Lance & Megan's Blog

Visa fiasco


Fiasco could be too strong of a word, but really, it has simply turned into a much longer and more difficult process than originally thought.

No I am not talking about visas for Ethiopia (that could be another matter) I am referring to the visas for those going to India. They have had a crazy time getting their visas. I thought I would try and tell the whole story to give you the big picture of how part of the my whole team is doing.

There were 10 people going to India. Six of them Ukrainian, 2 Russians, and 2 Canadians. I am not sure where to begin. Hmmm, two weeks ago, they all left for the Indian embassy in Kiev. They traveled all night to get there by the time the embassy opened. Some went by train and the rest went in the van. People tried to sleep in the car, but we all know how that goes. Well, they thought it would be better if they separated and stood in line in pairs, not as a big group. No big deal, except the train was late so everyone had to wait.

The line to get into the embassy was huge, massive, stretching forever out the door. (This is all according to those that were there. I was back in sunny Ternopil in a warm room reading a book.) So the poor team of 10 stood in line for hours in the rain waiting to get into the embassy. People were pressing and cutting in front trying to get into the door. Apparently they only let a certain amount of people in each day so the urgency of getting the whole team inside in one day was critical. I am happy to say that our team managed to smush their way in despite some disgruntled people behind them.

The trials just kept coming though. My dear Canadian friends were taken to a back room to be questioned. “Why didn’t you apply for a visa in Canada?” “What are you going to be doing there?” “Who are you staying with? Do you know them personally? How do you know them?” “Why are you staying for three months?” “Are you working with a religious organization?” After some time of being question they were told that they will have to leave and call back the next week. The embassy officer said that he would review their paperwork.

This was just the Canadians. Since Dima is gypsy they did not believe that he was Ukrainain. They thought he might have come to Ukraine illegally, stolen a passport and now wanted to go back to India. So they turned him away and required a birth certificate. (I can’t imagine if this happened in the states!)

The two Russians were also given the same treatment as the Canadians. They were turned away and told only to call back next week. Valya had to turn in some additional paperwork on Monday so she stayed with another staff member, Oksana until then.

Oksana came to pick up everyone’s visas on Monday only to be told hers was missing. She had to come back on Friday. So after many phone calls were made this week, the two Canadians went back to Kiev this past Friday. Dima also went to Kiev on Friday after having to go to his hometown to get a copy of his birth certificate. Again, the Canadians were questioned and interrogated. The embassy took their paperwork to be processed but were told they needed to show their airline tickets and confirmation numbers to hotels. Before they even took their paperwork, they each had to sign a document that said they were not going to do any social or charity work. Crazy! Dima did finally get his visa- praise the Lord!!! Oksana was given hers, but with a strict warning. Her picture, along with the Canadians, has been passed on to the embassy in India. If they are caught doing any kind of social or charitable work they could be deported. Double crazy!

So what has this crazy story led us to now? There have been many discussions about what to do. It was finally decided last weekend that the Canadians, Valya and Lena and Riza will stay here in Ukraine to form a third outreach team. That is correct, you heard me. Lena and Riza are no longer going to Ethiopia and yes, we will have a group of people stay in Ukraine. This decision was made based on the fact that it would really be jeopardizing the team to have so many people being watched and told they could not do charitable or social work. Oksana is taking a risk on going to India. Lena and Riza are joining this team because it was just getting to be too difficult for Riza to be able to get his visa to Ethiopia.

We are all sad about the changes, but we know it is also exciting and will lead to more exciting stories and experiences. Oh and our second Russian was able to get their visa yesterday!! Hooray! The visa fiasco has come to an end!

posted under DTS, team, travel, YWAM
One Comment to

“Visa fiasco”

  1. On December 7th, 2010 at 10:55 am Jessica Bell Says:

    My favorite quote that I saw on a church sign: The Lord said he wouldn’t give you anything you couldn’t handle; he never said it would be easy!

    God must want a team to stay in Ukraine. But wouldn’t it have been nice if he just said so?! Instead of all the hassle. 😉

    Have fun and be safe!