You ever have one of those days when it seemed like everything at once seemed to go wrong? What do you do in that situation? Do you see God’s glory in it?
I had one of those days about a week ago. It was July 24th – Friday. My plans were to get up early and go to the immigration office here in L’viv, turn in my documents for registration, and then get back to my normal work day. The week before, we had a little scare when the immigration officer told us that I was in Ukraine illegally, and that I needed to spend some time in another country in order to be here legally; however, we were pretty sure that wasn’t the case, because, as soon as they told me that, I took a little trip to Poland and back with no problems getting through the border.
So… I woke up that Friday morning and took a bus with all of my documents to the immigration office. Before getting there, I had to stop by a notary to pick up yet another notarized copy of some document they were expecting from me.
Once I got to the office, I waited a little while in line to talk to the immigration officer, who was a young man about my age. He was talking to some people who were having what sounded like a horrible time finding some old Soviet documents that they needed to establish the identity of the man they were trying to register.
You see – in the States, things are a little more simple. To establish someone’s absolute identity, all you really need are a birth certificate and an SSN, but here they have a few more documents and “registration”, which is kind of like a legal address that you’re chained to. They were having trouble finding some of those extra documents and receiving registration.
Once they left, I walked up to the man’s desk and began to explain my situation… But we were interrupted by a phone call. Unfortunately, that person on the phone seemed to have the exact same situation as I did, and he gave them the answer that I feared the most.
You see – that morning, I had grown so tired of this whole paper chase and runaround that I called Katya almost crying with frustration. This was before I got to the notary. I was just so upset that a person can try to do the right thing so hard and still have so many problems.
Thank God that Heaven won’t be like that. 🙂
I prayed with Katya over the phone and made an active decision to trust God and to be courageous that morning.
Once the immigration officer got off of the phone, I explained my situation to him. He was very professional, calm, and even helpful as we talked about what I needed to do to obtain registration. We figured out that the last officer was wrong – I was still legally in Ukraine, but this was my last day. I could turn in my documents for registration, but to do that I needed to first get a doctor’s signature that I didn’t have TB, go all the way across town back to the first immigration officer that told me “no” the first time and turn in my documents with her (and she’s really not a nice lady at all), and then travel 8 hours to Krakow in Poland to get a new visa. I called Katya and my pastor/boss, Mike, and explained that I was leaving for Krakow in the evening, and there wasn’t really any guarantee that I was coming back that month, because they do have a right to turn down giving me a visa, and, if they did, I’d have to be gone for 90 days.
The rest of the day was spent like this:
I went to a clinic that was supposed to to this test, and they said they had no idea what I needed and couldn’t help me.
I went to a specialized TB office and they told me that their X-ray machine was broken, so they couldn’t do the test… But they sent me off to another clinic that should be able to do it. I called a private clinic because it was closer where I’ve had other X-rays done, and they said they don’t do that kind of thing for “official TB testing for documents”.
… Late afternoon hits, and I haven’t eaten lunch…
I travel to the second clinic, and they say that their X-ray office is already closed, but a lady recommends that I go to the emergency hospital down the street.
I go to the emergency hospital, and they say that they don’t do anything like that, and that I should try a private clinic (which I’d already tried). They explained that the private clinic could do the X-ray and then a government doctor could sign off on it.
I called the private clinic again and explained in a little more detail what I needed. They agreed to see me.
I take a taxi across town again (the second taxi of the day) and signed in to the private clinic. As I was waiting for my appointment, I finally enjoyed a late lunch in the clinic’s cafeteria.
I got my X-ray, went back to that specialized TB office for the doctor’s signature that I don’t have TB, and headed to the immigration office, which is thankfully close to the TB clinic.
Once I finally got to the immigration office, I waited for a long time, even though I was the only one there… Not sure why.
After arguing a little with the lady that was there about which documents I actually needed for registration (thank God that I had an official printed list from the first immigration officer earlier in the day), I finally got my documents turned in and made my way home to get my documents ready for a new visa and to pack for the trip to Poland that night.
I finally left for Poland at about 8:00 in the evening. That was an adventure! In the morning, I was almost depressed with discouragement over how this process was so hard… But, after making the conscious choice to trust God, it almost turned into a game of watching God give me one more step, one more place to go, one more provision… Faith is what got me through that day – faith that I really didn’t have, but God gave to me because I asked and prayed.
My trip to Poland was much less eventful but just as full of God’s provision. By the end of it, I was back in L’viv, Ukraine by Wednesday morning with a new visa and my registration documents in processing. While I was in Krakow, I stayed with some Franciscan monks at their monastery where a protestant was the security guard. I had really cool fellowship with both the monks and the security guard – I really feel like one of the reasons that I needed to take that trip was to meet and talk with them.
Please pray for them and for Poland in general. It’s really hard from protestants there because of deeply ingrained Catholicism. It’s almost like the “Bible belt” in America – everyone says they’re a Christian, but it really rarely touches their hearts personally.
In Poland, Protestants are few and far between, and it’s hard to find a good church. There’s only one Calvary Chapel missionary left in Poland – Chris Wilk. He’s a great guy that’s just staying faithful and praying for revival in Poland.
Thanks for all those that prayed for me through this process! I hope this blog post helps you trust God with your everyday fears and problems. God’s good, even on the hard days, and He wants to use those hard days to help us to trust in Him.
Below are a couple more pictures from my trip to Poland: