A Whole New WorldPosted May 15th, 2012
by Janet Perez Eckles
My father sat across the kitchen table from my uncle. “I’ve decided. We’re moving to America,” father said. “What future do our kids have here?”
My uncle frowned. “You’re out of your mind.”
But back then, in Bolivia in 1961, Father saw the state of the country. And with boldness, he dismissed the family’s ridicule over such a crazy adventure. Instead, he began taking the necessary steps.
One day, he raked his fingers through his hair. “I still need to go back to the American consulate a few more times,” he said. “They need more documents.” The requirements imposed by the U.S. Immigration Department for those wishing to enter the country and establish residency were stringent.
One day, after months and months of waiting, Father came home holding a packet of papers high in the air and shouted, “I got them. They were finally approved!” He placed official papers on the table in our tiny, dark kitchen.
But then he frowned, “Now, we’ll have to come up with the money. I don’t know how. Two thousand dollars is a lot of money.”
“God will make the way,” said mother. Her faith equaled father’s creativity.
Father surprised the family with the unconventional ways he went about raising funds for the move. He refurbished a 1949 Willys Jeep, and through a speaker on the roof, played a recording he had made of a resounding patriotic song. With my brother and me seated in the back seat, we rode through the crowded streets of La Paz, selling records. We sold those records for days and days.
The funds were added to the money my parents had saved. We then sold the small amount of furniture we had and, finally, we sold the Jeep.
And I asked questions: “Why does God have to make it so hard for our family? Do we really have to move?”
It was common knowledge that some people had entered the U.S. as tourists—the easy way—and just stayed. They never had to go through what we did. Why couldn’t we do the same? I wanted to know if that country, so far away, called the United States, was really worth all the sacrifice.
“When we get there—when we finally get there,” Mom said with a big smile, “you will see for yourself. It will be better than any dream we’ve ever had.”
Finally, after four years of preparation, the dream was about to become a reality. On December 12, 1964, we tossed a few suitcases into the trunk of an old cab. My stomach tightened and I fought a lump in my throat.
My grandmother held me close, her wet cheek against mine as she whispered, “Honey, I will miss you.” The scent of her stale yet sweet perfume stayed with me.
“We’ll write as soon as we can,” Mom reassured her. Her stream of tears added to my own sadness.
No More Questions
When we landed in the U.S., a whole new world was revealed to me: stairways that moved and doors that opened on their own. Everything was so different—so big, and clean, but with streets seemingly empty and quiet.
The years swept by. We mastered English. My parents’ work ethic shone as an example for us. They provided for our needs and even put my brother and me through college.
I didn’t ask questions anymore. Their approach was clear: the easy way is often not the right way. Following their example, I see how God did make the way. I observed the rewards that sacrifice, hard work, and honesty bring. And no matter the country, language, or culture, God’s Word resonates: “Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right” (Proverbs 20:11).