I went to Moscow, consulted our visa expert. (Whose visas we're currently here on.)
He said that he could almost certainly get Phyllis a visa... IF the Baptist Union would write a nice long letter interceding on our behalf. This letter would be something like a confession of past sins and a plea for mercy. We would explain the circumstances which resulted in Phyllis having 2 black marks against her, plead ignorance, good intentions, etc. We would also explain the family situation, that is: 2 small children, a newborn baby, and that her husband already HAS an invitation. (This might not help in the states, but often does here.) The Baptist Union would declare their intentions of making sure we fulfill 150 percent of all migration laws, etc.
He said with a letter like that from the inviting organization, as well as a similar letter from his company, that there would be a very good chance of getting the visas. He would take these letters straight to the head of migration control in Moscow.
However - the first time Phyllis' application for an invitation was refused, our visa consultant suggested something similar. I asked about this at the Baptist Union, and was very firmly, if politely, told no way, no how, sorry charley, que lastima. They turn in documents, and if the applications are approved, then it was the Will of God, Praise God! If the applications are turned down, then it was the Will of God, Praise God and say sorry sir or ma'am. I did my best to protest, plead, etc., but they do have sound reasoning. They invite around 1500 foreigners a year, and almost all of those are approved. If they start making a fuss about the handful that are turned down, then they could easily find the number of applications approved and visas issued halved overnight.
SO... I was going to go over to the Baptist Union immediately and try again to discuss this with the person able to make such decisions. When I called, I found out that he was on vacation until the 15th of October. Aaaaand so...
One of the guests at our church's Zhatva service was the Bishop/head of our bi-regional (Vladimir-Ivanovo) union of churches. He offered to help, to write any sort of letter that was needed. The bi-regional union was also one of the inviting organizations, since we live out here, they in particular would be responsible for us as foreigners. We discussed this more in detail at the pastor/missionary meeting the next week, and I spent a good while working out a draft of the kind of letter we need with the bi-regional union's legal consultant. (A Russian christian lawyer who is doing missions work as well as helping the 24 churches in our 2 regions with any and all legal questions. Praise God for him.)
It is POSSIBLE that we could have Phyllis invited solely through the local bi-regional union. They have the legal ability to do so. We should have a definite answer within the week, Lord willing. We will keep you all informed.
Please be praying with us. We are convinced that since God has us in Russia, has given us a love for this country, and has provided for and protected us these past 6 years (!), that the right thing to do is to keep trying to work this out, to keep pressing on to a conclusion. And if worse comes to worse, then move back to Moscow until we can come up with some other option document wise that would allow us to live and minister in Kovrov.
Thanks so much to each and every friend or relative who is praying for us and concerned about our future here. We believe that the results of all of this are truly in the Lord's hands, and therefore, the more fervent intercession on our behalf, the better! We can keep trying, but the single most effective thing we can do is to keep praying. God is the only one who can move the hearts of those He has allowed to be in places of power in this world.