We had a disappointing experience today - we went with Edwin, one of the oldest residents of Casa Shalom, to the American Embassy, hopes high for him getting a tourist Visa to the United States. Edwin has lived at Casa Shalom since he was 9-years-0ld. He and his brother and sister moved to the orphanage after their mother abandoned the family (they never knew their father). He has grown up at the home and has showed a gift for leadership and academics - because of this, he's currently attending University and studying marketing and business. During his time at Shalom, he made the acquaintance of a businessman from the United States who has visited Casa Shalom 4 or 5 times, and he became close to the man and his family. The man offered to bring Edwin to the United States to study business with him and to improve his English skills. He made all the preparations, received his passport, but today, Edwin's Visa application was rejected.
The embassy said that he doesn't have enough ties to Guatemala to guarantee he'll leave the United States when his Visa expires. The U.S. government is suspicious that all working-age immigrants are trying to come to the United States to stay illegally and work. This obviously wasn't true in Edwin's case, but there was no convincing them of that.
While sitting in the waiting room for hours, waiting to see if Edwin would be accepted or rejected, we noticed a pattern - the nicely dressed, obviously wealthier people were sent to one line - the "accepted line." Those dressed in less-than-designer clothes, those in indigenous dress, extremely few of them made it into the "accepted" line. It was a real reality check for us. As North Americans, we have never given a thought to our ability to travel basically wherever we want. With the exception of maybe North Korea and Cuba, no country in the world would reject us. We have completely taken for granted our privileged status, our nice blue United States passports, our much-desired American dollars.
Please keep Edwin in your prayers as he deals with this disappointment. And remember to thank God for all that we have been given!