My Journey to America!
July 31, 2018
1. Thank you for joining Farfromacurse to share your testimony. Please introduce yourself to the viewers and readers and let them know who you are and why you’re joining #TestimonyTuesday :)
God put it on my heart to share how this experience has been. It’s been a journey transitioning from a foreign country to the U.S.
2. Give the readers/viewers top three interesting facts about you.
a. I like to eat cold pizza because it’s tasty and I don’t really like eating warm food.
b. In 2014, I went to Europe with my mom and we visited 4 countries and 12 cities in 27 days. We did a bus tour and went on exciting adventures in each city. My favorite city was Paris it was so beautiful.
c. I tried soul food for the first time in my life a week ago with my roommates. I had fried chicken, ribs, sweet potato souffle, green beans and corn bread.
3. How was life growing up in Venezuela?
It was great! From what I remember, Venezuela was a good country when I was younger. My mom had me when she was 20 and I don’t remember growing up with my biological father. She was pretty much a single mother until my stepfather stepped into the picture. My stepfather is amazing! He married my mother and took care of us. My stepfather stepped up to the plate and I loved having a solid male figure in the household. I distinctly remember going on multiple vacations when I was younger and enjoying a great life in Venezuela with my family.
4. What prompted you to come to America?
The Venezuelan government isn’t doing the best at the moment. We’ve had the same people in government for over a decade due to the implementation of socialism. The country didn’t understand the consequences of socialism until about 5 years ago when it started getting worse.
5. Can you let the audience know what socialism is?
Socialism is when there isn’t a division in social status or class. There isn’t a poor, middle, or rich class. It’s designed to keep all the citizens on the same level. This means that everyone has the same income, benefits, etc. the social status is supposed to be the same for everyone. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that all of the time because the people in the government end up being the people in power. Those put in government end up being the rich part of society and everyone else in the country is left poor. This results in political corruption while they continue to hide behind speeches telling the country we’re all the same when its actually not true.
6. Give us an example of how everyone is treated the same in a socialist society?
Everyone is paid the same for the job regardless of high school diploma or doctorate degree. You work with the same pay as someone that did less time in school. There isn’t an incentive to work hard. Nevertheless, you’re always under the rule of the government, which is always in power.
7. Wow, if I was there I would definitely pursue a career in government since they’re rich!
Exactly! Especially because they’re plugged into the money source. From my understanding, the country is very rich in oil resources so there is a lot of money to make. There’s definitely a lot of income being generated by the country because the main source is oil and gas but the government hoards all of it.
8. Wow, here in America we constantly complain about our government. I can’t imagine being in a socialist society. Please describe the moments that made you commit to moving to America.
Last year everything was terrible because there was so many people on the street protesting. This has been a reoccurring event yearly when elections rolls around. The country is very persistent on trying to get rid of the current government. Therefore, every time we get around political dates there are many people protesting to get rid of the current government because they want to see change. Last year the protests were so bad universities and business shut down the week of protests. It was hard to leave the house because if you left, you would see people burning cars and it caused some streets to close due to the protestors.
This made it very hard to live in Venezuela, which is why my parents were suggesting a plan for me to leave because they want me to live a better life. We honestly think this issue will continue to arise for the next twenty years and my parents believe the government is slowly transitioning from a democracy into a dictatorship. My parents knew I had my entire life planned in Venezuela. I was in college and my family was there but they knew my future wasn’t there. They felt it was better for me to go to America. They offered to help and support me through the process. They purchased my one flight to America and I was gone. I never imagined what it would be like to leave my life behind in Venezuela. However, I had my parents support and moved here by myself.
9. Were you nervous to come to America? Did you know anything about it before you moved here?
I came to America on vacation with my family twice and we visited Orlando. We only stayed for fifteen days, therefore the only impression I had about America was based on a tourist city. In my country, all you see on the news and social media is America being a promised land where money grows on trees. The media portrays America to seem perfect and trouble free. Therefore, when I came here I mentally envisioned the fun movies and social media so I was ready to experience this great “American” life.
10. So here, you are living in Venezuela for most of your life and then the political structure started to crumble. Socialism and pseudo democracy tumbles slowly as you enter into your adult years and then you come to America at 22. Your greatest insight of America happened to be the best part. How did you end up in Georgia?
I took about one to two months to prepare my trip to America because I had to make a quick decision. I decided to come to Georgia for two reasons. I had a best friend from Venezuela living here in Georgia and my home church in Venezuela has a branch in Georgia as well.
11. How did you learn how to speak English so well? Is English considered one of the national languages in your country?
We don’t speak English in my country at all. I’ve never had to say a single word in English in Venezuela but I’ve always loved the English language growing up. I would watch shows in English and I would take some online courses to learn English too. When I was attending med school in Venezuela they gave us our books in English and I had to learn quickly because my tests were going to be tested on what I read. I had to make my way to understand the English and fell in love with learning it in the process.
12. In our previous conversation, you told me that there’s a promise God told you that he won’t leave you? Can you describe the promise and the moment you knew when God told you this?
I remember how my thought process started to doubt the upcoming trip to America when I was packing my luggage. Part of my heart was starting to feel homesick. I couldn’t believe I was actually going to be leaving my home in Venezuela to start a brand new life. I didn’t want to permanently leave. In between wrestling with these ideas of leaving versus staying in my mind, I know I heard something saying, “No, you’re not going to come back. I’m making a way for you there even though you can’t see it right now.” I pleaded, “Lord why? I know I have to go but I don’t want to live there permanently. I would like to come back to my country to live.” It was so hard.
I prayed fervently before I transitioned to America. I prayed for the family I was going to meet, the church, future friends, and my new home in America, etc. You name it, I’ve prayed for it. The promise God gave me a long time ago was, “Don’t settle for this. I will always have something better for you.” I believe this promise applies to everything from relationships to friends. It applies to every area of my life. I always remember that promise anytime I start struggling. I’ve grown to understand that God would never bring me this far to this challenging position to leave me here by myself.
13. In the phone interview you told me that you got hired without experience or a resume. How did that happen? What was the job? Seems like you got hired at the right place at the right time.
The first job I had was a hotel. I started in housekeeping. I was cleaning out bathrooms, common areas, and after a while they put me in a front desk position. I was at this job for about a month and a half. I was there for a short period but it was very significant for me because I didn’t have a car at this time. I only had about $2,500 when I moved and a few clothes. I didn’t have much at all. I rented an apartment in Chamblee and I used to work at the airport so I experienced a lot of transportation issues. I remember waking up very early and taking the bus, train, and shuttle. I endured a two-hour commute to get to work on time every day. This way of transportation was more affordable than taking an Uber every day. It was very hard to get adapted to the cleaning job and interacting with other Americans on the job.
The scripture I held unto the most during the time was, Luke 16:10, be faithful in the little so that God can entrust you with more. I preached this to myself every time I wanted to give up. I would constantly say, “Michele, be faithful in the little. It may not seem like much but God is trying to build you up for something great.” I wanted God to see my faithfulness in the small job because that’s what I was given regardless of good or bad. I would strive to be the best at making the beds, being kind to my guests, and helping my coworkers in whatever they needed. I knew I was destined for a better position so I worked for the job I wanted, not the job I had. I remember receiving a text from a friend and she asked, “Do you know anyone bilingual who wants to apply for a job at a car dealership, let me know if someone is interested so I can pass the info to the hiring manager because they’re hiring right now.” I wasn’t looking for a job at the moment because I got used to my routine but then I entertained the thought of possibly getting hired because I seemingly fit the description in the text. She immediately sent my information and I believe the manager called me on the same day and asked for an interview. She didn’t ask for any resume or previous experience at all. I got the job and I was able to save and buy my first car :) !
14. Describe the day of your interview for the new job.
The craziest thing happened on the day of the interview. I had three different Uber drivers attempt to take me to the interview and only one got it right. I’m certain I entered the correct address in the uber app but the first Uber driver dropped me off in the middle of the street. I was so confused because I didn’t see any car dealerships in the area. I ended up calling the job and a woman kindly told me to enter another address, so I called a second Uber and that driver took me to a wrong location too. The second Uber took me to the other car dealership that was actually closed that day but I didn’t realize that until I walked up to the door and he already drove away.
By this time, I was already an hour late to the interview. Then I called the third uber and when I got into the car, I was so anxious and frustrated. I poured out my concerns to my driver explaining to him how I was more than an hour late to the job interview. I requested for him to drive faster than normal because I wanted to make it to the interview despite being late. The Uber driver attempted to calm my nerves and make me relax and all of a sudden he asked, “do you believe in God?” and I told him yes, I do! The he asked what church I attended, and I told him Victory World Church. He immediately said he went to the same church too! We were both surprised and he offered to pray over me while we were on the way to the interview. Then he said, “I don’t think this is a coincidence! God sent me to you so that I can drop you off at the right location, so lets finish praying!” It was so crazy because he was praying while he was driving and then prayed over me when he dropped me off at my location.
I took three Ubers, I was more than an hour late to the interview, and the last person that picked me up was a believer from the same church and prayed for me. Nevertheless, when I finally got to the right location, they interviewed me and the general manager happened to be at the location that day as well. This job usually calls for two interviews but I did both interviews in the same day. The next day, the manager contacted me and asked me to start the following Monday.
15. How did you find Victory World Church?
My friend was going to this church and suggested I try it out. Originally, I was interested in going to the other church that reminded me of my church back home but it was extremely far from me. Therefore, my friends invited me to their church and I’ve been here ever since. I remember they told me the church was amazing and multicultural, so I was interested in experiencing the church. My first Sunday at victory was a great memory! From the greeters to the message, I had an awesome experience. I know God was telling me this was my church. I know this is where I’m going to meet my future husband and start my family. I was excited to call this church home.
16. Tell us the importance of small groups and please share how it changed your life.
I came here without any family and I only knew my friend and her husband. They actually ended up moving about three months after I arrived for a better job opportunity in another country. I arrived to Georgia in June and they left in August. I’m glad I didn’t put all of my trust in my friends because God is the only thing that remained constant during this time. It’s a hard lesson to learn sometimes but its best to be okay by yourself because if you’re not careful you could become too familiar with depending on people and controlling the outcome of situations. However, you still have to learn to trust God and the best way to learn is when there’s no one around you. I prayed daily because I didn’t have any more options or anyone to run to. I was completely in Gods hand.
At the time, I would only talk to my coworkers after my friends left. I did not experience any social interaction outside of my job. I would often reflect on how I was a small group leader back home and I missed my small group family at my old church. I knew the importance of being plugged into a biblical community and made a decision to plug into the fusion small groups at church. It’s imperative to be surrounded by Christians moving in your same direction. I remember at time I was walking to the bus stop, Deidra stopped me and asked about my attendance, and if I was plugged into a small group. I talked to her briefly, she got my number, and I believe she gave my number to some leaders and they contacted me immediately.
Small group changed my life because I was finally connected to other Christians around me in this journey, who are in similar stages in life. I made more friends because I would talk to familiar people I saw on Sundays and Tuesday nights. It changed my life because I started feeling as if I belonged to this place. I felt more connected and plugged into the new church family God was giving me. This pushed me to get more involved. I started serving in the welcome center team, which allowed me to meet more friends and bond with other families. Being a part of the church changed my life.
Soon I moved to the Lawrenceville area and connected to another small group. I made more friends and met Maybelline. I remember after our fusion night, she asked me for a ride and as we were talking, she mentioned that she was looking for a roommate. I was not necessarily looking to move because I recently moved three months prior but I entertained the idea of living with other Christian women at my church. Through small groups and genuinely getting to know people, I made a connection and I ended up moving in with them. It was life changing! From moving in with strangers to moving in with strong Christian women who became family. I’m so grateful for it every day because God placed me around a safe strong church family to grow with.
17. Name the top two difficulties you have faced with this huge transition. Is the immigration process frustrating?
The immigration process has not been difficult. However, it is very long but it’s imperative to turn in all documents so the process can be completed. I’m not too worried about that process because I’m certain every document will go through and I admire that part of this country. I am very appreciative to have the opportunity to arrive as an immigrant and going through the citizenship process. This country will continue to be blessed if it values the process and gives others the chance to become citizens.
One of the difficulties I had to face related to the language barrier. Some people don’t believe I struggle with this because they constantly compliment my English being perfect for only being in this country for a year. Nevertheless, I really struggle with the language. It’s hard for me to understand a lot of words because I didn’t grow up here so I’m not familiar with a lot of terms used. Nevertheless, I didn’t let that stop me from learning. For instance, I really pushed myself to join the welcome team even though I didn’t know how it would be greeting people in the front of the church. I was put in the position to answer questions for people with the fear of possibly not understanding their requests. I was extremely nervous but I survived.
A second difficulty I had to face was the slight racism against Hispanics. It would often feel like I had a tag on my forehead that labeled my nationality and I often received different treatment from society. It’s a very tricky topic to talk about but I’ve never had to struggle with feeling rejected because of my nationality in Venezuela. Granted, my country’s population is possibly 95% Venezuelan, I’ve never saw myself as better than the other 5% of nationalities residing there. The racial tension is nonexistent because we don’t have a background of racial division.
I never felt racial discrimination in my culture but it is definitely a sensitive topic and stronghold here in the American culture. I understand the racial tension resulted from Americas dark history, however, I’ve came to the conclusion that I’ll never truly understand it. I’m interested in learning the background of the racial divide in America and I would love to be a part of the change to reconcile cultures for Christ. This has resulted in my high interest in the one race movement with victory. It has truly brought healing to my heart to witness multiple races join together as one for Christ to pray for the racial divide in America.
18. How do you attribute this testimony to God? I kind of feel like your testimony isn’t over. I feel like this is an acknowledgment of all God has done for you in your journey to America. You’ve accomplished a lot physically and spiritually in one year.
God has opened all of the doors that no one can shut down. There has been times when I wanted to give up and go back to Venezuela but I constantly hear God telling me, “You cannot quit!” Therefore, I have to keep going and stick through the challenges knowing He will always be there for me. I’m so grateful He’s opened the doors on guiding me and placing the right people in my life at the right time. He’s always moving around when I can’t see it. I know God brought me here since day one so I cannot make this story about me because I have not done anything.
19. What advice would you give other seeking a new home in a foreign country, or advice for someone to take a leap of faith?
First, be obedient to the voice of God. If you decide to follow your own decisions, take the job offers, and move without the covering of God, you might end up in a messy situation that could have been avoided. Don’t follow your desires by going to a church YOU think is good for you or moving to the city YOU think is fine, follow God’s steps. He will lead you to where you should go. Be obedient regardless of fears of not being able to see the immediate future. Trust God because He’s in control and He will lead you on the right path. However, He will catch you if you fall but choose to be obedient when you’re moving forward. Never stop pursuing God and looking for him. Keep going to church and get involved in a small group. Grow relationships in church and watch how God sets the right people in your life. I was constantly searching for the perfect place and God led me to the right people. I believe he will do the same for you. Serve in the ministry. Always look after God and you will never go wrong. Just chase after him with all of your heart. He always shows up as scripture says.
20. Have you been back to Venezuela to visit your family? How are they doing?
Due to my immigration status, I am not allowed to go back home anytime soon but my mom was here two weeks ago and she visited me for about a month. She came here to get to know my new life in America and it felt great to be with her. My family is doing great! I do my best to support them financially so that they can live a quality life while they’re still back home. That’s how God has been showing himself to my family because they are not Christians. I wasn’t raised in a Christian family. I received my salvation in 2013 in the middle of toxic relationship.
Back then, my aunt was the only Christian in my family and she was known as the “crazy Christian auntie”. Everyone criticized her about her faith and evangelistic spirit. She was the one that invited me and my mom to church for the first time and that’s how I got to know God. That church became my church family and that was the way God saved me. Soon I got baptized and broke up that toxic relationship. I started serving in church and leading a small group to disciple other Christians. My spiritual life was very strong and I was very active. However, the rest of my family never went to church or got involved as I did. Nevertheless, my life changed dramatically for the best when I started walking with the Lord.
21. So, where are you now? you mentioned something about medical school earlier, are you thinking about going back ?
No, medical school isn’t for me anymore. I’m pursuing other opportunities like going to college and exploring my interests in other subjects. In addition, I’m trying to create time in my busy work schedule to be more present in church. I still like my job because the people are great and the money is awesome. However, my work schedule causes me to miss many activities in church. I also desire to lead a small group and give more time to God in that ministry. With all that being said, I’m trusting God will open up more doors and provide more opportunities for me.
Check out the video below if interested in watching the interview :) Hope you enjoy!
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Until next time…