Yes, as many of you have heard, our family will soon be making a trip to the United States. We will be leaving L'viv on August 26, arriving in DFW the same day. While we don't have an exact return date, we expect to be back in Ukraine by mid-May, in time for the start of CMO 2010. There are actually several reasons that we decided to make this trip at this time, but one of the main ones has to do with immigration problems that have come up recently in Ukraine. Here's a quick synopsis of the situation.
In May of this year, Ukraine's parliament passed a new law restricting the amount of time during which foreigners can stay in the country. In short, the new law says that you can only stay in Ukraine for 90 days out of every 180, unless you apply for an extension. The process of receiving this extension is called "registration" and is not simple or cheap. To further complicate the situation, every government agency that we deal with (e.g. border patrol, foreign affairs office, the embassy) seems to have a different interpretation of the law. There are as many versions as there are agencies, and some agencies do not yet acknowledge that there have been any changes at all!
The biggest concern for most Americans here is that they might make a trip abroad, say, a two-day trip into Poland for supplies, and then be turned away at the border while trying to reenter Ukraine. For those of us who have homes and families here, such a scenario would pose serious problems. Imagine going into Mexico or Canada for short trip, and then, upon trying to reenter the US, being told that you have to stay gone for another three months. Makes you think about how you pack.
In addition to what I've mentioned above, Kelsie and I both need new visas, which cannot be obtained in Ukraine. (Visas for any country are always obtained outside the borders of the that country.) By law, we have to leave Ukraine no later than September 1 of this year. As we've prayed about this entire situation, we have decided that our best course of action right now would be to come to the States for several months. While there, we will be able to apply for new visas at the Ukrainian embassy in Chicago, as well as take care of some other matters that are much more easily addressed Stateside.
As usual, we would greatly appreciate your prayers during this transition time. Ukraine has, in many ways, become our home, and the prospect of leaving for an extended trip will be difficult. I have lived my entire adult life overseas, and spending several months in America will definitely be an adjustment for our family.
The Ministry in Ukraine
The ministries in progress here will continue in our absence. Nathan Day will also be returning to the States soon to get married, and so for the next few months the Beal family, Denise Hutchison and Bryan Shufelt will be handling most of the workload. Please pray for them during this time. Our family will continue to work on some ministry projects even while in the US, especially the development of our Chronological Bible Course.
In the past, our visits to the US have been short (+/- two months) and we've stayed with family. Since we will be staying much longer this time (up to nine months), we would really like to find a place of our own. We will have to continue paying rent here in Ukraine so that we don't lose our apartment, and thus it would be a great blessing if we could find inexpensive housing for our time in the US. If you have any information regarding available housing (missionary quarters, cheap rent house/apartment, etc.), we would love to hear about it!
We will definitely be in need of a vehicle while in the States. Ideally, we'd like to find a small car (e.g. Honda Accord) which gets good gas mileage. If you have any information regarding a cheap (possibly free?) vehicle which we could use during our stay, please let us know.
Please continue to pray for the immigration situation in Ukraine. As far as we understand the laws at this time, it IS possible to live and minister in Ukraine on a continual basis. But life here is not as simple as it once was. Pray that the doors to the Gospel will remain open for years to come.
Ukraine Ministry Reporting
During our time in the US, we will be available on a limited basis for speaking engagements. If you are interested in having our family visit your church or home group with a presentation of our work in Ukraine, please contact us immediately.
Again, thank you for your prayers and support. We are excited about what God is doing in Ukraine, and we're very grateful for the opportunity to continue representing Christ in this land.