I last wrote that I was to return to the Migration Control office in Kovrov with a few more documents. These were requested as references proving: one, the connection of the local church with the national organization that issued me an invitation; and two, Pavel Korneichuk's legal right to sign documents for the church.
I went in bright and early, got in line, then came back at 10am. (People draw up a list, then come and go a bit. Why stand there for two hours if you're the 29th in line?)
I'd only been waiting a little while (30-40 min.), when the migration control officer we've dealt with before went into the Chief Migration Control Officer's office, glanced my way, and quickly came out again, with a "come-with-me" tossed in my direction.
And off we went.
Upon entering his office, he sat me down and quickly informed that they were denying me registration. This was based upon the fact of my record of repeat offenses, namely, three administrative offenses within a one year period. He reminded me that they had the right to do so, and I agreed...as far as I knew, he was right. (Although the fact that those offenses had been 'forgiven' by the regional Migration Control was somehow overlooked.)
I was then informed that for the proper protocol and legal process to be followed, the next step was to take me before a municipal court judge. The judge could decide to uphold their decision, or to decide that they should register me. If I was denied registration, as I soon overheard, the next step would be official deportation. I had thought that was out of the question at this point, but...live and learn, I guess!
We went over to the court building, submitted the case papers, and made an appointment with the appropriate judge at 3 pm. I have to say that I went home again with mixed emotions, and lots of prayer. I also alerted local believers, and many of the pastors for Vladimir and Ivanovo regions, who were at a seminar today.
Upon returning to the court, after waiting only a half hour or so with our un-friendly neighborhood inspector from Migration Control, we were admitted to Her Honor's presence. Honestly, this was one of those times when I almost physically felt the support of so many prayers being offered up before the throne of grace upon my behalf.
The judge asked me the following: if I understood Russian, could I keep up with the legal terminology (mostly, if she kept it down to 50 mph), did I want an advocate, and did I understand the charges against me. Then she proceeded to leaf through though charges from Migration Control, compared all the information in said charges with my passport, visa, migration card, etc. She then leafed through it all again a couple of more times and said, "Would the representative of the Migration Control Office please indicate what statute of the law the charges are being based upon?" (That's mostly verbatim.) Our inspector repeated the charges against me, and repeated that they were suggesting deportation.
The judge, Her Honor, then looked up again at the inspector and asked "All these charges have been filed and processed? As of the...? What are the current charges??"
And for once my friend the inspector was at a loss for words, drummed his fingers, twiddled his thumbs. The same questions and answers were repeated...and then Her Honor said, in so many words, "Come back when you have something current to bring up!" And we were off again, me praying and rejoicing, and trying very hard not to let it show. Not a good time to do so, simply wouldn't do to rub it in. Especially since I don't know if I'm off the hook yet, so to speak.
Back to the Migration Control HQ, the inspector runs back over to his bosses' office, with a "wait-right-here-outside-my-office!" to me. Upon his return, all he had to say was, "Can you be back here at 10 am tomorrow? Come in then and we'll decide the question of your registration."
Please be praying for the people here in the Kovrov Migration Control office. It is somewhat discouraging to hear that they had decided to try for deportation. At the same time, they are extremely zealous about keeping the law, as well as being what we call 'Formalists' here. That is, sometimes more concerned about the letter of the law than the intent. So do please continue praying, and specifically for Oleg and Marat, people who are responsible for making decisions about what to do with us.
Thank you all for your prayers, notes of encouragement, phone calls, letters...and most of all PRAYERS!! God alone knows what is best for us, and HE is the only one who can grant us the outcome that we so desire. Thank you for interceding before our Heavenly Father on our behalf.
"Many seek the favor of those who rule over them, but judgement and justice for every man comes from the Lord." Prov.29:27
(This document-ary to be continued...)