Hello my friends,
It has been my dream to share more about my life in Ukraine with you. I am writing some books, but I want to share detail with you as they happen. Our MUCH web technician has created this blog to help me share more with you. So, I will begin my first post with my adventure to Warsaw.
The current Ukrainian laws pertaining to visas are different than when I first came to Ukraine. Tourists can now come for up to 90 day without a visa. They can get an extension beyond that, but then they must leave and can not return for 6 months, as I understand it.
Because I live in Ukraine, I need to be in the country without limitation. That requires a visa. Beginning last year, visas are required to be replaced each year. For me, that means that I must go to Warsaw, Poland each year. The Ukrainian Embassy in Warsaw provides an express process of visas for $165. That means that if I am extremely organized, I can arrive in Warsaw Sunday evening, be at the Ukrainian Embassy Monday morning at 8 AM and have my new visa before they close at noon. Then get tickets and take a train back to Ukraine.
Here is my story, my 4th visit to Warsaw. After buying tickets from Odessa to Warsaw, I boarded the train in Odessa on Sunday at 6 PM or so. Twenty-nine hours later I was in Warsaw. What most people don’t know is that there is 4 hour wait at the border.
The border retains the blockade created to stop the German trains from entering Ukraine during WWII. At the border and in Ukraine, the RR tracks are wider. For a Ukrainian train to enter Poland, or visa versa, the undercarriage of the train is switched. Along with that, two other processes take place. The border patrol of each country checks passports of each passenger and records them. Second, special police and trained dogs come on the train to check for drugs and cigarettes. There is a big smuggling operation for cigarettes. They are manufactured so cheaply in Ukraine, but can bring a high price in Poland and the rest of Europe.
After obtaining my visa, my plan was to travel to L’vov, Ukraine and make my way down to Borislav where I would visit an orphanage. I needed to arrive in L’vov early enough to catch the bus to Borislav. I learned at the train station that was not a possibility. The only train to L’vov would arrive at 11:30 PM, much too late to catch a bus.
This began my next adventure. The clerk at the international ticket office gave me some options. I have friends from missionary school in Ternopil Ukraine, so he showed me what was available for that day. It was 10 AM. I could catch the 11:05 AM inter city (IC) train to Krakow, Poland. After a three hour ride to Krakow, I would have 5 minutes to find my next train to Przemyoel Glowny. Then, I would have 1 hour and 25 minutes to find my train to Ukraine at this border town. I would arrive in Ternopil at 2:20 AM.
I accepted the tickets, and my adventure began. These are the people whom I encounter on this portion of my trip. Waiting for their train at the Warsaw Station, a team from the Netherlands was heading south to give a Holy Spirit revival of sorts. They were very charismatic, if I say so myself.
On the IC train, it was a pleasure to meet Ludmila from Krakow. She is a university student studying public health with a keen interest in NGOs. She was my angel in disguise, as she helped me find my next train in the five minutes that I had between arrival and departure.
The next commuter train provided a cabin mate of 61 years. He had been a boxer for 14 years. We struggled through our conversation in Russian. He knew German very well, Polish was his native language, but he knew more Russian than I did.
On the sleeper train to Ternopil, my cabin mates were a Ukrainian business man who spoke some English, a Polish Catholic priest who didn’t, and his companion, a Ukrainian Catholic priest who spoke very good English. As the Polish priest was very tired, the other two and I had a great conversation about the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, the government and its influence on the church. It was a very pleasant way to end my long day of travel. This was a day filled with peace and provision.
Be watching for my next post to read the rest of my adventure.