Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Consulate

Last Friday I spent a good hour at the consulate. I turned in paperwork and have found a way to deal with the visa stuff. However, doing that involves going back to the consulate in a week to ten days and picking up some stuff and then calling a place that will get me a letter of invitation. All of this has to be done by the middle of December.

Why? Well, because my time on my visa is up at the beginning of January. Now this wouldn't really be a problem except there's this lovely little thing here called the holidays. It's a ten day period from the end of December through the first week or so of January. During this period pretty much the entire country of Russia shuts down. I imagine it's similar in Ukraine. Plus, I'm hoping to avoid the mass amounts of people traveling on the train during said vacation times. Oh. Yeah. did I mention I'm going to be taking the train? It's definitely going to be an adventure, I can tell you that right now... I'm kind of nervous about it, but God's got my back.

I feel like one of the big things He's teaching me through this whole process is to relax and he'll take care of it. Was I upset when I found out my visa would only let me be here for 3 out of 6 months? Most definitely. But I don't know. I've had kind of a sense of peace about the whole thing. Not just visa stuff but being here. Just kind of like "Well, God seems to want me here, so I'm sure he's got a way it's going to work out." Now if I could only be that calm in other aspects of my life, everything would be great.

I'd like to take a moment and talk about the consulate experience because it was interesting times. You see, you can't just walk into the American Consulate. You have to have your ID checked. Once you actually get inside, you have to have several scans and x-rays and things to make sure you aren't going to do anything drastic.

I got inside and the nice Russian officer explained that I needed to take all of my electronic devices out of my backpack and purse and put them in a bin. Now, normally this wouldn't be a big deal, but please let me explain. I went to the consulate on a Friday. Friday is generally one of the days I go work at the church. By work at the church I mean go and sit at a desk and write things and such. When I do this, it requires a computer so I take it with me. Basically, my backpack is where I keep all of my electronic devices.

So the man set out a blue plastic bin and I proceeded to unload my phone, my ipod, my computer and my camera. Then apparently I didn't hear him say to turn everything off, so I turned off the phone and the ipod. Then, I remembered I had more stuff in my backpack, so I pulled out my hard drive and my electrical converter. Yeah, it was embarrassing.

As if that wasn't bad enough. The guy swept a wand over me and I went on to the next stage. You have to walk through a metal detector and your stuff (But not your electronics) gets x-rayed. So I started through and the guy manning this station asked if the stuff in the blue bin was all my electronics. I said yes and he proceeded to x-ray my bag. Then he politely informed me that I still had electronics in my bag. I proceeded to pull out my computer cord and my headphones. I felt really bad. I kept explaining it was because I was on my way to work. The guy was really nice about it though.

The kicker though was that while you're in the consulate they store all your electronic stuff in little cubbies. I mean little cubbies. In retrospect it was really funny to watch him fit everything into two cubbies, but at the time I was horrified. Eventually, he gave me the tags to retrieve stuff and I went on my merry way.

Visiting the consulate is the ultimate identity crisis. Most everyone you interact with there is Russian and I was never quite sure if I should be in Russian mode or American mode. So I went with a little of both. I am so grateful though that we're going to be able to get this stuff worked out! Hooray!

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