There are certain things we experience that cause a shift in our lives. The shift for me has occurred around three most significant incidences; the loss of my mother, the loss of a relationship, and the loss of my home. In that order. This story is about the latter.
I remember June 20th 2017 very vividly. The denim shirt and pants I had on for the past 48 hours, my starving body, my swollen feet, and the worried look I wore on my face; with people wondering—what’s up with this girl?
As I stumbled through Murtala Muhammed International airport, not believing what had just happened, I followed closely behind the air hostess in charge as she clenched firmly to a brown envelope that was handed to her by the immigration authorities from Hartsfield Jackson International airport, like someone who was protecting classified information.
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‘God what kind of wahala is this ehn? After everything? Is this how my life is going to be?’
Madam! An airport worker said to me, while I was lost in my thoughts. ‘I saw you here two days ago before you left, what happened?’
‘I had to come back for something’ I quickly responded to him as I continued behind the chief air-hostess in charge.
Arise and Shine!
That was the vision my pastor had for our church in 2017 when the year began. I always looked forward to these services where he unveiled the year’s vision because each year, I wanted something more out of life. I wanted that dream job, the white picket fence home, and of course the perfect man! I was hopeful, trusting and believing God for a lot. One of the most significant things I wanted out of 2017 was to get a green card.
I mean that wasn’t far-fetched; my friend had gotten the opportunity the year before through her job and I felt I was next in line. I was full of faith, shooting down every naysayer because I believed nothing was impossible for my God right? But what happens when what you are asking for isn’t His will for your life? My story!
With each ask, I heard Him whisper back—“I know the plans I have for you; plans of good and not of evil, and plans to give you a future and a hope.”
“But God time is running out, I am about to go home for my brother’s wedding. I know I have to make that trip, mommy is no longer here and I am his only sister, please come through for me and answer my prayers.”
Again He would recite Jeremiah 29:11 for me. Isn’t it very like God to give us a word, which He knows is more than enough?
I was so scared and worried with each passing day, as the time for my trip to Nigeria grew closer. My heart was in a constant state of uproar. I got so acquainted with the USCIS website, that I knew the odds were stacked up against me. I studied that website like someone who was about to sit for a board examination; those who studied for the MCAT had nothing on me! I went through every form, information and requirement, still nothing was looking up.
Trump wasn’t playing any games with people who at some point had overstayed their visas or were out of status and I happened to be in that group for a period of time. My only saving grace was to become a permanent resident and the quickest way to get my residency, was to get married to a US citizen, an immigration lawyer advised.
But I wasn’t going to play in that field; because who wants to be tied down for a few years to someone they are not romantically involved with? That one na one chance if you ask me oh!
Okay let’s even imagine for a second that Mr. Perfect came knocking at my door in January of 2017, we had less than six months to build a friendship, date, fall in love, get engaged, and say I do!
That wasn’t a process I was interested in either as I like to take my time, because who rushing hepp? So I went the God route; not knowing how He was going to work it out, but trusting that He would regardless. I packed my load and jetted off to Lagos thinking that I will somehow escape the system, depending on the mood of the person who will attend to me on my return.
When our plane touched down in Lagos, it was bittersweet for me. I had not been in Nigeria in about three years, although as much as I was excited to be home with my family, I was still plagued with thoughts of not being able to go back to America.
Before coming to Nigeria, most times while asleep at night my mind produced countless movies for me wherein I was the lead and our location was Nigeria! Boy did those dreams hunt me.
As someone who God speaks to through dreams, my dreams were often as good as reality. So I was worried. Anyway I had to put up a brave face for my brother; I did not want to ruin his big day with my wahala. Even if he opened up to me one day saying—“Evi when you told me you were coming, I was scared. I did not want you to risk it.” Say what? Now you tell me this? (Haha, that was the response in my head!)
During the course of my trip to Lagos I noticed my feet were swollen; “maybe it’s the stress of flying” I said to myself, “once this wedding week is over, all will go back to normal, or so I thought.
Wedding day came soon enough; we partied and danced like it was 1999! Family and friends flooded the area and we felt the warmth and love from everyone! Ah so my younger brother is a married man? I was full of emotions watching him and his wife exchange their vows, with my friend warning me not to let any tears escape my eyes, because we can’t be ruining our make up in public.
Dream vs. Reality
Buried deep within me was the possibility of what if I don’t get my visa to go back. As I danced like someone who had no worries, my heart was full of anxieties. No one really knew the battles I was fighting on this inside; on the outside I was all smiles. Visa day finally rolled around and I asked my friend to drop me off at the embassy. ‘Say a prayer for me.’ I said to her as I made my way out of her car.
Then reality set in! What if I don’t get a visa to return? My apartment in the US was still left intact. Who was going to pack up everything if things went awry? What of my car? "Oh well, Evi you have to have faith!" I often consoled myself. All things are possible for those that believe.
Has there been a time, where you were out of status in the United States?
I stared at that question, and it stared right back at me as I gambled with the thought of telling the truth as a Christian and stand the risk of losing the life I was comfortable with or telling a lie and the possibility of protecting the life I so longed to go back to. I chose the latter; I mean who wants to risk their comfort and the life they have dreamed up for themselves? The dream job, the white picket fence house, the green card and Mr. Perfect.
No oh, I clicked with nervousness in response to their dreaded question. Maybe God was going to somehow turn the lie around for my good and His glory.
After filling out my application online at the embassy (because of some mistakes I had to rectify), I went back in to get my verdict—“you can pick up your passport at this location, good luck with everything.”
“Phew! What a relief!” I said with glee, as I skipped towards the group of people who looked at me with excitement like I had just won the lottery. But little did I know that the lie was going to come back to hunt me!
The Shift is a multiple part story which covers my journey to moving back to Nigeria unexpectedly. Be sure to check out the website every week to continue with me as we explore this story about one of the most trying moments of my life.
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About The Author: Evi Idoghor is a Christian, writer, and content creator on Letstalknationblog.com. She is a chemical engineering graduate from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Consumed by her love for writing and desire to effect change, she launched her online platform––Let’s Talk Nation––to tap into her creativity and start meaningful conversations that would make a difference around the world.
Most of her writing has been influenced by her time spent in America, where she lived for about 11 years. Also, she lived in Nigeria and South Korea and currently loves traveling the world while learning about other fascinating cultures. You can find her on all social media platforms with @eviidoghor.