Do you believe these words?
Do you trust that He will keep his promises?
Is it really the course of wisdom to be honest?
We always have a choice, always...
Sunday afternoon, a few years ago... Jade just enjoyed a two-day, rich, refreshing spiritual banquet with friends and family. In this convention were talks, symposiums, instructions, demonstrations and re-enactments of experiences, interviews... presented to almost two thousand people. The theme centered on "godly wisdom". After the sessions they met with friends old and new, had a lovely supper and then started on a one-and-a-half-hour drive home.
"You are unusually quiet," Peter broke her silence in a very concerned tone, "are you feeling alright?" Jade wasn't sure about what she was feeling. Several deep breaths, the beating of her heart faster than usual, loud as thunder, she doesn't know where to start. "Are you feeling sick, my love? Don't worry, we will get home soon." He was kind, unassuming. It was a very quiet drive, at least for her. She was lost in her thoughts while Peter entertains a dear friend old who hitched a ride with them. If her husband said anything else she didn't hear it. She doesn't even remember whether she said a word or two, or even smiled at all... she completely forgot about their friend sitting in the back seat. Time passed as they traveled the miles. They dropped their friend off to her home not too far from theirs. As the garage door opens and the car makes it way to the underground parking, she have gathered enough courage to speak.
"You remember the talk today, "Is Honesty Really a Course of Wisdom?," I keep thinking how the speaker cited references and examples from the Holy Scriptures to prove that honesty is really the best policy. I did not want to talk about it earlier as Linda was here and I was not certain what I was feeling, really." Her husband turned his gaze toward her, temporarily halting the car from going down the basement. "You see, I thought it was okay for me to work at my cleaning job since it is a domestic work after all and I have a work permit for that."
"Yes, you are allowed to work..." he confirmed as-a-matter-of-fact.
"I am. But I realize, my work permit is specifically named to a certain employer. That means I am only allowed to work for her. I think I am being dishonest to work for another person when I clearly don't have the proper permit to do so." She had made these conclusions during the drive home.
Jade is from the Philippines, she came to Canada under the Live-in Caregiver Program. This program would allow her to apply for permanent residency once she completes twenty-four months of employment within four years. But she can only work for the person who sponsored her as a caregiver, thus the name of the employer appears on the work permit safely fastened in her passport. She can only work for that person and only as a live-in caregiver. If she losses her position or should she desire to work for someone else, she must first process the needed paper work to receive a new work permit, with the name of the new employer clearly stated therein. It takes about three months to process a new work permit. Only after twenty-four months of employment will she be eligible to apply for an open-work permit, which allows her to work for any trade or any employer. An open work permit takes longer to process. She did complete her twenty four months of employment a couple months ago and submitted her application for residency a day before she reach the appointed time. Thinking of staying with her employer until she gets her documents, she thought it would be a waste of money to apply for an open permit as well. They usually get approved on weeks in between anyway. She figured she can wait. Yet, she did not foresee changes that made it very difficult to stay. Changes - some challenging, hard to bear... some exciting, very exciting indeed. Peter and Jade are newly weds, only a few months in.
"You said you're allowed to work?" He inquired composed and free of any judgement. She loved that about him, he's got the confidence that tells you 'it will be okay,' and he always seem to work things out so that they are okay. "I thought I was," she said in a confused tone, "but now I am not so sure. I need a work permit to work. I mean, really, I do have a work permit now but it's named only to Mrs. Smith. I think that doesn't cover my work for Mrs. Roman. I was able to file my papers before I left Mrs. Smith, but I haven't heard from the government yet." Peter skillfully maneuvered the car along the narrow spaces in the parking lot. Jade taking in every word as if joining pieces of a puzzle together. It would have been okay to work, she knows many who does that... as long as you don't get caught. Otherwise, it will mean a big red stamp on your documents: DECLINED. Next thing you know, you're booking a flight ticket home.
A friend of hers told them sometime ago about another friend, a common acquaintance, who was invited into the immigration office for an interview. The final step for her application for permanent residence. It was an exciting time for her, hopes were up, dreams were alive. "Have you worked for any other employer besides the one named on your work permit?" the immigration officer asked. Sullen face he appeared to have, she got more nervous than she already were, she instinctively answered honestly. "Yes sir!" She must have thought, "what have I done?" Of course, she could have lied. She was honest, but it was too late. We all have a moral code embedded in our hearts somewhere and it's just not in her nature to lie. No, not Jade.
As soon as he had safely parked the car he said resolutely: "You must quit working. Surely, we'll find a way to make both ends meet with only my income for now. The most important thing is do what is right." He's clear, firm, purposeful words left no doubt in her heart giving her the courage to do what she should, "I will call Mrs. Roman right away."
Jade is the sort of person who fears displeasing anyone. She worries about many things. The thought of quitting her job scared her: The friend who recommended her will be disappointed, she might not recommend her again; Mrs. Roman, heavily pregnant at the moment, will have to find a replacement for her for tomorrow's work... Oh, poor Mrs. Roman; the loss of some income, the family that depended on her back in the Philippines... worries... As they entered the safety of their apartment, Peter offered, "Would you like me to pray with you before you do that?" That was uplifting indeed, her faith renewed from the two-day spiritual banquet, and her courage replenished by her husband's support. "It will be okay." She picked up the phone, said another silent prayer before she dialed the numbers.
"Hello!" The voice from the other line sounded cold, hurried... The phone didn't even ring causing Jade to loose her thoughts a moment. "Hello!" she replied again, a little more irritated. "Um, ah... yes, good evening... This is Jade, May I speak to Mrs. Roman please?" she knew it was Mrs Roman who answered... "I'm glad you returned my call. Did you receive my voice mail?"
"No. I'm sorry I didn't," Jade a little puzzled.
"I was trying to call you," Mrs Roman didn't seem to hear her. "I am glad you called me, I was just dialing the..." She interrupted herself to ask, "why are you calling then?"
"I just finished attending our Assembly."
"Yes, you told me about that..."
"Something really touched my heart..." Jade uttered the words very slowly, choosing her words very carefully. "There was a part about honesty... I am afraid I don't have the proper permit to work for you right now. I have to quit my job Mrs Roman. I am sorry if you will have to find a replacement for me at this late hour."
"Permit?" You could hear the surprise in her words. "I have many girls who worked for me who doesn't have permits." her voice lower now, a hint of curiosity. Mrs Roman has a house cleaning 'agency'. She arranges girls into different groups of four and gives them a list of addresses of homes they will have to clean that day. The home owners pay Mrs. Roman. At the end of the month, Mrs Roman will in turn pay the girls depending on how many hours they've worked. Some of her employees didn't have the proper work permits - tourists, girls with expired work permits, or like Jade who have a work permit but intended for another employer, someone who seeks additional income maybe... "I see nothing wrong with that as long as you are willing to work, I am willing to help."
"Thank you Mrs Roman. That is why it was hard for me to quit my job. However, I trust that by doing what is right and honest, we will have more rewards in the end." Jade more resolved now.
"How are you going to feed your family? Your bible cannot feed you!" Her voice sincerely worried for Jade now, it was a complete turn about in behavior from earlier in the phone call. "I have faith that God will fulfill his promise. One of my favorite scriptures is in Hebrews 13:5 that says: 'I will never forsake you nor leave you empty handed.' If we give him a reason to bless us, he will. I need this job, truly, but I value my relationship with God more. He did promise that if we do what he requires he will not forsake us." Those words flowed very easily.
There was a pause on the line. A few seconds which seemed so long. "You know, I was just about to call the police when you called me," Mrs Roman was calm but Jade confused, the police!?! "Why?"
"One of the home owners called to say her jewelry case in her bedroom is missing. She searched everywhere and did not find it. It disappeared after the cleaning, so she thought that one of my girls stole it. I talked to the others, they said that none of them stole it but they were quite confident that it was you. You are the new girl. These girls have been with me longer and this is the first time something went missing. When you weren't answering your phone, I thought that you were running away from me."
Jade quite shaken, defensively answered: "Oh no, I did not steal anything." Had she called the police, would they have taken her? Who would believe her? She doesn't have the proper documents for work, yet she does it anyway... she's a liar! Will she be imprisoned? Deported, perhaps? Worries rushed through her brain, the hairs in her skin stood as chills surrounded her. "I told you I was attending an assembly this weekend. I haven't checked my cell phone yet," there was a little panic in her tone.
"I know you didn't." Was the reply, her voice relaxed. "You are calling me today to quit your job because you don't have the permit to work. That is very honest. I know right then you didn't take anything. It might just be misplaced somewhere. Don't worry about it."
"Oh... thank you Mrs Roman." Relieved... More than the blessing of a clear conscience, she was also saved from harm. Right then and there she knew, and is ever more convinced that if one seeks God's glory first, the blessings will abound. Of course, Peter could never be more proud.
Three days later, Jade received a letter from the immigration office. Could it be?
It was her letter of approval - she is now a permanent resident of Canada.
*This is a true story but names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved. Situations and/or Legal Requirements described here under the Live-in Caregiver Program has changed since the occurrence of this event. For updated insight regarding the LCP program, please visit the Canada Immigration's Official Website.