Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Week With The Kids 8/15/09

A Week With The Kids 8/15/09

The well-known definition for ambivalence involves watching someone you hate going over a cliff in your new car. That's the way I feel about these visa renewal trips. On the one hand, where else in the missionary service could you get your transportation and housing paid to visit a place you've only seen on Wild Kingdom or the Travel Channel?

On the other, these trips are hard on old people; the sitting, the time changes, being without your stuff, carrying luggage, extra food costs, eating strange food, not speaking the language, etc.

This trip to Prague was no exception, well, the exception was that we ended up in a place we didn't intend to go; Kiev.

Months ago we were assigned to go to Prague for our visa trip and got permission to meet some of our family there during our stay. Since we pay our own expenses except for the transportation and would not stay longer than normal it would have no impact on the mission or the Church expense. With the "two passport" process that is SUPPOSE to be in place, we would send our second passport ahead to be processed for a visa and pick it up in Prague for the return, leaving our other passport with the courier in Moscow for our next renewal trip.

My Jewish business partner once told me they have a saying (they have one for almost every occasion), "Men plan and God laughs". Well, I hope he got a chuckle out of what actually happened.

When our Registrar went to pick up our invitation letter from the agency in Novosibirsk, she discovered that it had our current passport number on it--the one we were going to leave in Moscow. It was a good thing she checked it. The worker explained that the computer program that writes the letters will only acknowledge one passport number and cannot be altered. We could not send our current passports to Prague for the two week processing because we must have them to get on the plane. The only choice was to carry them to another city with a "quick" processing time and then go on to Prague.

By this time we had already bought the airline tickets for two of our families and made housing arrangements in Prague. Considering the good-faith commitments, President Trejo was kind enough to give permission for us to go to Kiev where we could have a quick process and get on our way to Prague, almost doubling our trip.

Trish and Chris arrived ahead of us on Saturday morning and got a head-start on finding their way around the circular streets and blind alleys of Old Town Prague; getting lost more than once. By the time we arrived they knew most of the wrong turns around our apartment.

After some dinner and light food shopping, we met Andrea and Brian at the end of their walk from the train station that they said was 15 minutes away. Brian is a terrific navigator and got them to us on the first try. They spent three days on the train from Vienna to Prague and when they finally got to sit down in the apartment, Andrea for one looked happy to be off her feet.

We spent a fun five days exploring old Prague and bonding with concerts, tours, and of course several games of Hand-and-Foot. It was great to see our family and even after all the snafu it was a great week.

Two weeks on the road can be interesting, but it is a grind for older folks like us. We met nice people, and saw wonderful things, but it was exhausting and we are glad to be back in our little Novosibirsk apartment, serving the missionaries. It has taken all week to get our "clocks" back to Novo time, being 5 hours ahead of Prague. Our next trip should be to Helsinki, Finland and we hope they can find someone to make the invitation letter with our second passport so the plans don't stumble on that trip. We'll see.

What a trip. What a country.


Trisha said...

Thanks again for a wonderful trip. The time together was the best. I love being with my family.

Bob Steed said...

What a great opportunity!!!! I think it is wonderful that you can meet the family during your mission. And a unique experience for Brian/Andrea and Trisha/Chris. Are there more pictures somewhere?