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Seeking, Trusting, and Waiting

Seeking, Trusting, and Waiting

My Tiny Tags is a reminder of my long and rewarding journey, a journey that has brought me not only to where I am now, but also what I do now.

I am currently a music school director/co-founder/faculty at a school called Play It Forward School of Music based in northern New Jersey, while staying as an active gigging violinist. However I am originally from Manila, Philippines and how I ended up where I am now carried me through a series of unknowns, impossible projects, hard work, closed doors, discouragement, and tears. But it also brought me supportive family and friends, my church in NYC, countless answered prayers, and most importantly a stronger faith in Jesus. 

Back in the Philippines, I was the assistant concertmaster of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra until I decided to pursue my graduate studies in violin performance which led me to the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where I got to study with an outstanding professor.

During that time, I was engaged (to my now husband) who was living and working with the Hong Kong Disneyland Band in Hong Kong. Upon graduation, I was confronted with the decision of whether to explore the possibilities of staying in the US, coming back to the Philippines where I had a job, or to Hong Kong where my fiancé was based. I wanted to go to the US, but I knew it meant a lot of risks, including letting go and resigning from my coveted job from the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, and then asking my then fiancé to quit his job and try applying for a visa to get here. Both of these were without the guarantee that we would be successfully able to be approved of either a working visa or eventually a permanent residency. Hence, we prayed and prayed.

After about a year, my then fiancé eventually was able to come to the US. We got married and shortly after, I was able to get an artists visa (a temporary working visa). Since that was still temporary (3 years validity), we still had to start thinking of what lies next. As I’ve consulted immigration and the experts, I learned that as a musician, there were not a lot of paths for me to get sponsored, except for this path where I had to prove I was an extraordinary as a violinist. The criteria was very demanding and only a very few percentage get this kind of green card. So again, we prayed and prayed.

I worked really hard on projects to strengthen my case while needing to work to pay the bills. It was hectic and a lot of work. It was a lot of waiting and a lot of uncertainty. As time went by praying, we learned to just seek and desire God’s will and wherever that led us, that will be the best situation for us even if we wanted to stay here.

In those years of seeking, trusting, and waiting, we always wondered what would be on the other side of the the journey. Wherever this journey would’ve led us, how would we look back to this? We wanted to never forget all the lessons we learned, the tears we had, the hard work, and experiencing how real God was to us. We hoped to never take them all for granted.

In 2022, my husband and I both received our green cards in the mail on the day of my birthday. I was in tears! Happy tears this time. It almost felt like a dream, but God did answer our prayers! And yes, it was somewhat true — it’s easy to forget and just enjoy the privileges of living in the US without remembering how much we worked for it and how much God’s hand was upon it. To celebrate the year of receiving the green card, my husband got me a beautiful Tiny Tags to represent my immigrant journey. 

On the front, he engraved Psalm 18:30, which states: "As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him." There were a lot of verses that God has used that have given me strength, courage, and peace. However, I think this verse will remind me not just of the said journey, but it will also remind me of the lessons, fulfilled promises, and blessings of the journey that I can look back to in any situation or trial I may face in the future.

On the back of the necklace he engraved “f1 15 O1 18 eb1 22" - which stands for: 

F1 15 = Student Visa in 2015
O1 18 = Artists Visa in 2018
EB 1 22 = Extraordinary Ability Green Card in 2022

This necklace is very meaningful for me to celebrate a past journey and to be a reminder of God’s grace for future journeys ahead.

Ruth Tumpalan 

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