by Nelson Shenk, Boyertown congregation
In 2005, Maria Gabriella (Gaby) left a dangerous living situation in Mexico and came to the United States to make a better and safer life for herself and her two-year-old daughter Citlalli. In doing so, she and her daughter came as undocumented persons. She eventually met and married Kyle Rhoads, who grew up at Boyertown Mennonite Church. They had 2 daughters, Isabel and Kylene, and settled in Bechtelsville as a happy family unit.
They were attending our church for several months when Gaby and Citlalli decided to apply for their green cards so they could be here legally. That involved returning to Mexico and having an immigration interview at the U. S. Embassy.
In October 2017, she and her daughter returned to Mexico with trepidation. Her daughter was approved and returned home to Bechtelsville in November, but Gaby was denied. After the denial of her visa in the interview, she had to re-apply for a waiver. In February 2018, her husband and 2 younger daughters visited her, and two-year-old Kylene stayed in Mexico with her mother.
Many phone calls were made to lawyers and politicians on her behalf. Many people at Boyertown church wrote letters requesting her return so the family could be together.
Gaby reapplied and, after spending many months waiting, she went through the interview process again, including another medical exam and paying more money. After 15 months away from her husband and daughter, her visa was finally approved in October 2018. She and Kylene arrived home on January 24.
On January 30th, a big celebration was held at church for her safe return. Christopher Friesen, a member of the Germantown congregation, works for the law firm that processed Gaby’s paperwork. He and Gaby finally met as we celebrated that day, which was another joyous occasion.
Gaby’s family is once again living as a family unit in Bechtelsville. There are still some on-going complications with paper work, so please keep the family in prayer as life goes on and there are adjustments to be made. Our church family at Boyertown praises God for a good outcome for Gaby’s family.