Coming with Dave to Chicago for his JV spring board meeting this week has an extra special twist.
I get to see Amy!
Normally I see my dear friend and fellow JV teammate often back at home in Czech as we serve together there.
But for the next six months she and her husband, Mel, are in the midst of obeying the law and in what we call "Social Security Exile" from Czech.
A new law was passed a few years ago that requires any US citizen who lives in a different country (like Czech) that has made a "totalization agreement" with the US, to leave their country of residence every five years (though you can apply for a four year extension, making it every nine years) for 6 months in order to stay eligible for US Social Security benefits. They don't have to go back to the US; they just can't live in their country of residence for six months.
Confused? So are we! If the US made you return to the States, that would make more sense. But they just tell you that you can't stay in your country of residence. Where you go is up to you.
So Mel and Amy can't enter the Czech Republic until November, when their six months is up!
Over these next months they'll spend some time in the US seeing family, supporters and churches who stand behind them. But most of the time will be spent in Europe (just not the Czech Republic!) so they can stay connected to the ministry.
Mel and Amy are not the only ones who have to leave their homes to do this - we have several other JV families who are out right now too, others who will leave soon, and others who have already completed their six months out of country.
While it's not the worst thing in the world, it's not easy, especially for those with kids. But they are all making the most of it and trusting the Lord for His plan during those six months.
For me, it was just nice to see Amy today, and I'm glad we have a few more days together this week before we're apart again!