Friday, March 30, 2012

Residents of Ukraine

Well, temporary residents, anyway. And, it feels so good to have that settled! The papers we have are good for a year, and they have right on them a space to renew that for the next year.

So, praise the Lord with us!

On Monday Will will go get our propiski solidified, which could be interesting, because American passports don't have a place for that.

Thank you so much for all your prayers and concern thought this process. Please keep praying for others who are doing this; some other regions are much harder than ours.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Residency update (UPDATED)

I really appreciate all of you praying for us, as we are trying to get temporary residency here. I thought I'd try to give you an update of where we are in this, but I have to start with a glossary of terms. So here goes:
  • OVIR - the department that handles visas and immigration. I think it's actually called something else here now, but Russian speakers tend to say OVIR, like in Russia. OVIR is somehow a branch of police.
  • propiska - what Ukrainian (and Russian) citizens get to show where they live. Utility costs are based on how many people are propisani in an apartment. Many people are propisan in one place and live in another. Propiski are done through housing authorities.
  • registration - this was/is required for people coming into Ukraine (and Russia) on visas. You come in on a visa, but you stay with registration. Registration is done through OVIR.
(If you've never lived in this part of the world, your eyes are probably glazed over by now. If you have lived here, you're probably laughing. )

Now I'll try to explain. Will was flying along, gathering the documents we need to apply for temporary residency. One of those is a propiska. Over the course of several days, Will went and talked to our landlord about it, asked about the process at the local passport office, talked to our building chairman, and had our building passport lady fill out our forms in quadruplicate. He was pretty much running around non-stop. Then he went back to the building chairman for his stamp and signature. The chairman called our landlord for his approval, and he used the word "propiska" this time. So, our landlord refused. He had no problem with us being registered here, or even something a little more official, but he was not going to agree to an actual propiska. Dead end.

Next Will started asking people at church if we could be propisani with them. The older people don't want to do it, because they're afraid that having more people listed in their home could lose them some of their benefits or raise their utilities (which we would pay for!). Anyway, he found someone among the younger people. A week went by, trying to match up schedules, when the right offices were open and such. Yesterday Will went with our friend to propisatsya in their apartment. On the local level, no one knows anything about how to do this. They say that we can't have a propiska, unless we have temporary residency. Of course, temporary residency is what we're trying to get, and we need a propiska to get it.

OVIR and the passport offices are closed on Monday, so that was the dead end yesterday. Hopefully Will can make more progress today. Everyone seems willing to help, they just need to figure out what they're supposed to do and how.

Oh, here's something we've been laughing about: I was reading online about different people's experiences with this. One American was trying to get a propiska with his Ukrainian mother-in-law, and she was concerned about him having to undo his American propiska first.

UPDATE: Yesterday Will got someone who knows what is going on to call down to the propiska lady and tell her what to do. So, we got something like a provisional propiska in our friend's apartment. Praise the Lord for that! From there, Will took it and everything else to Zaporozhya and turned it in. We still had some questions, but the woman who works there was too busy to look through everything right then. We should know by next week if we have temporary residency, or if there are still a few more hoops to jump through. (Wow. This is definitely not Russia, where it takes 6 months to get that answer!)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Poland, part 5

I keep thinking that I'm almost done with Poland photos, and then I look and realize there are more. These are from the Thursday we had in Krakow. (Happy March 8!)

The famous Krakow dragon

Approaching the dragon's cave
We really want to go to Krakow in the summer someday, so that we can go into the cave, among other things.

Jaan climbed up

...and in.

Feeding the swans

Asya feeding the swans

And Raia feeding the swans

Bogdan missed out.

Wawel Castle

Still feeding

And Bogdan woke up.
He loved the swans! Even though our bread supply had run out, they were still all around. He was very happy to watch them. We sat like this until my legs cramped, and then he screamed when I had to stand up. Really, the swans are probably our children's favorite part of Krakow (other than Clarissa).

The funny head on the square

Bible study that evening

Still more coming, believe it or not....

Monday, March 19, 2012

School and songs

I still have more Poland posts coming, but I need to get back into real school first. Last week I was just finishing up some leftover work with Jaan, nothing with Raia. For morning school we were just "doing Polish history," as they say (i.e. reading The Trumpeter of Krakow). By the way, Raia is really loving that book; she usually complains when she has to listen to a read aloud in English, but not this time! And Asya gratified me by asking last week when we would ever get back to reading poems and Bible and singing songs in the mornings. She was very happy today. I guess I hadn't realize how much she enjoys sitting in on morning school, even though I really don't aim it for her at all.

I just today switched out our songs. We'll probably keep working on them right through April now. (I used to think doing Ambleside Online would mean sticking right to the schedules, new art and music exactly at the beginning of each month, nice clean term beginnings and endings. Not so in real life! ) Anyway, the AO English folk song is a fun one this month.

Then we have this for Russian (words):

And this for Ukrainian (words):

Good night!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Poland trip, part 4

Tuesday morning, I think Bogdan and I rested, while the others roamed. Then, after lunchtime, Jon picked us up and took us to the consulate to get our visas. From there he took us to their home, where we met their other guests who were also in Krakow to get Ukrainian visas. We had a very nice visit, sitting around and talking, while the children ran absolutely wild. Bogdan was starting to relax, too.

Wednesday we went out sightseeing:

One of those rare family photos

I really like this one
If you've read The Trumpeter of Krakow, that tower in the distance is where the trumpeter plays from.

Jaan liked this little doorway.

Will says that this is why we don't storm castles.

The girls danced with these musicians.

The tower of St. Mary's (the trumpeter's tower!)

Feeding the pigeons on the square

Listening to the trumpeter

You can see the trumpet, if you look carefully.

And back to the pigeons.

While Jaan fed them, his sisters chased them.

Then, that afternoon, while Bogdan napped and Will stayed in with him, the rest of us met Karen, Kasia and Clarissa at the park. I don't have a single picture from that time, but it was one of the highlights of the trip for me. Karen and I just sat and chatted (and froze a little), while our children played pretty wildly--but so happily!--again. By the end of the time I heard Clarissa using at least one Russian word. I can't even tell how good it was for me to have a kindred spirit to talk to! And when we walked them back to their bus, we saw the first flowers of spring: yellow crocuses.

Still more coming...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Poland trip, part 3

On our Monday morning in Poland Will went to apply for our visas. The rest of us stayed at the apartment for a little while.


Watching TV
(By the way, we don't usually like TV much, but the Russian Christian station was definitely nice to keep them sitting still in the small apartment!)

And then we set out to look for a park. First we found...

A big locomotive!

And a neat sundial

Then we came to the park. It is incredible! There are several different playgrounds, which are all very nice. We spent time at all of them. Then there are places for sports, which we didn't take advantage of, except for this one:

A climbing wall!

Raia climbing

In his chariot

Jaan took this photo
...of a bird for us to identify. (Haven't yet.) We saw quite a few different kinds of birds, and a squirrel. We had such a great time, that we had to bring Will back after he finished at the consulate, and after we had rested. Then we went to the park at least once almost every day for the rest of our time in Krakow.

Back at the park with Papa

To be continued...
(I really do have nice, pretty touristy Poland pictures coming, too.)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Legalizing Hunsuckers...

As Phyllis has mentioned here and here, successfully being issued visas is just the start of the process of legalizing our residence here in Ukraine. The laws pertaining to how foreigners go about this process have changed recently, so we're doing some new things, and it's a learning process all over again.

We thought it might be helpful to those of you who are praying for us or just interested in general to give a brief overview of what this registration process involves for us.

I'll give you a hint... it's not nearly as automated and painless as a quick drive to the DMV. =)

Monday - got back from trip to Poland.

Tuesday - went to Zaporozhye OVIR:
1) Talked to N.V., the official responsible for registration of foreigners, received a thorough explanation of what we need to do (a print-out list of at least 10 points), as well as the first 4(?) forms.
2) Went to Ukrainian Baptist Union office, signed one paper for them, they signed and stamped four for me.

Wednesday - took a break.

Thursday - started sorting out what needs to be done here in Dneprorudnoye:
1) Went and talked to head of our apartment co-op, he couldn't help us. (Actually, we misunderstood one another a little)
2) Went to landlord's office, explained what we needed from him, he agreed to help.
3) Went to local internal passport control/registration office, got an explanation of what needed to be done and who could do it for us, the registration clerk for our co-op.
4) Went looking (unsuccessfully) for said registration clerk.

1) Continued trying to find registration clerk for our co-op.
2) Found her, left passports.
3) Came back a couple of hours later to pick up paperwork (some of it in quadruplicate). She'd left some of it for us to fill out. Was informed of the next step (going back to local passport control/registration office).

Most of the papers accumulated at this point in the process.

At this point there are several possible hang-ups and about 5 more steps to go through, I think. Overall, not bad so far, and it's amazing how much a polite (I-want-to-be-legal-please-help-me-be-legal) attitude helps in making progress. =)

We appreciate your thoughts and prayers for us during this learning process.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Poland trip, part 2

The apartment we rented was in a great location, right near the center. We enjoyed our little place.

Bubbles in the bathroom

Silly boy showering

View from the window

See Bogdan's "bed"?

Sunday school
We were also right near our friends' church, so Sunday morning we walked over there. Our children were so happy to see their beloved Clarissa again! It had been two years, and I honestly don't know how much they all remembered each other, but they all got along like best friends. During the first service we tried to follow along in Polish (). Then there was a nice lunch, and afterwards Karen taught Sunday school for the children in both languages. Will had another hour of straight Polish during the second service.

Bogdan was still acting as if he had been severely traumatized by all the travel. Strangely, he didn't mind the men. Jon picked him up, without any protest, and he played happily with others. However, if any of the women even looked at him, he went hysterical.

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Poland trip, part 1

We have a whole lot of photos from our trip. I don't know how well I'll do with posting them, but here's a start. This is just from the travel on the way there!

On March 1, we took a marshrutka (bus-van) to Zaporozhya, to catch our train to Kiev. I think we've finally figured out how to handle these overnight trains. It's still not easy, but it's bearable. Instead of getting all four places in one coupe, we got the four bottom bunks in two neighboring coupes, plus one top. It really only costs a little more, and everyone settled better. The only problem was that I felt sorry for the poor guy who ended up having to join our traveling circus, because he also had a ticket in one of those coupes.

Starting out

The older three

We got into Kiev the next morning and spent all of that day in Kiev. We ended up going to a big mall and killing time there. We left our camera locked up in our suitcase, so I didn't get any photos. It was really impressive and great fun for the children, but a bit too overwhelming (at least for me). That evening we got onto the train to Krakow. We like Polish trains so much better.

Polish train
(Actually, Raia and Asya were on the bottom bed. Raia had just moved up for a few minutes, when I took this photo.) Polish trains, at least those that we've been on, have three bunks on one side, and a sink on the other. There seems to be a lot more space to move around.

He was sitting on top of the closed sink. I think I have a photo very much like this of Asya.... Yes, here it is.

Changing the wheels!

Watching the work at the border

Such excitement!

Burning off energy

"Working" hard

Quiet fun

Enjoying the view
This time we didn't see storks (too early?), but we saw hordes of deer again. Why are there deer in Poland, but there aren't any just across the border in Ukraine? We also loved the beautiful pheasants. Their colors seemed brighter than usual to me.

March 3rd, in the afternoon, we arrived in Krakow. Our friends met our train and drove us to the apartment we had reserved. It was such a blessing to see their familiar faces and have their help! Bogdan was absolutely at the end of his rope, and the rest of us were tired, but we slept really well that night.

To be continued...