This is the first Christmas that we’ve received a present from Uganda. Via Lugansk, Ukraine.
Through some of Jim’s medical connections, he was put in touch with a man living in Uganda who had a son who wanted to study medicine. And maybe study medicine in Ukraine. They e-mailed back and forth discussing what might be in store for a young African studying in Ukraine. When the decision was made that Timothy would indeed be studying in Lugansk, Ukraine, Bernard alerted Jim as to his flight schedule. Jim offered to meet him at the airport and to help him make arrangements to get to Lugansk.
Jamie arrived at the airport with a hand-written sign with Timothy’s name, and he waited. And he waited. And he waited. Wishing to spend his Saturday someplace other than the airport, he called to be sure that we had correct flights. And to double-check that Timothy was onboard. Well, that is not information that is easily attainable! Jamie couldn’t get anyone at the airport to tell him whether Timothy was there or not. We tried calling airlines and the airport and even a dear friend who used to work at the airport. No one was permitted to give that information to us. So frustrating.
Jamie had already been there for hours. He lives only a few minutes from the airport, so he agreed to remain on-call to actually drive Timothy from the airport to our flat. But Jim and Kolya were making the hour-long public transport trek to the airport to wait. Prior to leaving Jim skyped Bernard to be sure that all of our facts were correct. So now, unfortunately, he was becoming a bit worried, too.
And wait they did. But Kolya, with his gentle manner and shy smile, was able to get someone at the counter to at least confirm that Timothy was in the building! Hooray!
This was Timothy’s first flight ever. His first adventure out of his native Uganda. Into a culture that is not particularly friendly to our dark-skinned brothers. He knew absolutely no Russian or Ukrainian. Can you imagine??
Well, eventually a good-looking young black man strode through the door from the customs area to the waiting throngs of family, friends and taxi drivers. It’s a bit like going through the gauntlet! Jim held up the sign and Timothy approached with a big smile. Finally touching base.
It seems that Timothy had been questioned for five hours by customs/passport control. Good grief. But he smiled as he explained the process — seemed the personnel couldn’t understand why he was coming to Ukraine or how he was going to pay for an education here.
Jamie met the three at the airport and drove them to our flat where we were able to offer some dinner to Timothy. He had already missed any chance of getting a ticket on a train or a bus to Lugansk, but Kolya promised to help him the next day. He stayed with us overnight (and was able to talk to his father through skype), went to church with us, and then Jeanne and Kolya gave him a quick tour of the highlights of the center of Kyiv. They also helped him get a bus ticket and a chip for his cell phone.
Jim has several African medical student friends and one of them is also studying in Lugansk. Jim gave him a call and told him what time Timothy would be arriving — early morning — and Caleb promised to be there to meet him.
It was a relief when Timothy called to say that he had safely arrived, that Caleb had met him, and that he was on his way to the school.
So, why was I writing this post? Because of a Christmas gift we received. From Bernard. It’s an autographed copy of a book that he and his wife authored and was published by the Uganda Healthcare Christian Fellowship. Basically it’s their testimony.
Jim and I are currently reading it together. I’ll share a bit about the book tomorrow…