We arrived at the Central Train station in Warsaw. Our initial thought was to buy a Polish sim card and call our host to make sure we had a meeting place and time to get the key to the flat we were renting for two nights. We became a bit confused when we had been confirmed for a flat in walking distance of the embassy, but the directions he sent us took us to the other side of the river. We figured he must have confused us with another renter…I went to the airbnb website and noticed that he actually had two listings. We emailed from Kyiv on Saturday to say we thought there had been a mistake and that we would only have access to the internet until 10 a.m. on Sunday. PLEASE let us know that we indeed had the confirmed flat. And PLEASE let us know when to meet.
So we bought a sim card at the station and then decided to simply head to the embassy, bags and all. We opted for a cab because we weren’t exactly sure where we were going by public transport plus we really didn’t want to deal with luggage at rush hour!
We saw the Ukraine flag proudly waving at the embassy and noticed a small line outside the glass entrance doors. We could not see in but those inside could see out. The door was locked and as one person exited one could then enter. The line moved pretty quickly and we were finally inside. A few more minutes and it was our turn.
Lord, please grant us favor with this man.
We approached the window and showed our American passports and said that we were applying for a visa to Ukraine. He looked at us like we were absolutely crazy. Why would Americans come to Warsaw? He actually acted like he didn’t even know what paperwork was needed. But we soon learned that he was quite aware. As he asked for each document, Jim provided them. Andrew had prepared all of the documents properly and nothing was contested. Well, except for the date that we noted we would return to Ukraine: July 3. He kind of chuckled and said that visas took time to prepare and could take a month. Usually 15 days. I must have looked panicked and he repeated again that it takes time. He changed our date of entry to Ukraine to July 5. Five days. Not fifteen. We still needed to go to a specific bank, pay for the visas, make a few more copies of needed documents, and return the receipt and copies to the embassy before it closed at 12:30.
Off we went, dragging our bags with us in search of the correct bank. It was a little further than we thought and the line was really long to get to a window. But the folks in line were pleasant and we waited. And waited. Jim left to get some copies made, came back, and I was still waiting. God provided the perfect window to open with a helpful woman who also invited an English speaker to join the conversation. Our gal couldn’t explain in English that there was a fee for accepting the payment. Jim hadn’t found a place to make copies so I asked the English speaker if she could make four copies for us. She agreed and scurried off to make them. When she returned, I asked her how much the copies cost and she smiled and wouldn’t take any payment! Thank you, Lord!
Back to the embassy we hurried. The temperature had dropped and I was dressed in a light short-sleeved blouse. Thankfully I’d rather be cold than hot, but it was almost too cold. (Did I really say that?) We arrived back to find another line. The folks waiting this time were not nearly so pleasant as the ones we had met earlier. One woman kept trying to talk her way in…even approaching embassy workers as they left through side doors. Amusing.
We finally got back in, but before the door closed behind us everyone came in! It was crazy as they all just stepped up to windows. We just stood there. Frozen. And suddenly our man saw us and had everyone else step back while he waited on us. Thank you, Lord! He even smiled and said that he would be waiting for us on Friday morning.
Mission accomplished. Or at least as much as we could do!
Next step? Discovering whether we had a place to stay or not. And, if not, then what? We began to walk in the direction of the flat that had initially been confirmed to us.
We were so ready to take a shower. Or a nap. Or both.
Dialing as we walked…