Sixteen hours of travel, seven or eight time zone changes and three flights later, I am in Kyiv. It feels oddly familiar but still so foreign. I managed to stay awake for about 30 hours straight before crashing on the couch in the CCX office, my home for the moment until we find me an apartment.
Getting back here has seemed like an uphill battle the whole way. Thanks to delayed postal service and our 14 inches of snow at Christmas my travel plans to DC to get my visa were shot. When I arrived to check in for my flight in Raleigh I was basically informed that I couldn’t travel without proof of an onward ticket showing that I would leave Ukraine in the next three months because I could be fined and deported and the airline could be fined for letting me travel.
Talk about a stressful beginning to your trip!
After a bit of conversation the lady finally called her head office to get approval to let me fly. I had to consent that I understood that deportation was a possibility and could not hold the airline liable if that happened.
Thankfully I am happy to report the rest of the trip was relatively uneventful. My entertainment system on my overnight flight didn’t work so with the help of my iPod Kari Jobe and H Squad helped me cross the Atlantic Ocean and refocus on God instead of my fears and concerns. Also thankfully my seat mate, a man from Istanbul, apparently doesn’t sleep on flights either so I was able to get up and use the bathroom and stretch… it’s the small things in life right?!
On my flight from Frankfurt to Kyiv I actually thought I had reached the point where I could possibly get some rest, but, alas, I was seated next to two kids about five or six years old. The one right next to me, Dima, managed to spill Coke on me, elbow me multiple times and toward the end of our flight fell asleep on my shoulder. Praise God that wasn’t my overnight flight!!!
Making it to passport control, after all the drama in Raleigh, the guy looked at my passport, looked at me, stamped it, handed it back and let me through with no questions asked. There was actually a girl two people in front of me who came as a volunteer with an organization and they gave her a bit of a hard time, but said and asked nothing of me.
I grabbed my bags, thanked God they made all the flight changes with me and also thanked Him for free luggage carts and strolled through customs without even a glance from the officials.
Two of my university friends met me at the airport and called a taxi to get us back to the CCX office. It was so exciting to hear “Stephanie!” and be tackle hugged. It’s good to be back though it seems so weird to know this is my home for at least the next year. It is going to certainly be an adjustment.
I also would like to note that I find it highly ironic that it is warmer here and with less wintry weather outside than in North Carolina and Georgia. Maybe God knew I couldn’t handle but just so much at once. Though there is less sunlight. The sun rises around 8 a.m. and sets around 4:15 p.m.
Pray I adjust to the time quickly since we haveÂ a staff planning meeting tomorrow morning and then leave for Winter Camp Sunday afternoon. At the moment I think we have 22 students signed up for camp and I’m sure it will be a great week. Please be praying for the staff as we prepare for camp (and get over jet lag) and for the students that will be attending.
Love you all lots. Thank you for the prayers, obviously they are working! Thank you also for all the support to get me back here. Looking forward to keeping you informed, amused and on your prayer toes 😉_________________________________________________________________________________________________
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