Thursday, April 27, 2006
And there's more where that came from ...
Friday, April 21, 2006
Rob's folks sent me patriotic-colored flowers to celebrate my new American citizenship ... I just picked them up from the office across the street. Note the new legal name on the card.
Thanks, Dennis & June!
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Waiting to take the Oath
Taking the Oath
Receiving the Certificate of Naturalization
Rob's American wife, to replace his Canadian wife
We got up at 5:15AM on Tuesday, April 18, 2006. I had been trying to decide
what to wear the night before and couldn't decide whether to go really
dressy or really comfortable. I knew that the oath ceremony was a legal
affair so I knew that jeans weren't appropriate. At the same time, I knew
that I could be sitting in waiting rooms for hours so I didn't want to be
too bound by my attire. I opted, in the end for my favorite kind-of-dressy
shirt (the striped one I got from the fashion show I was in at St James
Lutheran last fall) and green velvet pants. The shirt is sort of a power
shirt for me; I feel so good in it that I like to wear it when I meet with
strangers for the first time. The pants were, well, warm. Seattle was cold
while we were there. I also wore my red shoes; again, comfort with a hint of
flash. My appointment was scheduled for 8:30AM.
We left Kate and Dave's at 6:15, stopping at Safeway to get our morning
coffees for the drive to Tukwila (south end of Seattle). If it tells you
anything about our state of mind, we didn't get out of Safeway until 6:45.
We were both nervous enough that we forgot that the plan was to be at the
USCIS office at 7:00, when the doors open. Sigh. I only remembered the plan
when we were back on the highway. That was mildly distressing until I
remembered that we had a gazillion people praying for us. I decided then
that, if I had forgotten something as simple as the timeline for the
morning, God must have meant it to go that way. I relaxed; somewhat.
There was a bit of heaviness to the traffic on I-405 and I-5 headed for
downtown Seattle. Rob had to make some scary lane changes. We and, just as
importantly, the car that we borrowed from Shawn and Holly came through it
utterly unscathed. We pulled into the parking lot about 7:30. We went
through security quickly as there was no line up at all and took our seats
in the waiting room upstairs, outside the interview area. There were about
20 people there ahead of us. Rob did things on his computer while we waited
and, for a while, drilled me on my civics questions. I watched the
television mounted on the wall.
During the waiting, a man in front of us went in for an interview and then
returned and sat back down again with his wife. I asked him if he was taking
his oath that day. He said no, that he had been given a continuance. His
photos were not according to spec; sound familiar? I commiserated with him
briefly, sharing the experience I had with my green card photos being
rejected, despite being exactly as required by the guidelines provided with
the application. I felt bad for him. I would have been in exactly the same
boat, had I not called the USCIS hotline a dozen times about each iota of my
application, making sure that there were no secret guidelines that I would
be bitten by later. In terms of photos, there were. The "Guide to
Naturalization" specifically mentions a 3/4 head shot. The USCIS hotline
told me that they now want front views only. They just haven't updated the
Guide. Sigh. (see page 37 of the 66 page Guide)
As 8:30 came and went, Rob asked if I was sure I was checked in. Suddenly, I
wasn't so sure. I noticed that everyone in the room when I had arrived was
gone. Just then, at around 8:45, someone called my name. I got up and went
into the interview area.
My interviewer was a nice man named Geoffrey. He was charming and put me at
ease right away. Some of the highlights of the interview include:
- He said that he was surprised at the thickness of my USCIS file. I
guess most people don't have a file that thick unless their case has been
complicated and full of appeals. He was surprised to see, for example, that
my green card application was 500+ pages of bank statements and letters from
- When I told him was in training for Bible translation, he asked if I
was going to get a crack at the Gospel of Judas. I told him that I didn't
know but explained that the texts I work with are "cleaned up." As in, the
ancient manuscripts don't have punctuation or, often, spaces between words.
On top of that, the words don't always end on the same line. So translating
these old texts mean figuring out where words start and end, before even
getting to translation itself. He seemed to think that was pretty
interesting. I felt even more comfortable, getting the chance to talk about
my interest, not just my application.
- He was slightly concerned by fact that I am currently in Columbia,
SC. I explained that I'm still a Washington resident and that my situation
here is temporary. At that point, I was suddenly really glad that I didn't
do an official change of address with the U.S. Postal Service. That could
have ganked things royally. I mean, Washington is my U.S. home. It has been
so since we married, regardless of where we've been. I'm glad that this
point came through clearly in the interview.
- He asked me 10 or so questions. I got them all right. They included,
if I remember correctly:
* Colors of the American flag
* Name of the president
* Name of the vice-president
* Name of the national anthem
* How long a representative is elected for
* 49th state of the union
* Color of the stars on the flag
* Who meets in the Capitol building
* President during the civil war
* What is the Bill of Rights
- He said that they didn't always book morning appointments for same
day Oath ceremonies but that they were doing so today. Praise God! At this
point, all of our prayers in this regard had been answered gloriously and to
the affirmative. The appointment was made for 2PM that day.
We left the office and drove to Rob's aunt Jill's place, about 15 minutes
away. We had a lunch and Jill did a lip-print analysis on me. We came back
to the USCIS office by 1:45PM. Kate and the kids, Rob's folks and our friend
Eric came for the ceremony.
When we made it through security, my observing guests were herded to the
room where the ceremony was to take place. Those taking the Oath were
instructed to line up. I was second in line. After the room was full of
people lining up, we each went to the counter and turned in our green cards,
as well as the form we signed saying that nothing vital had changed in our
status since the interview. When these were handed over, I checked my name
on a list to make sure all the spelling was correct. She gave me a letter
from the president, a small American flag, instructions on where to go to
get a passport and a copy of the Pledge of Allegiance. Then, I was sent to
the room where the Oath ceremony takes place.
Once in the room, I was sent to sit in the second row, on the far left side.
All guests were sitting in the back rows. For the next 30 minutes, people
taking the Oath and their guests filed in and took their seats. When things
got started, at about 2:30, the first speaker welcomed us and got each of us
to stand and remain standing as our countries were listed. There were 104
people there to take the Oath, including 6 U.S. soldiers, from more than 35
countries. I say more than 35 because we discovered, when we were all
standing, that her list of countries was missing Iraq, Surinam and a few
others. The soldiers were from Serbia, Jamaica, Philippines, Liberia and
somewhere else (I don't remember everything). She told us important facts
about Social Security benefits and care of our new certificates of
naturalization, which we would receive after the ceremony. The second
speaker said these same things and a little more. Then, there was a third
speaker, who introduced the fourth speaker. In between some speakers, we
also watched an inspirational video montage of photos of immigrants and
quotes about citizenship. That was a little superfluous, perhaps. I mean,
here we were, about to take the Oath. I may have had the shortest processing
time in the room and it had still taken me almost 5 years to get to this
point. If I'm not sold on being a citizen by now, a montage won't sway me.
Ah well. Perhaps if we weren't running 30 minutes behind at that point, I
might not have been so jaded on the montage portion of the event.
We did the Oath all at once, right hands raised. Photos were being taken all
around. Somewhere in there, we saw a taped presidential welcome. They handed
out our certificates of naturalization, like a graduation ceremony. I almost
didn't recognize my name when it was read. I think she thought it was Asian;
it came out something like "Uh-shi-nay Vee-et". I laughed.
So, after saying the Pledge of Allegiance (which I missed most of by
fumbling around in my envelope to find the words), we watched another video
montage. This one was nature and people pictures with the country song "I'm
proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free." The lyrics were
onscreen as well, karaoke style, though no-one sang along. I wish they had
done the national anthem instead. That song is so hokey. And I was appalled
to see the word "ain't" up there on the screen, for all new Americans to
see. And not everybody in the room was un-free prior to this day, myself
included. I don't know. I just like the national anthem.
Afterwards, we all had pictures taken with the American flag. Kate's 6 year
old son said, "Miss Eshinee! Now you're just like me!" Yup. Dinosaur shirt
I do feel different, you know. As soon as we left the ceremony, I suddenly
felt so equal to everyone around me. Like, I can be here and do anything
anyone else can do here. I can be heard! I can vote! I can protest! Not that
I have any protests lined up. But I could, without fear of deportation!
Yippee! Of course, I can't be president. But I'm not really into being
president, so that's cool with me. And I still get to be a citizen of
I guess that makes me a Canamerican.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
I'll need to be picking one of these up somewhere, for my naturalization certificate. They're $240 to replace and they can't be damaged, altered, photocopied, photographed or folded.
"It came to me ..."
STROM THURMOND FED BLD
1835 ASSEMBLY ST
COLUMBIA, SC 29201
Local Number (803) 929-7635
MONDAY - FRIDAY: 08:30 AM - 03:30 PM
Except Federal Holidays
This is where I need to go to convert my SSN to an American citizen version. I guess they're different somehow.
But I have my certificate of naturalization. I'm an American! Man, it feels weird to even type that!
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Monday, April 17, 2006
Tomorrow morning, at 8:30AM, I am scheduled for an interview with a U.S. Immigration official, regarding my citizenship. Somewhere during that interview, I will be tested for U.S. civic and historical knowledge. Hopefully, I will then be assigned a spot in the afternoon Oath ceremony. Space is limited and it is on a "first come, first served". That means that, if we get an immigration official who processes cases quickly, I have a good chance of becoming a U.S. citizen tomorrow. So, our prayer requests are as follows:
- Pray that we would be assigned to a speedy and sympathetic immigration official, one who would approve my application without a hitch.
- Pray that I would remember the answers to all 100 of the expected U.S. civics and history questions.
- Pray that I would be scheduled for the Oath ceremony Tuesday afternoon, the same day as the interview, so I don't have to miss any more school.
- Pray that there would be enough time between the interview and the Oath ceremony that Rob's folks and Kate and the kids would have time to drive to the office to attend it.
Thank you, in advance. This is a crucial time for us and it will be a great relief to put th process behind us. Just think ... tomorrow I may be an American! Weird!
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Friday morning, we got a late start and headed into town close to noon. We talked with Dave's folks for a couple of hours in the morning. They have a ministry called Proclaim International and have been in missions for a long time. When we mentioned that the financial support-raising part of our partnership development is kind of lagging, they gave us encouragement and advice. Some of their tips were things I'd never thought of, practical things. I'm glad that we are here the same time they are. In the afternoon, I played games with Kate for a bit and then she and Dave's mom grilled me on U.S. history for a couple of hours. I now have the answers for all 100 civics test questions! Woohoo!
We made it to Good Friday evening service at Cross of Christ and then came back and hung out. I worked on a puzzle with Kate and Eric. Rob did something computery; he's not into puzzles.
Rob is at the Cross of Christ Men's Breakfast this morning. It started at 8AM so he hauled out of here pretty early. I'm just working on my coffee now. I was reading a bit of history on the 13 colonies for a while. How about that Roanoke "Lost Colony", eh?
Tonight we'll be going to Easter Vigil at Cross of Christ, at 7PM. Tomorrow, we're going to go early for the Easter breakfast and then attend the 11AM service.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Also, we're in Chicago. I had a lovely post that I wrote last weekend, giving our intinerary for the next couple of weeks and whatnot, but it didn't post correctly and I lost it. I was so put out by that that I didn't post at all. Technology, eh?
Meetings each day, flying to Seattle on Thursday for Holy Weekend. INS appointment on Tuesday, back to SC on Wednesday. Short ... sweet ... to the point.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Beginning the potluck with Pastor Russ
Eating some BBQ, casseroles and desserts with our new friends
Rob shares the info ... and drinks the sweet tea
Pastor Russ and us
Note my leg position here. Rob says it looks like I'm nervous and I have to go to the bathroom when I stand like this. [sigh] I was doing pretty well the rest of the evening. It's just sturdier ... I stand like it all the time. As full of sweet treats as I was at this point, anything that might make me sturdier is a good thing.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
On Saturday, we went to a free health screening in the morning, at a local church. My microalbuminuria was elevated (80 mg/L) but not dangerously so. I'm just chronically dehydrated because I don't like water. Sigh. I'm going to go drink 16 oz while I'm thinking of it, then continue blogging.
There; done for a while. Sunday was hectic but, ultimately, very productive. We did the sermon portion for St John's Lutheran in Irmo, then stayed around for an hour, talking about ministry stuff. Went to Uno's pizzeria for lunch on the way home as we were ravenously hungry by this point (around 1PM). Crashed, physically, for the afternoon, waking up to eye the clock on occasion, make sure we didn't oversleep our next appointment. We co-preached again for an evening service at Grace Lutheran in Gilbert. Afterwards, there was a fabulous potluck. We ate lots of yummy food and talked with people about all kinds of stuff. In all, I think we were there about 2.5 hours. We vegged for the rest of the evening.
It was so great to hear people's responses to the work of Bible translation. Most people were like, "I had no idea that was still needing to be done!" We were like, "Neither did we ... until someone told us!" It feels good to be sharing the work with South Carolina.
Yesterday, I had class in the morning and reading to do for today's class in the afternoon. Choir practice was at 4:15 and I finished reading for today by 8PM. Between choir and dinnertime, the weather went from lovely and sunny to raining, hailing, dry but windy and back to calm again. It was no longer sunny by the end though, being night and all. The hail was not big enough to damage the car, thanks be to God. It was little, piddling, quick-melting stuff.
Today will be busier than most Tuesdays. My morning class is over and I am now getting ready for lunchtime recreational Greek reading. Rob and I are attending a free class this afternoon on "How to survive a church building program". Not that we have any particular need as we aren't on the pastor track. But I do wonder about the tensions experienced by a church community during such an effort. It will be interesting to hear the perspective of a guest professional on the subject.
I have a bunch of translation due tomorrow morning and that should occupy most of the rest of my day. I keep feeling like there's something else that I'm supposed to do today. It's not on my calendar, though, so I can't for the life of me figure out what it is.
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