A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the spousal visa process Mare Cris and I have been working on. I mentioned our plan to move to the United States, and promised to share a little more about the process that has led us to this point. Here goes:

Manila became my adopted home when I moved there in 2002. I loved it so much, in fact, that I could not have imagined being anywhere else. Both my life and ministry were based there, and God was using me in ways I never would have dreamed of.

Things began to change about two years ago. I was getting a little restless and sensed God was moving me into something else. He spoke to me and used several circumstances (seemingly all at once) to make Himself perfectly clear

It all came together in September of 2011–I was supposed to move to Angeles City. I was here within just a few weeks of making the decision to leave Manila. I’m still amazed when I think of how God faithfully guided me and provided for everything I needed to move and live here.

I figured I’d be spending another decade or so helping with Hope Angeles. But God had quite a few surprises in store for me. I “met” my beautiful wife within days (literally) of moving here, and we were married just a few months later.

My time here in Angeles has been the happiest season of my life. Mare Cris deserves most of the credit for that—I’m blessed to wake up next to her every morning.

Others have added to the joy, of course. A few months ago we celebrated Mare Cris’ birthday with our church family and other friends. It was a great celebration—relaxed but full of fun and laughter. There was no agenda besides eating, swimming, and spending time together as one big family. This thought hit me as my eyes wandered through the smiling faces: “I didn’t even know most of these people a year ago.” I was overcome with a sense of gratitude for all the new friendships.

Back to the topic of surprises. Remember my plan of spending a decade or so here in Angeles? I began re-thinking and praying about that (and everything else) while planning to get married. My decisions could no longer be based on what I considered to be the best for me. I knew it would be in my wife’s best interest to become an American citizen. This would mean moving back to the States—it was a matter of “when,” not “if.” Mare Cris and I decided to get married here and start the spousal visa process, knowing it would take several months. This has given us some time to help with the ministry in Angeles and start building the foundation of our marriage.

Here’s one of the biggest surprises so far: I am excited about moving back to the States.  Not long ago the idea of moving back to the USA didn’t interest me at all. But God has been methodically adjusting my heart, preparing me to embrace the next phase of life. I have mixed feelings about leaving the Philippines, of course, but I’m very much at peace with our plans.

To be continued . . .