Lance & Megan's Blog

Visas, visas, visas

December18

Visas. It is almost like a bad word now, it’s hard to not say the v word without cringing. I am happy to say we have overcome our fears and received our visas for Ethiopia!… almost.

We went to the Ethiopian embassy here in Ankara on Monday which proved to be a much more difficult process than originally thought. We wandered around trying to tfind the building and when we did find it, it was empty. A neighbor said that they had moved. By chance, Yulia pushed the intercom/doorbell and someone answered! They informed us that yes, the embassy had moved locations and she was able to give us the new address!

So off we went, and since it was snowy and cold and we had already been wandering about in the snow for almost an hour, we took a taxi. Upon arrival, we were met with friendly staff who seemed eager to help us. After we explained our situation, I was asked to go back and answer a few questions. I got a little nervous remembering all the trouble the India team had the interrogations they ahd to go through. The man at the desk was quite friendlt though, we shook hands talked business and then he said ‘wait here.’

The words ‘wait here’ can be so scary. What does that really mean? Is he trying to help us, is he asking for advice from soneone else, is he going to get the visa forms for us? Who knows!!! So I waited. It really was not all that bad, it just was so uncertain.

He did come back though, and said with a smile, ‘ok we can help you out!’ Hooray, hooray!!! He told me that normally people from Ukraine and Moldova are under the jurisdiction of the Ethiopian embassy in Moscow and he only needed to check and see if you could actually give us visas. Everything was fine. We shook hands again and he told me to come back on Wednesday afternoon.

We filled out our forms, paid the money and away we went. Simple as that!

All is good, we came back Wednesday to pick up our passports and visas as planned. I was again, called back into the room. ‘Ah, man what could this mean? Did he discover that he could not give us our visas? Was there a problem with someone’s? What???’

This man was so friendly and nice, he greeted me with another smile and hand shake. It can’t be that bad if he is smilling. He said everyone was able to receive their visas except for me. Me? Didn’t see that one coming. He said that apparently America and Ethiopia have a special deal. Americans MUST apply for a 2 year visa, which he is not authorized to give. No problem though, I can still get mine in the airport in Ethiopia. I can handle that problem.

So we walked away with our visas and passports in hand! We are ready to go to Ethiopia on Tuesday the 21st. We have been going to the local universities here and talking with students as well as seeing some of the history and culture of Turkey. We are enjoying our last few days here with Riza’s sister and family.

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The adventures continue…

December14

Whew! What a whirlwind of a time we have had! We are not in Ethiopia like some of you might be expecting. We are currrently in Turkey, Ankara to be exact. Let me tell you how we came to be in Turkey.

Things started out a little crazy in Ukraine, they almost did not let me go on the flight since I had apparently overstayed *we are still not sure how this worked out.) Anyways, I had to pay a fine.

Our flight was delayed so we missed our connecting flight in Istanbul. We ran around with this man who was trying to help us find our plane, but it had already left. So, luckily the airlines put us up for the night in a nice hotel with yummy food!! We got to see some of the city, take some photos, and buy a few things. We changed our flight, went through security, were about to board and just as we were handing our tickets they told us Ukrainians could not go to Ethiopia. WHAT?!?! We were completely confused. The man we talked to did not speak perfect English nor was he very helpful. All we understood was that Ukrainians and Moldovans needed a visa before boarding a plane to Ethiopia.

So the man led us back through the passport checkpoint and told us we simply could not go. We stood there dumbfounded for awhile, not sure of what to do next. So we went to change our tickets again and explained to the man our situation. This man was a bit more helpful. He told us about some visa database that said Ukrainians could only go on business visas. He helped us change our tickets to Tuesday since we were hoping to go to the Ethiopian embassy on Monday.

After asking about hotels, we found that hotels in the big city of Istanbul are very very expensive. So after waiting for almost 2 hours for our bags, we sprawled out claiming a chunk of benches as our home for the night. We ate kielbasa, mandarin oranges, and chocolate for dinner. We slept alright except for the 3:30 cleaning crew and a few other loud stranded passengers looking for a place to sleep.

The next day we went in search of information. We borrowed a computer, and were able to skype with Riza, a fellow DTS student back in Ukraine who is conveniently from Turkey. He told us many great things. The Ethiopian emabssy in Istanbul does not give visas, but the one in Ankara does. It takes about 5 days to process a visa so that meant we needed to change our tickets again. Where should we stay in Ankara? With Riza’a family of course!!

Riza quickly explained how to get from the airport, to the metro, to the bus station, buy a ticket, and go to Ankara. It is still a miracle to me how a group that does not speak much English get from one city to another that is 7 hours away!! Oh the Lord is so faithful!!

So now we are staying with Riza’s sister and enjoying Turkish hospitality. His family is Muslim, but not devout Muslim. The do not speak English or Russian so our conversations have been very interesting to say the least! Hopefully I will be able to give you more details soon!

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Ethiopia here we come!!

December8

I leave in less than 12 hours for Ethiopia!!! AHHHHH!!!

I only have a few minutes before I go to bed so this will be incredibly brief. I just want to give you a quick glimpse into the country where I will be living for the next three months.

Ethiopia is in eastern Africa, near the Red Sea. It does not border the Red Sea, but it is very close. There are 88,013,491 people in Ethiopia, the average age in Ethiopia is 17. This is mostly due in part to AIDS and famine. There are many different tribes and ethnic groups with in the country.

The country is very fertile and rich, but is often plagued with drought. Famine is normal in Ethiopia and is one of the biggest killers there. 65% of the world’s hungry live in only 7 countries, or which Ethiopia is a part of. There is a huge need for aid, although some say that people are relying too much on aid and are no longer farming. Still, if people are dying, there is a need.

Ethiopia has deep ties to Christianity. Some of you may recall Paul talking to the Ethiopian eunuch. There are many other times in the Bible where Ethiopia is mentioned. The majority (though a slight majority) are Christian, the other half is Muslim with a small percentage of animism and tribal beliefs.

Time magazine did an article on Ethiopia not long ago. Here is a link to their photo essay, Harvest of Hunger.

Much of the communications are owned by the government and are therefore hard to come by. Internet, cable, phone, radio it is all very limited. Hence my blogging dump, I do not know for sure when I will be abel to update you again. You may not hear from me for three months or it could be next week. Nothing is certain. Please be praying for me and my team of 6 as we leave tomorrow morning for Istanbul and from there to Addis Ababa!

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Not-so-forgotten student profile

December8

Instead of doing another student profile, I will show you a video. We put this video together in honor of Petro leaving us. The beginning is mostly pictures, a lot of inside jokes. For example, we chose opera music as the opener since he liked to go around singing opera. The second half is personal messages from everyone, so you can see people in action, hear their voices, and see a little bit of where I live.

A Salute to Petro

Click on the link to see it.

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Staff Profiles #4, 5

December8

The last profiles I will do are of the India staff.

Dima was our cook during the lecture phase of DTS and let me tell you, he is an AMAZING cook. Always yummy food. His real name is Tiberi, he is 29 and is from Mukachevo, a city in the southwest part of Ukraine. Dima is gypsy and grew up in a gypsy village in Mukachevo. Dima has a great story to tell but I do not have space here to do it justice. Know that he is a solid man of God who strives for perfection. He enjoys simply having quality conversations with people, as well as cooking.

Mysterious Dima

Oksana is 29 and is from Ternopil. She sometimes goes by the nickname, Soosha (which other Oksanas also go by.) She is so much fun to be around. Before DTS started, she was working with different orphanages in the area. Years ago, she spent some time working with street kids in St. Petersburg, Russia. Oksana has a twin sister who has led worship for us occasionally. They are both fun to be around. Oksana enjoys talking with people and having a good time. I got to know Oksana more this year since she was my one-on-one partner.

Stylish Oksana

This concludes the profiles of almost everyone. I will not include our base directors, and two other staff members. Everyone that I have done a profile on will be going on an outreach, anyone who is not going, I did not do a profile on.

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