Monday, December 21, 2009

Settling into Portland

Ghaith and I have been back in the U.S. for two months now. I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas already! Although neither of us has been able to start work yet, we’ve been plenty busy.
It's been fun to explore the Northwest with Ghaith, and watch his delight as he discovers new joys in nature, food, and the people we are blessed to have in our lives. Mom and I took him up to Parkdale, close to Mt. Hood last month. There was about 4" of snow on the ground, the most snow Ghaith had ever seen! It was so fun watching him. He picked up on sneaky snowball throwing pretty fast :) As for Portland, he likes it well enough, but is eager for the rain to stop.

Ghaith isn't yet allowed to work here, and it could take another 3 or 4 months for the paperwork to process. That is, AFTER we've come up with the money to pay the fees for all that paperwork! Ghaith is the kind of man who NEEDS to provide for his family, and to have a place to spend his energy. We’ve signed him up for a gym membership, English classes, and eventually joining a soccer team. That should help! We've also been in regular contact with the Christian Arabic community here, via church, Bible study and social events - which has been really good for him/us. They are an incredibly supportive community.

I’ve got a job with Portland Public Schools in a Spanish immersion program again. This time I’ll cover for a maternity leave in a 2nd grade classroom. I’m looking forward to getting back into teaching, now that I’ve had such a long break. I’ve slowly gotten back into my work with Scarlet Cord here in Portland. It is so good to be back with our amazing colleagues, volunteers and guests.

Ghaith and I are both really happy to be living at my grandma's house with her. Grandpa died 2 years ago, and Grandma had been lonely, but not wanting to have just anyone live with her. She is calling us her answer to prayer, and she certainly is that for us too! Ghaith prefers to live with family, as that is the norm in his culture. We cook dinner and eat with her almost every night, I talk and pray with her lots, and Ghaith cleans and fixes things around the house w/o being asked. I’m learning how to cook Iraqi food, and Ghaith is learning how to load a dishwasher. ;) (He’s never used one before.) It's a pretty good situation for all!

Monday, October 26, 2009

We're Here!

Ghaith and I arrived safely to Portland as scheduled last Tuesday, after 14 hours in flight and a two-hour interview process at immigrations in Houston. We arrived very tired in Portland, to an awaiting group of happy family and friends, even some from the Portland Arabic Christian Church. What a joyful time we all had together at the airport! Praise God for safe travels.

We are living with my grandma Carolyn in her cozy home. It’s clean, comfortable, and quiet here and Ghaith is feeling very much at home. We’ve been cooking and eating with Grandma for most meals, and they are enjoying getting to know one another. Ghaith met my father last week, a meeting that went much better than I imagined. My father Tim’s health has once again improved, after recently battling a number of internal organ infections in the hospital. He never ceases to amaze us! Although he hasn’t been speaking during his hospitalization and recovery process, he had a few words for Ghaith and I when we came for our first visit together. He smiled and told me he loved me, got teary-eyed several times, and laughed when he met Ghaith – his way of showing his joy. We are so thankful Tim has been able to hang onto life once again, so we can all be together and savor and enjoy what will probably be the last phase of his life.

We have been exploring different parts of the city by day, and catching up with friends in the evenings. Ghaith is wide-eyed and dazzled by the beauty of this place, and I am so happy that he is happy. We are seeing each other in a more natural and relaxed sense than we ever have before, and it is so wonderful!

On the downside, Ghaith has been sick with a bad sore throat. It started to get bad the day of our departure, and has become worse every day. It’s quite intense, and even keeping him from sleeping and eating now. We’re not medically insured yet, but I’ve found a clinic in Portland that accepts uninsured patients daily. We’ll go there today, and hope they can help.

Thanks you so much for your friendship. You don’t know how much you have meant to us over the past many months!

Blessings to you this day,
Ghaith & Tiffany

Friday, October 16, 2009

Coming Home

After all our hard work and prayers and waiting, Ghaith and I are actually coming home in just a few days! It's amazing really, that everything has worked out. God's hand has been in this every step of the way, and we will continue to ask for his help as we make our travels to the U.S. Our first flight goes to Bush International Airport in Houston Texas, where we will go through customs, be asked some questions (possibly more like be grilled) by immigration officials, and change planes. Of all places for an Iraqi to have to transfer upon his immigration to the U.S., we had to get an airport in Texas named after Bush! God's got a sense of humor!

Ghaith's nervous, of course, about moving to another new country... but more so, he is relieved to finally have a place to call home. It will be another big adjustment for him, but he's already been through this in 3 other countries, so I hope and pray for an easy transition for him. His family is thrilled about our plans, as they love me very much and are so happy Ghaith has me in his life. What a blessing to have their support.

Our last few weeks here in Amsterdam have been wonderful! I had my last few shifts with the Scharlaken Koord, we are taking the train around to visit friends for the last time, staying with the family I first came here to work for, having a great time with the kids, and buying some Dutch things we never had the money for until now.

We fly out on Tuesday, the 20th! Please pray for us as we make our travels… and hopefully we’ll be seeing you soon!

Love and blessings,
Tiffany & Ghaith

P.S. This picture was taken just after our appointment with the consulate, when Ghaith's visa application to the U.S. was approved. Look at those happy faces!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Ghaith's interview was today. It went very well, and we were approved!!! If all goes well, we will be on our way home in a few weeks. Praise God for his amazing work in our lives! Thank you all for your prayers. God is so good.

~Tiffany & Ghaith

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We got a phone call from the U.S. Consulate this morning - it was the same grouchy lady I speak with every time I call there with one of my questions. She knows our case, knows my voice, and now knows me by name. She's never nice, usually rather snippy, and in a hurry to answer my nuisance of questions and end the phone call. That same lady woke me up today with a friendly, chipper "Goodmorning Tiffany, your fiance's case is ready and you can come together for his interview on Thursday." Um...what?? You're being nice to me? And his rescheduled interview date is in just TWO days?

Yeah... God is good! Thank you all for your prayers. Powerful! Now just continue to pray for his interview. It will be at 1:30pm on Thursday the 17th... which will be 4:30am Portland time.

Tiffany & Ghaith

Monday, September 14, 2009