friends during our visit and it was so good to see them all face to face again. I wish I could have spent more time seeing everyone as I know there were many people I missed and didn’t get to spend as much time with. Next time I am over I will try to arrange a wider visit range and spend as much time as I can. But for the time I got with people there, as brief or as lengthy, I am grateful.
I also got to indulge in some Scottish foods, from Fish and Chips to Roll and Sausage and Potato Scone. I never got to indulge as much as I would have liked to because honestly my eating habits have changed that much that it was all a bit much for my stomach although I did drink an amazing amount of Irn-Bru (Diet mind you as I am still Diabetic) and enjoyed it thoroughly. I am grateful to be back to my normal eating habits and I think my stomach really thanks me for that too.
While I had a great time visiting Scotland, God also took the time to speak to me while I was there. He never gave me a massive revelation, or a big transformative meeting with him but rather He spoke softly and quietly to me. As much as I loved being in Scotland, and as much as I loved seeing everyone again and returning to the family, friends and church I had left behind, I wasn’t returning home as I had once thought. The truth is a lot has happened over the last 2 years and as much as it felt like things picked up right where they left off and it was as if Hannah and I had never left, the truth is I had and that the man that came back to Scotland really wasn’t the same man that left. I wasn’t able to fit back into that space I had left because I was now a different shaped piece in another puzzle.
God confirmed in me that, as much as there are things and especially people I miss in Scotland, my home is now in Virginia, my home is now in America and in all honesty I don’t have a desire to live in Scotland anymore, I love the life I have built with my wife here and everything I am able to do and experience in America. I live a very different life from what I did in Scotland and have changed so much in so many ways. My heart sees America as home and I am excited that now God has confirmed what seemed so obvious now I look back, it allows me to move forward to whatever God has for us. I have been praying for God to show me what he has for me, all the things I was sure of that God had called me too have become a little less solid and I believe the solid foundation going forward is that God wants me to be married to Hannah and living in America and I will wait and see where he leads us from there. And hope that you will get to share in that journey with me and journey along that road via this blog or if I am blessed enough to know you in person.
Alright, now for the the part everyone has been waiting for, the ongoing Saga in my life!
I have an interesting history with the U.S. Immigration department. We have never seemed to gel together and my trips to the U.S. are made all the more interesting by them. On the way back to Richmond Airport via Boston, I had the latest chapter in my ongoing saga with them.
For those unaware, about 3 years ago when my wife and I got engaged, I looked to come over to America for 3 months on an ESTA (which after researching allowed me to come to come over for that time without a Visa). However when I arrived at Immigration, and after waiting about 5 hours, I was told that I wasn’t able to enter the country as I didn’t qualify for the ESTA as I didn’t have my own home or job in the U.K. They basically were saying I was a flight risk without saying the words, and were worried I was going to come into the country and disappear. So I was sent back, only after my then Fiance had been told I would be right out and made to wait this long thinking I would be coming through and having to drive back to Virginia without me. Fast forward one year and I have gone through the visa process, been granted a Fiance visa and trying to enter America again I have to do a second check at Customs because I am flagged as having been sent back at the border once before. I am worried this will take a long time but find that it takes a few minutes and I am informed I can enter the country and that whenever I leave I may need to do an extra check upon entering again as it will flag I was sent back previously.
So now fast forward another 2 years to my return from Scotland, we land in Boston airport and I go through customs, my self scan thing has a cross through it which is due to it flagging my issue entering previously. My wife and I talk with the guy and things seem ok, I am informed I need to do a further security check which I expected as I had been informed about it. But this time I sit in a room for over 1 hour waiting to be processed. I am in a fairly bust room but I am the ONLY Green Card/Permanent Resident Card Holder amongst various Visa holders, a non-English speaker that from overhearing the conversation didn’t appear to be a citizen of any country and a former U.S. Citizen, now U.K. Citizen who had been arrested and not convicted but claimed she hadn’t been arrested. Numerous people in these categories came in after me and left before me. The problem is I sat there for no reason except that I had to wait, and got called up about 50 minutes into my wait, answered some questions, sat down for another 5 minutes and then came up and got my things. The problem with this was not only the wait, or the fact that I am a permanent resident that seemed to be treated like a normal visa holder or less trying to enter the country but also I got out at 8:45pm and our connecting flight to Virginia took off at 8:35pm. It seems that I am constantly destined to run into issues with immigration and led me to the stance that I do not believe I will leave America again until I have successfully gotten my Citizenship as that is the only way I can guarantee no problems once returning to America from abroad. I have never experienced any customs like this anywhere else in the world.
I do not agree with the illegal immigration of people into America and think they should have to go through the proper channels but I can completely understand why they do this considering how people that are Legal, Green Card Holding Immigrants are treated when coming through U.S. Customs.
Also a little something extra that does tie into this post. The day Hannah and I were leaving for Scotland we found out that she is Pregnant and that we would be expecting the birth of our first child. She is about 8 weeks along currently the Baby is expected around December this year. We are so thrilled to be starting a family and cannot wait to had a new addition to our little clan and see it begin to grow.
See our official announcement photo below.
Thanks for checking out my ramblings and I hope to see you next time.