Back to the future!
We received positive confirmation that my application was successful and at the end of 2011 the process to apply for a residence and work permit was set in motion. My appointment as Project Manager for the school in Istanbul was dependent on receiving a work and residence permit from the Turkish authorities.
After leaving Turkey at the end of 2004, I made several trips to Turkey as a tourist, travelling with groups associated with the Turkish Partnership of South Africa in 2006 and 2008. We experienced no problems with obtaining tourist visas and we had good faith that our application for a work and residence permit will receive favorable consideration.
We received an invitation to attend a strategic meeting of Turkish church leaders and foreigners involved in church planting and ministry work in Turkey planned for March 2012, in Istanbul. We were still waiting for feedback on our work and residence permit application. After careful and prayerful consideration we decided to attend the meeting in Istanbul. It will give us an opportunity to meet the School Board of Directors in person and to make personal inquiries on the status of our work and residence permit application.
The conference was a great opportunity to re-connect with old friends involved in the work in Turkey and it was a great time of personal re-visioning and to experience the heart-cry of the Turkish church for help on different levels.
We were so certain that we will return to Turkey to work for the school that we took a suitcase full of winter clothes with us that we left with friends to keep for us until we return.
The news came a few weeks after our return from Turkey. It was in the beginning of April 2012 when the letter from the Turkish authorities was delivered. Our application was denied on the basis that the job I applied for was not essential for a school, and if the school wanted to employ someone in that position, they should appoint a Turkish citizen.
That was it! Our dream was gone and we felt very disappointed. We were so sure that we should return to Turkey!
In the following weeks we informed the school that we will not be able to take the position and we had many discussions with our support group and friends on how to understand the situation and what to do next.