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The surest bet in Vegas
by Gail Raynor
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I’ve always been an immigrant. I was born in the British Virgin Islands and moved to Canada at the age of 1 (baby immigrant). In 2004, I moved to Bermuda for a two year accounting contract that stretched into 8 years after meeting my husband. (Professional immigrant/Ex-pat/Guest-worker). In 2012, my husband and I decided to move to the US to be closer to his family. I would become an immigrant for the third time. This time, an “illegal one”. Here's where my "against all odds" story begins.

If you know anything about America, you know we are in the middle of not only a housing crisis, but also an immigration deadlock. The housing crisis brought stricter rules and regulations about what type of property one could buy. There were a lot of clauses and much fine-print that needed to be adhered to. With this in mind, we set our sights on our future home.

Our LV home wish-list:

1.Remodeled home newer than 2008 (not a fixer upper)
2.Located in Northwest Las Vegas
3.At least 3 bedrooms
(odds of finding this home: 1 in 500*)

After making several trips to Vegas with no success we were ready to give up. Every time we came close to finding a house, something would stand in the way. I decided to pray about it. (I may have been about 1 year too late on this). I told God what we needed. I said that since we would be moving internationally, I would like a fully furnished model home. No painting, no having to shop at Ashley Furniture. We would just pack our suitcases, get on a plane and start living in our home. I also asked that it be priced 30% less than what it was worth. (I figured it couldn’t hurt to throw that in). I suggested this to my husband and the realtor. Both of them laughed at my naïveté and were mortified when I called Eric over at the new home community telling him I wanted to buy a model. I was informed that models only go on sale after the entire community sells off, and they are never discounted. In fact, they are usually 20% more than other homes, for obvious reasons.

Fast-forward six weeks to when we receive a 2am call from our realtor in Las Vegas saying we needed to submit an offer NOW. It was on a model home in North West Las Vegas. In his haste, the seller transcribed the numbers and priced the house for 30% less than it was worth. He eventually caught the mistake, but once the ink had dried, he couldn’t change it. Long story short, we closed on a model home that was priced 30% lower than market value! We bought the house in June 2012 and vacationed there that summer. The community we live in is known as Providence (Definition: the protective care of God.)

“Sometimes providences, like Hebrew letters, must be read backwards.” – John Flavel

My husband was offered a job in Las Vegas that would begin December 2012. I was still in the process of getting my Green Card which meant I was only able to visit the US for a limited amount of time. We decided that I would visit Vegas over the holidays and figure out from there where I would go.

My choices would be to:

1.Move back to Canada, hopefully find a job and live with my parents
2.Move back to Bermuda, hopefully find a job and live on the beach

I guess the odds were evenly split for both of those options*. I could be exiled to the country with the 2nd highest standard of living or I could wallow in paradise. Either way, I would have to remain in the other country until my consulate interview was scheduled. Even though I was in a “priority group”, there was no guarantee that it would happen anytime soon. The immigration process took about 3 years on average and I was only 4 months into mine. I knew of someone who had been waiting 10 years. There was no way around our family being separated. I prepared myself for this, but also poured out my heart to God and asked if there was some way to keep us all together. My little girl was only three years old and she needed me and her father.

Days before I was ready to depart the US, and still unsure which country to choose, I got a notice in the mail from US Immigration Services saying that I was legally required to remain in the country. Under changes to the US Immigration Act, I was said to have built-up “an unlawful presence”. I still don’t fully understand what this means. It’s one of those ambiguous legal terms that is almost impossible to interpret. How could this happen? I had done everything by the book. I was not an illegal immigrant!! As it turns out, this was just some sort of misunderstanding and in light of this, I was able to continue my case in the United States. I wouldn’t have to leave my family. From start to finish, my immigration process took only 11 months. One month after receiving my green card, I was working. The odds were definitely in my favor. The immigration crisis actually worked in my favor.

I see now that all the houses that fell through were actually part of a bigger plan. Had we settled on our unimaginative wish-list, we would have missed out on something better. If someone hadn’t made a clerical error on my immigration file, I might be sitting in Canada or Bermuda right now waiting to be reunited with my family. I believe that my prayers moved God’s hand because faith is what pleases God. Faith causes Him to stand up and take notice.

Living in Vegas, you learn quickly that the house always wins and the odds are never in your favor. Given that reality, we learned our surest bet was to walk in faith and believe in the sovereignty and providence of God.

*courtesy of my made-up stats

If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW

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