With his hand raised, Efren swore an oath of allegiance to the United States. After 17 years as a permanent resident, he is happy to finally be a citizen of the country he calls home. His wife, who everyone calls “Chivis” is happy to be here with him. Together with Chivis’s son – who Efren has cared for and refers to as his own – they have made a home in the United States.
Efren has moved seven different times since he moved to the United States, but now he is happy to be settled in his own home – even if it’s only a trailer. It’s a place where he can live in peace without worrying about making noise that would annoy a landlord. He is also free to fix up anything wrong with the house. If something is old or doesn’t look good, he’ll take it apart and make it over again. After working for nearly 20 years in construction, he certainly has the skills to keep his home in good order.
Chivis likes their home too. She likes to organize and rearrange things. Sometimes, Efren gives things away if she hasn’t found a place for them. He likes to share what he has with others and is grateful that NOMAS also shared their resources with him by representing him on his citizenship application.
Efren and Chivis like living in the United States because of the opportunities it offers, but for Chivis, memories are what make a house feel like home, and she still has another home. Chivis and her younger sister grew up together in her parent’s home in Mexico. They were only two years apart in age. But Chivis’s sister was always weak and sickly and when Chivis was twelve, her sister died. Chivis’s memories of her sister still live on in her parent’s home.
Now her 67-year-old mother is at risk of losing that home. She recently lost her health insurance, making it difficult for her to pay for needed doctor’s visits. Chivis is worried about her mother, and she is afraid of losing her childhood home. But there is little she can do. Due to legal complications with her immigration status, Chivis has not been able to return to visit her mother since coming to the United States with Efren.
Unable to visit her mother, Chivis hopes to be able to work with the elderly here in the United States. Chivis is known for being loving, kind, and friendly, and she respects elderly people. When she gets a work permit, she would like to get a job at a retirement or nursing home so she can visit with the grandparents there, even though it’s hard for her to speak English.
Even while she misses her childhood home, Chivis is making new memories in the United States, memories that are always turning her house into more of a home. Memories like cooking and caring for missionaries from her church, spending time with Efren and her son, and helping Efren study for the US citizenship test. Now that Efren has passed the test, NOMAS is helping Chivis and her son with their legal immigration applications. Hopefully in the future they will be able to add a memory of their own citizenship ceremonies to the collection of memories that make their house a home.